By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Studios and Pool at The Polynesian, Caribbean Beach Refurb, and Other News from the World



By Dave Shute

Just some news from my visit to Disney World that ended this morning. I’ll be posting more about all (well, most) of this later, but wanted to get some key points out while the thoughts are fresh.

COACH CLASS ON THE AUTO TRAIN

I did a full report from my January/February trip on taking the Auto Train to Disney World here, but that trip was in two different types of spaces in the sleeping cars.

Sandy Gear Fort Wilderness from yourfirstvisit.net

As this trip included tent camping at Fort Wilderness, I needed to take my car stuffed to the gills with camping gear. See the picture (experienced tent campers will recognize that it’s from the trip back, from all the sand…)

So I loaded the car and to complete the Auto Train experience drove to Virginia, boarded, and took coach in Auto Train down. (Actually I drove halfway to Lorton, did the Jeopardy online test from a hotel in Breezewood that evening, then continued the next day. The online test? I don’t think I did well enough…)

Auto Train Coach Seat from yourfirstvisit.net

The short version: yes, you can sleep in coach. Not as well as in a sleeper (or a hotel room), but you can.

TWO SECRETS TO TENT CAMPING AT FORT WILDERNESS

I’ll have much more to say about the keys to success in tent camping at Fort Wilderness when I re-do my review of it based on this trip (the current review, from before this trip, is here).

But leading up to that, here’s two key secrets that even the most experienced tent campers may not know:

First, the tent sites are all sand, and given the wind and storms you can face any season in Florida, you need sand stakes—real sand stakes, the kind you have to drive in with a tire iron or an 18 inch screwdriver as an aid to torque.

Sand Stakes and Driver Fort Wilderness from yourfirstvisit.net

Your tent and fly may both be self-supporting, but without stakes, that just means they are self-ballooning—they will blow away in a wind. (I’ve seen un-staked self-supporting tents blow away with kids inside.) Bring sand stakes to anchor them.

A Fan at Fort Wilderness from yourfirstvisit.net

Second, every campsite at Fort Wilderness—even the ones optimized for tent camping–has electric power. Bring extension cords and electric fans—more than one of each. You won’t regret your fans.

THE REFURBS AT CARIBBEAN BEACH

It’s been true for a month or so now that the main refurb at Caribbean Beach is done, so all buildings except those in Trinidad South now have refurbed rooms with either a king, two queens, or two queens and a short murphy bed.

But I wanted to see this for myself, so I drove over one morning and confirmed it.

I asked at the Customs House what the scoop was with the Pirate rooms, and was told this time that “they will only have their soft goods replaced—e.g. the mattresses—and will stay full bed rooms.”

Time will tell if this is true, but it’s what I was told…

THE SWAN

It stormed and stormed and stormed at Fort Wilderness, and when it didn’t, it was 93 degrees with 80% humidity—very unseasonable weather. So I ducked over to the Swan for a night for walls and a roof, air conditioning, and a tub.

Bed Side The Swan from yourfirstvisit.net

I liked the room—and I really liked the pool complex. The bedroom area of a two queen Swan room is comparable to a Disney moderate. More expensive than a moderate, but less expensive than a Disney deluxe Epcot resort—and almost as well-located.

I’ll be staying at the Dolphin for three nights in May on a business trip, so after that I’ll do a full review of both the Swan and Dolphin.

THE MEET-UP

Josh at the Meet Up from yourfirstvisit.net

Part of the point of this trip was to do a meet-up and book signing with Josh from easyWDW, my co-author (pictured above with a family who met us), and Jim Korkis, who contributes to our book The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit.

Rain at Epcot from yourfirstvisit.net

It was great fun—and thanks so much to those who came, and to Allison from Destinations in Florida who came with stuff to give away—but the weather at Epcot was as bad as I’ve seen: umbrellas were snapping, small kids floating away. So attendance was not quite what we’d hoped for…

THE STUDIOS AT THE POLYNESIAN

Bed Side Studios at Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows from yourfirstvisit.net

The new Studios at the Polynesian are both gorgeous and whimsical. They are way short on storage space, though. More to come in a complete re-write of my Poly material soon.

THE NANEA VOLCANO POOL AND KIDS PLAY AREA AT THE POLYNESIAN VILLAGE RESORT

The re-furbed Nanea Volcano pool and the new kid’s play area—which opened the day I checked in—are just great.

Nanea Volcano Pool Disney's Polynesian Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

There’s much more deck chair space than there used to be, the new hot tub is a hit, and the Poly now has the best kid’s water play area of any Disney resort. More on all this in the re-done review to come

CONSTRUCTION AT THE POLY

Construction however, is not over. Lotsa walkways are being worked on the east side of the resort, Tokelau is still in refurb (though it looks like it’ll be done soon), and as a result there’s lots of construction walls on this side of the resort.

Moreover, it’s still expected that the smaller East Pool on this side will begin refurb soon.

With the Great Ceremonial House and main pool refurbs now done, there’s no reason not to stay at the Poly—but stay on the west side…

OK, that’s all for now. Back to Ohio, and I promise I’ll catch up on the comments soon! After that, the re-review of the Poly.

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