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Old 01-08-2011, 08:08 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by ChildAtHeart82 View Post
Arrival days are always so exciting! It looks like you all had a good start at DTD. Every time we've been there it's been so crowded. Were you guys staying at Shades of Green?
Yes we were!!!
Arrival day was an event in its own. This was our first one so it was new and unique.
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:55 AM   #17
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Yay! You started a trip report! Great start so far. I totally understand about being on time and seeing your plans go out the window. That was me 100%. I have since tried to calm down.

Looks like you had a great time at downtown disney. I can't wait to read more.
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by DisneyAsh32 View Post
Yay! You started a trip report! Great start so far. I totally understand about being on time and seeing your plans go out the window. That was me 100%. I have since tried to calm down.

Looks like you had a great time at downtown disney. I can't wait to read more.
Yay! Glad you could find my TR. It's definitely hard to plan for certain things months ahead of time and be all right when it messes up.


I know it's been awhile since I updated, but I started school again this week, and I managed to catch a cold and laryngitis. Therefore, I am a little under the weather, but I promise to pick back up soon!
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Old 01-13-2011, 06:46 PM   #19
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Arriving at Shades of Green

Aaah, I decided to take a break from a very boring paper I'm trying to write. Blame it on the homework or the cold, but I have been missing Disney tremendously today. I need some TR updating to cheer me back up.


Shades of Green:


DBF and I decided to leave DD and head on over to Shades of Green, even though we knew check-in was at 1500 (3 o'clock) and it was only 1:45. We figured we might as well get there and just wait around until the designated time rolled around.

The roads and signs were surprisingly easy to navigate. There was not a lot of traffic and the vehicles that were on the road were mostly buses going to and from the different resorts. I'd love to tell you the route we took and the places we passed, but I am HORRIBLE with directions. I just sort of stared in amazement as DBF drove around like he'd done it a million times before.

I did, however, recognize the roof of the Polynesian Resort and became very excited.

For those of you who are not familiar with Shades of Green, it is an all-military and DoD employee resort. It does technically fall under the "Disney" resort qualifications, but it does not carry all of the perks. For example, you cannot get a Dining Plan if you stay there, but you can get EMH. You don't have Disney decor surrounding you with CMs (with the exception of one pretty awesome Mickey statue), but you do get the same transportation system.

But the best thing about SoG is it's location. Never having been before, I didn't really understand how close it is to everything.

Returning to my excitement...I knew when I saw the Poly we were close, because SoG is right across the street from that resort.

And sure enough, I pulled my flabbergasted gaze away from the beauty that is the Poly and looked left. There it was! The entrance sign! DBF slowed down just so I could take a photo.



We drove to the entrance gate, where DBF handed the gate guard his military ID and reservation confirmation. We watched as the man riffled through a box of cards and pulled out one that said "Parking Pass," "December 17-21" and DBF's first and last name.

Talk about being prepared.

This is what the resort looks like from the front:


We drove and parked in front of the lobby and walked inside. By then it was reaching 2:00pm, and I didn't have my hopes raised at getting our room.

I walked into the lobby and almost stopped in my tracks.




It was my first real taste of how in-depth Disney goes with their holiday decorations, and I was overcome by all the details. I couldn't look long, though, because DBF spotted the front desk, which is cleverly hidden, almost as an aside to the lobby. He gleefully announced that there were other people checking in, so we jumped in line and waited.

I think we stood about ten minutes, but I didn't mind much because there was a tiny tv set up next to the line playing Peter Pan. The tiny wooden chairs made it seem like the film was meant for distracting young children, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The woman who checked us in was super speedy. She printed DBF the bill, gave us our room keys, a map that showed where our room was, and a packet of other papers. When I called back in July to reserve the room, I had asked if I could request a side (there's pool side and golf side) but they said they don't take requests that early on.

By September/October, I decided to play a wild card and take what they gave us. Turns out, we got the golf side, room 1144. At that moment, I couldn't remember if that was the section that had recently gotten revamped, but I was pretty confident that it was, so I was a happy camper.

Not to mention, we were able to check-in almost 45 minutes ahead of schedule!!!! It made the meltdown earlier that morning seem dumb.

Skipping away from the desk, I ran back to the car and we [I]attempted[/]to park in the garage. Here is where two adults turned into idiots.

