Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early at 1am! Today was the day we were leaving for Disney World. I was so excited I just couldn’t sleep anymore! I got ready, finished up some last-minute packing, wrote a couple of blog articles and then woke up my hubby and two boys at 4am. They were not nearly as excited as I was to be up for the day. After a few minutes, they were all out of bed and on the move and by 5am we were on the road to the airport.
We live in a suburb south of Denver about equal distances between the Colorado Springs and Denver airports. Even though we are close to the Springs, we almost always fly out of Denver. Everyone in my family likes to fly non-stop and there are lots of options for flights out of Denver. This day we would be flying United Airlines. In the past, we’ve had really good luck and really bad luck with this particular airline so we were nervously hoping everything would go smoothly. By 6am we had arrived at the airport and secured a parking space in the short-term garage. My husband wasn’t traveling with us on this trip, however he was nice enough to get up early and provide “limo” and “luggage” service for us.
After a short walk to the terminal lugging two suitcases and three backpacks, we arrived at the United ticket counter. There we checked our bags and got our boarding passes. So far so good. United still had our reservation and seat assignments, we were able to check our bags with no problems (suitcases weighing in at 45 and 36 lbs respectively, whew!) and our flight was scheduled to be departing on time.
We said good-bye to my husband and then we were off to security. The lines were already very long. Living in a vacation destination ourselves, our airport can be extremely congested. Everything moved smoothly and efficiently and we were on our way within a few minutes. Then we made our way down the escalator to the train. No problems this time, but the escalators at our airport are notorious for just suddenly stopping and flinging people and their luggage everywhere. This happened to us once a couple of years ago and my oldest son has hated escalators ever since. Important tip; always hold on! The train was packed, but we managed to squeeze the three of us and all of our stuff aboard. Two stops later, we were at concourse B and off we went.
By now, we had one hour until boarding. This would be just enough time to have some breakfast, take Dramamine and have a bathroom break before heading to the gate. We secured ourselves a quiet spot on the second floor at a table overlooking the concourse below before setting off to find breakfast. My boys and I have a “no airport meat” rule after my youngest son once ate something bad at the Tampa airport and threw up every ten minutes during our entire 4 hour flight home to Colorado. So we headed out to find a “safe” breakfast. We settled on Woody Creek Bakery and this turned out to be a great choice. We enjoyed some pastries, juice and water along with our Dramamine as we excitedly chatted about all the fun we would be having on our upcoming trip. After we were finished eating, we cleaned up our area, stopped for a quick restroom break and headed for the gate.
Once we arrived at the gate, people were starting to line up in their designated areas for boarding. United has tinkered with lots of different boarding configurations over the years, but I really like this one. Now they are set up more like Southwest, with different boarding groups numbered one through six. We took our positions along with everyone else and they had us all on-board quickly and in an orderly fashion.
Our flight was full as usual and it took a bit of time to get everyone settled and ready for take off. I’ve flown Southwest, Frontier and United in the last few months and I always like to compare the different airlines. This appeared to be one of United’s new planes with nice leather seats. However, the space was really tight and I’m only a little over 5 feet tall. I can only imagine how uncomfortable a taller person would have been. We joked with other passengers about how it will only be a matter of time until they have us all standing on the plane! Another thing I like to compare is the safety announcements. I am a sucker for Southwest’s comedic delivery of the standard safety announcements. When I flew Frontier to Dallas this spring, I was pleased to see that the flight attendant had decided to adopt that same style of delivery. I was hoping that our United flight attendants would be equally as funny. No luck, they were all business. I wonder if that is company policy. I hope they join in the fun someday.
Our flight from Denver to Orlando was fairly uneventful. We had the usual bumps that go with any flight out of Denver. My boys and I had a row all to ourselves where we spent the three and a half hours playing on our Nooks, snacking and eagerly anticipating all the fun that was now just hours away!
Once we landed around 2pm, we put on our MagicBands and hopped the tram to the main terminal where we quickly made our way to Disney’s Magical Express. This free shuttle service is a great perk to staying on site at Disney World. Before we left Denver we had placed special luggage tags on our suitcases that were provided to us by Disney. By using these special tags, Disney retrieves your luggage from baggage claim and delivers it directly to your hotel room. The information says to allow up to three hours for your luggage to be delivered which was fine with us. We walked up to the first check-in point for the Magical Express and my oldest son eagerly tested out his MagicBand. With one quick scan, our entire group was set and then we were directed to the appropriate line. For this vacation, we had booked a room at Art of Animation. This would be our first time to stay at this resort and we were really looking forward to it. We had visited Art of Animation a few times before for dinner, shopping and the arcade, so we were really excited to finally have the chance to stay there. As we waited in line, we were entertained by watching Disney cartoons and making bets on what time we would get on the bus. After about twenty minutes, it was our turn to load up on the motor coach for the thirty minute ride to our hotel. As we rode along, we watched the cute movie hosted by our favorite Disney pals that got everyone on the bus pumped up for the fun that was in store for us. The bus ride passed quickly and we arrived at our resort in a flash.
