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INTERCOT > Interactive > INTERCOT Insider Archive > August 2012


August 2012

Brought to you by INTERCOT's network of sites:
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As Summer draws to a close, we reminisce about our travels along the holiday road and days spent at the sea side. In this edition of the INTERCOT insider, we take a journey along the holiday road to Walt Disney World and check out resorts and restaurants that conjure the sea side vacations of old. We also find out how Disney is saluting our military members and how families can save big with big accommodations this fall. Hang on to them hats and glasses, cause this here's the most informative ride on the internet!

<<Disney Deals>>
with Magical Journeys Travel Agency

-- Military Salute --

United States Military will be able to make even more Memories at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort in 2012-2013, with Special Tickets and Room Rates. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. Valid Military ID will be required upon check-in and military member (or spouse) must stay in the room. No group rates or other discounts apply. Advance reservations required. Contact INTERCOT's Official Travel Agency, Magical Journeys at 1-570-785-3283, or visit their web site for additional details and restrictions.

>> Details and Discussion
>> Contact Magical Journeys Today!


<<Home Away from Home with Faline>>

-- Disney's Beach Club Villas Resort --

We recently completed our first stay in a one-bedroom Beach Club Villa. Let me start with the positives. The space was adequate for the two of us. We had a second floor room with a view of the Beach Club Villas pool. Despite some rather lively, and loud, late night swimmers, we were never bothered by pool noise when we were inside our room with the sliding doors closed. The location is excellent – within walking distance of both Epcot and Disney Studios. The vacation club pool is quite nice – a good size and we never found it overly crowded. Additionally, this resort allows access to the large water park like pool shared between the Beach Club and the Yacht Club.

Our room was quite some distance from the main building but was close in proximity to the villas pool. As mentioned, the suite was adequate for the two of us but I would have found it tight had it been shared with a larger family. The common space appeared a bit stingy with not much floor space between the couch, large trunk like coffee table and television. Additionally, the u-shaped kitchen setup seemed to eat into the common space rather than add to it. If we were trying to use the table to feed a family, that would also have felt very tight.

One enters the space from an interior hallway. As one steps inside, there is a good sized entry space but this seemed to be more “wasted space” that might have been better utilized if there had been a way to include this space as part of the common living space. From this foyer, you can make the choice to enter the common space or move into the master bedroom area.

As you enter the common space, there is a bench like seat with a table in front of it. The u-shaped kitchen space is across from this table. The refrigerator was not a full sized refrigerator – I’d call it ¾ size. It did not include an ice maker. The kitchen does include a garbage disposal. There is a breakfast bar on the opposite side of the kitchen counter but rather than being at stool level, it is at regular dining level which would make it almost impossible to pass food over the counter to those seated at the breakfast bar. Instead, one would need to walk around the counter to deliver plates to the breakfast bar. The living area contained a pullout couch, coffee table, tv area and a slider to the balcony.

If, instead of moving to the common space as you entered through the hallway, you instead went to the side, you’d find a bi-fold door that hides the stacked washer/dryer. It was wonderful to have the convenience of these appliances. However, the proximity of this closet to the dining table created a fair amount of noise when the units were in operation. Additionally, the dryer could be heard if one is sitting on the balcony while the dryer is being used.

Beyond the washer/dryer unit is a perplexing series of doors. I’d like to meet the architect that designed this space! I understand they were trying to make the space usable to both the occupants of the master bedroom as well as to those who might be sleeping in the living room but the result are doors that practically run into each other and/or make some of the spaces unusable if the doors are open. A door closes off the walk-in shower and adjacent sink from the common space. Another door closes this space off from the spa tub and sink area. Another door in the walk-in shower area leads to a room that contains only the toilet. There is another door that closes the master bedroom area (including spa tub and sink) off from the common area. A door off the spa tub and sink area leads to the only closet. The closet is tucked at the back of the space which contains a small hallway leading to the closet. The purpose of this space appears to be to accommodate the width of the door and/or the electrical utilities also located here. The master bedroom also has sliders that lead to the balcony.

The balcony is quite long and contained four chairs and two small patio tables. These were grouped into two groups of two chairs each sharing one small patio table. One grouping was located by the master bedroom; the other by the common room. However, the balcony is very narrow. If the chair is far enough away from the rail to sit in, it is too close to the wall behind you to get around without moving the chair to get back into the interior of the room. Moving these chairs around results in quite a lot of noise.

Back to the doors. If the door to the toilet room is open, no-one can use the sink by the shower. Likewise, if the door to the shower room is open, no-one can use the sink by the spa tub. Here is what we resorted to doing. When retiring for the night, we would close the two doors that led to the common space. We would leave the door between the spa tub room and the shower room ajar. We would also leave the door from the shower room to the toilet room ajar. This would allow someone to use the facilities during the course of the evening and still be able to access the chosen sink – albeit with some stepping around the partially open doors.
The master bedroom is a good size and, in addition to the bed, contained two night stands, a desk, a comfy chair, a tv cabinet that doubled as a dresser and a bench which also had a drawer in it for additional storage. As already noted, one could gain access to the balcony from this room as well.
Still, I slept on the side of the bed closest to the balcony and furthest from the toilet facilities. I can tell you it took a full 22 steps to walk from the bed to the toilet which is a considerable distance.