The front desk woman told us to park on the first floor, but DBF must have went the wrong way and ended up entering from the second floor. Being the rule follower that I am, I started pleading with DBF to go down to the first floor. For some insane reason, I thought we might get in trouble for parking on the wrong floor. I only say that because there were numbers some ofthe parking spots.

DBF drove to the first floor, and I saw that there were more numbers.

Were we supposed to get a number?

Panicking, I sent DBF BACK to the 2nd level and found spots without numbers. DBF pulled into a spot really close to the entry door, and we piled out once more, grabbing our pillows and backpacks.

We got inside and that was when it hit me. Duhhhhh

The only reason we needed to park on the first level was because that was where our room was.

Sigh.

Oh well. The elevators were right next to the door so we ignored my ignorance and hopped inside a free elevator.

After exiting, DBF lead the way to our room. It involved several turns and halls and I probably would have gotten lost every time I returned to the room if DBF weren't with me.

Fast forward two trips to the car, and we were ready to really enjoy our room.

The entrance:


It's really hard to describe just how big our room was. It had two queens and a fold out couch that could probably have fit two people on it. I opened the room door and was just swept away with how much space we had.

On the right side was a closet with a safe, and on the left was the bathroom.

The bathroom.

I know, it sounds strange, but anyone that has ever stayed in a hotel knows how tiny bathrooms normally are. It's one of the downsides to vacationing.

But this bathroom...oh my.

First off, there was a door that led to the sinks.


Double vanity sinks.
I knew about half the rooms had the new double vanities, and I prayed and prayed we'd get one with them.

Sure enough.

The sink area alone was bigger than DBF's apartment's entire bathroom.

It even had little cubbies for the hand towels and plenty of counter space.

To top it off, I turned around and saw another door.

FINALLY!!!!!

I would've paid double the price for that room just for the fact that the toilet and shower were a completely seperate room than the sink area. It saves so much time being able to have one person getting ready while the other showers, and the fact that both areas could be cut off by a door was more than I could've wished for.

Please don't think I'm weird for being so in love with a bathroom. The small space that I normally encounter really does drive me nuts.

When I actually made it past the bathroom, I got a better look at the living area. For the first floor, the ceilings were high.


I loved all the small details SoG did to try and make it seem less hotel-y. For instance, the fridge was hidden inside a part of the dresser. It blended so well I didn't even have to think about the fact that it was mini-fridge.

Believing the room couldn't possibly get any better, I took a step outside.

DBF was a little bummed that we got ground floor, but I was silently grateful. I knew I'd be waking up before DBF, and I would rather have had solid ground underfoot.

This was our little patio:


I ended up eating breakfast there every morning. This was, by far, my favorite thing about the room. The next time I go I am going to beg for ground floor again.

This was my view directly ahead of the patio:


The stone pillar was a little distracting at times, but if there were ever any other people out on their patios, I would've appreciated the semi-privacy they provided.

Looking left:


Looking right:


How do you beat that?!

I could've stayed out there all afternoon, but DBF wanted to put together our laynards, so I made my way back inside.




Coming up...goofing around with our pins and touring the grounds!
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Old 01-13-2011, 06:54 PM   #20
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Thanks for the SoG pictures. I have been wanting to stay there and wasn't sure, Can't beat the price tha's for sure. Do they use Disney buses or their own? How constant are they? Now on to a park I hope.
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Old 01-13-2011, 09:45 PM   #21
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Thanks for the SoG pictures. I have been wanting to stay there and wasn't sure, Can't beat the price tha's for sure. Do they use Disney buses or their own? How constant are they? Now on to a park I hope.
I have more pics of the grounds in my next post. I read a lot of reviews that said SoG was mediocre or worse, so I was a little apprehensive about going, but it turned out great. And for the price you pay it's wonderful. I made sure to take a lot of pics, because I was dying for more when I was doing my planning.

They do use their own buses, but it's really easy to transfer to another bus. The TTC bus ran every 20 minutes. DHS and AK was once an hour, though. To get to Epcot and MK you had to take the TTC bus and hop on the monorails or ferry, and that wasn't hard to deal with. But all the buses were on time and it was only crowded coming home from the parks at night. They start running around 7:30 and keep running an hour and a half after the last park closes, so there's never a panic to make it on a bus in time.

And I would suggest if the bus to the TTC is packed, and you're trying to go to MK and don't have to carry too much, just walk to the Polynesian and hop on the monorail. It's a pretty short distance.
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Old 01-14-2011, 06:23 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by amazingact21 View Post
Yay! Glad you could find my TR. It's definitely hard to plan for certain things months ahead of time and be all right when it messes up.


