Booked my Final 2014 Trips: Sep 19-23, Dec 13-17

Discussion in 'Trip Reports & Member Reviews' started by zackiedawg, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    I had to wait until I figured out if I was going on a cruise, and when, before I could figure out when I'd be able to squeeze in my last two Disney trips this year - including whether Pixelmania would be in the cards (not likely, unless the cruise fell through). As it happens, the cruise is on, so I won't make Pixelmania, but managed to squeeze in these two trips.

    The first is a rarity for me, as I haven't made it to Food & Wine in many years. I usually go in September, but earlier in the month - with the very late planning this year, I couldn't get a DVC place on the first weekends of the month, but was surprised to find a 1-bedroom available for Food & Wine's opening weekend. Staying at Saratoga Springs, no surprise since that tends to be the last DVC still available...where doesn't much matter - at the moment this is my 'solo' trip I like to take once per year.

    The second trip is the 'usual' Christmas trip in December to see all the Christmas displays and stuff - which usually coordinates with Pixelmania when it falls during the Christmas season...though again due to very last minute planning, I couldn't find a DVC place on that traditional first weekend on Dec 6 - so I had to move 1 week farther on. Surprisingly, I got a spot, again at Saratoga Springs...this time just a studio. I'll probably head up with a friend, though we're still finalizing flights and travel plans.

    If anyone's around on either of those trip dates, let me know - especially in September since I'm traveling solo and have no schedule to keep or people to entertain!
  2. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Ooh - getting closer. Just less than 2 weeks to go - not this Friday, but next. Looking forward to Food & Wine, and a relaxing solo tour dedicated to photography and having no rigid schedule. Tentatively, looking at doing DHS on Friday the 19th when I get up there and check I can try to hit those Frozen fireworks on the way out (looks like 8:45pm that evening)...then Epcot for the Saturday and F&W, Animal Kingdom for Sunday since it has 7pm hours, with maybe an Epcot visit afterwards to close the night, then MK on Monday...try out lunch at Be Our Guest since I haven't eaten there yet. Tuesday I drive back home.

    Then it's another month until my cruise, and a little over a month from there until my December Disney trip. And I've got the January family Disney trip booked too. I love 'winter' even if I don't get to enjoy the cold - because it's all holidays and vacations!
  3. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Two more days! Almost there. Looking like typical Florida rainy days possible - 40-50% chance of rain. I think I'll bring the RX10 camera along just in case - if I end up getting seriously rained out, at least it's waterproof so I can keep shooting.
  4. Craig

    Craig Member Staff Member

    We just got back. Have a great time. The crowds were great everywhere except MK. I took lots of pics for me, about 1000 and over 7 hours of video.
  5. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Next trip coming up again, fairly soon...just about a month away.

    I hope hope hope hope hope for some cool weather!!!!!

    I am so sick of wandering through the parks with just my lightweight camera, no tripod, and a sweat rag - no inspiration to do long exposures, experiment with ND filters, stay for long shows, etc. My photography during hot month visits is decidedly handheld, almost all mirrorless, and often with just one or two lenses. When I get cooler weather, I bring the tripod, stay from 11am until past midnight, take long multiple HDR exposures, daytime long exposures with NDs, and more experimentation. 4 years of no winter is starting to really drive me nuts. Florida better darned well have itself some semblance of winter this year!
  6. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Still hoping cool weather can find its way to Disney in 2 weeks' time. It's been a while since I've experienced the novelty of putting on a long sleeve shirt...let alone a jacket or sweater!
  7. RedOctober25

    RedOctober25 Member

    When I was down a few weeks ago, even I could have used a parka for two of the days. Hope you get the weather you want.
  8. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    That's the weather I would want. I never get to use a parka! ;) Our last verifiable winter down here in S Fla was 2010...since then, it's been stupid hot all through the winter months - if we get any cold front, it lasts for 1-2 days at most - dipping temps into the mid-50s at night the first night, then mid-60s by the 2nd night, then back to upper 70s again the 3rd. We used to get cold fronts that came through a week or two at a time back in 2010 and prior...and as many as 60 days per it's more like 2-5 days a winter.

