Trip Report Day 1 - January 23rd, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

There is so much information to share and I have been trying to organize myself in a way that makes sense. Talking about one topic naturally flows into another and then another and the posts would be ridiculously long. Too long. I thought a good starting out point would be a day of the trip; what we did, what we saw, where we ate (I literally have every single receipt), what we bought, and then reviews and further discussion points or tips from that day as separate posts that will eventually link back to the appropriate day of the trip. Did you follow that? Me neither, but let's get started.

It was the day we had been counting down to for quite some time; our travel day. We flew JetBlue on a very early morning flight. We had thought about giving the kids a half day at school and going mid day, but the flights didn't work out that way and if I had to choose between having a day in FL or a day in MA, I was definitely going FL.

 
I had prepared the kids' backpacks (with a bit of help from their aunties) with snacks, amusements, books, and stickers. With Connor needing his own seat this time around that left us with a quandary; who would sit with the kids? We booked four seats in one row, the kids and one parent together and the other one just across the aisle. I figured I would sit with them and Steve would sit solo, but he surprised me by asking to sit with them on the flight. I read two magazines, I read my Kindle, it was dare I say a relaxing flight. Truthfully, he knew he would have more room sitting with the kids who were scrunched up together in their two seats watching a movie, but it was nice not to have to open snacks, search for things in their bags or do anything kid related for three hours. Thanks for that!

We landed in MCO just before 11am & since we were using Magical Express to get to our resort, we just followed the signs to Disney's Magical Express.


 
There was quite a long line formed to check in. Steve looked at me because clearly our kids were balls of excitement ready to pop and a line like this was not going to be a successful way to start this trip. This was our first Disney moment. They were announcing resorts and asking those going to certain locations to step forward and we followed directions quite well. I winked at Steve and whispered, "DELUXE" and he rolled his eyes. He puts up with a lot of Disney and he deserves an award of some kind for supporting this amazing trip's mission.

Caroline got to Magic Band (yup, I am making it a verb) through the first station to check us in and then Connor banded through the second one just before you exit the airport terminal. They were well prepared for someone lacking in the height department because they lowered the desk all the way down for him to scan through. MAGIC.
 
Our shuttle was scheduled to make stops at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary Resort. Third stop wasn't too bad and the kids sat together just ahead of us watching the old time Disney cartoons and the preview videos of what they would be doing for the next few days on the bus. I was grinning ear to ear. A happy Connor kept checking on us.


Walking into the Wilderness Lodge is impressive. It is so tall and open and gorgeous and it may very well be my happy place. I think the theming is perfection and the lobby just begs to be sat in. We didn't do too much sitting down there, but we could have sidled right up that fire for a very long time with a mug of cocoa. Caroline spent a fair amount of time around the corner trading pins with the resort's pin book.


We had a wide open agenda that afternoon. The kids were tired from traveling and were yet somehow full of energy because we were ACTUALLY AT WALT DISNEY WORLD. We checked in and the kids changed into bathing suits before we grabbed some lunch at the Quick Service restaurant, Roaring Fork. The pool was the only thing on the agenda until dinner and Caroline wanted to GET ON THAT SLIDE. I had read lots of reviews online of course while planning and I had an agenda for my lunch.

I highly recommend not just choosing your restaurants, but reading some reviews to get a sense of what your best options will be. Steve took one look at my sandwich and said, "WOW, that looks amazing." He also did the same thing at Hollywood Studios when I insisted on Buffalo Chicken Nuggets. He looked at them across the table with such affection that I had to share them. READ THE REVIEWS! You don't want to have to share your buffalo chicken.  

Caroline wasted no time getting into the pool and trying out the slide. Steve was a good sport and swam with her. The pools are heated, so it was certainly not cold, but the lifeguard staff were walking around in long pants and winter coats. I just smiled and explained that we were from Boston and it was 1 degree when we left that morning. We only meant for this to be a short swim, but she was having so much fun so we let her keep going for almost 90 minutes. This would prove to be a fatal error.




I snapped this photo of our room was from the beach on Bay Lake. Our home away from home was in the top right corner of this side of this shot. The right most balcony was ours and you can kind of the see the SECOND balcony just the right of that. We had an amazing view of the grounds, the boats, the geyser, and the lake (including the Electrical Water Pageant). We were incredibly lucky.

 
 
Connor was not at all interested in swimming, but he sure looked cute in his swimsuit playing in the beach sand looking for Hook's buried treasure and matching his hands up the various paw prints he found in the area surrounding the pool. He thought these were raccoon prints. Disney details. 
 

By the time we pulled the fish from the pool, our bags had arrived in the room and I made quick work of unpacking myself and the kids into a huge armoire in the room. We got everyone changed and freshened up and we were off for our first adventure; the Polynesian for dinner at O'Hana.

I had planned to take a short ride to the Contemporary and then hop on the monorail to the Polynesian from there, but wouldn't you know the monorail had just started a non-peak time refurbishment (January 21st - March 31st). Awesome. That meant between the hours of 11am - 7pm there would be no resort monorail. Not one to panic, I had made a new plan to go to Magic Kingdom and then to Polynesian via boat. So we hopped on a boat to the Magic Kingdom instead and wow, the lines to get on a resort launch to the Poly were way more than I had anticipated for a late afternoon trip. The monorail closure was definitely an issue. We had left ourselves over an hour to get from the Wilderness Lodge to the Poly and it was not going to be enough time. We took a cute candid shot on the boat anyway. It was the first of many photos Connor refused to be in. I am glad we just smiled and took the photo anyway, we would have missed this very happy moment.

 


We met up with my cousin and his lovely girlfriend (Orlando locals) at the lobby a few minutes late for our 5:10 ADR. I might have convinced the kids that there was a real volcano at the Poly. The meal was fun, plentiful, and delicious (again, full review of that forthcoming), but the kids were an absolute waste. I had aspirations to grab a dole whip at Captain Cook's and watch Wishes from the beach, but the kids were definitely not going to make it. (I never got a dole whip this trip!) With a long day behind them and very early busy day ahead of them, we headed back to the Wilderness Lodge for the evening. Knowing it might be difficult to get from Poly to Lodge via boat, my cousin offered a very generous ride. We headed right upstairs to the Old Faithful Club to soak in the resort for one more moment before putting the kids to bed. I got a SECOND Magic Cookie Bar because WHY NOT?

Steve and I put the kids to bed and sat out on the balcony watching the boats come and go. We cracked open our Yuengling and pretended not to shiver waiting for the Electric Water Pageant to come by (9:35). We were here, it was real, and we had amazing plans for our second day at Walt Disney World.

This was the perfect way to end our night (video is shaky, but what a nice view!)

 

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