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Old 08-21-2019, 09:07 AM   #1
Jawfish
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Default SSR & SW:GE AP Preview Trip Report

This was an unplanned trip as we scored a SW:GE AP Preview. We chose Oga's Cantina as our activity - you could also have chose to do light sabers. We decided to do Oga's since we had heard it was super hard to get into in DL, so may as well do that. Plus, we thought that would save us some money as the light sabers are $199 each plus tax. Little did we know we were still going to drop some coin... more on that later.

The minute we confirmed we had the preview date, we called Disney to see what was available. We were able to score SSR, albeit a 1 bedroom preferred room. Way more than what we needed but we had the points, so why not. We booked 4 nights. Then we got all excited and counted down our days.


A Wrench in the Plans

A week before we were to leave, we had a family emergency, which cut into our trip. We called Disney to see if we could move some things but no luck and no pixie dust. Oh well, we would make the best of things. So we went and handled the emergency with the idea that if we can at least make the preview day, we would do that. The Disney CM we called said we should keep the room since we could not cancel it and it was essentially paid for. So we did.

We were suppose to arrive at 10am Thursday and take the Magical Express. Instead, we arrived, rented a car and went to handle our emergency. Two full days of the trip were sacrificed but we were still able to arrive at SSR on Friday late evening. Side note - you can rent a car from the Orlando airport and return it to Disney Car Care Center. Then they will take you where you need to go. So we did that and ended up getting dropped off at SSR around 8ish.

Sarataga Springs

We received the text the previous day at 11am (of course early on a day we could not be there). So our room had been ready. However, when we got to the room, we were pleasantly surprised by our Owners Locker which was there waiting on us. We thought we would need to call and have it delivered. So that was nice. We dropped our stuff and checked out the room.

PREFACE: I did not expect to like SSR and had never wanted to book it. Until we stayed there...

WOW! What a room. The 1 bedroom is huge. Our preferred view was amazing (room 4325 in The Springs) and we had a king bed. OK, maybe SSR was not that bad. But my mind again was having the doubts... we have to take buses (we are Poly owners). So we checked out the room, went out on the balcony and decided to leave our luggage there and go in search of some food.



So off we went toward the pool and Artists Point. We were right next to the bus stop so it was just a short walk across the street and past the pool. It took us less than 5 minutes and we were there. Wow. So we looked around at the restaurant and shop. We decided to eat at Artists Point. It was super empty, not many people. We wondered why (figured out later with Disney Springs so close, easy to go there for dinner too). We got a salad and a pizza and split them. They were both very good. A couple beers to wash it down and we were good.

So back to the room we went as we were tired and just wanted to unpack.

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2019 SSR (Aug - SW:GE Preview)
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Last edited by Jawfish; 09-01-2019 at 12:28 AM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:26 AM   #2
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Default Saturday - 3 Parks

We slept in and got up a little late, ate breakfast in the room and took our time getting ready. Emotionally we were spent from our family thing, so we really had no plans for the day, other than to park hop. We went to the bus station to catch a bus to Epcot as we had a Fastpass to the Frozen ride. I really thought I would not like Saratoga Springs. Right from the start though, I actually like it. The grounds are gorgeous and the bus stop was really close to the room. It really is a peaceful resort - slow paced.

The bus came in about 15 minutes but it was not bad at all. So off we went to Epcot, which was surprisingly close.

Epcot

The day was cloudy and rain was in the forecast, so we had ponchos with us just in case (which we keep in our Owners Locker). We breezed through security and decided to head toward our FastPass.

Then we passed Mexico. And were hungry. And thirsty. Nachos and beer. At 10:30 am...

After that 30 minute digression we made it to the Frozen ride and sang our hearts out ... Let it Go! Which was cathartic as we were still a bit stressed but starting to relax. The ride was good, as always.

Then we passed Germany. We were thirsty again (it was hot in our defense). Beer and fig vodka.



