October 2014 Trip Report – HHN Nights And Food & Wine Days – Day 5

October 2014 Trip Report – HHN Nights And Food & Wine Days – Day 5

IMG_2482_EThe prior night, we all agreed we would simply meet at checkout time the following morning at 11:00am. Some rest was needed by all. Stayed in bed as long as possible and finally my anxiety kicked in and got me packing. I always feel like I am leaving something behind no matter how many times I pace the room looking in every drawer, closet, and empty electrical outlet. The television in your room has an option to checkout which makes everything very easy when it is ready to leave. We went ahead and checked out using the remote and brought our bags down to the car with the inevitable end of our stay at Cabana Bay was looming.

Cabana Bay standard rooms are very reasonable and comparative in cost to the Disney value resorts. For that cost you do get some amenities that the values at Disney simply do not. A full bar, a  lazy river, and a bowling alley are a few such amenities. The bus transportation, in my experience, was far more efficient and to be fair their is only one bus route as opposed to the many Disney has to provide. I would sum up the experience as a Disney moderate hotel but at a value price. It is easy to find an annual pass discount at 30% or more per night which makes it even more desirable. Weekday and weekend prices per night are different and we stayed for 2 of each price which brought the average cost per night to 80 dollars. Unlike Disney resorts, all of the Loews resorts charge 10 dollars per day to park, bringing the average cost of our stay to 85 dollars a night with the two rooms. I have to say the group consensus was these were the best nights sleep any of us had experienced in a very long time. This could have been a result of us commando style from morning to night every day so we would crash upon return, possibly the fact the beds are brand new, or they really are that good. My next visit I will pay attention to that.

IMG_2485_EThis was my second stay at the resort, the first with the entire hotel open. I am still extremely happy with the resort and plan on returning to stay yet again in the winter. The value when comparing the amenities and location to the cost just can not be beaten.

I did have one final epic failure in my planning but fortunately there was an easy recovery. With their flight being in the evening we needed something to do today that did not include parks since they did not have tickets. I planned on us going to Galaxy Bowl for some lunch and bowling after checking out. It would have been fantastic had it opened at 11, but alas it was not opening until noon which would mean sitting around for an hour. I offered up the idea of heading to Splitsville at Downtown Disney as an alternative and we all jumped into the Mazda and off we went.

Parking at Downtown Disney since construction has begun a couple years back is something I try not to do. Fortunately for us before noon on a Monday wasn’t too bad. Still didn’t get a great parking spot but nobody had to get hurt when pulling into an available space.  We parked out by the old Pleasure Island entrance which is pretty convenient for where we were headed.

Besides being open earlier than Galaxy Bowl, Splitsville has a lot more to offer. 5 Bars, outside seating, balcony seating, entertainment, billiards, and 30 bowling lanes to give you just a sample. It also has some pretty good food including very positive reviews of the restaurants sushi offerings. This was an early lunch so we kept it simple burgers and blazing chicken or buffalo fingers as more commonly known. We all enjoyed it, and also enjoyed washing it down with a giant glass of Stella Artois. Upon finishing up with lunch we stepped over and got our rental shoes and were escorted to our lane. Bowling, more beer, bowling, more beer and a lot of fun making total fools of ourselves. I did the responsible thing before having yet another giant beer and asked my friend if he minded behaving and driving us on the next leg of our trip. Once he agreed, more beer, more bowling more beer.

IMG_3103_EAfter bowling, we spent just a little time in the West End and Pleasure Island sections looking around in the shops and so forth before driving to the Boardwalk resort where I could check in and hopefully the room would be ready. Arriving at the Boardwalk is always a pleasure until you realize where the self parking lot is then a brief sigh. I don’t think it is possible for them to have built it any further away. I could put it off for a few more minutes at least by pulling up front and checking in.

Although none of the features of the Boardwalk hotel are my absolute favorite, the sum of all parts make this my favorite place to stay on property at Disney World. The location, the dining access, and the Belle Vue lounge trump everything else in my book. The sum is also able to compensate for the potential of your room being miles away down corridors which strongly reflect scenes from ‘The Shining’.