    Orlando does get colder than we do - at least 20 degrees cooler during cold fronts...but even up there, they don't have the duration they used to - usually no more than 2-3 days are cold, then it pops right back up. So far, this next week and a half are looking very warm - so I have a very slim hope of a cold front dropping down in 12 days!
  9. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    This week is looking promising! It appears starting tomorrow, even down here in S Florida we're going to get our first REAL cool front that doesn't go away in 1 day - we're dropping to lows around 50 tomorrow night, highs around 69-70, and lasting all the way through the weekend. That's fairly unprecedented for us the past 4 years - and means that the Orlando area will be even cooler (as they always are). Advanced forecast looks good for Saturday when I get up there - highs in the upper 60s, lows in the 40s...and the most it seems to be warming up is lows in the mid-50s - which is still pleasant enough for long-exposure tripod work! I hope the forecast holds true, or even cools down more - but I'll take it.
  10. jbwolffiv

    jbwolffiv Member

    As long as the mid 70's return the week between Christmas and New Years. Coming from up here I want warm!
  11. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    You can have the warmth that week - I won't be up there (though I'll be down here suffering through another Christmas sitting by the pool with a pitcher of icy water to cool down). But bring that cold back again by Jan 23, as I'll be back at Disney that week!
  12. jbwolffiv

    jbwolffiv Member

    Boo hoo, suffering by the pool?
  13. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Trip report: Perfection. Simply perfection! OK, I'm referring primarily to the weather...but overall, a very good trip. The weather could not have been better for me - I arrived Saturday to a high of 66 degrees, perfectly clear blue sky and abundant sun. That night, low was in the low 40s. Sunday high 69, low 44, Monday high 70, low 45, and Tuesday was just pushing a little towards the warm side at 74, and a low of only 56 - but not a cloud to be found on any day...just impossibly clear blue skies, virtually no wind.

    Room at Saratoga Springs was beautiful - building 4 in Congress Park, room sitting just 20 feet from the lake, overlooking Downtown Disney unimpeded by trees. Parks were crowded - but nothing unusual for December - standby waits at the slow rides were in the 35-45 minute region, and the fast rides 80-90 minutes.

    Dinners were good - took the rare occasion to book dining reservations (I abhor doing so, but with the crowded December parks, I might have been forced to eat counter-service burgers every night if I didn't)...Maya Grill at Coronado thankfully has improved over their previous Taco-Bell level of food to something more proper Tex-Mex restaurant level food...still not as good as the original Maya Grill in my opinion, but a big improvement over a few years ago. Via Napoli on day 2, and Biergarten on day 3. 4th day I just hit Rainforest Cafe on my way out of Animal Kingdom.

    MK still very much under construction around the end of Main - I thought the expanded viewing areas might have been done by then, but definitely not. Haunted Mansion was closed, but most else was open and not too much scaffolding or walls around. DHS was crowded, but I wanted to see Osborne lights at least one night, so I hit that park the first night there, then closed out at MK which was open until 3am that night. B.A. Hat still there - can't wait to see that go! Second day I hit MK during the day, then went over to Epcot for the nighttime...and to see Illuminations and have dinner. Day 3 was all Epcot day (plus a little Downtown Disney for the morning). Day 4 was AK...that park is seriously under construction! Coming onto Discovery Island, it's all walls around the tree - they're expanding the central area where you first come over the bridge for viewing the nighttime shows being planned once Pandora is up. Pandora still coming along - lots of huge cranes working high above the park. The Everest lake was drained, and walled all the way around, from Flame Tree BBQ to the bridge and all through the Nepal village area. And the construction continues for the expanded quick service area in Harambe...which is walled in so it can't be seen, though a ride on the Conservation Station train will let you look right in on it.

    Can't wait to get the chance to go through the photos - it's going to be tough though - next two days are catching up at work, Friday night is work Christmas party, weekend is gift-wrapping and last minute X-mas gifts to pick up - and I'll have to try to squeeze sorting and processing photos in between all that!

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