In March we went to Disney World for the second time. The first time we went was when my husband was home from Iraq for R&R and our kids were then four (just turned so) and 18 months. This time we took our daughter for her birthday during spring break and the kids were 6 (just turned so) and 4, so we got to experience it a little differently.
The first time we stayed at Shades of Green and we really enjoyed our stay there. This time, we decided to stay at Pop Century. We figured the kids would enjoy it and even though it was a value resort and didn’t have as many of the luxuries as a lot of the other properties, we’d only be there to sleep anyway. Right? I mean, that’s what everyone else says. Wrong. Well, I guess I can thank Disney, because of our experience there, they successfully managed to get us into their Vacation Club…and this was all my husband’s doing. He disliked Pop Century so much (okay, so did I) that he bought a Disney vacation for us for at least once a year for the next 50 years. J Slightly ironic, but hey, I’m not complaining! Of course, we won’t be staying at Pop Century again. Our home resort is now the Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge and we couldn’t be happier about that.
So what was wrong with Pop Century? For us, we stayed in the 50’s with the big bowling pins. Walking into the room, it was certainly like it hadn’t been touched since the 50's. The smell was just horrid. Old doesn’t cover the smell. There was rust around the faucets in the bathroom and sinks. The mattresses were bricks. We had cockroaches in the room. There were very few washers and dryers in the laundry facilities. The bathroom beside the main pool was disgusting. I was quite appalled. I had only been to Disney once before, but I had nothing short of an exemplary experience then.
The staff was very accommodating and friendly, however. They brought a refrigerator to our room without charge and drew little mickeys and notes on the notepads for the kids. They gave us a ground level room so we wouldn’t have to walk as far with the kids. We were also poolside at the bowling pin pool. We did get into the pool one time, and it was heated and very clean, shockingly enough. So there were a few pluses, but nothing could ever make me want to stay there again. All in all, though, it looks like as a Disney frequent flyer, the DVC is the way to go. (They have an AWESOME military special!)
So enough about the room. I didn’t even plan to dwell that much on it, but you know how I get sometimes. Our first day at Disney, after driving 16 hours, was spent at Downtown Disney.
(one of my favorite topiaries at Disney)
I planned all our days around the extra magic hours (even though those tend to be more crowded days, I work out every detail prior to and we NEVER wait in any line more than 15 minutes. I’m kind of good that way), so it was up first. I absolutely LOVE Downtown Disney. We went back several times, sometimes after a day at the park, sometimes to just shop some more, sometimes to eat.
1) Pleasure Island and Marketplace (it’s the place to be with little ones)
2) World of Disney (Largest Disney character store in the world)
3) The Disney Couture store
4) Lego Imagination Center (Photos at the end)
5) Disney’s Pin Traders
6) Disney’s Day’s of Christmas
7) Ghiradelli Soda Fountain
8) Goofy’s Candy Co.
9) Mickey’s Pantry
10) TrenD (Oh, Disney Couture!)
11) The “fireflies” in the trees once it gets dark J
~LOVE TO EAT~
1) Earl of Sandwich
2) Earl of Sandwich (it’s so good, it needs to be here twice)
3) EoS (code for Earl of Sandwich, that’s how good it is) We come back to DD just for this place! My husband gets the Hawaiian BBQ and I get the Full Monty. The kids grilled cheese on ciabatta is delish too!
4) Raglan Road Irish Pub (Fish and Chips, need I say more?)
What I’d Love to ~SOMEDAY~
3) Cirque De Soleil
4) Fulton’s Crab House
5) Character’s in Flight (courage pending)
7) Make my own fragrance at Basin
8) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
9) Ridemakerz (for the boys)
What I ~Dis~like:
1) The crowds at night (a lot of people flock there at night).
2) There is a lot more drinking and we’ve seen quite a few adults completely trashed, to be quite honest, once it gets up in the night. However, there is a ton of security, and we’ve never seen a scene.
One of the funnest parts of Downtown Disney is the Lego Store. They have so many awesome, huge sculptures made from legos. Here are some of our favorites.
(Putting together their own Lego people)
(Their personal Lego people)
At the end of the day, I'd say certainly make time for Downtown Disney. It's fun and the kids love all the giant characters and fun stuff in the stores.
So what's your favorite part of Downtown Disney? Or place to eat? Any recommendations?
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Talk to ya'll next time about our second day: Magic Kingdom!