Friday, August 18, 2017

Disney Resort Review #12: Disney's Beach Club Resort

Normally, I tend to spread reviews out over the various categories a bit better, but I've been itching to do this one since I got the pictures finished! Wilderness Lodge will always be my absolute favorite Disney resort, but The Beach Club is now a very close second! The ironic thing about this is that The Beach Club's sister resort, The Yacht Club, was one of my worst Disney stays ever (mainly due to yesterday's post...parent type #1).

I had a feeling that I was going to love the Beach Club and I had been dying to stay there forever. This particular trip was also a bit unusual in that it was a family trip with me and my Sister and Brother-In-Law, but he could only stay a couple of days, so they had a ressie at the Yacht Club (which was going to place her resort-stay count dangerously close to mine and I wasn't too happy, but what could I do, they were paying for my trip too!) and then, once he left, my Sister would move to the Beach Club into my room with me to finish our trip. I drove, they flew, so I got there a day early and stayed the night at All-Star Movies. He was to fly back and she would ride back with me. Luckily, Yacht Club had overbooked and they got moved to the Beach Club too (and my count stayed intact). Needless to say, it was a veritable nightmare to plan all these separate ressies, but it turned out to be one of the best trips I've ever had!

The Beach Club is beautiful!
I guess I do need to get the admin out of the way first, especially since this is a full review! Disney's Beach Club Resort is a Deluxe Resort is Disney's Boardwalk area connected directly to Epcot.

(courtesy of Google Maps)
Meaning you can easily walk to Epcot's World Showcase, take a boat to either Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios or, for the most adventurous (and healthy), walk to the Studios. Like all Deluxes, it does have a food court, but it's small and connected directly to the store (and shares with the Yacht Club) - and bad me...I didn't take a single picture in the store part of the Marketplace!
We ate most of our breakfasts here...Mickey waffles, yum!
There are also two sit-down restaurants (which I will deal with in restaurant reviews), and a soda/ice cream shop, but since the Beach and Yacht are connected, you can easily walk to any of the Yacht Club restaurants as well. They also share a pool, which is huge and has a sand bottom:
With a pirate ship for a water slide:
To get an idea how big this pool actually is, it literally stretches from one side of this picture to the other:
And there are additional quiet pools. Amber and Matt's room was outside one of them.
We passed the other daily on the way to the bus stop:
There is your typical Arcade, Child Center, Gym and Spa, but nothing thrilling about those. There were also various sitting rooms scattered throughout, but I've never understood those in any of the resorts:
But, as per usual, there were some last minute construction going on and the bus stops were all screwed up. It didn't affect much other than we had a lot of walking through the DVC side to do, but it wasn't too bad. More on that later. The lobby is softer than the Yacht Club and not nearly as stuffy:
There were quite a few of these shell pictures that almost looked like needlework in the lobby, and I actually thought they were until I started editing the pictures:
Remember the All-Star rooms...feast your eyes on this beauty!
Which I had all to myself for three nights! Not bad for a girl from the trailer park!
This is the pic that the people at work got..."suck it losers, I'm in Disney World!", I'm such a kind, decent, and sympathetic human being.
Sitting area:
Desk area:
Don't know if you can see, but the fridge and stuff is to the left of the bathroom:
Fridge below...imagine it's there:
And, of course, the joy of the deluxes, my balcony view facing toward Epcot:
The best thing about the deluxes is that they are so subtle with the Hidden Mickeys instead of blatant like the many can you spot?
And even right outside the door:
Because the bus stops were being worked on, we had to use make-shift ones that were up at the back side of the DVC edge meaning a long walk down the Redrum hallway of death:
Past a litany of new aligator/snake warning signs:
To the back corner of the parking lot:
Oh well, wouldn't be Disney World if you didn't come home with feet three times their normal size! Overall, I absolutely adored this resort and I definitely will be staying there again someday. We did have issues with moving Amber into my room (we couldn't make them understand that she needed the dining plan added and we (I mean she) was willing to pay). Since we were there in the middle of September instead of our usual October (we needed to go earlier before cotton ginning season started for Matt), it was hotter than Hades every single day. I'm typically a very cold person by nature and, even in Florida, rarely get hot, but I sweated like a pig every single day. It meant we ended up spending more daytime in the resort, but that was OK because I loved it there. Nothing beats staying at either an Epcot resort or a Magic Kingdom resort for convenience and you always get what you pay for at Disney.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Disney, Aspers, Children and a Top 5