I know it's been awhile since I updated, but I started school again this week, and I managed to catch a cold and laryngitis. Therefore, I am a little under the weather, but I promise to pick back up soon!
I hope you're feeling better! I started school this week too so I'm right there with you. I'm already stressed out.

Shades of Green looks like such a nice resort. I love how big the rooms are. I'm glad your arrival day is going well!
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:05 AM   #23
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I hope you're feeling better! I started school this week too so I'm right there with you. I'm already stressed out.

Shades of Green looks like such a nice resort. I love how big the rooms are. I'm glad your arrival day is going well!
The beginning of semesters always freak me out because I get a broad mental picture of all that's required of me in the months to come, and that of course makes me panic.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:32 AM   #24
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Walking the grounds of SoG

After touring our room, DBF and I put together our laynards and pins and opened up our mystery keys. Surprisingly enough, I managed to get a Minnie Mouse mystery key and DBF got a Stitch key.
They were incredibly cool.


We were both pretty excited to be wearing a piece of Disney on us.
Here's DBF:


And here's me:


It had reached 4:00, and my itenerary called for us to start touring the grounds at 4:15. Therefore, I shoved DBF out the door and we headed off.

The weather was truly perfect that afternoon. It was high 60s, low 70s, but the best part about it was the fact that the sun was shining. It was the only time on the trip I was able to wear shorts and short sleeved shirts.

Here's some photos of the grounds:


SoG uses this gazebo to host wedding ceremonies and from the looks of it there was one about to occur.



Despite the sunshine, it was still too cold to swim, but I still enjoyed walking by the pool and imagining what it would mean to relax by the water.



Ready to go explore some of the indoor scenery, we walked inside a lobby and the next thing I knew DBF was in here;






I waited for him to get his video game fix and we continued on.

We ended up walking downstairs past this beautiful waterfall. I stood next to it and just listened to the sound of the water falling on the rocks, and I would have gladly stayed there longer if DBF wasn't ready to move on.

I was afraid I wasn't going to have time to see it again, but it turned out that the bus area is right outside the waterfall staircase. I ended up seeing it every morning and night.



DBF and I had finished touring Shades of Green so it was time to move on to my next item on the agenda.

Touring other resorts!

I knew from planning that the Polynesian was in walking distance and the MK monorail ran from that resort to the Grand Floridian and the Contemperary. So I directed DBF to the sidewalk and we headed to the Poly!




Up next: Losing my boyfriend in bamboo and gift shops and catching our first glimpse of the castle!
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:13 PM   #25
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Hi, I just saw the link to your TR! Shades of Green looks really nice. I didn't realize it was that close to everything. I like your key pins. They are very cute. Can't wait to read more!
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:45 PM   #26
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Hi, I just saw the link to your TR! Shades of Green looks really nice. I didn't realize it was that close to everything. I like your key pins. They are very cute. Can't wait to read more!
Glad you could find my TR. The key pins turned out to be better than I expected, and DBF is still showing them off to people.
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:46 PM   #27
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Losing my boyfriend in bamboo and catching our first glimpse of the castle

Seeing the resorts

"Alex get out of the bamboo! You're not supposed to be in there!"

Picking up where I left off, DBF and I walked off of Shades of Green property, crossed a semi-scary road, and entered the Polynesian. We only had to walk a few feet before we passed under the monorail and became immersed in the tropical atmosphere.



DBF chose to test out the scenery by walking off the sidewalk and into a cluster of bamboo trees. I looked around really fast to make sure we weren't about to get scolded by some CMs and saw that we were alone. DBF touched a few of the trees, looked around, pretended to be trapped in a cluster of them, and then got bored and jumped back on the sidewalk.

Once again, I followed DBF as he steered around the property, acting as if he knew exactly where every turn and door should be. The man had seen maybe four pictures of the resort before the trip, yet he knew the routes better than I did!

We walked past a few doors, turned a corner, and came across a dock area. Even though I knew the Polynesian was close to Magic Kingdom it never dawned on me that I could see some silhouettes until my eyes caught Space Mountain.



I grabbed DBF's shirt sleeve and pointed, very excited.

"Look, look, look! It's Space Mountain!!!"

