Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Conquering Concierge: The All Star Transportation Tour

photo credit
Let me just begin by saying that this 6 hour tour was probably the most fun I've ever had being clocked in for work for Disney. This and being paid to watch Disney movies and eat pizza (because it was product knowledge for Art of Animation. Oh yes, that really happened. Twice!)

Starting Point: All Star Music
We all met at All Star Music at 10am for our tour. There were only about 6 of us including our 2 trainers. Our trainers warned us to bring water because it was going to be a long walk. I had already run 5 miles that morning and brought my pedometer, so I could see just how far of a walk it was. Yes, I'm one of those distance runners at times...

Transportation 1: Bus from All Star Music to Hollywood Studios
We went outside All Star to wait for the Hollywood Studios bus. We were in our street clothes because for this tour they want us to be actual guests. We're experiencing what our guests go through. For better or for worse. Just waiting for the bus helped remind us how much longer time feels when you're waiting. If was maybe 15-20 minutes for our bus, but it sure felt like 40 minutes! Unfortunately All Star's bus queue is in the sun, so we were getting a little toasty too.

The bus ride itself went very quickly. We all got seats, and the air conditioning felt amazing.

Transportation 2: Boat from Hollywood Studios to the Swan and Dolphin
After the bus dropped us off in front of Studios, we continued to the only boat dock in front of the this park. This boat drops off at the Epcot resorts as well as Epcot. I always want to walk from Studios to the resorts. I just feel like I walk so much faster than the boats. I was quite analytical on this tour, so I was analysing Disney things that I normally just do, or accept (I know, I'm starting to sound like a nerd). On this tour I decided that the boats actually are faster than walking.

  • So Hopping Tip! : Save some of your energy and take the boat from Studios to Beach Club or Boardwalk, but get off at the Swan and Dolphin stop and then walk to whichever resort. It'll be faster than waiting to dock a second or third time.

I'm satisfied with that takeaway. Besides that's exactly what we did.

Transportation 3: Walk from the Swan to Epcot
At this point I needed a restroom. Lucky for me one of our trainers had done this tour while pregnant, so she knew where every bathroom is. Just like me, except for the pregnant bit, but I do know where A LOT of bathrooms are. And I talk about that knowledge far too much, like I am doing right now.

We walked into the Swan (or whichever one is to the left as you get off the boat) and oh my goodness, I was so glad that we did. It was breathtaking inside! And the first thing we saw was just a coffee shop. But it wasn't just a coffee shop. It was a really pretty coffee shop that I am going to have to visit again, so I can actually sample their coffee. Well, iced coffee.

The Swan even smelled luxurious. The bathrooms were right cross from Kimonos which is the Karaoke/sushi bar. Kimonos has been on my bucket list for a while. I'm going to have to get it crossed off this year sometime.

After our "fun" detour, we continued toward Epcot. We walked toward Yacht and Beach Club and our trainers quizzed us and spouted out useful information along the way.

First question "So this is the Boardwalk. What dining/food options do our guests have?"
Normal concierge answers "Beaches and Cream. Shulas. Cape May. ESPN Club. The Garden Grove. Flying Fish."
My answers "Big River Brewery for a beer flight! Jelly Rolls. Boardwalk/Margarita Joes! There margaritas are actually really good!"
Apparently I come across as somewhat of an alcoholic. My reputation even precedes myself. I was chatting with a Coordinator of Training that I had never met about taking my friend to Hoop. She looks at my name tag. And says "Julie? Oh Julie McLaughlin, of course."

I didn't know how to respond. Is that a positive or negative thing? I've also had guests kind of pinpoint my Irish heritage and know about my drinking prowess. That little Irish girl with the freckles. Anyways I e will be embracing this heritage in the upcoming future with some more info on drinking around the world, epcot, and the entire disney world property.

Once we were past the Beach Club Resort, we entered Epcot through the International Gateway, aka the entrance with the UK to your left and the France Pavilion to your right. We walked througt the UK and Canada. We took a quick pit stop in Club Cool, which I really think EVERYONE should do every time you're in Future World. Come on, it's free!

Next stop, monorail station!

Transportation 4: Monorail from Epcot to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC)
Being able to have a seat and enjoy some air conditioning was definitely the highlight of riding the monorail. Plus who doesn't love some good monorail action?

Transportation 5: Walk from TTC to the Polynesian and then on to the Grand Floridian
We deboarded the monorail at the TTC and took the walking path on to the Polynesian. I never realized how easy that walking path is to use. I think I've always known that you can walk to the TTC from the Polynesian, but in my head the easiest way to reach the TTC was by the monorail, but in reality taking the resort boat to the Polynesian and then walking to the TTC is a really good option. And the Polynesian is really beautiful at night.

We walked into the Polynesian and talked about the dining options our guests often asked about. 'Ohanas is one of guests favorite, favorite restaurants. If you've been, you know why. There's also Kona Cafe (love!) and the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at Luau Cove. The directions we give guests is: bus to Magic Kingdom, resort monorail to Poly, which drops you off on the same level as the restaurants, so that is definitely good advice!

Next restaurant? Captain Cooks for Dole Whips! Captain Cooks is a quick service restaurant, where you can make your own dole whips. They also usually have premade sushi from Kona Cafe in their fridge, which I love. Usually Cast Members get a 20% discount here. This particular day we were blocked out.

We left the Grand Ceremonial house to find Luau Cove, which was on our way to the Grand Floridian. We looked at the facility and talked about the Category 1, 2, and 3 seating. Once we had all finished our dole whips we kept walking to the Grand. On our way we saw the construction for the new Disney Vacation Club Villas and the new pool area. We passed Senses the Disney Spa. Disney's Spas used to be outsourced to another company, but they've decided to take it over, so that would explain the reinvention and refurbishment happening at the spas at the Grand and Saratoga Springs.

Transportation 6: Monorail from the Grand Floridian to the Contemporary

Stop for Lunch at Contempo Cafe

Transportation 7: Boat from the Contemporary to the Ft Wilderness Campgrounds

Transportation 8: Internal Bus to Campfire Circle and Pioneer Hall

Transportation 9: Boat from Ft. Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom

Tran;)Drsportation 10: Bus from the Magic Kingdom to All Star Music

Transportation Total: 3 Buses, 3 Boats, 2 Monorails, 6 miles of walking, 3 theme parks, 6 resorts, and 1 Dole Whip!

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