You may have noticed that it seems as though I don't care much for children by some of my Disney reviews, which makes Disney World a very unlikely vacation spot for me. I feel the need to explain myself a bit because parents may not understand or be offended by my jabs (however rude or witty they may or may not be). I apologize now because this may be a long one!

Overall, I can't hate kids because I'm nothing but a big kid myself, but, and here's the big caveat...nowhere else have I seen the level of bad behavior in children (and adults for that matter) than I've seen in Disney World (and Disneyland too) and every year it gets worse. I don't blame the kids, but rather the parents and it's very easy to lump them into categories by their offspring's behavior.

Granted, their are exceptions and even the best-behaved of children can have a bad moment or even day, but the kids to which I refer are easy to spot because their negative energy is so strong is just about knocks me down and their parent's are even worse, so imagine what it's like for me when they are all together (remember what I said about Aspers and our senses?). Disney World may be my most favorite place on earth, but it is also my worst nightmare thanks to these little constellations of black holes.

These are the type of parents who think that, just because they are either well-off financially or because they paid a ton of money to come to Disney, their children have more rights than you do (yes, their room might have a better view, but they paid the same amount to get into the parks that you did). They can cut you off in line, grab potential purchases right out of your hands, and even expect you to move from a walkway to make room for them and their posse like they are a royal procession. You often find these type of guests at the deluxe resorts, but their kid numbers tend to be low (one or two at most). Ironically enough, these tend to be the "cheapest" kind of guests in that they rarely spend money on souvenirs and quite often publicly (and rather loudly) complain about how much things cost.

I spent my childhood trying to appear "normal", often failing miserably. Since I have trouble judging people's facial expressions or reactions (and still do), my paranoia would often kick in and I would think that everyone was staring at me or making fun of me because they knew I was "weird". Now I can "fake it until I make it" or just plain shut off reactions when I feel this way but, upon occasion, I still have a bit of carry-over from those dark days. These type of people tend to awaken that sleeping dragon and I tend to regress to that scared little kid. Ever try your hardest not to trip over something and end up doing it anyway? Same sort of trying too hard not to be weird, I come off weirder and people, especially the kids of this type of parents, tend to point and stare and make fun of me out loud, because they feel privileged to do so. Result is, I end up locked in my hotel room for the rest of the day crying while the stuck-ups are roaming the parks worry free. I hate them most of all.

These parents tend to be the most dangerous because of their philosophy that "kids should be kids". They allow them to climb all over everything including roped-off, restricted, and potentially dangerous areas because "they are just having fun"...common sense rarely comes into play by either set. These parents tend to throw hissy fits when their children aren't allowed on rides due to height restrictions because "it's not fair", doesn't matter that it might be a safety issue that they can't ride. These tend to be high-numbered breeders so their kids are everywhere, or tend to bring friends, cousins, neighbors, etc with them, adding to their pack numbers. These families tend to stay at the values or moderates and you will often hear them running up and down the walkways at 2 am, banging on random visitors doors, parents far behind yelling, but in the nicest way possible..."don't do that honey!". These children often get hurt or hurt others and Disney gets the blame.

These kids don't bother me too much other than disturbing my sleep or running into me, but I do have the overwhelming desire to slap the parents upside the head sometimes (and I admit I do smile when the monsters get hurt...sometimes lesson is learned, other times, they just go right back to doing it). They do, however, bother the crap out of everyone else, which tends to make everyone else grumpy and the overall happy atmosphere can change in a heartbeat. Again, vibes, senses, and Aspers.

