On Sunday we returned from 10 days at Disney World…our longest trip to date. Here’s day 1 of the trip report from this vacation.
Day 1 – Arrival Day
On Friday, May 27, we had a flight booked to leave at 8-something a.m. This day was also supposed to be the last day of the kids’ school but we used it as a traveling day instead. We left home right on time at 6: 15 a.m. (compromise between my desire to leave at 6 and Andy’s desire to leave at 6:30 – a reverse of our normal preferences) and headed to park our van at The Parking Spot. We’ve always parked in remote parking at the airport but after hearing so many great things about The Parking Spot, we decided it would be a good time to give it a try (the fact that Andy gets a discount through work didn’t hurt either).
Travel days are always anxious because there are so many details to juggle so driving to this new parking area was causing me a little bit of anxiety because we didn’t know where it was from past experience and weren’t sure how it would work. As it turned out, it was easy to find and we were taken immediately to our terminal at the airport, right from our parking spot.
Although I had already checked in online and printed our boarding passes, we had 2 big bags to check so we first stopped at curbside. This line took a while to get through as we waited behind a large family headed for a Disney cruise (they had the Disney Cruise Line luggage and have been to Disney World and on Disney cruises many times – jerks!). After finally making our way to the front of the line, we were relieved that both bags came in under 50 pounds, although at 48.6 pounds, one of them made it just barely.
With our bags finally checked, we headed to the security line. At DFW Airport, it’s always a little scary to head for security because the line can be pretty long sometimes. This line wasn’t too bad but Andy and I did get the full body scan treatment machine (the kids were following us and got into the line for the full body scan machine. I kept motioning to them “GET. OVER. THERE.” and they were able to go through the normal line. Whew. Pedophile TSA crisis averted.).
We got to our gate in plenty of time but my first order of business was to go to the desk at the gate. Our seats were all over the plane and although I knew the plane was fully booked, I had hoped they’d at least put one of us with Blake. If not, I knew he’d be OK but he was anxious about it so I thought I’d ask. Luckily the agent was empathetic and she shuffled some people around and put Blake and I together and then Andy and Payton together in another party of the plane. Thank you, gate lady!
When the kids were little, I would always pack their backpacks for vacations with snacks and activities to keep them busy en route. The rule was that they could open it once we got to our gate at the airport. I had stopped doing this in recent years because the kids are older and have gotten very good at packing their own stuff. When we were planning this trip, they asked that I resume the backpack packing so I did. I told them it was up to them to decide when to open them (I’m not a big fan of micromanagement – surely they are old enough to decide when it makes sense to open their backpacks) but they mostly decided to resume tradition and open them at the gate. The contents of their backpacks included these things.
We boarded our flight – a direct, 2 hour flight – on time and the flight itself was relatively uneventful. The 7-ish-year-old girl sitting behind Blake and me was ANNOYING but once we landed and realized she had no idea her parents were surprising her with a Disney trip, I found them a little bit charming (although, honestly, a 7-year-old is old enough to understand the destination they are flying to and know that Disney World is in Orlando, right?).
We took the shuttle – always a hit with kids – to the main terminal to claim our bags and get our transportation to Disney World.
As we descended the escalator to the baggage claim area, there was a man standing there holding a sign with a familiar name on it.
The kids saw the sign and said “that’s not you though, is it?” I told them that it was and they were super surprised. Of course, Payton had to confirm if there would be any other surprises during the trip – she’s like me and likes to know what’s going on – and I assured her this was it.
Harry the Limo Driver waited with us while we claimed our bags and helped us get all of our stuff out to the limo. Blake told Harry “yeah, this is how we travel every day.”
I had requested a stop at a grocery store (Publix – what a nice store!) on the way to Disney World but it was only going to be 15 minutes to grab what we needed. I had index cards prepared for each member of the family listing what they were responsible for grabbing. Payton had produce, Andy had bottled water and milk, I had many packaged things and Blake could go with whoever he wanted (I think he chose Payton). We all met at the checkout and got out in less than 15 minutes. Our driver was impressed.
Side note: I hadn’t considered the absurdity of arriving to a grocery store in a limo but it did feel pretty ridiculous.
We made our way to our Disney hotel, Port Orleans Riverside. We had only stayed at Deluxe hotels on Disney property before but Port Orleans Riverside (I’ll call it POR from now on) is a moderate. When pricing the trip, I had determined that we just couldn’t stay for long at the current Deluxe prices but could stay for 10 days at a moderate so a moderate it was.
Disney has instituted online check-in for hotels and theoretically it’s supposed to speed things up. The online check-in line moved super slow but finally we got to the front of our line where we picked up our room keys. Included with our room keys were scavenger hunt books created by my sister-in-law Nicki who had arrived the day before. She’d left them at the desk to be given to us at check-in so that the kids could explore the resort and get to know their way around by finding items in the book. Once they completed the scavenger hunt and solved the puzzle, they were to leave the answers out on the table in the hotel room so a prize could be left for them.
The detail she put into it was amazing. I made a short video to show you.
We had arrived around 1 p.m. for check-in and our room wasn’t ready yet so we stored our big bags with luggage storage and headed to the food court of the hotel to finally sit down and eat. We were using free Disney Dining on this trip so this was our first opportunity to try it out. Our hotel had a create-your-own-pasta option which we headed to and everybody was able to get what they want.
After we all ate, the kids headed out with their scavenger hunt books while Andy and I just relaxed at our food court table for a bit and waited for the text message saying that our room was ready. It wasn’t until 3 that our room was finally ready and so we made our way to our room.
We were super lucky to have gotten our requests – building 14 (the closest of all of the buildings) with all 3 families right next to each other. With the kids still out and about on their scavenger hunt, I immediately set out to move in. I really like unpacking and getting organized ASAP. I hung up the over-the-door shoe organizer to hold our small things, put a Minnie and Mickey pump soap on each sink, put all of our clothes into drawers, plugged in the room scent that we’d chosen just for this trip and got all of our documents organized on the desk.
The kids finally returned and were sweaty and hot and needed to cool down for a bit but we had a dinner reservation a little after 7 at Chef Mickey’s. Around 6 or so, our family and Bob and Nicki’s family decided to take the bus to the Magic Kingdom where we’d catch the monorail to the Contemporary Resort where Chef Mickey’s is located. Since we had a bit of time, we rode the monorail all the way around the loop just for fun and after a full trip around, we decided to check-in at Chef Mickey’s.
Just one, teensy little issue: Dan and Katrina’s family wasn’t there yet. Their flight had been delayed and they were currently on the bus from the airport to our hotel. I advised them to leave their bags at the hotel with luggage storage and head right to dinner. We were not optimistic that they’d make it but right when the hostess buzzed us, they had arrived by some miracle of all miracles.
We had a great dinner and I’d love to show you some pictures but I’m not sure we have any.
After dinner, all 14 of us headed back to our hotel to get settled in for our first full day in the parks. But not so fast….
Andy, Dan and Bob’s oldest brother David and his family were driving through on their way from South Carolina to Tampa for Memorial Weekend. We were all exhausted but made our way out in front of the lobby of the hotel to meet up with them for a little bit.
After that, we were finally ready to head to bed. The next day would be our earliest of the week since Magic Kingdom was opening earlier than normal. The plan: be at the bus stop by 7:15. Did we make it? Let’s put it this way: at least some of us did.