Disney World Vacation Day 1 – Arrival

Magical Express bus at Orlando airport, Florida, heading to our resort, Pop century, Disney World
Magical Express bus at Orlando airport, Florida, heading to our resort, Pop century, Disney World
Not a bus! The Magical Express. It’ll take us to our resort, Pop Century, in Disney World, Florida

One of the best, and sometimes worst, part of traveling is that you never really know what’s going to happen.

It could be a car breaking down on a deserted Italian road, which would most definitely fall into the category of bad, or it could be a whole different type of show at Disney World.

The Air Canada flight had movies so we weren’t bored, but the transfer in Toronto took a very long time as we seemed to have to go through about 20 security checks for traveling to the USA. I guess a lot of terrorists think about blowing up Splash Mountain in Disney World.

Everything went smoothly as we arrived at Orlando airport, 6pm local time, at least until the conveyer belt broke down. However, this was not something completely ‘unexpected’ as these things happen. To me. A lot. Not something planned for, but not something terrible.

By now, we were all very excited to get to Disney World and see EVERYTHING and waiting while the belt was fixed was excruciating. But when it worked, we got our bags quickly and raced to the Disney Magical Express.

See, in Disney World, nothing is called anything mundane. A bus is not called a bus.  It is a Magical Express. They don’t hang up the phone with a cheery, good-bye, no, they say “have a magical day.” The hotel is not called a hotel, it’s a RESORT. The workers here aren’t called expendable cogs in a corporate machine, no, they’re called ‘cast members.’

Now, this may seem cheesy, but I have a different opinion. I think it’s ‘branding’ at the highest level. They want this to be a magical experience and have worked hard to make sure it is just that.

As we loaded onto the bus, we got a taste of Florida’s weather – clouds filled the sky, and the air felt oppressively hot and humid. The Magic Express, though, was air-conditioned – a vital thing in these parts of the world.

The bus ride took 40 min or so but even that was ok as they’d set up screens to tell us more about Disney World. For The-Youngest and I, there was nothing new, but for The-Oldest and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, there was a ton of stuff.

To quote The-Oldest, “Wait, they have a fast-pass?”

We arrived at Pop Century as the clouds overhead darkened like they weren’t glad to see us. By now, The-Youngest vibrated with excitement despite (or perhaps because of) the 10-hour flight. I was just glad to have so little go wrong and that a nice bed awaited me. I needed sleep.

Check-in itself was a total “Disney” experience. The staff from behind the counter CAME AND GOT YOU, introducing themselves, asking how they could help you, then TOOK you to the counter. All smiles. Behind them, behind us, dozens of pop culture pictures. Even some from my childhood.

I began to vibrate with excitement like The-Youngest. We were here! Really here.

We grabbed our bags and went outside.

In the distance, we heard thunder. A deep booooom. We knew where there was thunder, there’d be rain, so we raced towards our resort room, then as a few drops began to fall, we raced out of our room to get some food.

And the rains came!

Not Canadian rain, all cute and stuff. Movie-set rain, drops as big as beetles, a solid sound of water like a small waterfall. We stopped as thunder boomed so close it echoed in our chests. Lightning sheeted across the dark sky, again and again, flashes that lit up the entire resort.

We stood and watched in amazement. I’ve been in thunderstorms, sure, but this was so close, the lightning and thunder rolling over us so quickly that we barely had time to take a breath before another flash lit the sky.

Then, foolishly, we thought we could run from shelter to shelter and get to our food.

We got soaked. Not wet. SOAKED. Like we’d jumped in a pool.

We ran to the cafeteria, dripping on the floor, smelling like wet dogs. But The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, being all kinds of amazing, managed to find a Disney cast member who was handing out towels!

All in all, a great start to our adventure. That lightning and thunder show was simply spectacular and something none of us had expected.

See below for the videos.

When a storm comes, it really comes. Who knew Disney World had such shows?

Disney World Vacation Day 1 – Flight

Disney World Vacations 2019 theme parks
We packed like pros! We were ready for our trip to Disney World and Universal Theme Parks. Or were we?

The Beginning of the Start

We had to get up very early to catch our flight to Disney World and Universal Theme Parks.

Like 3 am early.

We wanted to have plenty of time in case things went wrong.

Things always go wrong on every vacation. Not always big things, like forgetting a passport or no place to buy coffee, but small things: Misspelled names on tickets. Luggage weighing too much. Kleenex forgotten. No charger cords for iphones (ok, that’s a HUGE thing!)

So it’s good to have some extra time to deal with any random events, and since our flight boarded at 5:45, leaving by 4 seemed about right.

