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Old 01-05-2012, 07:49 PM   #1
FrankPhillips
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Default You’re REALLY going to Disney again? Trip Report from the Phillips New Year @ BCV

This is my first-ever trip report AND our first time ever to be at Disney during New Years AND our first visit to BCV, and since I took so many photos (one of the main reasons I go to Disney) most of my comments will be related to the photos I took. (Note for photography gearheads: I left my 5DMkII at home and instead took a Panasonic GF3 with the 14-42 “X” lens, plus a waterproof Sony TX10 for panoramic shots…traveling light this time.)

When we told our extended family about our trip, they looked at us like we’re crazy for going again and again…. some people think you should go to Disney only once or twice in your lifetime – but they have never heard of DVC!!!

There is a limit of 10 photos per post, so I will break this into as many posts as needed to fit it all, since there are more than 80 photos.

If you haven’t been to Disney in a long while, this ought to be a visual feast for your eyes and perhaps might inspire some last-minute trips…. so here goes.

Cast: me, DW, DS15, DD13, and DD6. Location: Beach Club Villas, 1BR on New Year’s Eve and a 2BR lockoff the following 3 nights.

We are BLT owners and this was our first DVC stay not at BLT, so we were looking forward to experiencing something new and are really glad we got to stay there to experience some of the things that everyone raves about. We can see why there are so many BCV and BWV owners.

Here’s a panoramic shot of the entrance to Beach Club. Even though we stayed at the Yacht Club in 2005, I never knew until this trip that the Yacht Club is gray, the Beach Club is sky blue, and the Beach Club Villas are a greenish-blue.


Our first room (a 1BR) was #471, and here is the view from that room’s balcony:


Since the weather was nice, we spent some time at SAB; here’s a shot from the “ship water slide” perch looking toward the Boardwalk:

And here’s a unique shot from the middle of the pool (shot with Sony TX10 waterproof camera):


I know everyone thinks that StormAlong Bay is the best pool at Disney, and it IS unique and outstanding, as pools go – but to me it’s way too crowded. There’s a gazillion people there, and even though they require wrist bands for entry, I saw dozens of people without wrist bands and no Disney personnel was there tossing them out. I saw a guy literally sneak in around me while I was getting my wrist band, and I told the wristband guy, but he just ignored me. Once again, I have to say that I prefer the somewhat lame BLT pool to SAB simply because the BLT pool is at least private and more secure than SAB… the BLT pool is not on a thoroughfare, it’s hidden from view, and it’s well-policed.

While we were at the pool, someone slipped a pizza flyer under our villa’s door. My wife has read reports of these guys (not necessarily this company) testing doors while delivering flyers, hoping to find one unlocked or not closed properly. I wish Disney would control access to Villas better than they do at BCV.


After our swim, we decided to venture over to Epcot to attempt to find some rides on New Year’s Eve (Ha ha!). I had heard about International Gateway, but I didn’t realize how incredibly convenient it makes getting into Epcot from BCV and BWV…WOW! However, since it was New Year’s Eve it was REALLY crowded. Check out this sea of people at England:


For perspective, here’s the same spot the next morning (New Year’s Day) at about 9:30AM…yes, I know that World Showcase is not open yet, but it's neat to see the streets vacant.


Anyway, since we knew there was no chance of getting on Soarin’ or Test Track, we ambled down to Spaceship Earth. As you can see from the photos below, it was also very crowded, and they had a guy with a sign letting folks know that the MK was closed, in case some wise guy had the crazy notion to hop the monorail over there. The sign says the wait is 60 minutes, but it was really more like 25 minutes.




…. To be continued in following posts …
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Old 01-05-2012, 07:58 PM   #2
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DAY ONE, continued…

You have to love all of the great Christmas decorations everywhere. Here’s the tree at Epcot:


There were a zillion people staking out spots hours in advance for the fireworks show at 7:40 (people sitting out on the grassy areas, etc) and I wasn’t about to stay there and fight those crowds to leave later, so we headed back to the room to watch fireworks from our balcony. It was worth it, even though we couldn’t see the lasers and fireballs on the lake itself…we saw that another night.




And here’s what it looked like when we arrived back at the villas:


We watched the fireworks from our balcony, and then we had reservations for dinner at Cape May. I haven’t eaten crab legs for a really, really long time and boy were they fabulous. I wish I could eat those every day! For you foodies, here’s a shot of the buffet…the crab legs are at the front right corner.


After dinner we walked around outside for a little while…took a boat ride across the lake, etc. It was very relaxing, and there’s a ton to do there, and the lights are very pretty, especially around StormAlongBay.




…. To be continued in following posts …
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:05 PM   #3
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DAY TWO (New Year’s Day, January 1st)

As you saw in the previous photos, the crowd difference between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day was literally a night-and-day difference (pun intended). Here’s what it looked like walking from World Showcase into FutureWorld:

…and here’s the Cantina at Mexico during the lunch “rush-hour”!