These are the types of parents that are way too self-absorbed to even notice they have kids, let alone pay attention to their bad behaviors. They are often seen on their phones or looking elsewhere while the children terrorize all those around them. And terrorize is an understatement because these children tend to be the most violent of beasts, often kicking and hitting complete strangers standing next to them in line (aka, me) because "it's fun", daring you to say or do something back. But, god-forbid, you should say or do something back because the parents are all over you like white on rice, threatening to smash your face in. These are the same parents that don't discipline their kids because it's "cruel" and "teaches them bad behaviors" (yeah, and them cussing me out or threatening my life isn't teaching them anything?). These type of parents are, thankfully, small breeders, probably due to their selfishness, so you don't have to worry about dealing with more than 1 or 2 little ones. If you can survive a few kicks, maybe "accidentally" return a kick or two, then all is well and trust me, I have no issue kicking a kid back...when it comes to revenge, I do not discriminate against gender, age, color, or creed. Just add a little "oh, I'm SOOOO sorry honey, are you OK?" in the sweetest Southern voice I can muster, and these parents go back to their phones. I still profess that THESE children are our future serial killers of the world. They can be found at all level of resort.

Obviously, it costs a ton of money to go to Disney, and the more kids you have (which this group typically has more than average), the worse it gets. These groups often only get one chance to ever go to Disney World and therefore, they feel the need to squeeze every single minute they can out of their trips, pushing their little ones 18+ hours per day with very little to no rest at all. Meltdowns are common in this group with both children and parents and it spreads to all those around them. It doesn't matter that their child is screaming uncontrollably throughout a show or half the night because of sunburns or swollen feet, we all must suffer because removal from said show or a daily nap is not an option given their busy schedules. These are almost always exclusively in the thin-walled value resorts.

Disney is a place that is constantly changing and it's HUGE. Most people don't realize that until they get there and, even then, they still believe they can do it all and everyone walks away miserable. You could spend every waking moment at Disney World and you would still never see or do it all. But these parents are going to give it a go, much to the torment of their children (and all those around them). The side effect on the child is that they grow up hating Disney because of their bad childhood experience and that's just sad.

I easily could have been one of these kids because my parent's fell into this category when we first went. Thank goodness I'm an Asper and was already Disney obsessed! Even my parents couldn't ruin it (no matter how hard they tried). All they managed to do was ensure that I never took another "family" vacation again, not with them that is. Well, at least not until 2004 when I thought we were all adults now and it would be much easier...THAT was the last family trip I'll ever take! I discussed that trip before in this review as well are more details about my first trip if anyone is interested.

This group differs from #1 in a very specific way...they tend to cover all of the above groups and then some although they have very little effect on me physically because Aspers aren't known for our empathy or sympathy. When people become parents, they put their children first, which is the way it should be (or is supposed to be...someone forgot to tell my parents this), but when you have thousands upon hundreds of thousands with the same attitude, that's a lot of self prioritizin' goin' on.

The best way to describe this group is an example...I've scouted out a place for a parade, planted myself down up to an hour ahead of time and waited patiently, only to have someone with children walk up two minutes before the parade and either plop their children right down in front of me (because you should ALWAYS hand your child over to a stranger, especially one with mental issues), try to move me by pushing and shoving at me in "gentle" ways to see if they can annoy me into letting them through (or worse, get the kid to do it), or blatantly tell me to move because their kid can't see because Disney is for kids and I'm an "adult".

If they are nice about it (which is VERY rare), I will often let the child in front of me (even though they could have also gotten there early and waited just like I did), but when they are rude, my demon comes out and I fight back just as hard. Maybe it's because Asperger's causes me to have the emotional capacity of a 12 year-old, but I will fight anyone, be it child or adult, to the death who believes they have more right to see Donald Duck close up than I do. It also doesn't help that 9 times out of 10, the kid could care less about the parade or they get bored in 5 minutes in anyway and tend to ruin my view by doing everything but watching the parade. But then again, these parents often have their phones or cameras thrust right out in front of me anyway, so it's not like I have an uninterrupted view even if the kid sits still.

