Hi everyone! Well, we're back, and here's a review of the CSR, as promised
March 4-8, 2011 (after staying at ASSp for 6 nights)
Myself and DS's (ages 11, 8, and 4)
I reserved a Water View so that I could increase my chances of getting a room in the Cabanas section. I also had a note added to my reservation requesting 9B. Well, I got it! I don't know if it was just luck, because the resort was practically empty (a major convention had practically the entire resort booked until that day), or if I got it because I had requested it. We were given a room on the second floor (I think I read somewhere that these are normally concierge rooms?), however it was on the back side of the building, which was just fine. There is a little lake behind the building, hence the "water view".
9B really is as convenient to everything as I had read. We were at the foot of the bridge that goes to the dig site, a 1 minute walk to a bus stop, and a hop skip and jump to Cafe Rix where we could refill our mugs. It was nice to get off the bus after a long day at the parks, and be in the room a minute later. I could settle the kids in front of the flat screen TV, run to refill our mugs, and be back in less than 5 minutes.
I think my second choice would have been 8A, to be right next to the dig site, and I could have had my mugs refilled at the dig site (as long as it was before midnight).
Check-in: I was the only person checking in at around 1pm, and walked right up to a waiting CM. I have to add that I wasn't getting off the Magical Express though...I expected to have to wait until 3pm to get our room, but the room was ready right away.
The room: Pretty standard, exact same layout as, but nicer decor than, the ASSp. The rooms are supposed to be bigger than at the values, but I'd say that any extra square footage was in the vanity area. The bathroom toiletries are a slight upgrade from those at the values.
The beds were very comfortable queens, and the linens were nice and soft, with a duvet and lots of pillows. We slept like logs!
Pool area: The dig site was fun and the kids had a blast on the water slides. The pool was heated, plus there was a large hot tub. Right in the pool area, there's a nicely themed kids playground with outdoor foosball and ping pong tables. There's a little food service counter (think pretzels with cheese sauce, and awesome nachos) so you can have a snack while hanging around the pool. There were lots of chairs for everyone too.
The only con was that the pool was a little deeper than the one at the ASSp, and my youngest couldn't touch the bottom here.
Pepper Market: Pros: The wait staff were extremely friendly and helpful, and the food was fresh. The first day, my 8 yr old felt like eating pancakes, but they don't serve pancakes (?). One of the chefs overheard him, and went to the back and prepared a big plate with 3 choc chip pancakes just for him. Another morning, this same 8 yr old misplaced his refillable mug while getting his food, and the waitress just gave him a new one!
Cons: EXPENSIVE! For example, at the ASSp, you can get a big Mickey Waffle for $4.69. At Pepper market, they make round waffles instead, and then charge $9.99 for it (nothing else on the plate). I had clearly explained to my 11 yr old that this wasn't a buffet, and that each thing he chose would be charged; he got a waffle ($9.99), and a plate with some scrambled eggs and hashbrowns (another $9.99). We were much more careful after this! Also, I'm not really picky about coffee, and actually really like the Nescafe stuff that they serve at the refill stations. But I also know a really good coffee when I have one (I'm married to a Frenchman and live in Montreal); the coffee at the restaurant was undrinkable.
We only ate breakfast at the Pepper Market, so I can't comment on the other dishes.
Transportation: I don't think we waited more than 5 minutes to take a bus to go anywhere from the hotel. transportation from the parks was quick as well, except for after Fantasmik! What a mess! We were still at the ASSp on Fantasmik! night and had over a 45 minute wait. There was nobody at the CSR stop...
Overall: For an extra $80-100 per night, you get a few extra feet in front of the bathroom sink (but not in the actual bathroom), a more comfortable bed (but I slept just fine at the value), a more resort-like pool, and a more expensive restaurant than at a value. We also escaped the cheerleaders who were running all over the value resort. But we also lucked out, and didn't get the convention people either. I think a hotel full of conventioners would be just as bad as the cheerleaders
I think perhaps next time I'd rather get 2 rooms or a family suite at a value, and would only go moderate if I was planning on spending a lot of time at the hotel so that I could fully enjoy the pool area. In the end, a room is a room.