************** BEGIN “DON’T CURSE IN FRONT OF MY KIDS” RANT:
It’s not like my DS15 hasn’t heard every word in the book, but my DD13 certainly has pretty clean ears, and I don’t want to have to answer questions like “Daddy, what does $%#@&%#$@ mean?”. So I get a report from them that they were on Mission Space with a couple of ruffians (FEMALE ruffians, that is) who were using just about every curse word imaginable during the ride. DS15 said they smelled bad too (and that’s quite impactful coming from a 15 year old young man…). I guess I can feel comforted that DS will probably not have a desire to date a female as described, and that DD clearly does not see said females as appropriate role models.
END RANT ***********************

The crowds did pick up a bit after lunch. Here’s the line waiting to ride Test Track:

If you’ve never stopped into the Coca-Cola place to sample the various flavors across the globe, it’s something to not miss…. I get a sip every time I go to Epcot. The watermelon flavor (China) is my favorite, with Israel running a close 2nd:


Next, we exited Epcot to catch the Friendship II at International Gateway and made it over to Hollywood Studios. I can see the value in staying at BCV or BWV as long as there’s not a long line for the Friendship boats from DHS. After entering DHS we convinced my youngest (DD6) to ride TOT for the first time because she has friends who have ridden it, and we thought it would be a good idea for her to be able to say that she’s ridden it….. BAD IDEA. I hope she will forgive us for that. Anyhoo, to appease her, we went to see MuppetVision 3D.

When we exited that show, Phineas and Ferb were in their area, so I spent about 45 minutes waiting in line to get a photo, and it was worth the wait…check this out:


*************** BEGIN RUDE KID RANT:
We (me, DD6, and DD13) were first in line at the DHS dock to catch the Friendship boat back to BCV… just us and a nice elderly couple behind us for the longest time. I didn’t even notice the little brats far behind us waiting to pounce on our Magic in a few moments. As the boat pulled up, the seats in the back of the boat were vacant, and DDs said “let’s get the seats in the back”, as we were at the front of the line, and the elderly couple was directly behind us. I agreed, and told them to head that way when the man opened the gate. As he opened the gate, these two little $%#@&* brats cut around the elderly couple (almost knocking them down) and ran past us, only to perch their sorry little heinies in MY seats at the back of the boat….their parents nowhere to be seen. I should have told them to move from my seats, but I was having a Costanza moment and didn’t think of that until later, when it was too late. I’m having another Costanza moment now – I should have taken a photo of the little brats and posted it here – but I didn’t get one. Mrs Phillips later said “how do you know their parents didn’t tell them to run around you and get the seats?”. She’s really smart.
END RUDE KID RANT *****************************

While we were waiting to meet Phineas and Ferb, Mrs Phillips and DS15 went back to BCV to move from our 1BR (#471) to a 2BR lockoff (studio on the left, 1BR on the right):

Here’s the view from our new room, not as good as the first room, even though it was literally a short way down the hall from the first one:

In case you’ve never seen the inside of a BCV studio, this is what the kitchenette looks like:


Mrs Phillips is not a germ freak or anything, but when she inspected the room she was not happy to see this on the bathroom sink:


*********** BEGIN “BCV villas are Small” RANT:
I was pretty surprised at how small the villas are at BCV compared to BLT (these are the only two DVC resorts I’ve ever stayed in, so BLT is all I can compare it to). I really don’t care for the cheesy decor, the lack of locks on most of the doors, the poor shower pressure, the grungy grout in the bathroom tiles, the outdated appliances (no icemaker in the freezers and coils on the stove), the lack of adequate lighting, the tiny little keyed safes that couldn’t even hold a small DSLR camera, only 2 bathrooms in a 2 BR villa, and the overall wear-and-tear of the villas. In addition, I was surprised at the “general public” nature of the layout – anyone can get into the Villa area without having to swipe a card or anything, and that makes me uncomfortable. I know there’s no way to maintain complete exclusivity for DVC members, but they could at least try so that people like me would at least feel good about it.
The stuff that I do like about the BC villas are the very, very comfortable beds and the quietness of the rooms. It’s a very peaceful place to sleep. The elevators are amazingly fast, too.
Clearly, the main reason why people own or stay at BCV must be because of its proximity to Epcot and DHS (which is undeniably an extremely valuable feature), plus there is a TON of stuff to do on campus (unlike BLT) and on the Boardwalk. Personally, I prefer more privacy and less public activity, and that’s why I chose to own BLT. But if you’re a “do everything” type, I can see the attraction of BCV and BWV.
END RANT … we now return you to the chock full ‘o photos trip report.