Next up was check-in. I had already done online check-in 60 days in advance so I was hoping that would speed up the process once we arrived. There was a short line, because it was now 3pm – official check-in time. After about a 10 minute wait, we were at the front of the line. Checking in online paid off, because it took us only about 2 minutes to get our room assignment once it was our turn. Our room was located in the Little Mermaid section (sorry, boys!) on the top floor. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll to our room, checking out the fun sights and sculptures along the way.
Once we arrived in our room, we dropped off our backpacks and quickly surveyed the room we would be staying in for the week. My boys were great sports about staying in a princess room; they were just excited to be out of school and in Disney World! We loved all of the details and decorations in the room and it really felt more “Under the Sea” than princess. Even though it was small, the set up of the room was perfect for the three of us. It was furnished with two double beds, a table with two chairs, a mini refrigerator, a TV, a safe, and a well-planned bathroom that included a curtain that separated the sink area from the sleeping area. That curtain proved very useful so that I could get ready each morning while my boys were able to get a little extra sleep. After I was done snapping a few photos of the room, we headed off for dinner at the Food Court.
Landscape of Flavors is an incredible food court. They offer lots of interesting choices and opportunities to customize your meals. My oldest son and I shared a create-your-own pasta and my youngest son had a meatball sandwich. Our food was warm, delicious and just what we need to get us energized for our night in the parks. Once we were finished eating, we made our way to the bus stop.
We were on the bus in just moments and before we knew it we were arriving at Epcot. Like all good Disney planners, we had created daily plans at our favorite TouringPlans website months ago and booked our Fastpass+ reservations 60 days in advance. Once we made our way through security and scanned our MagicBands at the park entrance, we headed to our first Fastpass+ reservation for The Seas with Nemo & Friends. We basically walked right on the attraction and enjoyed the adventure with our favorite clown fish! Next up was our Fastpass+ reservation for Spaceship Earth. Just like with Nemo, we were on the attraction with no wait. My boys and I had a great time making faces in our photos and choosing funny options for our future. Once we were off the ride, we took a couple of moments to email our silly photos to ourselves. If you’ve never done this before, there are computers at the end of the ride near the large projection of the world. You just follow the steps and in a couple of minutes, you can find your “future” photo and email it to yourself or your friends. After Spaceship Earth, we made our way over to the Land Pavilion. We relaxed with a boat ride on Living with The Land before heading to Soarin’ for our final Fastpass+ reservation of the night. Soarin’ was incredible as always. My boys and I love everything about this attraction including the adorable pre-show film, the smooth ride, the beautiful sights and the wonderful smells! After Soarin’, we decided it was time for a little snack. Sunshine Seasons in the Land Pavilion is by far one of the best counter services restaurants in all of Disney World. It has many delicious entrees to choose from and an even better selection of tasty treats. Since we hadn’t eaten dessert with our dinner, we thought it was time for something sweet. We all decided to go with M&M cookies.
As we devoured our yummy cookies, we discussed whether we should go back to our hotel room and get some rest or whether we should go to Magic Kingdom for a little while since they had Extra Magic Hours that night. Although we had been up since before dawn, we just couldn’t resist the temptation to spend some time at Magic Kingdom. By now it was getting close to 9pm so we quickly walked to the monorail to beat the crowd that would be coming once Illuminations ended. We relaxed during the short monorail ride to the Ticket & Transportation Center and chatted about what we wanted to see at Magic Kingdom. Rather than switching to another monorail, we decided to take the ferry-boat over to Magic Kingdom so that we could say that we rode all sorts of transportation that day (car, train, airplane, bus, monorail and now boat). We took some photos and enjoyed the cool breeze off the water during our 10 minute boat ride. After going through security and scanning our MagicBands at the gate, we strolled over to our favorite part of Magic Kingdom at night – Tomorrowland. After walking around a bit soaking up the sights and sounds, we decided to take a ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover to wrap up our night. This is one of our favorite nighttime attractions for its beautiful views. We were even able to see parts of the Main Street Electrical Parade from the ride. The smooth and peaceful ride had almost put us to sleep, so we knew it was time to head back to our hotel. We made our way out of the park with the masses that had just finished watching the parade. Despite the crowd, we were on the first bus (standing room only) and back to Art of Animation in less than 30 minutes. My boys and I took turns taking showers and then got all comfy in bed to watch what a few minutes of what we call the “Stacey” channel. If you haven’t been to Disney World before, they have several channels on their resort room TVs dedicated to Disney. One channel in particular broadcasts a program that gives you a tour of Walt Disney World and suggests some of the Must Do’s that you should see while you are there. This show is hosted by Stacey Aswad. My boys love watching this channel and it really gets them in the mood for all the fun things that we will be doing while we are on vacation. After getting our Must Do Disney fix, we turned out the lights for a good night’s rest before the big day we had ahead of us.
To book your own Disney vacation with my friend, Jennifer Hardy at Destinations in Florida, just click the image below and fill out the quote form!
Whether you’re going to Disneyland, Disney World – and especially if you are still trying to make up your mind between the two! My new book, A Tale of Two Resorts, will give you all the information you need to make your choice and plenty of advice for planning the perfect stay! Available from Amazon.com!
Please join me while I relive my amazing Disney World vacation with my Disney Diary. Day 2 (coming soon) features an exciting adventure in Epcot!