IMG_3121_E IMG_3120_E IMG_3122_E

I checked in to the hotel and when asked for my magic band I mentioned we were part of the premium food & wine event which to my understanding would include a magic band. They went out back and brought forth the 3 gift bags that came with the package which did of course also include a limited edition magic band. They did their thing and let me know the room was ready. Nothing could stop us now. We moved all of the luggage up to the room and Murphy’s law kicked me in the ass. My magic band fails to open the door. Did I mention some rooms are a mile away down halls that resemble ‘The Shining”? I leave my 3 exhausted cohorts on the hallway floor with the luggage and make the trek back to the lobby. Upon arriving at the lobby, there is a sizable line which I am not really willing to stand in but as I look around the lobby for an alternative, there just isn’t any other than cutting ahead of the people standing in line, and I refuse to be ‘that guy’. So I wait.

As I am being assisted I notice a familiar older couple entering the lobby. I wave them over and now the person helping me can get their bands set as well. My parents will be joining me for the second half of my vacation, or more accurately I am joining them since they are the DVC owners. They cast member assisting us was pleasant and after they had me sorted, he suggested I go back to my friends he would personally escort my parents up to their room. It was a gallant gesture but ultimately he took them to the wrong room. After quite some time my parents finally joined us in the 1 bedroom villa I would call home for the next 4 nights. Did I mention I am staying 5 nights not 4 at the Boardwalk. Yes, more to come on that later on in the report.

IMG_3108_E IMG_3111_E IMG_3112_E

Our 1 bedroom villa would prove to be a very comfy place to return each day while on vacation. The entry hall leads to a full kitchen and a living room area beyond. Off to the right you will find a bathroom complete with a jacuzzi tub and the master bedroom. The living room has a couch that is a pull out sofa and this is where I will be crashing for the duration. I could already tell this was not going to compare to the bed I experienced at Cabana Bay but I also knew it would serve well. I don’t remember ever using the stove but the rest of the kitchen amenities are very convenient allowing for easy snacking and sipping which ultimately saves a few bucks here and there. The rooms are spacious, beautiful, and practical at the Boardwalk and can even be economical if you rent points and have a large family that would normally require two rooms.

So the current group of 6 hung out in the room for a bit, enjoyed a beverage and some chat about what had occurred for the past few days. As the evening rolled in, it was time for half of the group to leave us. As they left in an Uber vehicle to the airport, I went to get the rental car so my parents would not have to walk 10 miles in the rain. I pulled the car up front and picked them up and we made our way to dinner in the town of Celebration. If you have not been to Celebration,  it is as quaint as you are expecting, at least in the central downtown area. It is a great place to take a walk during a beautiful day or a great place to rush through in your car if it is pouring rain as it was on this evening. I wanted to take my parents to a place I had discovered a few years back here in Celebration called the Celebration Tavern. As I approached the entrance there was no parking to be found so I let the two of them out while I went off to park the car. Once back we entered the tavern and instantly felt like we were back at home in Massachusetts.

IMG_3115_EThe tavern is run by locals from the Massachusetts area who ran a restaurant called Kelly’s Landing in Weymouth, MA. They picked up and moved to the warmer climate and opened another Kelly’s Landing in Fort Lauderdale before ending up here at the Celebration Tavern in the Town of Celebration. The place specializes in New England cuisine both land and sea. The inventory is shipped from the north east to ensure it is not only authentically prepared but it is the same products we use at home. A couple of things to note if you have never eaten in New England, try the full bellied Ipswich fried clams for sea food or the steak tips if you are a meat lover. It’s that simple really, the difficult choices will be when you are asked what you want to drink. They have 99 bottled beers to choose from within their beer club offerings and about a dozen beers on tap as well. The decor, the feel is all New England, and I wanted to share a little piece of home with my folks here in balmy Orlando Florida. I strongly recommend trying this place out if you have never been. It is just outside the WDW property so a cab ride is very reasonable in the event you are not renting a car. Way more bang for the buck here than on property with great food, great spirits, and a little break from the bubble never hurt anyone. Visit the town during the day if time permits for a stroll. One walk through the downtown you may find yourself making moving plans.

IMG_3117_EAs we left the tavern and headed back to the villa we made a quick stop at the Publix, also located in Celebration to stock up on supplies (beer) and snacks (things to go along with the beer). Now we were settled in and put the Monday Night Football game on and drank some beer before calling it a day. A good day at that.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10 – Summary