…. To be continued in following posts …
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:11 PM   #4
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DAY TWO, continued…

We had saved up 10 fastpasses for Soarin’, so we hit Epcot to use them. On the way out, I got this shot:


If you’ve ever been on a trip around Christmas, you’ve seen the gingerbread creations across many of the resorts. Here’s the one in the lobby of the Beach Club:

…and here is what it takes to make it:

…and here’s a shot of the lobby at the Beach Club (gingerbread carousel is behind the tree):


******************* BEGIN CONCIERGE RANT:
The three times I visited the Concierge desk at BCV I left in dismay. On my first visit I went to buy (not renew) annual passes with the DVC discount. I was told they could sell me APs, but not with the DVC discount – for that, I would have to go to the ticket desk at the park. You would think that the Concierge at a DVC resort could sell me annual passes with the DVC discount – it is DVC after all.

On my second visit to the Concierge desk I had two FP’s to Buzz Lightyear and two FP’s to BTMRR that we didn’t use, so I took them to the Concierge to see if he could possibly give them to someone who might be headed to the MK later. He looked at me like I was an idiotic fool for suggesting such a thing and flat-out turned his nose up at my offer, saying that no one would want them. His complete lack of grace was appalling…you would think that he would have just taken the dang things and thanked me, even if he was going to toss them in the trash can. I think he was raised in a barn.

On my third visit to the Concierge desk, we were headed to the MK on the day before our flight, so I wrote out our names and confirmation numbers for our flights back home and asked him (different guy this time) if he would print the boarding passes for me near the 24 hour departure window. You would think that such a request would be a normal occurrence for a Concierge at a Disney Deluxe resort (which it has been at the Poly and Contemporary for us), but he put his hands up and told me that I can go to City Hall in the MK to print them, as if he didn’t have a printer there, and as if I actually want to haul my tail from the Tea Cups all the way across the park to City Hall in the middle of my fun day to print boarding passes. I thought that was kind of weird, but I was in a hurry so I left to go to MK. While there, I used Mrs Phillips’s iPhone to check in for the flights while sitting in Cosmic Ray’s. When I returned to the BC concierge desk, there was mister “I-don’t-want-to-print-your-boarding-passes”, so I walked up to the desk and asked him to print them for me. Ha ha!!!!!! He DID have a printer! And I made him print my passes, even though it took forever because he was doing the keyboard “hunt and peck” routine for the 6 digit confirmation number.

Needless to say, I was very UNimpressed with the Concierge service at Beach Club.
***************** END CONCIERGE RANT ***************

We got settled in the new room, ate dinner in the room, and then went for a walk. Here is a good shot from that walk:


DAY THREE (January 2nd)

We got up early to try to get to MK at opening, but were a few minutes late. I always travel with a Keurig Mini coffee maker to Disney, but this morning – dang it – I made a cup of Starbucks Pike Place but left it in the villa – arrrrgh! We opted to hire a cab to take us so that we wouldn’t have to wait on the Disney bus, and we got him to drop us off at the Polynesian so that we could ride the Monorail into the MK (we really miss that, since we have been staying at BLT and typically ride the MR or just walk to MK). Here’s the inside of the Poly (Kona Café is in the top middle part of the photo, in case you’ve never been there):

And as we approached the Grand Floridian, I got this shot of the construction site of the new GF Villas being built:

I sincerely hope that they build a walkway from the GF to the MK as part of the new Villas. I can’t imagine being in a massive exit crowd at MK and being able to see the GF but not being able to walk directly to it – thus being subjected to the Monorail or Boat crowds…so close, and yet so far. Yet another reason I love BLT, and the same could be said for those who love Epcot and BCV/BWV.
We haven’t seen the MK since November 2010 (almost 14 months!), so this was sure a sight for sore eyes:


…. To be continued in following posts …
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:15 PM   #5
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DAY THREE, continued…

The crowds at MK early-on were light – so light that we were easily deceived and instead of heading straight to Fantasyland, we went straight to Space Mountain. DD6 and I went to ride Buzz while Mrs Phillips and DS15 and DD13 went to ride SM. However, SM was CLOSED indefinitely. Mrs Phillips got 3 FPs but the return time was not until 11:35. So this (to quote KJJ) was the beginning of our “newbie” experience at MK. The crowds doubled and then quadrupled (like bunnies) by 10:30. Mrs Phillips was in full panic mode, texting me and calling me. But enough about that.

The great part was that when we realized what was going on, we ran over to Frontier Land and rode BTMRR 4 times in a row, and then Splash once, then Pirates, but nothing else - except for SM at 11:35 and the TTA. We decided that we needed a do-over the next day.

I got some shots of the FantasyLand construction; on the first shot below I was standing on the wall by the Pooh ride and it didn’t take but about 7 seconds for a CM to come over and tell me to get down… luckily, I had already gotten the shot.



