My Trip Report

How was your stay at French Quarter? Leave your comments or full trip reports here. Photos welcome.
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Mishe
Posts: 2
Joined: November 30th, 2015, 11:51 am

My Trip Report

Unread post by Mishe » December 15th, 2015, 12:24 pm

This was my first Disney trip in over 20 years. I traveled with my best friend and her three kids ages 22, 18 and 14, as well as a fiance and a girlfriend. That makes seven people and I would not do THAT again!

We stayed at the FQ for five nights and did the whole "Disney Experience" including the Magical Express, the 3 day park hopper and the quick meal service plan.

1. Magical Express. NOT so magical for us/me. We did not receive the yellow luggage tags to alert the collecters of the luggage to know we were Magical Expressers but when you walk through the airport to the Magical Express area, they stop you for your first Magic Band swipe (SO exciting! lol). At that point we told them our luggage was not marked but they said no problem and scanned our baggage claim stickers and assured us they would collect our luggage and bring it to the hotel. We proceeded outside only to find out that my ECV (I use my own electric mobility scooter) cannot be put onto the but with me ON it and I could never had made it up the bus stairs. After much back and forth, they sent a special van that was able to take all 7 of us with me staying on my scooter. If you are using what Disney calls an ECV, make plans according to your ability to move without the scooter in advance! Though to be honest, this didn't help us on the way back. I arranged for the same van through the Magical Express people the night before leaving but the next day, no one knew what I was talking about and they ended up sending two cabs for us. The cab my friend and I took got us there no problem, but the cab that her two kids and their significant others took actually charged them for the tolls and $75 for the ride, which one of them paid. ( we are trying to have Magical Express people cancel that payment). The other thing we did not know about the Magical Express Service is that you do not get your luggage for 3 to 5 hours after landing. We arrived at the hotel after 10pm, so none of us had sleepwear or toiletries. Then we found out that they never picked up our luggage because of not having the yellow tags! After that was discovered, we did get the bags very quickly.

2. Checking In. All our plans were made through a travel agent at AAA. We reserved two rooms, requesting that they be adjoining. One would be for the two couples and the other for me, my friend and her son. However, because it was "easier", the reservations were made where my friend and her three kids (all same last name) were to be in one room and the fiance, the girlfriend and I were to be in the other. You might think - so what, just make the sleeping arrangements you want, right? Except the magic bands are also tied to your room! So my friend and her son weren't able to get into my room and the fiance and gf weren't able to get into their rooms. But you still might be thinking, so what, the rooms are adjoining, right? But NOPE! Adjacent? Nope! The rooms were in different buildings!!! We found the first room, which did have an adjoining room, it just wasn't OUR room. We spent several minutes trying to find the other room and finally figured out it was in the next building. We decided we would work with it because it was now 11pm but we would talk to them in the morning. When I went to the concierge the next day, all he would say was that there was no guarantee that adjoining or adjacent rooms can be granted. I went over with him several times that not only weren't we next to them, but we were in a different building, but he just gave me attitude. I was getting really angry. To be honest, had he apologized for the situation, I would have been placated. Just for his to say "I'm sorry this happened but we are fully booked and at the moment there's nothing I can do but if something changes, we will let you know", would have appeased me. But he would NOT own the "mistake". This left me quite unhappy.

3. Packages. We had the Quick Meal plan for our stay but were worried that with three growing "boys" (ages 22, 18 & 14), they would cost us a fortune in food not on the plan. So we took the advice of someone on a trip planning site and we ordered a large box of food stuffs from Amazon. Amazon guaranteed delivery on Monday, which was fine with us since we were getting in late on Sunday night. On Monday morning, after trying to get some gratification about our room, I inquired about my delivery. They told me there were no packages for me at that time. While at Magic Kingdom, I received an email from Amazon saying our package had been delivered at 2pm. Back to the FQ at 5pm and I am told there is no package. I tell them there IS a package, it was delivered at 2pm. THAT'S when they tell me that all packages go to a central processing center first, then get delivered to the individual resorts. We did not receive the package until Tuesday evening. I thought this was a ridiculous amount of time to get a package.

4. The Resort. I found the rooms to be nice and comfortable. I was in a handicap accessible room and the bathroom, with its roll in shower, was quite spacious. We were on the corner of the building, facing the garden/pool and a walk way. The weather was nice and when you left the room, walking (rolling!) to the main building and the transportation stations was really very nice. The lobby was decorated with festive Mardi Gras themed Christmas trees and other swag and we took pictures of everything!