Same goes with fireworks but then you have the added bonus of shoulder-sitting, the rudest of all entitled parental behavior! I will attest, that not once...NOT ONE SINGLE TIME IN 30 YEARS, has a kid been put on their parent's shoulders in front of me that oohed and ahhed through the fireworks for more than one minute max and it's usually because they are on shoulders and not because of the fireworks. I have picture after picture proof of this. The parents have NO idea that their kid is sitting there bored, playing games on their phones or tablets, sometimes even sleeping...all they know is that when they try to put them down, they cry so they must be enjoying fireworks, right? WRONG!! When I was a kid, I LOVED being on my Daddy's shoulders and it's one of the few memories I have of my mother and real father being married. But we weren't in Disney World with throngs of people behind us trying to see. All it accomplishes is causing a chain reaction of other kids on shoulders and one day, someone is going to crack a skull. Disney needs to ban that shit.

I will admit I don't get that "gushy" feeling that females are supposed to feel over children and I never "felt that desperate urge to breed", so add that into the mix if you want, but I still attest that I don't hate kids. Even when I was one, I wasn't allowed to behave badly in public even with my issues (although I did have a bad moment or two in my lifetime, more on that in a moment). I especially hate it when an Asper child is allowed to behave badly for no other reason than because "they can't help it"...that's bullshit and I'm living proof so that excuse will NEVER wash with me.

But I can share one little nugget of personal showing-out from my very first trip at age 10. I wanted this plush Mickey and Minnie set and my mother said I could only have one or the other because both cost too much. Well, you CAN'T split them up, they GO together, so I had a literal meltdown like a 3 year-old in the middle of the store. After being dragged off to the bathroom for a well-deserved spanking, I decided that I didn't want them after all if I couldn't have both because it wouldn't be fair to them to be split up. Needless to say, in the end, I got both although I wasn't allowed another souvenir the entire trip and we went to numerous other places like SeaWorld, Circus World and Cape Canaveral. Lesson learned and I wished they would have survived the ages because now I have no souvenirs from that trip at all other than a handful of scanned pictures that are HORRIBLE! Mickey and Minnie were killed by years of attic neglect by my parents...ironic considering they were the ones who didn't want to buy them in the first place. If I would have known they were up there, I would have saved them years ago.

I'm digressing here...point is, despite my sometimes rather sharp barbs at parents, children, Disney's lack of spine when it comes to enforcing rules, be it their own, or just the general rules of society, I am a Disney girl through-and-through and I will never stop going, no matter how bad the kids or the parents get. Disney World is a big place and there are always escape routes when the surroundings get too bad and I can't count the number of times I've had to "exit stage left" because of some conglomeration of wild heathens (no matter their ages). But even cold-hearted, non-child loving me can tear up at the sight of a kid going all fan-girl over Donald Duck because I still do the same thing!

So parents, long story short (WAY TOO LATE!), I don't hate kids, just bad kids and worse, bad parents!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Disney Resort Reviews #11: Disney's All-Star Movies Resort

Aspers + Disney Value Resorts = mahem, stress, sensory overload, horror...well, you get the point. Do I need to mention at this point that Aspers have major sensory issues and that I'm no exception to that rule? Sounds, overwhelming visuals, extreme smells, and flashing lights (plus I have a brain tumor, so that's a definite no-no) all are amplified in us. Aspers also tend to be very attune to that illusive sixth sense in that we are extremely sensitive to the energy levels around us be they from people or objects or electronics. And, before you ask, no, I'm not psychic by any means, but I would consider myself spirit sensitive in that I typically know when "ghosts" are present and I have seen one or two in my day, but that's another story for another post.