DBF gave me a strange look and let me have my moment. I enjoyed the wonderful view for a minute or to, then decided I needed to move on. It was only Space Mountain, after all.
So, I unglued my eyes and took a few more steps forward towards a nearby entrance. Then I saw the jackpot:



The castle!!!!!


I cannot even describe in words my response to catching a glimpse of the castle, because it was a lot of squeals and exclamations and giggling. Anyone passing by probably thought I was thirteen years old.

DBF tried really hard to get me to calm down; he looked around like he would rather be with anyone other than a hopping girlfriend at the moment. I can imagine I looked like I had ants in my pants or something similar to that effect.

I didn't really care, though. It had been SIX YEARS since I'd seen the castle, and to me, that was the final proof I needed to convince myself that I was on vacation.



I don't remember how DBF did it, but he managed to wrangle me away from the dock and inside the Poly. we walked around for a bit and checked out a few gift shops, then we headed to the monorail to take our first trip.



This was the first time I'd ever ridden on a monorail (the same with DBF). I can't remember why I never took it as kid; I think my family preffered the ferry. Anyways, I expected the ride to be longer, but it felt like as soon as we sat down, we were at the Grand Floridian. So off we hopped!

I took over fifty pictures of the resort, but I am trying to pick my favorites to put on here. Truly, though, the entire place, not even accounting for the extra details, is picturesque enough.

The first thing we saw when we got off the monorail was a gorgeous outside lobby area on the floor below us. They had poinsettias everywhere with small reindeer decorations. We also caught a glimpse of the parked carriage and car.

It was all so charming.



If the Polynesian put me in laid-back tropical mood, then the Grand Floridian took me back to another time. Everywhere I looked there was something shining or regal or ellaborate. My eyes were just glazed over with awe.



All I was thinking in this picture was "Holy cow! That chandelier is so big I could build a fort under it and live inside it!"

DBF wanted to look inside one of the gift shops, so I waited around on some plush furniture, feeling like I should have been dressed and ready to take tea. I also watched as a bride got whisked up the stairs.



Lucky woman.

I was probably more than a little green with envy, so I went back to DBF and we walked the grounds some more. I cannot recall how many balconies we walked out on and how many oohs and aahs we let out. Especially when we made it to the gingerbread house.



There were so many details on the structure. Everywhere I looked I saw some new Disney character or new figurine hiding in the shadows. It was certainly a sight to see, and I think anyone who goes to WDW during the holidays should try and catch a glimpse of it.

We walked outside and found ourselves with a great view of the Polynesian. Seeing it full-scale like that made me realize just how massive the place is.


I saw a fountain that I loved and demanded we sit by to rest our feet for a bit.
DBF, naturally, had to ruin a great photo oppurtunity.







We got restless sitting around, so we made our way towards the beach. We saw an open hammock but we weren't sure if we wanted to utilize it, because we were both wearing fairly nice shoes.
I decided I didn't care, though, and plowed through the sand to nab the seat.

*side note* The other day I went to put on the shoes that I wore that day and discovered there was still sand in them. It gave me something to smile about that morning.






Excuse the feet, but I loved this moment. It was probably one of my favorite times on the trip. We were relaxing, watching the sun fade on the water, and not worrying about a thing.
It was one of those times that DBF and I agreed made his deployment almost worth it. Being away from him and worrying about him constantly was not fun, but being able to use that money and lay on the beach of the Grand Floridian made it bearable, that's for sure.

Even though the place was pretty empty, I felt bad for taking a guest of the resort's spot, so I made us leave after about ten minutes. We walked back to the monorail and boarded.

I don't know why, but it was really crowded, and it only got worse when we arrived at MK. I am not the most graceful person in the world, so all I kept thinking about was how to make sure I didn't fall on the ride.
Can you tell from my pic?


DBF thought my face and my death grip on the rails was hilarious and felt he had to memorialize with a photo.




We had planned to look around the Contemporary Resort, but we just weren't feeling up to it. So, we took some pics on the monorail and "remained seated" while we wound our way back to the Polynesian.









I wanted to freak out when I saw this view, but much to DBF's relief there were too many people around for me to start really spazzing out.



Much too soon, we were back at the Polynesian. It was only about 5:30 (resort hopping took way less time than I predicted) and we had an ADR at Kona Cafe for 8:00pm. We were both pretty tired and came up with the solution that we needed to rest for awhile before our dinner.
With that, we made our way back to SoG.




