Tuesday, October 15, 2013

the Disney World vacation chronicles: day 1

Oh man, where to begin.  I guess we'll begin at the beginning.  But what's the beginning?  When Ryan and I met at Disney World back in 1999?  Read our love story HERE. Or did it begin when we started planning this trip two years ago? Read about why we decided to take them at ages 2 and 3 HERE.

This trip officially, technically, began on Friday October 4th at 7:10am - that's what time our flight departed from Indiana. We landed shortly after 9am in Orlando.  That meant a 3:45am alarm for me because our friend picked us up at 4:45 to drop us off at the airport.

Pretty deserted place at 5:30am.

Both boys were very excited to take their first ride in an airplane.  This was one of my biggest worries for the entire trip - how they would do on the flight.  No parent wants to have THOSE kids. While lots of young children can be seen and heard on flights to Orlando, I didn't want mine to be the reason everyone without kids was scrambling for earplugs. I picked up some snacks they'd never had before (pre-bagged mini pop-tart thingies, for example) and some new sticker activity books that I thought would hold their attention for a while. I also got each of them a short story book - a Jake and the Neverland Pirates book for Dexter and Lego City Halloween Rescue for Theo.  They were thrilled with the story books and only mildly entertained by the sticker books. They devoured the snacks and thought they were basically celebs when served apple juice and pretzels in-flight. They both passed out 25-30 minutes before we landed and we had to wake both of them when it was time to get off the plane.

By the way, here's a free, short plug for Southwest - I love flying Southwest.  Friendly, accommodating, bags fly free, affordable, nonstop flights to places I want to go. What else is there to say?  Fly Southwest.

Back to business - we used separate umbrella strollers with connectors that could easily be put on or taken off depending on the need to navigate through the airports.  We checked them right at the gate and picked them up as soon as we stepped off the plane.  I debated whether or not to let my mom transport the strollers down but I'm so glad we had them at the airports.  Lots of walking, crowds, and tired boys - they really helped to smooth out the entire process.

Since we stayed on Disney property, we were eligible to use Disney's Magical Express - complimentary bus service between the airport and resort.  The boys didn't know what to make of so many carseat-free transportation options.

Theo is still waking up and my posture is not too flattering, but this is all I have of us on the bus. :)

It was about a 30 minute drive to the resort and Ryan's parents, Nana and Pop Pop were there waiting for us to get off the bus.  We made the mistake at some point of telling Theo that there was a Lego Store near Disney World so he honed in on that and I don't think we would have been successful doing anything else until that was out of the way. So as soon as we checked in, we hopped on yet another bus to Downtown Disney. 

Gorgeous sky and empty bus queue.

At Downtown Disney, we put in our name at T-REX and went next door to the Lego Store to shop and play.

No biggie - just having lunch in an ice cave with the dinosaurs.

Since we'd all been up for about 10 hrs by the time lunch was over, the boys and I didn't have much energy for walking around DD.  I just wanted to get back and browse around the resort and unpack our clothes for a nice, long 8-night stay (that would go by much too quickly). 

We decided to stay at the Art of Animation Resort. The property boasts over the top themed sections for fans of Cars, The Little Mermaid, Lion King, and Finding Nemo.  We stayed in a Cars family suite.  Our room was ready when we got back and the boys (especially Theo) thought it was pretty cool and hilarious to pose with all of the cars in Radiator Springs. 

Theo and the Hudson Hornet himself - Doc Hudson.

The Sheriff has a little hideout to catch naughty speeders.

The Cozy Cone Motel always has vacancies.

Flo & Theo

This is smooth-talking Ramone.

Luigi. (Or is this Guido? I can never remember).

And Guido (or??).

Oh right, I guess the blue one is Luigi. Or whatever.

And of course, Tow Mater.

Clearly we forgot to take pictures with Mr. McQueen and Sally, but don't you worry.  We did it at 7am the day we left after saying "we have to do that tomorrow" for an entire week. 

In the hallway to our first floor room, looking for Grammy. 

One of many things that made this trip special is that it was a family trip.  Ryan's entire family and my mom were able to join us so we had a group of 10 people staying in two family suites.  My mom stayed in our room and Ryan's parents, sister, her boyfriend, and our nephew shared the room across the hall. My mom drove down that day from Tennessee and arrived around 4:30 or 5pm.  It was hot, hot, hot, and shortly after my mom arrived, we opted for a dip in one of three resort pools, the Cozy Cone pool.  I have more pictures to share of the resort in the posts to come. 

That's my mom there in the shadows, playing games on her phone...

By the time we got out of the pool and got dressed for dinner, it was getting late.  We ate at the resort and hit the sack to rest up for Saturday, Oct 5 - our first day in the parks.

For more candid photos of the trip, search Instagram hashtag: #1stmcdanielfamilyvacation (then follow me there and say hello!).

Stay tuned,


  1. Looks like so, so much fun. That looks like a great disney resort. Glad to hear they did great on the plane ride there. :O)

  2. Looks like so much fun! I can't wait to see the rest of the pics.

  3. Love the resort! I can't wait to take Evie!