The Solars take on Disney World – Day 1
Six months ago or so, Josh and I discussed taking the kids to Disney World “someday soon”. On a whim, I hopped on the Disney World website to do a little research on pricing. You know, so we could start saving or at least planning for our future trip. At the time, Disney was running a special where you’d get a free Disney Dining Plan if you booked at least a 4 day vacation. If you know me at all, you know this is exactly the moment I started jumping up and down and yelling to Josh that we “had” to book our trip now. For our family, the dining plan costs about $100/day. And you know I LOVE to save money!
Fast forward to February. Oh, I forgot to tell you about the 2 weeks leading up to our Disney World trip. (This is important people… you need the backstory!). It turns out WPPI was the week before our DW trip. WPPI is a huge photography convention that we go to every year (well, ok, every year since last year 😉 and we were not going to miss it this year! We did a lot of learning, networking, talking with friends, and partying. That led to very little sleep as you can imagine! Add on to that the fact that we spent many LATE nights the week leading up to WPPI working on a SUPER SECRET NEW PROJECT (one that may or may not be launching during our spring break road trip… just sayin’).
Of course, the one class that was SUPER important to us was on Thursday morning. SO, our flight out of Vegas was scheduled to land at KCI at 10:15 pm on Thursday evening. Oh, and our flight to Orlando was scheduled for 12:35 pm on Saturday. I know, crazy, right?!
So, that’s only half of it! Turns out there was a crazy ice/snow storm in Kansas City on Thursday night. At one point, we weren’t even sure we were going to make it home that night! Thankfully, there was a great crew of plow drivers on hand at KCI that night and we were able to get home, albeit 2 1/2 late. By the time we got home on Thursday night (Friday morning), it was almost 2 am. I finally made it to bed around 3:30 am and Lia crawled in bed with us at 5 am. Man, I was SO tired…
To throw another iron in the fire, Friday also happened to be Josh’s 30th birthday! And you know I couldn’t just ignore his 30th birthday (even though I did a pretty good job of pretending that’s what was happening up till that point). So I spent Friday doing laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, decorating, cooking, and throwing my wonderful hubby a surprise birthday party (and I managed to sneak in a short nap somewhere in there too!).
So we got up early-ish on Saturday and started packing. Wouldn’t you know the weather started acting all crazy again and I was worried our flight would get delayed or canceled. Lucky for us, the highways were fine (no ice, yay!) and our flight was right on time, save 15 minutes de-icing of the wings.
We decided ahead of time that we would let Disney handle our luggage. If you’re staying at one of their resorts, you have the option of putting their yellow luggage tags on your bag and letting them take care of them. So when we landed in Orlando, we passed the baggage claim right by and headed (after some confusion) to the monorail that leads back to the main airport terminal. After a little while, we found the area for Disney’s Magical Express (the shuttle directly from the airport to the hotels). I was surprised at how efficient and well organized the whole process was. And thank goodness too, because by this point, we were a little frazzled from getting slightly lost in the airport.
About this time, Max was starting to figure out where we were going. Wait! Did I forget to mention that? Yes, we planned a surprise visit to Disney World! Josh and I actually slipped up several times over the last several months and mentioned it in front of them, but they were always totally oblivious. In fact, when I was packing on Saturday morning, they didn’t even realize it. It wasn’t until we were at the airport that they realized we were heading out of town.
All we told them was that we were headed somewhere warm. So, finally, as we were getting ready to board the bus, Max finally said “we’re going to Disney World!” And when I told him he was right, his eyes got all big! Then he told Ava and then Lia. Ava was of course more excited than Lia.
The shuttle ride to the hotel took quite a bit longer than I expected. I didn’t realize that Disney World was quite so far away from the airport. Luckily though, our hotel was the first of four stops. We got dropped off at the front of the hotel and then waited just a short time to check in, since I had used Disney’s online check in service before we left home. We stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. The buildings are laid out like giant mansions, with a bunch of rooms in each one. It was super confusing to find our building at first, but once we got pointed in the right direction, we found it no problem.
After a long plane ride, a long shuttle ride, and a short-but-seemingly-long time to check-in, we were exhausted (remember, I was also working on very little sleep!). Oh, and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet either. We dumped all of our stuff in our room and headed down to main lobby/restaurant area. Of course, as soon as we got down there, I realized that I had left everyone else’s Keys to the World in our room. I only brought mine. (FYI, the Key to the World is your room key, park ticket, dining plan, and credit card all wrapped into one nifty little card.) Since I wasn’t sure if we needed all of the keys to get dinner, I ran (literally!) all the way back to the room to get the rest. Turns out we didn’t need them, but I guess I needed the exercise!
So, did I mention yet that this is our FIRST Disney World trip? Let me tell you, they should have a mandatory class when you get there on your first visit. We walked into the dining hall, Riverside Mill Food Court, and immediately felt overwhelmed. There were a million people everywhere. Someone told me this was off-season, but I don’t know if I believe that. We fumbled around for probably 15 minutes trying to figure out what was on the dining plan and what the heck we could and could not get. Then we stood in the wrong line for another 15 minutes. Finally, someone told us we were in the wrong line, so we got in the right one.
The kids were bouncing off the walls, but I traded three 49 cent Mickey shaped straws for 10 minutes of good behavior. Twenty minutes later, we were finally settled into a corner table with our large pizza, 2 desserts, and 2 drinks. And we only used 2 credits off our dining plan. Score! We scarfed down our food and meandered back to our hotel. The luggage had not shown up yet and it was time for the kids to go to bed. We had been warned that it might take up to 3 hours for our luggage to arrive, but it was over 4 hours by the time it finally showed up. At least our luggage made it! I was starting to get worried that it was lost.
Things I learned:
1. All airports are confusing if you’ve never been there before. It’s just a fact of life. And most airport maps make it even worse.
2. “We’re almost there” loses its bargaining power after you’ve said it 15 times over a 30 minute period.
3. The cheesecake from Riverside Mill Food Court is amazing!
4. Most fellow travelers at Disney World will happily point you in the right direction or share tips/stories if you just ask.
5. Traveling WILL take way longer than you expect. Keep that in mind.
6. It’s a LONG walk to our hotel room from the lobby with the kids, but no so long alone.
Okay, so this is the part where I was going to put the video of the kids finding out we were going to Disney World. Except I got the videos off my iPhone and they are all sideways because I apparently am an idiot. But don’t feel too bad, they didn’t jump up and down or scream with excitement or anything. Max was excited, but I’m not sure they actually knew what Disney World was in order to be thrilled. So, I leave you with some pictures of us wearing Mickey ears. P.S. If you’re wondering why we all look SUPER tired, it’s because these photos were taken on our last day, right before we headed home Disney World.