5. The Dining Area. I cannot say ONE BAD THING about the "Sassagoula Floatworks" dining area. There are four stations serving food plus self serve areas for salads, fruits, and beverages. The Quick Service Meal Plan was excellent and worked out well for us. What they don't tell you, and took us a few days to figure out, is that your two meals each day include the meal, dessert and a drink. And you already have your refillable cup, which is a Godsend! So if you went for breakfast, you could get your meal (choosing from pancakes, waffles, a huge breakfast bowl, bagels & eggs etc), plus a bottle of orange juice AND a dessert which you can carry out and save as a snack for later. Then you get a snack, then another meal of main entree, beverage and dessert and STILL another snack! NONE of us were hungry for food at any point. We barely touched the big box of snacks I had ordered AND on our last day, we each had 6 meals left on our plan just before leaving. Each meal credit can be turned into THREE snack credits! So we went to the gift shop and we both chose 18 snack items (pretzels, candy bars, lollipops, chips etc) EACH to take home with us!

All in all, despite some problems with the Magical Express and the room situation, I would stay at the Port Orleans FQ again.

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Re: My Trip Report

Unread post by Admin » December 15th, 2015, 1:31 pm

Sounds like you had some bad experiences which your travel agent should have given you better advanced advice about, but sadly AAA are not especially known for their personalised service and reliability with processing requests.

Most of the info is covered here on this site too, but I'm not sure how much you read here before your trip. While I know it won't help you now, I'll add a few notes which may help other people in similar situations:

1) Baggage delivery can take a number of hours after arrival (up to three hours after your own arrival) and if arriving fairly late in the day I always suggest that you either bring your bags along with you on the bus, or bring nightwear and any urgent medicines/toiletries/etc in your hand baggage if possible. See http://www.portorleans.org/magical-express.php. Non yellow-tagged items may take a bit longer still, as instead of grabbing them as they come off the trucks they would have to wait until most people's bags had been collected from the carousel and then start looking for the tag numbers you gave them.

2) ECVs can be accommodated on the internal Disney bus shuttles to the parks, but Magical Express is contracted out (in fact Mears run it) and they use regular luxury-style coaches which I assume don't have kerb-kneeling facilities. I can't remember whether I mentioned that on my pages, I must check and add it if necessary. Disney should have been made aware that you were using an ECV and had appropriate transport available for you for both trips though, and you certainly should not have been asked to pay for taxis.

3) It's too late for you now, but if you take a look at my page on making room requests (http://www.portorleans.org/room-requests.php) there's lots of advice on how to let the resort know your wishes, the most important bit being to send a personal fax 3-5 days out. By the sound of it, your two bookings may not even have been correctly linked in the reservations system, which would have been why you ended up in separate buildings. For an Accessible room and accompanying party, I would also have suggested that you contact the Special Needs team in advance, and/or fax the room assignment team 5 days before you got there so they could pre-block appropriate room numbers for you in advance, as using the regular Ready Room arrival system late at night (especially with the resort almost full) was unlikely to have resulted in the best options for you.

4) AAA should have told you the difference between adjacent and connecting rooms. About 50% of the rooms at the resort have connecting doorways but, critically for you, NONE of the rooms which are modified for wheelchair accessibility have connecting doors (the extra spacing between the queen beds which allows for better access also blocks the area where a doorway would normally be placed). See http://www.portorleans.org/rooms-accessible.php. But making arrangements directly with Disney in advance would probably have got you a lot closer together. Unfortunately, juggling people around between rooms would fairly obviously mean that room keys (magic bands) would only work on the assigned room doors (sorry, I know that's easy for me to say in hindsight). You could have just swapped bands between yourselves of course, as long as every person on each booking had the exact same entitlements (park admission tickets, fastpass, dining plan, etc). Ok the logged names would not match, which might have raised some eyebrows, and the boys might have objected to pink bands :) but it would have worked.

5) Incoming package delivery depends on how the package has been sent. Postal (USPS) deliveries get sent to a central PO Box for all Disney resorts, and are sorted and shipped out from there, which can take a bit longer of course. For food and perishable deliveries it is MUCH better to use courier delivery (Fex Ex, UPS, DHL, etc) which will be dropped off directly at your hotel by the courier, and so you can get it much quicker (and chilled items can be held refrigerated for you). Garden Grocer seems to be the company most people choose for this sort of service. See http://www.portorleans.org/services.php#Mail for full details.

