Getting There is Half the Battle
August 23, 2008
We woke up at 5am, and I think everyone was actually able to sleep the night before. I was worried that we'd all be too exicted to sleep - and we were excited, but somehow we all dropped off pretty easily - everyone was asleep before me of course though as I was still doing the mental checklist after everyone else was asleep. Even I fell asleep relatively easily though once I finally settled into bed.
We loaded everything into the car and had just started our 30 min. ride to the airport when I started to feel I'd forgotten something. Did I have my folder with all our plans/tickets/reservation info?? I couldn't be sure, so I pulled over and pulled out one of the carryons to check. Whew! It was there, with everything in it, so we were good. We got checked into the airport relatively easily after reciting our parking area over and over to ourselves - 2H Blue - to make sure we would know where we parked when we returned in 9 days. The plan was to write this info down when we had the chance, but we never did get around to it. Luckily we did remember for the return! Everything went smoothly - Katie was relatively good on the plane - I had brought some fruit snacks for her to chew on during take off and landing and books and small puzzles to keep her busy and entertained. It worked really well and she was pretty well-behaved.
We took Magical Express to our hotel, Disney's Wilderness Lodge. For those of you not familiar, if you are staying at a Disney resort on property, they will pull your luggage right off your flight and deliver it for you to your hotel room, and they take you on a bus right to the hotel. The luggage arrives at your hotel after you do - up to 3 hours later - but we packed everything we needed for that day in the carryons. Taking the Magical Express didn't take much extra time either. We did have to wait in line to "check in" for a bus, but once that was done (took about 20 min.) we walked right on a bus that left for our hotel within about another 10 min. The bus did also make stops at other hotels, but I still felt the system was pretty efficient and I was happy with our arrival time. Depending on how long it would take you to claim your own baggage and then rent a car, I'd say the Magical Express doesn't take much longer and it is really nice not to have to worry about doing the other stuff. I know a lot of people would rather rent their own car and be in control, but we have had two good experiences with Magical Express, and will definitely use the service again if we ever go back to Disney (I should say when, not if!)
We were pleasantly surprised with our room. We had reserved a "Woods View" bunk bed room because it was the cheapest room that had the bunk beds - we really needed 3 separate beds as Alex (DS13) sleeping with Katie (DD4) just seems totally unacceptable to both of them (and to us). We were on the 6th floor (room 6012) and this was our view! You might have to click the image to view the larger one to really see what I mean - but we could see the Magic Kingdom castle from our room and at night we could see Wishes and the castle changing colors. It was really cool, since staying in the park until Wishes is still tough with a 4yr old who often refuses to nap on vacation.
Once we got settled in our room, we decided to go to the pool for a swim. I think this kiddy pool was one of Katie's favorite parts of the vacation - I myself prefered the jacuzzi tub. I should mention here that TS Faye had rained out the parks for a day or two prior to our arrival and all the guests seemed to be really weary from the rain. Before we left we were stressed that our vacation would be ruined by the rainy aftermath of the storm. We were surprised and relieved when we landed in Orlando to partly cloudy skies. We got in about 30 min. at the pool before we started to hear rumbling in the sky and the lifeguards cleared everybody out. It was fine with us, good excuse to get the kids to come out without an argument! Everyone around us was really annoyed though - probably because they had seen plenty of rain in the last week.
We needed to get in anyway as we were heading to DisneyQuest for the evening and dropping Katie at the Cub's Den, which is a babysitting service for kids 4 - 12. Our luggage had arrived from Magical Express already when we returned to our room. We got everyone ready and headed out. Katie had a blast at the Cub's Den, coloring and playing house with another little girl there. She called it her "kid's club" and really seemed to enjoy it there. Sean, Alex and I went to DisneyQuest where we did pretty much everything of interest within about 3 hours. Don't get me wrong, Alex really enjoyed it, and he would definitely go again if you gave him the chance. Sean didn't care for it much except that he liked that they had the "old time" video games like Q-bert and Pac-Man that you could play. I really could take it or leave it. To me it wasn't worth the $37 to get in (although I did manage to get discount tickets from Ticket Mania for $29), but I'm glad we did it and gave it a try. This also gave us our first view of Downtown Disney, which we visited for Cirque de Soleil. We stayed at Disney Quest from about 5:30p to about 9:30p and we were dead tired from all the travel by that time. We used the Disney buses to get to and from DisneyQuest and despite all we heard about how bad it was going to be waiting for buses (we were on the monorail last time) we didn't wait long for buses much all week we were there. There was also some light rain as we were walking to Disney Quest from the stop where the bus lets you off, but not too bad.
We picked up Katie from the Cub's Den and got back to our room just in time to see Wishes from our balcony! A perfect end to our first day!