Sunday, April 26, 2009

DISNEY: Resorts and MiniGolf

Today, I went resort hopping and mini-golfing with my friends Christopher and Sherri. We had originally planned the trip to visit the Muppet Exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Museum and to play miniature golf at Winter Summerland, but the two were on complete opposite sides of Orlando, so we decided on the miniature golf and also decided to do some MK resort hopping in order to soak up more of the Disney spirit.

We started the day with some extra sleep. I managed to get a few things done at the house before Christopher and Sherri came and picked me up at 10:00am. We weren't going into any of the parks, so there was no need to rush, and that was nice. However, we faced the matter of deciding whether to do mini-golf first or resorts first. We flipped a coin then decided on resorts first.

We free-parked at the Ticket and Transportation Center (*yay annual pass!*). We didn't even need the parking lot tram. We first took the ferry boat over to the front gates of Magic Kingdom on our way to the Contemporary. And since it was an absolutely beautiful day, we took the walkway to the resort. I got some nice ground shots of the Bay Lake Towers en route, though the best photos came from when we went around to the back of the resort -- the BLT looks cut off (cool!).

From there, we rode the resort monorail to the Polynesian -- Stitch's home -- where we took some pictures with the O'hana signage and took a short break in the lobby. Then we headed out to the volcano pool and then down the walkway towards the Grand Floridian.

We walked by the Wedding Pavilion where Christopher and Sherri shared a nice moment -- their anniversary is coming up -- and I took some photos of them -- my first stint as a Disney PhotoPass wedding photographer. Again, it was a lovely, sunny day with a light breeze. And the walk was quite serene.

We arrived at the Grand Floridian and walked upstairs for a rest in front of the Citrico's entrance. We noshed on some packed snacks, and I admired how this resort had really good lighting. It really is a classy place.

We took the resort monorail back to the Magic Kingdom then got in queue for a small boat to the Wilderness Lodge Resort. We ended up on a good-sized "small" boat. We rode up front (I'm the king of the world!) and there was a CD there with us who was play-throwing his little boy off the boat (awww...).

At the Wilderness Lodge, we walked by the geyser (not active while we were there) and watched some of the pool lifeguards play a wilderness version of musical chairs with the little kids -- it was quite cool because ties were broken using the back-together rock-paper-scissors method -- organized and effective (well done).

By this time, we were all hungry and went over to the Roaring Fork and picked up some more substantial food -- Christopher and Sherri got sandwiches (Ham and Tillamook Cheddar, Smoked Turkey and Brie) while I went for the pepperoni flatbread pizza and chocolate silk soymilk.

After that, we headed to the lobby, which was grand but, as I really noticed this time, dark... so dark... and noisy -- and a contrast to the Grand Floridian. Anyways, we checked out the shop, where I searched for the resort's bear mascot, which was cute and surprisingly soft. I will probably get one if/when they go on sale.

Anyways, we went to the bus stop and took the one to Blizzard Beach, which is adjacent to Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course, our next stop. I was particularly excited about this since it'd be my first time there. On the way there, a red car coming off an exit ramp nearly ran into the bus. I watched the whole thing but didn't really make any noise to alert the driver, who quickly saw the point of my interest and laid on the horn, averting a possible car-wreck pic... (this is probably a morbid sign of my personality... *shrug*).

Anywho, we got to Blizzard Beach/Winter Summerland alright and it seemed to be a quaint operation -- tucked under a small collection of trees -- an intimate shade. Anyways, Winter Summerland offered two 18-hole courses -- one was the Snow (Winter) Course and the other was the Sand (Summer) Course. We did both.

Neither course was all too challenging. Winter Summerland is geared towards little kids and families, and we had a lot of fun. The theming was fantastic, and I liked how both courses kinda mirrored each other. There were some unique holes, like the spitting fish on the sand side. My favorite hole, in name and accompanying poem, was "Squirty the Snowman" (seriously, Snow Course hole 13):

"Squirty the Snowman
Is a Jolly Happy Soul
He loves to cool off golfers
Who putt into this hole"

Anyways, It was 5:55pm when we finished up with the mini golf and headed towards the buses. We noticed that the Blizzard Beach parking lot was quite empty, and so we checked the signs, which made note that the last buses leave an hour after the water park closes, which happened to be 5pm... we are getting on the next bus to anywhere! And surely and thankfully, one final fleet of buses did come to pick up all remaining guests.

Now seasoned veterans of the Disney transportation system, Christopher, Sherri, and I got on the bus to the Grand Floridian, where we were going to transfer to the resort monorail, which was going to take us to the TTC parking lot. As we made our way through the lobby of the Grand Floridian, there was a man in a concert suit playing on the grand piano, and it was really cute when a little girl dressed up as Belle walked up to the side of the piano for a closer look.

Christopher, Sherri, and I took the birdcage elevator up to the second floor and listened to the pianist. The music was relaxing, and I was being taken in. I enjoyed watching the pianist play, and a couple times, he looked up directly at me and clearly smiled. My heart skipped a few beats. The music finished, and we continued on our way, happy with that magical feeling.

We were able to ride in the nose of the monorail for nearly all the resort circuit. I'm glad that things worked out and that they were able to have that experience. Sherri really enjoyed it, and the joy in her face was fantastic.

After we got back to Melbourne, I played host for dinner -- frozen dinner kit (yeah, Sherri and I made Christopher do the cooking). I wanted to introduce them to Wonderfalls, one of my all-time favorite tv shows. We watched the first two episodes (Wax Lion and Pink Flamingos), and they loved it *yay!*. Then we called it a night. I can't believe that we have to go back to work tomorrow, and it's a long week. I'm hoping to get a lot accomplished (God knows I'll needs it).

Anyways, it was a fantastic day. I really like Christopher and Sherri because they're people I feel comfortable with. They're nice and encouraging in the positive way. And I enjoy their company.

Pictures from our resort hopping can be found after the itinerary. The Winter Summerland pictures will be found in upcoming posts.
Here's what we did this visit:









- Snow Course
- Sand Course


Resort MONORAIL (Nose!) to TTC

Kermit & Stitch w/apple sauce & a rice crispy treat, respectively
Polynesian pic from the Ferry boat
Space Mountain with its top cut open?
On the walkway to the Contemporary
Looks cut off (cool!)
Kermit & Stitch w/Uncle Christopher & Auntie Sherri
Riding the monorail
O'hana means Family
We couldn't resist
Happy Anniversary
At the Grand Floridian
On the Mermaid I to the lodge
Sandwiches and Pizza with a Wilderness flair
Lodge Sheriff I <3 the resort bear
Welcome to Winter Summerland
I want to go there.
One last rest
We chose the nose! :)
Sherri's holding onto Christopher's head
(Special Bonus pic)

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