7) The quick service dining plan includes an entrée, dessert and drink (which can be bottled, so you can take it with you) for each meal. Breakfasts are entrée and drink only. The cast members normally confirm the details at great length at the checkout every time you pay (as they have to scan in all the matching items) so I can't figure out why no-one told you this on your first meal. Snacks can be substituted at some locations incidentally, but the rules are a bit complicated.

Sorry this is all too late for you, but hopefully it might help other visitors.

Andre
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Thorpy
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Joined: February 10th, 2013, 1:06 pm

Re: My Trip Report

Unread post by Thorpy » December 16th, 2015, 3:34 am

Just to add some anecdotal support to the comments on Magical Express. I've used magical express for a few years and never seen an accessible bus.

lizzieanne
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Joined: July 6th, 2015, 4:25 pm

Re: My Trip Report

Unread post by lizzieanne » December 17th, 2015, 6:25 am

Adding onto the Magical Express thing, I never enter my info when I make a reservation because I don't have my flights yet, but I'm pretty sure there is a box to check that you need accessible transportation - had that been checked, there likely would not have been those issues.

It definitely sounds like you had a bum "travel agent" - exhibit A why I choose to make my own reservations...I can control my own destiny as much as possible that way. And yes, as Andre pointed out, there is a HUGE difference in hotel-speak between "connecting" and "adjoining" - "connecting" means there is literally a door between the rooms, "adjoining" means the rooms are next to each other but without the connecting door, across the hall from each other in hotels where that's an option, or even (especially in the case of Disney resorts) around corners from each other. Again, something a travel agent who had a clue would know and should explain.

I hope you had a great trip in spite of the issues.

Mishe
Posts: 2
Joined: November 30th, 2015, 11:51 am

Re: My Trip Report

Unread post by Mishe » December 18th, 2015, 12:59 pm

Though I haven't traveled much in recent years due to illness, I'm not a "newbie". Only new to the "Disney" way. When we asked for adjoining or adjacent rooms, I understood the difference. Being in different buildings was really only a problem because of the bands, but we rolled with it.
Using an ECV and being a "customer of size" as Southwest airlines calls it, I am used to advocating for myself. So the problems that popped up certainly weren't ones that ruined our vacation. All in all we had a very good time and are eager to go back!! LOL! Especially because I became addicted to the whole "pin collecting" thing!

BTW, the Magical Express busses DO have accessible lifts that fold down and allow you to put your wheelchair or even your ECV on and be raised into the bus. However, I felt that the doorway you would be lifted through would be too narrow for me.

Thorpy
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Re: My Trip Report

Unread post by Thorpy » December 19th, 2015, 6:23 pm

Whereabout are they then, I'll look out for one, I'm not used to noticing as nobody in our party needs it. I've only ever noticed the front door that we go in by and the emergency exit at the back if there is one.

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mamabunny
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Re: My Trip Report

Unread post by mamabunny » December 29th, 2015, 3:31 pm

Late to the party, but for future reference:

The DME buses that have the built-in lift will appear to most folks as a regular bus. The lift is actually at the passenger-side rear area; if you have ever been in a DME bus that has a bathroom at the back with a row of seats mysteriously removed right in front of the bathroom door... you have been on a "lift" bus. Without seeing the lift in action, that door appears as a standard emergency exit (though no stairs would be present in an emergency!)

I am a 3L (Large Lovely Lady) and I "fit" just fine through the lift door. The doorway is sized to accommodate standard sized wheelchairs, power chairs, scooters and other personal mobility devices. If you and your device "fit" inside the white painted boxes at the bus stops for WDW internal buses, then you will fit through the doorway on the DME lift bus. That white painted box on the ground is a "sizer" that demonstrates the maximum size any Disney internal bus (and DME bus) can load. There are people who show up at the parks with personal devices that will not fit inside that "sizer" box, and so cannot use Disney transport.

I only book direct with Disney, and I always call DME personally to let them know that I will need a lift bus both coming and going. Typically, 48 to 36 hours prior to leaving the Resort to head back to the Airport, I will again remind the folks at the Airport desk to send a lift bus.

As an FYI, you are NOT allowed to stand on the lift platform if you can't climb stairs on to the bus. You must be seated in a wheelchair or other mobility device.
The evening star is shinin' bright. So make a wish and hold on tight. There's magic in the air tonight, and anything can happen...
The Princess & The Frog, Disney Studios, 2009

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