To my utter amazement, the previous night, the boyz had showered, one of them shaved, and were both in bed before 10pm.

I’m pretty sure it’s one of the signs of the apocalypse.  

Being in bed that early would give them a solid 4 hours sleep. Not enough, but way better than getting just 1 or 2 hours sleep.

Then, again to my utter surprise, both boyz got up on time. No dragging them out of bed. No shouting. No use of water cannons. We did the final packing: Electronics. Chargers. CPAP machine. 40 bottles of meds, supplements, and vitamins. Some pharmacies are not as well-stocked as we were.

 By 3:45, we were all ready to go. Again, shocking. I was pretty sure I was dreaming.

We packed up, set the alarm, made sure the stove, iron and nuclear reactor were turned off, then stuffed all the luggage into the car. Vegas-the-dog had been dropped off at her spa, yesterday.

So far, so good,

We left just a little after 4.

Waiting for our flight to Orlando, Florida. We now have coffee. Life is good.

I won’t lie, I was a little anxious. Not about the drive, that was simple enough, but about all the things that could go wrong.

  • I had done online check-in for the first time and I had no idea if that would work, (though I think you could probably guess the answer to that one).
  • I had a delivery coming to the hotel that could go wrong.
  • There was the whole illogical panic of not having my wallet or cell phone or passport.

All stupid stuff, but at 4am, yeah, the panic is real.

In my other life, I honestly didn’t worry about any of this. It was just me and Margot. But with the boys and a very tight schedule, any major failure could mean a disastrous vacation. I’m not sure if it’s an old age thing, that you worry a lot more, or a parenting thing. Or both. Or lack of booze.

But we arrived at the parking lot without any problems, The-Youngest talking for the entire ride, excited and sleep-deprived, which caused one of The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s eyes to twitch, which was a bit of a concern.

The price to park cost an arm and a leg but it was efficient, secure and easy, except the pay machine wouldn’t recognize when The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World tried to use the touch-screen buttons. She said it was because she had no soul this early in the morning.

Inside the terminal, we hit our first hiccough.

Yes, the online check-in worked, but the kiosks where you needed to print up the tags did not work. Gack!

We had to get in line for an assistant like the other 200 people. It was too bad, too, because up to that point, Air Canada had been awesome. Awesome when I called them. Awesome with their online stuff, but at the last moment, that fleeting instant when they could have had a clean sweep of awesome, they failed with the kiosk.

But remember. We’d arrived early, so even that lineup, even the line-up at security and even the line up at the café on the other side of the check-point didn’t cause us to miss the flight or even panic about missing the flight.

We boarded the flight, ready for a great adventure in Disney World and Universal Theme Parks!

But in the back of my mind, I still wondered what would go wrong?

air canada flight to Orlando Florida disney world and universal theme parks
at 5am, I look slightly insane. Air Canada FLight to Disney World, Orlando Florida

Disney World Planning 2019

Planning for Disney World in Orlando Florida is vital to a successful vacation.
Disney World Planning is vital! See the previous post.

Together, Disney World and Universal Studios, have more rides, more cool restaurants and more exciting things to do than any place on the planet.

Want a donut the size of your head? Yup, they’ve got that. Want to ride up a mountain and come down with a splash? Yup, they’ve got that. Want to get a wizarding wand and wander around Diagon Alley and cast spells, oh yessireeeee, they have that! OMG! OMG! OMG!

Sorry Nerd attack there. Lemme take a moment.

Ok, doing Disney World and Universal in a week would be hard, if not impossible so we had to make a plan.

Me? I LOVE planning. Oh sure, I know most planning goes to hell as soon as you arrive, but part of the fun of going to Disney World is finding out what’s cool, thinking about it a lot, then going and doing it.

planning for disney world theme park planning
The family plans for the great Disney World Adventure

The-Youngest is with me on this. In fact, he’s far keener on the whole planning thing than me and ended up doing a ton of research on the rides.

He would become our official tour guide.

First I booked the flight. Holy hell, that was expensive, but I kept telling myself, trip of a lifetime, trip of a lifetime, trip of a lifetime.

Then, perhaps not surprisingly, I became overwhelmed with all the choices, the deals, the Fastpass system, the early openings, the meal plans and booking events.

So, I decided to find a good Disney World agent.

Being me, I did my research and found a great person. Her name is Alyssa and she works for Mouseketrips.com.

I can’t say enough about her. She’s been there a ton of times and knows the ins and outs. Plus, she LOVES Disney World so she’s genuinely excited for us to become Mouseketeers or whatever they’re called these days.

