WDW Birthday Day 1, July 2003

Saturday, July 12: Sailing Back to the Yacht Club

We really enjoyed our stay at the Hyatt. It’s our kind of hotel, the kind of adult experience you really don’t get at any of the Disney resorts. The Hyatt was also quite convenient – right there on airport property. From our atrium room, we could see the shops, waiting area, and entry to the gates. The AAA rate was quite reasonable (around $119) and included a buffet breakfast. We noticed that people going on a Disney Cruise were staying there. We would definitely do the same if we were doing the cruise.

Our Tiffany Town Car driver arrived at 11:30 am. He was a charming, European gentleman who commented on how romantic we were sitting in the back seat holding hands. (Later we found out that he was a substitute driver. We had a different, but interesting driver on the way back.)

We chatted about the Hyatt and he recommended staying there if you had an early flight out. Excellent idea. On the way to the Yacht Club, he also recommended Tower of Terror. He assured us that it wasn’t that bad. He sounded so convincing, I decided to think about it and make my decision later. I really do hate drops, though. I don’t mind turning upside down but I really hate drops. Splash Mtn. is pushing it for me but I will endure that drop for the ride but I have to scream or laugh-however I can tighten my stomach in order to endure it. But I’d really like to at least walk through ToT to see the theming. Rich loves drops so I may get brave some day so that he can experience it. He assured me, though, that I didn’t have to do it on my birthday trip.

We were excited as we anticipated checking into the Yacht Club again. This would be our first onsite stay since 1999 and a repeat for the Yacht Club. We had heard that they really didn’t make much of a fuss if you told them it was your birthday but we still gave it a try. We already had a water view room reserved so we weren’t really sure what else to request so we just asked for a room higher up. We hoped to sit out on our balcony and people-watch, like we did in ’99. We figured there was no chance at getting a king bed so we had resigned ourselves to 2 queens. We rationalized that it worked out well because you could nap on one bed and sleep on the other. This also gave you an extra bed to put all of your gift shop purchases.

As we entered the Yacht Club, our memories of our ’99 trip came back to us. It looked and felt just as good as we had remembered. We loved the décor, the wood floors, and the feeling of rest and relaxation after a busy day at the park. The Admiral wasn’t there to greet us. We figured he had the weekends off. Sure enough, we saw him in the lobby on the week days and he would always give us a salute.

We were first in line at check-in at 12 noon, discussing our back-up plan if our room wasn’t ready yet. So, we were pleasantly surprised that not only was our room ready but that we had a King Bed, room #2070. We also mentioned again that it was my birthday. The CM just smiled and looked like he was pretending to make a note of it. Or, so we thought. Later, we realized that this room must have been his birthday gift to us. It was awesome.

The room was far, far, away, down several hallways but, as we found out later, gave us great access to the walkway to the Boardwalk, the Friendship boat dock and straight to Epcot. We fell in love with the room. It was a corner room and it seemed larger than the rooms with 2 queens. The king room was shaped in a square rather than an rectangle. We noticed the intricate details that you only get at a Disney resort-the hidden Mickeys, the nautical theming in the bedspread, lamps, dresser, chaise, wall art, bathroom fixtures, etc. We were quite pleased. We wanted to move in permanently.

What we were not so pleased with was the view. We had reserved a water view, hoping to repeat our experience of looking at the lagoon and the Boardwalk, but we ended up with a view of the quiet pool, which is also considered a water view. We thought that even if we got a pool view, it would be of Stormalong Bay. We had forgotten about the quiet pool. Anyway, we decided not to ask for a change because we were so impressed with the king room. Not only was the room larger than what we had before but the balcony was larger, as well. It was a quiet location and a nice view of the gardens surrounding the quiet pool. As it turned out, it was really too hot to sit out on the balcony much at all. The quiet pool was so convenient that we didn’t make it to Stormalong Bay as much as we had anticipated — it was either raining or just out of sight, out of mind.

We unpacked, placed our ’03 Passporter on the desk and got our specially-made tip envelopes out for mousekeeping. We were still hoping for special pixie dust that might come our way for the birthday, not realizing at that time that we had been sprinkled with pixie dust by getting such a special room.

This was going to be a laid-back trip. Anticipating heat and crowds, we had decided up-front that we would just take things easy and do only our top priorities. Our first destination: Downtown Disney Marketplace. We like to go there first and shop at the World of Disney and Once Upon a Toy. We walked to the YC bus stop and within a few minutes the bus to Downtown Disney had arrived. We really like the YC bus stop. It’s small but so few people are waiting at any one time — unlike the BC, where there is a separate waiting area for each park and there are hordes of people waiting. We also like the fact that the YC guests get picked up before the BC and BWI so you can always get a seat.

The Marketplace seemed more crowded than usual or maybe it was just that it was also hot and we noticed the crowds more. This is the first time we had been there during the day and I think we both preferred being there in the early evening. We strolled through Once Upon a Toy and looked at the pieces of the monorail add-ons that we didn’t have, like the GF and the Poly but decided not to purchase any at this time. We told ourselves we would add those once we had stayed at them.

We then headed for World of Disney. Rich said that it was my birthday and I should feel free to buy whatever I wanted. I’m not a big shopper and I wanted to check out the gift shops in all the parks, first, so we ended up doing our usual shopping. We each bought a shirt with our AP discount and headed for the Rainforest Café for lunch.

Eating at Rainforest after shopping at World of Disney has become a tradition for us. I had the Buffalo Fried Chicken salad with ice tea and Rich had the Grilled Chicken salad with ice tea. The salads were delicious but huge. It seemed that the more we ate, the fuller our plates got. We finally gave up and headed for the bus back to the Yacht Club. What we had forgotten since our trip in ’99 is that the bus then goes to Typhoon Lagoon.

Also, in ’99 we had gone to DD later in the day so there weren’t hordes of wet people waiting to board the bus at TL. It had just started raining and everybody was trying to leave TL. The parking lot had come to a standstill and we all just sat there – buses and cars, all trapped together. Nobody was moving. We were glad that we didn’t have anything urgent we were trying to get to. It also reminded us of why we prefer to drive to Downtown Disney, like we did in March.

After returning to the Yacht Club, we took our usual nap. It rained most of the afternoon so we didn’t make it to Stormalong Bay, like we had planned. After our nap, we waited for the rain to stop in order to walk over to Epcot. Finally, we just made a mad dash over there in the rain. We bought a couple of ponchos and headed to the Cantina de San Angel for margaritas and decided to share an order of nachos and a combination plate. It was getting close to time for Illuminations to start and the crowds had thinned out due to the rain.

Normally, we head out of there before Illuminations starts to avoid the crowds. This time we stayed and were we glad we did. It was just so magical, probably the most magical part of the whole trip. I was happy just to be alive, sitting there in that place and time, and it no longer mattered which milestone birthday I was headed for.

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2 thoughts on “WDW Birthday Day 1, July 2003

  1. Larry says:

    Illuminations is my favorite. And I loved staying at the Yacht Club.


  2. Kathy says:

    It’s fun to revisit these trip reports – to see how magical it all was back then. We’ve become a bit jaded after living there three times. 🙂


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