Our room was rather “tired” – certainly some updating would be in order here. One corner of one lower wall outside the shower may even have been a bit moldy. The shower, itself, was oddly shaped though was spacious enough. Our room also contained the smaller sized safe with a key – wish they would replace these with the larger safes with the combinations!

Overall, we were able to make the space work for us and I would not hesitate to stay here again in the future. Be aware, though, the space is a bit quirky and may be cozy for a family, especially one with older children.

<<A Taste of the World with Mickey'sGirl>>

--Disney's Boardwalk --


Atmosphere: I really like the “hominess” of Kouzzina, and the open kitchen. They have removed the large feature dining table from the middle of the restaurant, but otherwise it looks like a Mediterranean style restaurant. Some narrow panels have been added at a couple of points in the main section, which has helped with the noise. 3/5

Food: Harry (son 14) LOVES the food at Kouzzina, but was not overly impressed last year, so we chose to forgo it this year. Plans are made to change though, and at the last moment, Brian (husband) was able to obtain a late dinner seating on our last day at the BoardWalk. Harry had Sauteed Shrimp with Garlic and Herbs served over Warm Spiced Hummus and Peppadew relish. Although he would not share the shrimp, we did have some of the Hummus and relish on some bread, and it was incredible. I could have sat there eating it like an idiot all night long! But, I had my own appetizer to deal with. Brian and I both had Goat Cheese Sto Fourno - Baked Goat Cheese, Pequillo Peppers, Kalamata Olives, Artichoke Hearts, and Greek Olive Oil. The warm cheese was fabulous (we probably should have split one, it was very rich, and quite a large serving in my opinion). Euan (son 8.5) had his old standby, Calamari. He liked the Kouzzina Calamari best due to its saltiness.

For our mains, Euan had the kids Grilled Chicken Strips - served with macaroni topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella served with green beans and fruit salad. He loved the chicken, but uncharacteristically left the pasta (Euan is a man who LOVES his carbs). Harry had the Fisherman's Stew - Scallops, seasonal Fish, Shellfish, Fennel, Grilled Bread, and Ouzo Butter. He loved the mussels, and the flavour of the broth. He feels he has found his new Kouzzina favourite. Brian and I both had the Kouzzina Trio - Tasting size portions of Pastitsio, Char-grilled Lamb Burger, and Cinnamon-stewed Chicken with Orzo. I think this is a good way of trying several items without becoming overwhelmed by them. I think the Pastitsio is very rich, and a full portion would be too much for me, and the Cinnamon-stewed Chicken is very tasty, but the taste can get tiresome. I like the small servings, and so did Brian. 4/5

Service: As horrible as it sounds, we pre-judged our server. He was very young and seemed rather disorganized upon his first visit. Well, we were wrong. He was a very attentive server, who knew the menu and recognized that our children were also “dining”. I really appreciate it when my kids are treated as patrons, and when their opinions about their meals are sought. He was good. 5/5

Kouzzina’s has redeemed itself, so I am really glad Brian made that last minute reservation. We were there for well over an hour, and never felt rushed. Overall rating – 4/5

Big River Grille

Atmosphere: I think eating outside on the Boardwalk would be nice in the evening, but we ate indoors at the ridiculously small tables. There was no atmosphere at all. 1/5

Food: We shared an order of standard pub food nachos to start. I ordered a salmon Caesar salad, because the room we had overlooked the outdoor seating at the Big River Grille, and people had been ordering them all week. I’ll just say that they look better than they tasted. The salad was basically romaine lettuce with far too much dressing. The salmon portion was good, but it was a bit over cooked. Perhaps it had been pre-cooked then reheated. Brian had a house beer and the pulled pork sandwich, which had the opposite problem from my salad, it was very dry, and lacking in sauce. Harry had the Hickory Bacon Burger which he enjoyed (A burger is a burger, Mom!), and Euan had a kid’s cheeseburger. 1/5

Service: In all fairness, our server was fine. She was friendly and efficient and did a good job. 3/5

I can honestly say I will never harken the doorway of the Big River Grille again. The food was horrible, and the seating area inside was cramped and lackluster. Overall rating – 1/5

<<The More the Merrier>>

with All Star Vacation Homes

-- Fall into Savings --

All Star Vacation Homes is pleased to announce the return of its fall specials “Stay 4 Nights, Receive 5th Night Free” in any private pool home or condo and “Stay 3 Nights, Receive 4th Night Free” at Lighthouse Key Resort & Spa during select travel dates. All Star Vacation Homes’ two specials provide even more savings for families trying to stretch their vacation dollar this fall.

Vacation rentals provide:
-One home or condo instead of several, separate hotel rooms.
-Fully equipped kitchen for savings on meals and snacks
-In-home and resort amenities for endless entertainment options, such as private pools and resort pools, game rooms, movie theaters and sport courts.