I might mention we always stop in Germany (sometimes twice). If you have not tried that fig vodka, you may want to give it a try. I like the Grapefruit Heffeweizen and the other beer in the picture in the Dunkel. I am told by my DW that it is delicious. We strolled the rest of International Gateway drinking our beer and just looking around. We have never been at this time of year - we usually come during food and wine or at Christmas when it is packed. None of the kiosks were open and it seemed almost EMPTY at Epcot. Weird vibe as we are used to lots of food and people. It was around 12:30PM so we decided to head on over to Magic Kingdom to hit the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Off we went to the monorail.

Monorail Note: Many of the monrail cars now have shade window coverings on the outside. Those little dots that you can kind of see through. DW thought it was most likely in response to the folks that got stuck on the monorail and were super hot. The shades obscure the view a little but if it keeps them cooler, so be it. They are characters so at least they are fun.

Magic Kingdom

We arrived at MK and there were small lines to get in. Not bad at all. We stopped by the firehouse to get our cards for Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom. We don't always play but we are missing a couple cards we are trying to get. We did not play this trip. The rain started to fall so what else were we to do but go shopping. I found a cute shirt and bought that. A lot of the new shirts seem very retro - thinking perhaps in time for an anniversary? Very 70's feel to some of the new stuff which is fitting for DW opening in the 70's. MK was a bit more crowded but not like we are used to. After shopping we went over to the bakery to grab a snack (read chocolate fix).

It rained right up until the parade was about to start then cleared up. Perfect timing. We grabbed a spot over by the firehouse in the corner by the shops across the street. Right where the parade ends. We have never watched from this angle and we like to pick different spots each time. This parade is fun and you sing the whole time. Magical. Loved it as always.



We decided after the parade that we wanted to go to Animal Kingdom. So off we went to catch a bus. The bus came rather quickly and off we went to Animal Kingdom.


Animal Kingdom
There were only 4 lines open for bags but not a ton of people in line. The same with the ticket/magic band line to get in. Another park that was not very crowded. We started to thing, hey, August is a great time to come. It was overcast and still rain threatening. So it seemed cool. Until the sun came out and stayed there. More on that tomorrow!

We headed up the main entrance and veered right. And there was Divine. Crossing the path. We have only seen her one other time, so that was a treat. I did not get a picture. We watched her for a few minutes and then moved on and up over the bridge. We immediately saw "Kevin" from UP. I don't recall ever seeing that character running around the park so that was a nice surprise sighting as well. Again, no picture. From there my DW was leading so I followed around into Pandora. I was thinking, oh goody, we have a FastPass I don't know about. Nope. Standby line. We got right in line and I asked about the wait. DW said 90 minutes. I thought ok not bad. About an hour in I am noticing where we are and then overhear someone say we would be right on time at about 130 minutes.

I look at DW and say "Thought you said 90 min?" and am told "This is your favorite ride ever and you need this. So it was worth it and I knew you would not wait 2 hours." She was right. I was emotionally spent and tired and this would pick me up. And it never disappoints. We ended up being in line with a family that had never been to DW. Ever. No FastPass knowledge, no experience. So we educated them on all things Disney while we waited (they were appreciative for the tips). The line went faster with something to do and occupy us. I like the middle row - middle section on FoP as it is a more intense ride in my opinion. However, we got the top right. It was still a thrilling, awesome ride and I will never tire of it. We left with big smiles on our faces.



After that, we left Pandora and since we love the Safari, we headed over there. It was afternoon and a little warm, so we did not know what to expect. It was not bad. Standby said 60 minutes and I think it took 40 or so. We actually saw everything except the lions. This time, we saw more giraffes than we ever have. All 5 of the babies were out and most of the adults it seemed. They were everywhere and close to the trucks. Turned out to be a very good safari this time.

While hitting 4 parks in one day is a goal I have (DW has done it on a trip where she was solo), we decided since we would be at HS on Sunday for the SW:GE AP Preview, we would skip it and not push to get that in just because. We actually wanted to go over to Disney Springs since it is so close to SSR and we had not been in years. Off we went to catch another bus.

Disney Springs
We had not been to Disney Springs in a long time. For me it has been 7-8 years and for the DW about 20. It has changed quite a bit. We wanted to check out the restaurants, as we had family coming for dinner Sunday night. We shopped a bit, looked around and ultimately chose to eat at Paddlefish. The menu looked good and we had heard good things about it. When we got there, the wait was going to be about 45 minutes but we could eat at the bar right away. We chose to do that since it was just the two of us. They have 3 bars and we chose to go to the one of the 2nd floor.