Then, we had to figure out what fast passes to book. Since we decided to stay at a Disney Resort, we could get our fast passes 60 days out! The fast pass allows us to bypass lines and feel super special. But we could only book 3 rides in each park, so we had to choose wisely. Plus, even at 60 days, some of the rides were already taken by annual pass holders or worshipers of Satan.

So we watched every Youtube video we could find, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World brought home books from the library, and I read blogs like Disneymoms.com and hotrussianbrides, the latter of which (perhaps not to anyone’s surprise) had a complete lack of information of Disneyworld.

Having gathered a ton of information (and a few requests from the Russian brides for marriage), we had a family meeting about what to do in Disneyworld, and did what all families do – We compromised so everyone was vaguely unhappy.

To find out what we chose, check out the next post.

The last thing we had to do was find out what HAD to be done in each park.

Booking the Fast Passes was not enough. We booked a restaurant. We looked up what quick-service places to visit. We figured out how long it takes to get from point Mickey to point Minny.

Now, we couldn’t plan every minute, (sadly) but we did have an idea what would be nice to do given the limited time. I mean, if we miss the tea-cups, not a big deal, If we miss the Haunted Mansion, (which we couldn’t book a Fastpass for), then that would be, you know, a thing.

With our plan made, we were good to go.

Oh, sure, there’d be clothes that needed buying (I wanted to do the Don-Johnson-Miami-Vice look), but we’d organized as best as we could!

Bring on that donut the size of my head!

Check out the links for more help. 🙂 And a neat checklist from Lil Luna below.

Planning a Disney Trip 2019

What to Pack (really an outstanding site for a whole bunch of plannin’.)

From Lil Luna – https://lilluna.com/disney-world-packing-list/

Disney World Planning

Disney Castle, Orlando Florida
Disney Castle, Orlando Florida
Disney World. A once-in-a-lifetime trip.

So, why go to Disneyworld? Why Walt’s Wonderland? Why the Magic Kingdom? Why not the equally exciting city of Calgary? Or camping in the mosquito-infested forests of BC? Why even go anywhere?

Simple. But maybe not what you think.

See? Time is running out. The-Oldest graduates next year, and The-Youngest will (all too soon) be a YouTube billionaire, software engineer, mountain bike professional or plumber (depending on the day he’s planning this out).

So, we wanted to take advantage of a week’s vacation and go someplace amazing.

Calgary and camping don’t quite fit the bill.

Sooooooo…Disney World. Florida.

And, although there are other amazing places to go (NY comes to mind, maybe the Amalfi Coast in Italy, maybe Mars), Disney World was one place we could all agree upon.

To be fair, it’s not just Disney World. It’s a trip to see Disney AND see Universal Studios AND, maybe, just maybe, take a ride out to see the Kennedy Space Museum.

All in 8 days, including a flight.

That’s no small task.

Seems there’s a lot to see and do in Disney World (and Universal). Seems there are, like, 4 theme parks in Disney World, and in Universal, 2 parks plus a waterpark. Doing the math, we’d need 7 days, plus 1 for looking at rockets, plus 2 days for travel. That’s ahhh, lemme do the math in my head, ah, carry the two, invert pi, and, yeah, that’s 10 days.

And we have 8.

So how would we do that? How could we design a vacation that wasn’t a stresscation where we ran around desperately trying to see everything, probably literally running from ride to ride?

We would have to compromise. The simple truth was, we couldn’t see or do everything. So we began to look at what was important.

It’s why Disney World and Universal were the go-to vacation locations. The boys had already been to Disneyworld and, long, long ago, Legoland. I wrote a ton about that vacation. There was so much to see and do.

I mean, just look at what Disney World has to offer.

Rides like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Avatar’s Flight of Passage, a Tower of Terror, a Haunted Mansion, a ride soaring above spectacular scenery, safaris, loads of Disney characters wandering around, parades, fireworks, shops that sell authentic Dug backpacks from Up.

Then there’s eating a donut the size of your head, tasting the oddly popular dole whip, or munching on a huge pretzel in the shape of Mickey’s head.

 So, we came up with a plan. A basic plan to be sure, (that’ll be the next post), but a plan nevertheless.

All we had to do was figure out what was important to us. What did we HAVE TO see and do?

The-Youngest had a LOT of opinions. Even The-Oldest, after trying his teenage best to pretend this wasn’t going to be fun, had a few ideas. Both The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I had ideas as well, but let’s face it, this was a trip for the boyz and we wanted to make sure they had the BEST time ever.

More to come!

As always, thanks for reading this. Below is a neat video on planning a Disney World Trip.

Some good suggestions here – for people who like their planning!