I wanted to share a trip report of my most recent Disney Destination vacation with our readers. 12 nights in 3 different Disney beds- an incredible trip where I found myself learning and experiencing all sorts of new tricks and tips that I wanted to share with all of you!
August 19th, 2013- the day had finally come. As a travel agent, I plan hundreds of trips a year for families, friends, and couples- but now the time had come to begin a 12 night Disney vacation. 12 nights- the longest we had ever taken before (we had sailed a 10 night Disney cruise back in 2006, but most since have been 5-7 nights long) and I was as excited as I was nervous. Two different resort stays followed by a 7 night Disney Fantasy cruise with a total of 12 family members traveling with us plus friends, this was a big trip and I couldn’t be any more ready. Or so I thought…
My husband dropped the kids (2 daughters, who are 13 and almost 11 years old, plus my son who is 6 years old) and I off at Long Island’s Mac Arthur airport minutes before my mom arrived at Southwest Airline’s terminal. He would be meeting us later in the week, this is a busy time for him at work and to take 2 weeks off just isn’t an option in the summer. My mom agreed to come with the kids and me to help out. Well, Mom’s knees have deteriorated so, that she requires a wheelchair or a scooter for any length of time that she would need to walk or stand. So, I have 3 kids in tow as I wheel my mom through security and towards our gate. The plane arrived on time and we took off as scheduled. Mom sat with the girls and I sat with my son during the flight. We were delayed landing by 20 minutes due to rain, but we all got to Orlando in one piece. We scoot on to the monorail to the terminal in Orlando’s airport and everything looks familiar, or so I thought…
Hint number one: Read the Magical Express booklet as to where to check in. Everything looked very familiar and I thought I knew where to go. Except I had 3 kids hiking and pushing my mom to the A side, first level of the terminal instead of the B side. Now we had to back track and head to the B side and down to level one to check in for our transfers to Walt Disney World.
Hint number two: If you have bags that do not have Magical Express bag tags, separate the bag claim tickets and only give the un-tagged claim tickets to the Disney’s Magical Express team. We flew Southwest and are permitted 2 bags, per person to check. Disney only sent 1 tag per person. I called to have more sent, in time, but when I called to ask where they were about a week before departure- they didn’t send them. But to separate the tags and it shouldn’t be an issue. Well, in the craziness of curbside check in Long Island, I didn’t separate the tags. So, the Magical Express agent had to enter all 10 claim tickets into the system manually which increased our wait time boarding our bus to Walt Disney World- have I mentioned I am traveling with 3 kids who are out of their minds excited right now to start their trip?!?!?
Once we are all checked in, we head towards our bus to Disney’s new Art of Animation Resort and walk right on to a waiting bus. We were the first stop, thank goodness, and were greeted by cast members as we got off the bus directing us where to go. I went ahead and walked right up to the front desk to check in. I asked for a Cars suite (I assumed my son would prefer this section), but the resort was sold out and Lion King was what we were assigned. We headed over to our room, walking past their gift shop and cafeteria, arcade, and Nemo themed pool. WOW. First impression? Everything is VERY bright, VERY loud, and VERY young family friendly. The kids are so excited. We are greeted at our section by Rafiki and Mufasa and then head under a tree trunk adorned with Timon, Pumba, and Simba to our suite. We head up to the 3rd floor and enter our room. Again, we are wowed. Very bright, impeccably themed, and the kids are over the moon. I am stressed because I cannot find any closets. I like to hide my mess of luggage (remember we have 10 bags plus carry ons) and there is not one in the entire suite. On the plus side- we have 2 bathrooms, which almost makes up for it. My mom settles in to the dining section of the room (the table converts to a bed) and the girls will be set up in the living room where the sofa converts to a double bed. My son and I are in the bedroom where I try to wrangle the bags to keep them out of the way in there. The safe is also located in the bedroom with a keypad entry. The kitchenette is identical to the ones you will find in a Studio Villa- a microwave, coffee pot, sink, and mini fridge.
Can you spot the hidden Mickey in the carpet?
Once we are pretty well settled, make our call to Daddy to let him know we made it and he can hear how excited his kids are and how still stressed out his wife his. We head down to the lobby so my mom can meet the scooter rep to obtain her scooter (we rented from Special Needs at Sea- I wanted to use them because she could get accustomed to the scooter in the 5 nights before heading on to the ship later in the week) and then head to dinner. Well, I wheeled Mom down – retrieved the scooter, then I scooted back to the room and then walked back to the lobby- which isn’t the closest to our room, but it certainly isn’t the farthest either.
We decided to have dinner at Shades of Green’s Magino’s. Shades of Green is a special resort on property (located pretty close to the Polynesian Resort) for members of the military, veterans, widows, and their families to stay at a special rate. My father had spent 20 years in the Air Force and we have stayed here once before. It is beautiful- but isn’t “Disney”. We had to take a cab, so this meant wheeling Mom and she couldn’t take the scooter. Even with that hassle, we do like to visit it though when we have the time and decided a first night dinner would work. We really enjoyed dinner (pizza and pastas) and even ran to the shop to pick up some sodas and snacks for our stay.
Pizza for dinner!
Shades of Green’s Lobby
Once back at our resort, again BRIGHT and NOISY, the kids wanted to swim before bed. It was now 10pm, and I was exhausted- but hey, why not. Mom stayed at the pool as we have to pass it to get to our section and the kids and I head back so they can change.
Hint number three: Bring towels from your room before heading to the pools. Even if they should supply them at pool, at least you don’t have to run back to your room, like I did. By the time I got back with the towels, Mom decided she wanted coffee and I wanted a pina colada. I go to the cafeteria to grab Mom a coffee, deliver that to her, I go to the bar to pick up a pina colada and I am finally sitting at the pool by 10:40pm. I give the kids a 10 minute warning to get out because we have a 9:30am reservation for breakfast with the princesses the next day in Epcot…