And, just as an aside, I've always had a major fear of trees (forests in particular) because of the overwhelming sensory issues they come can't tell where any noise is coming from, everything is moving in different directions at once, and woods are typically filled with witches and booger-bears anyway (and bugs, don't get me started on the bugs!). Everyone I know finds this extremely odd, especially since it is quite woodsy in Arkansas (it is called "the Natural State" after all) and my all-time favorite Disney resort is Wilderness Lodge. One of the first things I learned is that dendrophobia is one of the most common Asper fears. Yea me! I'm not alone in the world! Trees are only acceptable viewing features from the safety of the car window in my opinion.

But anyhoo, back in 2004 we used the bus stops at the All-Stars as a way point to get from one park to another and I nearly lost it from sensory overload and I've been terrified of them ever since. For those that don't know, Value resorts are very big, loud, colorful, and geared toward children (or at least the non-Asper kind). Families love it there because it's affordable and kid-friendly. Aspers hate it because it is literally their worst nightmare...children running everywhere, large colorful things everywhere, noise everywhere...again, I think I've made my point.

But I figured that bus stop fiasco was 12 years ago, I now have my diagnosis and I can deal better with some of my issues than I used to be able to (or at least I can understand why it's happening and take a Xanax). When I drive to Disney World, it makes sense, financially at least, to pay for one night at a value to save money because I usually don't arrive until late at night (thanks to my dislike of the great state of Alabama and the TSA). I should also add that most of my Disney trips are paid for by my Sister or I'd probably be stuck in a value for the entire trip (because I'm single and poor) hence my usual resort stays are at the other levels of resorts (and I have gone in-depth about these ad nauseum in various other reviews, so I'm not going to do that again). And, if I'm honest, I may be poor, but I do tend to live quite a bit out of my means and am a bit of a snob when it comes to hotels (as well as other things), but I do still live in a trailer, so I can't be that snobby, right?

I tested the Value waters very carefully once before for a night at The Art of Animation Resort just after it was built and did "OK" (but my Sister was with me). For this past trip, AOA was booked, I just didn't think I can handle Pop Century sensory-wise, so that just left the All-Stars...I hate Sports, so that was out, Music had no availability either, so Movies it was!

Besides, I'm not sure if my Sister is aware (so don't tell her just in case), but she and I have this competition on...I have technically stayed at more different Disney resorts than her and I'm quite proud of that fact! I do all that I can to keep my total above hers even when her actual number of visits exceeds mine, so anytime I can add a different resort to the fray, I'm pretty darn happy!

On with the plethora of pictures! It was dark when I arrived:
And, although I had driven the route with Google Maps literally hundreds of times before-hand, nighttime was a whole other ballgame. To add to the terror, fireworks were going off as I pulled into the resort...have you ever tried driving under extreme stress while fireworks are going off right above your head? I'm surprised I didn't crash! But I did arrive safe and sound:
Although I did sit in the car for quite a while talking on the phone with my Sister trying to get up the courage to go inside, which I did eventually do:
But the combo of the drive, the fireworks, and the scaredy-cat gene meant that I didn't get a lot of pics of the lobby area that night. I was put in the Toy Story section:
Which was fine because location didn't matter since I was moving to the Beach Club the next day. Good thing it was dark and I was still a bit freaked out when I arrived or else this scene would have killed me!
The room itself was your typical Value room:
Simple, efficient, paper-thin walls, etc:
The colors in the bathroom were a bit disconcerting, but I could deal for one night (literally less than 8 hours actually):
I got up the next morning with the intention of walking around the entire resort and taking pictures...I literally managed about 30 minutes before I started freaking out and had to get out of there. It was just too much. But I did manage to get a few shots.
Notice the people in the right of the do you get a guess as to the size of the things around there? Sure, I love Woody and Buzz as much as the next person, but when they are 100ft tall, they tend to have that "Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man" effect!
I did make it to the pool:
And to the main building:
With the intention of getting some breakfast, but it was so loud and busy in there, I just couldn't do it and, in record speed, I was packed up and heading out to the Beach Club, which will be my next review!