Jeremy was our bartender and he turned out to be a wonderful guy, good recommendations and great drinks. We always tend to ask the locals what they like or what they recommend. DW asked him what his signature cocktail was and he mixed up a blackberry martini (gin). It was delicious. We then asked about a few things on the menu. We started with the Charred Octopus with curry. It was absolutely delicious. I had not had octopus like that before and was a bit nervous about selecting it. Turns out it is quite tasty and the way this was cooked was excellent.



They had a white bean compote on the bottom which was also quite good. I would eat that again hands down, 5-star appetizer. We then ordered two dishes, Seared Scallops and Swordfish (which was done Asian style with wasabi mashed potatoes). I had the scallops which were seared perfectly. Deliciously soft and fluffy. The cauliflower puree was a nice touch under the scallops. It came with roasted Brussels sprouts which were also very good. My DW had the sword fish and I was able to taste that as well. Divine. Perfectly cooked and seasoned.



We finished the evening off with desert. A bread pudding I think and it was good. I did not get a picture. I would rate our experience 5-stars. The food was exceptional and Jeremy was amazing. The bill was under $200 and we had a app, 2 meals, a desert and 3 drinks. One of the best Disney dining to date. We were very pleasantly surprised and decided to go back on Sunday to meet our family. I will not post any pictures on that but I got the sword fish that time as I loved it the night before (only tasted). It was delicious and the wasabi potatoes were not overpowering. Just right. We will be back for sure. A good find.

After dinner, we strolled back to our room at SSR via the walking path over the bridge, through the pool area at Congress Park. Then we skipped across that bridge by the Congress Park bus stop and over to The Springs. It was a very pleasant walk and we started to really get why people liked Saratoga Springs. We feel addonitis coming on... we had a couple cocktails in the room and turned in for the night.
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1971 Offsite
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1995 Offsite
1999 Offsite
2010 Fort Wilderness
2012 Fort Wilderness
2014 DAAR (May)
2015 Became DVC Owners
2015 PVB (Oct - 1st DVC Trip)
2016 PVB (May - Honeymoon)
2017 BLT (May - Pandora Preview)
2017 AK / PVB (Nov)
2018 PVB (Sep)
2018 Offsite (Dec)
2019 Offsite (May)
2019 SSR (Aug - SW:GE Preview)
2019 PVB (Sep)

2019 DL Cali Offsite (Oct)
2019 PVB (Dec)
2020 PVB (May)

Last edited by Jawfish; 08-23-2019 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:52 AM   #3
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Default Sunday - SW:GE AP Preview Day

So this was the day we were looking forward to the whole trip. SW:GE Preview day. We had a reservation time of 11 am. We slept in, got up and had some breakfast and then decided to get there early. We grabbed the bus around 9:20 from The Springs to HS. Short ride and the lines at the bag check and scan areas were pretty decent. We got through right away. Once in, we figured we would stroll and figure out where we needed to go. Lots of CM's were around, so we asked and were directed to Grand Avenue. We were excited. When we got there, no one was in line. It was about 10 am at that point. Huh, wonder why. So we headed up to the umbrellas set up by the entrance.



NOTE: You cannot see anything from the "street" so to speak. They designed it well to really keep your feeling inside as being secluded on Batuu.

The CM scanned our magic bands, asked to see our Annual Passes and checked our licenses. Plus we had to have the printed copy of the reservation. Tight security so make sure you have everything. The CM confirmed we selected Oga's and gave us two tickets with a 10:35 AM time to be at Oga's. We were then told we could go on in. An hour early. Awesome!!

Going in - The Tunnel

The tunnel going in is quite massive and really solidifies you are leaving earth to go to Batuu. We walked super slow so we could take in everything. There were not many people around, seemed kind of empty. Considering the first group went in at 8, we figured they were farther in or had left. It did get busier the farther in we went but until the hour before we left (around 2), it stayed pretty quiet. I think by 2 people were not leaving and it was just getting more crowded. But I digress.



