I guess my trip report blog should start where it began, in the middle of last year’s trip.  While onsite, I took advantage of Disney's Bounce back offer.  If I rebook while still on site, I get free dinning again, which I did.


I didn’t want to think too much about it, as it was a year away.  I did toy and decide to go with the idea of paying the difference between the basic dinning plan and the deluxe one so I would be on the deluxe dinning plan.  Playing around with the numbers, I figured I would have to do at least two table service meals and one quick (counter) service per day to break even.  I liked the idea of enjoying appetizers, like Garlic Shrimp and Onion Soup.



As I did in previous years, I will spend two days each at Epcot and Magic Kingdom, four days right there.  The rest of the time would be splitting each day between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, two days there.


I don’t like to travel too far from the theme parks to eat, and after much thinking and tinkering, exactly 180 days before I arrive, I came up with the following places to eat


Arrive Sunday: have lunch at Flame Tree BBQ, Dinner at Hollywood and Vine, the Fantasmic Dinner Package.

Monday: Breakfast at Pop Food Court, lunch at Merakash, dinner at Cape May.

Tuesday: Breakfast Sunshine court in the Land, lunch at Kona Café, dinner at Grand Floridian Café.

Wednesday: Breakfast at Pop food court, lunch at Grand Floridan café, dinner at 'Ohanna

Thursday:  breakfast at Sunshine court in the Land, lunch at Coral Reef, dinner at Le Cellier

Friday: Breakfast at Boma, lunch at Yak n Yeti, dinner at Spoodles

Saturday: Breakfast at Crystal Palace, lunch at Pop food court. Leave for train station after lunch.


In case you don’t know, Sunday around lunch time at Animal Kingdom, evening at the Studios.  Monday will be a full day at Epcot. Tuesday and Wednesday will be full days spent at Magic Kingdom.  Thursday at Epcot again. Friday morning at Animal Kingdom, afternoon and evening at the studios.  Also I will spend one evening at Downtown Disney, to be determined.


Years past, I always enjoyed a good steak dinner at the Contemporary Steakhouse in the Contemporary Hotel outside of the Magic Kingdom.  Not only was the food great, so was the service too.  You don’t feel rushed eating here and you can relax.  I always do lunch here as it is nice mid day break.  But they closed it earlier this year.  Not in its place, but in the same resort opened a new restaurant called The Wave.  I did make a ADR (dinner reservation in Disney speak) for it, but after looking at the menu, I canceled it and decided to eat a second meal at Grand Floridian Café.  I never ate there before, so I hope eating there twice won’t be a bad thing.


Besides never eating at The Grand Floridian Café before, I am also trying for the first time Merakash, Cape May, Kona Café, and Yak n Yeti, which also just opened up recently.  I never ate at Boma either and was concerned how to get there in the morning, but I heard good things about it for Breakfast, so I was going to get up early to do this.  People who know me, know my eating habits said Merakash?  I said yes J  I looked at the menu and found interesting things to eat, things I ate before like shish ka bobs and people said the spices were mild.


Going to and leaving from the world


For the fourth time, I am taking Amtrak round trip.  To go from the train station to the hotel and back, I am using Sunray again.


As in the past couple of years, after booking my sleeper car, I keep an eye on the rates and for the third time that I watched the rates after booking, the price of the sleeper dropped and quickly went to Penn station to trade in my tickets for the new cheaper room rate.


Fast forward to days before I am supposed to leave.


The reason I go this time of year for the last several years is because Disney offers free dinning.  Why do they offer free dinning? Because this is a slow time of year for them.  Why? One reason is children head back to school (even though I see plenty of kids missing school while there) and two, this is hurricane season.  The last several years, my luck has been good, the weather has been great, but this year, the story would be different.


Now this trip is going to be a story about me and a hurricane named Hanna.


For it seems like weeks, the news has been full of hurricanes hitting the east coast and the Caribbean. I found myself clicking on weather.com daily, then days before I was supposed to leave, almost every chance I got. You see, there was this hurricane named Hanna that was being forecast to come ashore north of Florida and travel up the east coast.  The forecast wasn’t looking good, for the same time I should be traveling south, Hanna was going north. 


I called Amtrak Thursday to ask about my train. They told me right now the train was still scheduled for Saturday.  They also told me in extreme bad weather, service can be affected if there is debris on the tracks.  The way Amtrak operates in the Northeast is this way, they use electric locomotives for service between Washington DC to Boston, going through New York.  To power the locomotives, they have overhead wires, wires which routinely get blown down in high winds.  I hope I can make it to Washington before the storm can make any damage.  To say I had anxiety is an under statement.  Some weeks earlier, I read how someone was booked on the Auto train which was cancelled and they could only rebook them days later.  They wound up driving down.  My worry was the same thing, what would I do if my train was cancelled and they could only rebook me days later, how many days could I loose and still make it worthwhile?


Friday afternoon, weather.com was still showed no change, but I also checked Amtrak's website, and there was a storm update that Friday's trains going to Florida was canceled, but nothing about Saturday's train.  I checked my home answering machine, and no messages.  In the past, when things have changed, Amtrak left me voicemails telling me so.


I called Amtrak, gave her my train number and told her I was leaving Saturday.  She looked and my heart sunk, the train was cancelled.  I asked her what my choices are. She said I can either get a refund or rebook another train.  With my stomach sinking further, I asked about Sunday's train, she looked and said there were openings.  I told her to book me on Sunday’s train.  For the first time in a week, I felt ok.  For all weather predictions said the storm would pass New York by Saturday night.  Sunday, the weather was great.  I had my sleeper room on the train only a day late.


This means I would arrive on Monday.  Sunday night, I have booked the Fantasmic package at Hollywood and Vine.  For those not familiar, even if on the dinning plan, where the meal is prepaid, you still need to give a credit card to hold the reservation, in case you don’t show up, they will penalize you for not canceling it.  Now this is Friday afternoon for a adr Sunday evening.  My next phone call was to Disney dinning.  Its amazing how you remember a number that you only called maybe once or twice a year.  I called Disney dinning and canceled my adr with a couple of hours to spare, as you need to cancel 48 hours prior to your dinning time.


The CM (all Disney workers are called Cast members, CM for short) who canceled my adr transferred me to Disney Travel because I needed to let them know, I am taking a day off my trip.  Now I did get the optional travel insurance, and Disney does have a policy of understanding if a guest has travel problems due to weather at the theme park or where they live.  Having my transportation canceled the last minute definitely qualified me.


I explained to the Travel agent CM what happened to me and she was very helpful.  She rebooked my package minus a nights stay and park day ticket.  I went from 6 nights to 5 nights, and from 7 park days to 6.  After all this was all done, for the first time in a week or more, I felt good, the bullet I was fearing killed only a day of my trip, but I still have 6 more. From the time I first called Amtrak till I hung up on Disney Travel Agency, 40 minutes passed, but how I felt was a world of difference.  For the first time in over a week, I felt a great weight lifted off my shoulder.


When I got home, I emailed Bob and told him the new plans.  I called him the next day to make sure he got my email and that was the last issue I had to deal with,


Now I just had to go home and finish packing, as everything I wanted to take was sitting in my open suitcase, which didn’t close, so I had to now decide on things I need to take, not just things I wanted to.  All day Saturday I looked out the window and thought, it really doesn't look that bad, but this wasn’t my choice.


Tomorrow, my trip begins.