Up next: The final post about arrival day. After that, I'll stop yammering and get on to the good stuff...the parks!!!
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Old 01-17-2011, 06:30 PM   #28
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SOOOOO jealous that you got to see all the pretty Christmas Decorations! I'm thinking another trip is in order for me and DBF . And the hammock looked so relaxing. I love those moments.
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:37 PM   #29
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SOOOOO jealous that you got to see all the pretty Christmas Decorations! I'm thinking another trip is in order for me and DBF . And the hammock looked so relaxing. I love those moments.
Haha! I think you could use it as a perfect excuse to go back! Besides, if you go this year, that'd still leave a 6 month gap between your trips, and I've learned that that can be a long time to go without Disney!
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:00 PM   #30
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Dinner at Kona Cafe and Firework on the Beach

The Night of the 17th

DBF and I lounged around and watched tv in our room until 7:25pm. I had to change outfits, because I stepped out on the deck and the cold weather had arrived.

We gathered all our stuff and walked back to the Polynesian. Since it was getting late, the shops and restaurants were busy and there were a lot more people to make our way around.

We made it to Kona Cafe, and I gave the CM my name and reservation time. They told me it would be awhile and handed us a beeper machine.




DBF found some seats and watched Goofy meet and greet guests for awhile.


We quickly got bored of that, though, so we walked around the shops. DBF was still looking at pins when our seat became available.


The dinner was fantastic! I know Ohana's tops the cake on the Polynesian's restaurants, but Kona Cafe is well worth the meal. Our waitress was efficient and brought our food out really quickly. (Of course, that might also have been because it was late and there weren't a lot of people eating anymore.)

We started off with bread. It was Hawaiian bread served with a macadamian nut butter.


Oh man, DBF and I could've just ate the bread and been good. I couldn't get enough of it. Even after my entree, when I had to push my plate away because I was so stuffed, I went back for one more piece of this bread.

I got pot stickers and shared them with DBF, but sadly they were gone before I could snap a picture. The fact that they were gone in such a short time should tell you how we felt about them.


DBF order the teriyaki New York strip steak with rice and broccoli. He loves, loves, loves steak, and this dish didn't stand a chance with him. He devoured it.
I tasted the steak and thought it was pretty good, but I'm not a huge fan of steaks. The broccoli, however, was amazing. It looked like asparagus, which amused both of us, and when it was dipped in the teriyaki sauce, it contained so much flavoring.



I had the coconut-almond chicken


The almond flavoring made me love my dish choice. It made the chicken really sweet tasting.
I wasn't a huge fan of the greens, but whatever sauce they put over them was delicious.

After the entrees it was time for my favorite part of the meal...dessert!

Prior to this trip, I was trying really hard to stay active and eat healthy that way I could reward myself on vacation and not feel guilty. I made myself skimp on sweets for about two months in order to pig out at WDW.

And the time to indulge had finally arrived!

Alex got this: I wish I could remember the name of it, but honestly, I was focusing soley on my food.


I ordered the white chocolate cheesecake.


It was extremely rich; I only managed to eat 3/4 of it. But, my oh my, I enjoyed every bite of it.


By the time we finished our desserts and paid, it was nearing 9:30pm. We'd had a long day and were both pretty tired, but I figured we might as well see if we could catch some of Wishes from the beach.
We walked to the viewing area and it was freezing! I was wearing flip flops because I knew we weren't going far, and my toes were popsicles!

To our surprise, there weren't that many people on the beach. I think it might've been because MVMCP was occuring that night. Either way, DBF snagged a lawn chair and turned it to face the castle.

We had no sooner sat down and turned on the camera when Wishes began.

Talk about timing!

We didn't have to wait at all or worry about finding a seat.








This was the very first time either of us had seen Wishes, and I thought it was a great way to top off our arrival day. I felt lucky that we were able to watch it sitting down on the beach with barely any crowds and the music turned up around us.
And the view could not be beat.

Before we knew it, the show was over and we had to make our way back to our resort.

As we passed through the lobby, we saw an elderly couple trying (and failing) to take a group picture in front of the Mickey statue, so I offered to take it for them and they, in return, took one of DBF and I.



I loved the Mickey statue, because it very patriotic. His shoes had the Declaration of Independence on it, the word Freedom, and other important symbols. It was done very tastefully and kind of brought Disney and military appreciation together.



Finally, it was off to bed for us.




Coming up....Blinking lights are never a good thing, and remember my fight with making coffee? Well, Round 2 is about to begin!!!
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