Once inside, the first thing we saw was the entrance for Rise of the Resistance. We walked up and tried to peek in - could not see anything but it looks massive and far back. Very cool. It was guarded so to speak by two CMs. We asked if they had ridden the ride and in good fashion (staying in character), they said "what ride" - we did ask a couple more questions but got nothing. So we strolled a little ways and saw Rey. She was just walking around, checking equipment and doing her "daily tasks." There was no one around. A CM walked over and said, "when she is finished checking that transformer, you can ask her for a scan." We quickly learned the Batuu language: scan = photo/picture. So we did. She interacted with us staying in character. No line, no CM guarding her. She was freely walking around and doing things.



We meandered through to the Millenium Falcon. It. Is. Big. Life-sized and super cool. Chewie was there and Rey joined him after a while. At one point a couple of storm troopers were coming and the characters all ran into the Falcon to hide. The storm troopers also were free roaming. While you saw CM's around, obviously watching, they kept their distance so it felt much more real. We took some scans. The ride line was only 10 minutes at that time but since we had Oga's reservations, we decided to come back to ride. Had we wanted to, I bet we could have rode it 6 times in an hour. We should have, as later the line was 60 min and so we did single rider, which basically guarantees you being Engineer. Oh well.



Oga's Cantina

So then we walked through the shops on our way to Oga's. Once there, we got in line and a CM came over to get our time tickets. At that time, they were turning away anyone who did not have the pass. They did tell them to try back later. We waited only about 10 minutes before we were brought in. They go over the rules with you twice. 2 drink max. 45 min max stay. A few more but I forget. We were escorted to a wall where there was a very small bar on the wall. This would be our spot. Unfortunately, probably the worst space (we thought) in the place. But turns out it was ok. We actually had a nice space with a couple other couples and chatted. Some people were at tables but most of the space is standing room only. We were able to walk around and look at everything. The "DJ" is in my opinion, the funnest best part of the place.



We stayed for the full 45 minutes. We ordered the beer flight, which was 85 credits (credits in Batuu are what we call dollars). You get to keep the flight. It has four "teeth" in a cool display table. It was heavy, solid and I think made well. Worth the money. We have a bar in our house, with a game room. So it will be a cool piece to remember that trip. We also ordered the special drink that comes with the tall keepsake cup. It was solid, heavy and worth it as well. The cost, 45 credits. Then we decided we wanted a "set" so ordered another drink. Plus one regular beer. All before 11:15 am. I got a little tipsy - great right before Millenium Falcon!! More on that in a minute. The waitress was awesome and in character, asked us about our "business" we were there for. Chatted us up a bit about Batuu. The drinks were very good. Fun place with a lot to see. Next time though, just the regular priced cocktails for us. Reminded me of Trader Sams in a way. The keepsakes were given to us at the end (not the ones we drank out of), clean and in boxes all packaged up. 250 credits later, we were off to ride the MF. Guess we saved a tad over teh light saber experience...



Reached image limit, will continue in next thread...
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DVC Member since 2015 (PVB)

1971 Offsite
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1995 Offsite
1999 Offsite
2010 Fort Wilderness
2012 Fort Wilderness
2014 DAAR (May)
2015 Became DVC Owners
2015 PVB (Oct - 1st DVC Trip)
2016 PVB (May - Honeymoon)
2017 BLT (May - Pandora Preview)
2017 AK / PVB (Nov)
2018 PVB (Sep)
2018 Offsite (Dec)
2019 Offsite (May)
2019 SSR (Aug - SW:GE Preview)
2019 PVB (Sep)

2019 DL Cali Offsite (Oct)
2019 PVB (Dec)
2020 PVB (May)

Last edited by Jawfish; 08-23-2019 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:53 AM   #4
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Default SW:GE Preview Day Continued

Millenium Falcon Ride

Next was the Millenium Falcon ride. The 10 minute wait was now 60 min, since the next group of folks had been let in. We decided to try the single rider line. On our way through the line, we simply walked in and up some stairs and then were pretty much at the loading area. That took all of 10 minutes. So we did miss the entire que and such. We will see that when we are there in September. We luckily got on the same ride, me as an engineer and DW as a gunner. There was one engineer spot empty. We were handed our cards identifying our color and position. We were gold. Then we went into the Falcon and you are actually in it. It looks so real and accurate. Even the "chess" table. We did not have much time to look around though, as our color was called within 5 minutes. We were quickly lined up and sent into the ride. It starts fast and there is a little instruction on what you are supposed to do. Hit anything that lights up.