Guests reserving one of All Star’s private pool homes, condos or town homes for 5 nights or Lighthouse Key Resort & Spa condos for 4 nights, for select travel dates, will receive one free night valued at hundreds of dollars in savings.

>> View available units, discount details, and select dates

<<The Holiday Road with CanadianWDWFan>>

There are two trains of thought on driving down to Walt Disney World (WDW), one is to get there as soon as possible and the other is to take your time and see all the sights the road to WDW has to offer. To decide what is right for you will have to do with how well you and your family travel in the car and how long your stay at the World is. On average it will take two days to get to WDW and another two days to get back home. For longer stays it is more justifiable to take longer traveling to WDW. Shorter stays do require you to spend less time on the road to maximize your Park time. You will also have to decide on what route you take based on a number of factors outside of your control, like the time of year, weather conditions and road construction. Using AAA or many internet based map tools can help you decide on the way to go.

For the drive, there are several things to consider to help fight off the boredom that can arise for your passengers, and help you as a driver to keep your mind on the road. Several required items for your drive to consider, but not limited to, are as follows:

-DVD system, preferably one that will play through your car’s stereo system. After all, the driver deserves to enjoy themselves on the drive as well.
-Books, Games and Game systems.
-Pillows and blankets- for nap times.
-Maps for everyone to follow.

-- The Direct Route --

Before our trip begins, our two boys will choose what movies they want to take and on the drive they will get to alternate their choices. As for the drive, we prefer to drive though with only one overnight stop on the way. We will only stop for fuel/meals and any necessary pit stops. It is a 20+hour drive for us and we try to leave early in the morning and drive for most of the day, usually putting in a 14 hour drive. The second day will be a “short” 6 hour drive. As driver, I try to let everyone know when we cross the state boundaries or pass important landmarks. This way everyone will know where we are and be able to follow our progress on their map. When we stop for the night we make sure that we stay at a hotel that has a pool and a good pizza place close by. We will use the pool to allow our boys to burn off their pent up energy before we have dinner. After we eat we will go to bed. Early to bed and early to rise is requirement for our drives.

The hotels we usually stay at include continental breakfast with your stay. This way we save some money on meals and get everyone well fed before we start. Before hitting the highway, I will fill up the gas tank, this way I won’t have to stop again until shortly before we get to Walt Disney World! As a bonus we will stop at the Florida Welcome centre to stretch our legs and enjoy a glass of fresh Florida orange or grapefruit juice. By this time we are only a few short hours away and everyone starts to get the feeling of finally arriving. We all enjoy passing through the Walt Disney World gates once we arrive on property. We tend to arrive at our resort just after lunch. First we check in, and since our room usually isn’t ready, we will then head to the parks. Our journey down is over and our vacation at Walt Disney World begins.

... Stayed tuned for part two ...

<< Conclusion >>

As school starts and the sunny days of summer set into our memories, there is a lot to look forward to in the fall days ahead. Between the Halloween parties, Food and Wine Festival, and the INTERCOT 15th Anniversary party; there's lots of great reasons to visit the Walt Disney World resort. We'll be back in a few weeks with more reviews, news, and tips to help you plan those great trips. See ya real soon!

<< Thank You To Our Sponsors! >>

The INTERCOT Insider and INTERCOT.com are supported by the following sponsors who in turn, help us bring the Magic to you!

All Star Vacation Homes
Website: Vacation Home Details Here
Choose from the finest selection of vacation homes and condos in the closest locations to Walt Disney World.

Magical Journeys
Website: http://www.yourmagicaljourneys.com
INTERCOT's Official Travel Agency.  An unconventional Travel Agency for the unconventional client, Magical Journeys is dedicated to finding the best pricing for your next magical journey. We work hard to save you money, and still give you the quality service you deserve.

The Official Ticket Center
Website: Buy & Price Tickets Now!
The Official Ticket Center is Walt Disney World's, Universal Studios and Sea World's #1 guest service provider for the last 3 years. The Official Ticket Center sells tickets only, at a discount price.

Quicksilver Tours & Transportation
Website: http://www.quicksilver-tours.com
Our drivers are the first personal contact you have when you arrive in Orlando.  No other transportation company goes to the lengths we do to ensure that your trip is exactly how you imagined it. At Quicksilver, we truly believe there's no such thing as going "above and beyond" for our clients. Instead, it's all part of doing our jobs correctly.

Strollers And Groceries
Website: http://www.strollersandgroceries.com
Strollers and Groceries is an online stroller rental and grocery delivery service. They provide daily service to all Disney, Universal, and Sea World area resorts/hotels, vacation homes, and neighborhoods in the Orlando area. All groceries are purchased from local businesses and delivered fresh directly to you.

The Timeshare Store
Website: http://www.dvc-resales.com
This Disney Vacation Club resale site offers the largest selection of DVC Resale's anywhere!  They are the number one Disney Vacation Club Reseller in the world. See how easy and affordable it is to purchase your very own piece of the "MAGIC".

Universal Orlando® Resort
Website: Universal Orlando ResortAdvertisement
Universal Orlando® Resort is more than a theme park. It's an entire universe of action and thrills featuring TWO spectacular theme parks unlike anything else in Orlando.

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