Does anyone recognize the birdhouse below? That’s right, it’s in the queue for Splash Mountain:

…and here’s Brer Fox getting his tail bitten by a gator:


We took a ride on the TTA and I got this shot of the relatively light crowd around Space Mtn:

Next, we rode Pirates and then decided to go back to the villa. Here’s a parting shot:


Instead of getting a cab back, we went to bus bay A8 and waited only a minute or two before the bus arrived. Very few of us on that bus ride:


After we got back to the villa, we rested for a little while, then the daughters decided they wanted to go do a few Kim Possible missions, so we strolled on over to the back entrance of Epcot – I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the accessibility of BCV to Epcot…I love it.
Here’s the Kimmunicator they give you…

…and you go to a country and follow clues to solve the plot. Here are the girls in England finding the golf ball clue:


…. To be continued in following posts …
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:16 PM   #6
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Terrific photos! Looking forward to more of your trip report . . .
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:20 PM   #7
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DAY THREE, continued…

The crowds around England were not bad at all:



I’ve never eaten the Fish and Chips from here, but I promised myself that I’ll do it someday…


We went on to France for another mission, and some of the French CMs were performing acrobatics out front…

…while Aurora met her subjects nearby.

Then we walked past Japan…

…on our way to Italy…

….and finally to Germany. Below is the miniature town, and I thought it would be interesting to see what the “miniature effect” in my Panasonic GF3 would do to a subject that is already miniature.


…. To be continued in following posts …
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:24 PM   #8
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DAY THREE, continued…

Part of the Kim Possible mission puts you in front of these little people, and then their eyes light up in red, and they raise their hands like zombies. This was pretty creepy when I was feeling so Christmassy.

Also, another part of the German mission activates this big clock to open up, exposing the girl chasing the villain from Kim Possible:


By this time, it was almost dusk, and this is the most beautiful light of the day, so the following are some of my favorite photographs from this trip…I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.





With our Kim Possible missions accomplished, we walked back to BCV (I love saying that…the walk is so incredibly short and easy!) Here is another twilight photo… looking up at the “ship” where the SAB slide is… it runs from the center of the frame to the upper left corner.


********BEGIN S.A.B. SLIDE MINI-RANT:
For those of you who have gone down the SAB waterslide, you will undoubtedly remember the torturous pain along your spine as you whizz down the slide, only to have the raised seams inside of the slide rip across your vertebrae…and the faster you slide, the more intense the pain is. Why in the world doesn’t Disney fix the seams on the inside of that slide?
END S.A.B. SLIDE MINI-RANT**********************



Instead of a gingerbread house or carousel, the Yacht Club does this:


In the lobby of the Beach Club, the DVC desk was unmanned so my kids took it upon themselves to demonstrate what a typical DVC timeshare sales pitch must look like:


…. To be continued in following posts …
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:28 PM   #9
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DAY FOUR (January 3rd) – Our last full day

“I’m going to get you, Austin Powers! It’s frickin’ freezin’ in here!” - Dr. Evil

For central Florida, this is pretty unusually cold weather:


We decided to brave the cold so we got up early, went to the freezing bus stop (I didn’t forget the Keurig coffee this time), and rode over to the MK on a Disney bus. There were small crowds due to the cold, so we rode lots of rides in Fantasyland first (Peter Pan 4 times in a row, plus Snow White, Pooh, then on to Buzz, Space Mtn, Astro Orbiter – Brrrrrrr!).



The last time we were in the MK, the Tiki Room was still Under New Management, so I was thrilled to get to see the show back in its old glory, the way it should be:


On the way out of the MK, I made a special effort to go upstairs at the train station and get these three shots. The first is “normal” and the second is with the “miniature” setting on my GF3 that is supposed to make things look like tiny models. The third is a panoramic from the Sony TX10.




Next, we decided to take a boat ride from Beach Club across the lake to the Boardwalk in order to see the BWV, which I’ve never seen up close. Here’s a pretty decent shot of the “lighthouse”:


Can’t you see this guy saying “Mine! Mine! Mine!”


…. To be continued in following posts …
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:34 PM   #10
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DAY FOUR, continued…

Here’s the lobby of the Boardwalk Inn:




The “Mine Mine Mine” birds are hilarious. Here’s a small section of the Boardwalk gift shop dedicated to them. DD13 bought a shirt.


Please don’t flame me for this, but this pool is downright creepy. I’d have nightmares if I had to spend any time at this pool.


This shot was made with the creative “sepia” feature on the GF3:


…meanwhile, back at the Beach Club. We stopped by Beaches and Cream for dessert:

…and here’s an interesting shot of the “Breezeway” (?) in the BCV lobby:


And for my final photo, I’m afraid that DD13 is preparing for an exciting career in the field of timeshare sales…


END OF MY TRIP REPORT - I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT!
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