We were not overly impressed. It seemed confusing and the pilots had zero clue what they were doing, so we crashed into everything. I hit my buttons quickly but it was super hard to even know what was going on. It shook us and jolted us around but I felt there was no organization. Probably due to the pilots. We were in the ride about 4 minutes it seemed. Then it was over. We exited and my DW was very much not impressed. I suggested going again (still a 60 minute wait) and she passed. I decided to go again in the single rider line solo. So went in one more time. The next ride I was again an engineer but we had a complete party. Purple. We again were almost instantly ushered into the ride so did not get to really linger in the Falcon. This time, the ride seemed much better. The pilots did not crash much and we went farther through the ride it seemed. I still feel like it is a bit disappointing, at least as an engineer. I spent my time slapping buttons. But the 2nd ride was definitely more fun than the first. I would ride it again but not with a 60 minute wait. I did go back later to see and the waiting time did not decrease and they had closed the single rider line. Next time. The ride has potential. Hope RotR is better - it sure looks like it will be.



Food Stop & Kylo Ren

While I was riding the 2nd time, my DW strolled through the market and bought us some lunch. So when I got off the ride, we met up and ate. No idea what I ate - it was a Gyro I think with sausage. It had some onions and was very good. We sat on a rock wall and the seating is very limited. This could be a problem when the crowds get thicker. It is a lot like TSL - very crowded area. Around this time, the Florida heat and humidity were starting to kick in. It was getting hot on Batuu.




We walked on through and over to the farthest corner by the "Imperial" area. This is where we ran into storm troopers and Kylo Ren. Again, not supervised by CM's (but they are always there by the edges). Free roaming and interactive. Kylo approached people, asked questions and dismissed them just as quick. The storm troopers stepped in and told you to get back. Very cool interaction. They really focused on kids which I thought was good. Giving them the full experience. Every "theme" park going forward should use this type of interaction. It makes it feel so much more real. I will put some videos up and edit this later.



Again, pictures are limited, so will continue in the next thread...
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DVC Member since 2015 (PVB)

1971 Offsite
1987 Offsite
1995 Offsite
1999 Offsite
2010 Fort Wilderness
2012 Fort Wilderness
2014 DAAR (May)
2015 Became DVC Owners
2015 PVB (Oct - 1st DVC Trip)
2016 PVB (May - Honeymoon)
2017 BLT (May - Pandora Preview)
2017 AK / PVB (Nov)
2018 PVB (Sep)
2018 Offsite (Dec)
2019 Offsite (May)
2019 SSR (Aug - SW:GE Preview)
2019 PVB (Sep)

2019 DL Cali Offsite (Oct)
2019 PVB (Dec)
2020 PVB (May)

Last edited by Jawfish; 08-23-2019 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:53 AM   #5
SaratogaShan
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Great report so far!! I can't wait to see more. Thanks for taking the time
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Old 08-21-2019, 02:45 PM   #6
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Excellent report and pictures, thanks for taking the time to share. Hope everything is okay with the family, so sorry trip was disrupted but glad you made the best of it.
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Old 08-21-2019, 02:52 PM   #7
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I love your pictures! Looking forward to more!
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:52 PM   #8
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Super pictures!

I am sorry to hear your trip was altered for family emergency but it is nice to see you make the best out of the time you had.

We enjoy SSR more than any of the other resorts for many reasons. (and yes we have stayed at all of them!) It is a beautiful resort and with the rehab coming up I bet many people will give it a second look.
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:21 PM   #9
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Old 08-22-2019, 03:53 PM   #10
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What a fabulous trip. Welcome to the SSR Family! Glad you are enjoying it!
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