Disney Diary 2011
Day 1 - July 15, 2011
We left the house at 5:30am to make our 7:30am flight. Very early, but we were all so happy and excited to be going - so for once it wasn't hard to get everyone up and going. Even Katie, who can be a bear in the morning, got up cheerfully. :)
The flight left on time and even landed 20 minutes early - guess our pilot had a lead foot or something. Since this was our third trip I knew to ride the shuttle to main terminal and go down to the first floor on the B side to get to the Magical Express counter. I saw the long check in line and gave a little inward sigh, and went to stand in line. Only they had changed the setup a bit since last time - the long check in line was actually for Disney Cruise Line - not for the Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World. The cast members directed me to an EMPTY line to get on the buses - Yay! :) So the cast members scanned our Magic Express tickets and showed us to our bus to the Contemporary which was already there and ready to take off. Extra bonus!
It was 11:30am, and we had 7:15pm reservations for the Hoop Dee Doo that night. Hoop Dee Doo is now a family tradition for us, if you aren't already familiar, it is a live dinner show that serves fried chicken, ribs, cornbread, salad, and strawberry shortcake. To be honest, the food is nothing special - just average. It is a really fun show though. The kids really enjoyed the slap-stick hee-haw type humor. If you have a fourth grade boy or so he will think it is hilarious. The first time we saw this show Alex was 11 and he laughed so hard he cried. Now it is more tradition for us and more mildly amusing. Still a good time, and a fun thing to do on our more laid back arrival day. So anyway - I would have made reservations for the 5pm show, but I was nervous about the flight getting delayed, or magic express taking a long time and needing time to get settled in our room, so I booked the later reservation. Since we were making such good time, I called the WDW Dining number, and moved the reservation to 5pm - no problem there - the cast member was able to change the reservation.
The actual ride to the resort took a little longer than I would have liked because the bus made stops at Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, and the Polynesian before taking us to the Contemporary, but we were still all checked in, settled in our room, and eating lunch at the Contempo Cafe by 1pm - very good time for the scheduled landing of 11:14am. Alex actually had a good idea that I'd use if we are ever in this situation again. We should have just gotten off the Magic Express bus at Grand Floridian (the first stop) and rode the monorail to Contemporary - probably would have shaved another 15-20 minutes off, but oh well.
We checked into our room to find the "mousekeeping" had already left us a towel animal. Some wash clothes arranged like a mickey head. :) A nice touch. We stayed in the Garden Wing of the Contemporary Resort and our room sort of overlooked the pool except that there were trees and folliage between our room and the pool - but that was fine with us - we didn't pay for any special view and we didn't get any special view, so par for the course. :)
We were on the Disney Dining Plan because I had gotten a Free Dining PIN right around the time I was beginning to plan the trip. The Dining Plan is 1 Table Service Credit per day, 1 Counter Service credit per day and 1 snack per day for every member of your party. It might not sound like much, but it can be a lot of food. Each of the Table Service and Counter Service credits include a dessert, drink and entree. And at the counter service places, often a side such as fries is also included. I would probably not get the dining plan if we did not have the PIN code, but since our food is then included in the price of our room/tickets, we do save a bit of money using it. Anway, we used our first set of counter service credits at the Contempo Cafe. One of the dessert options are these huge cupcakes. They were super yummy too. This is the Dos Leche one (caramel) and they also have a Black Forest and a Strawberry which were also very good. :)
So after lunch we changed into our swim suits and decided to check out the pool. I would not recommend staying at the Contemporary resort if you have little kids (say under 7ish) because of the pool. There is no kiddie pool at all. Katie loved, loved the kiddie pool at the Wilderness when we stayed there in 2008, but all the Contemporary has is a water-spout play area. It was a real pain for me too, because although she could just touch bottom in the big pool, she isn't a strong enough swimmer that I felt she could be independent in the water at all. So if she wanted to be in the water, I had to be right there, attached at the hip the entire time. I really liked being able to let her play in the kiddie pool while I enjoyed my drink in a nearby beach chair at the Wilderness - couldn't do that here.
If anything went wrong on this day at all it was that I didn't pack any sunscreen in our carry-ons. We had larger bottles packed in our check-in luggage, which hadn't arrived yet, but I should have thought to pack a few 3oz bottles so that we could have lathered up before going to the pool. We didn't stay at the pool long, and luckily no one was badly burned, but my shoulder and neck got slightly crispy. Enough to be sore for the rest of that day and the beginning of the next - a minor annoyance.
After our dip in the pool we got ready for the Hoop Dee Doo. We were almost late for our reservation because it was raining and the boat that runs from the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, and Ft Wilderness Campground had to switch to using bigger, covered boats because of the possibility of lightning. We had our ponchos though, and it was no big deal. We finally caught the boat and just made the reservation. Fun time at HDD as usual. :)
I was really happy to make the earlier show of HDD because it meant we had time afterward to go to FANTASMIC! at Disney's Hollywood studios. FANTASMIC! was playing twice - once at 9pm and again at 10:30p, but we really didn't want to stay up for the 10:30p since we had been up since 4:30am, and 9pm was really like 10p with the 1 hour time change difference between CT (WI) and ET (FL). I love FANTASMIC! It is my favorite night time show at WDW and I highly recommend it.
After HDD we took the boat back to the Contemporary and the walked to the bus stop and took the bus to Hollywood Studios. No problem waiting for the bus - it drove up just as we walked to the bus stop. :) We did have to make a stop at the Polynesian to pick up people there though, and I had heard that in July the line for FANTASMIC could be full as soon as an hour and a half before the show. We arrived at Hollywood Studios about 8:20p - so I was a little concerned we would miss it, but my backup plan was to do some of the other rides planned for a different day if that happened. Turned out there was no need to worry at all. We scored excellent seats about half way up a little the left of the center. Excellent viewing - I think we lucked out because the rain drove a lot of people out of the park and back to their hotels. The pictures below are of the stage as we waited for the show to start and then the finale float with all the characters. :)
After FANTASMIC! we were all very tired, but very happy. We had another small snafu trying to get to the right bus stop - we walked left instead of right out of the gate and went quite a distance before we realized the stop for the Contemporary was on the other side and then had to back track and go the right way. The bus was there waiting for us though and we didn't have to wait long to get back to our resort. Everyone went right to sleep. :)
Next up - Day 2 - Magic Kingdom and DisneyQuest.