Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chaos, party of 10

April 25, 2009

We started our first day of our Disney adventure at the Detroit Metro Airport -- bright and early. We were going through security at 6:45 a.m. (with a party of 10 that includes 4 kids, that was a must -- even if our flight wasn't until 9:10 a.m.).

Security was a breeze.

Oh, and I must add this: I love the Northwest terminal (McNamara terminal) at DTW because they have a Westin hotel right there IN the terminal! We stayed there Friday night (they have a great 'stay and park' package -- we paid about $180 + tax for one night at the hotel and 8 days of valet parking). This is a great deal because normally you pay about $32 a day for valet parking at DTW. I recommend this choice for anyone who is (1) flying Northwest (soon to be Delta) and (2) who is in the NW Ohio/SE Michigan area.

Boarding the plane was ridiculous, as usual. Everyone lines up (as if they aren't going to get on the plane) and then we have to squeeze through the aisles with kids and bags in tow. Emma REFUSED to sit in her seat until we were actually taking off.

Then, we arrived in Orlando! Finally....let the fun begin. But wait.

First we had to lug ourselves downstairs to the Magical Express check-in desk and then stand in line for about 25 minutes waiting for the Magical Express.

Let me explain this: When you are a resort guest at a Walt Disney World resort you have the option of using the Magical Express. Basically, Disney picks up your luggage at the airport (ONLY at Orlando International Airport) and delivers it to your resort. Meanwhile, you take a ME bus to your resort. No rental cars, no waiting for your bags. The Mouse does all the work so you can play! For more details about the Magical Express, go here.

After a short bus ride, we were FINALLY at Disney's Wilderness Lodge! (See photo above). Oh. My. Goodness. What a gorgeous resort! The lobby is amazing! Wow. Just wow. Check-in was so easy (no line at all!). Our party all got rooms on the 2nd floor (which was so nice because it was really the "main" floor where the lobby was located). We had courtyard view rooms (get them if you can -- they are worth the extra $$) -- our room (2155) looked out over the pool. All rooms have a balcony -- oh how nice it was to sit out there and RELAX!

After lunch at the Roaring Fork (the quick service restaurant at the resort), we decided to take the boat to the Magic Kingdom. (From the WL you can take either a boat or bus to the MK, and a bus to the other parks. The monorail does NOT go to the Lodge).

The castle! I tell you what, seeing Cinderella's castle is absolutely the BEST sight. You just have to smile every time you see it!

The crowds at the MK were average - not too high, but not low by any means. We waited 10 minutes for the following rides: Snow White, Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Other rides (Peter Pan and Dumbo) were longer waits (45 minutes and 1/2 an hour respectively).

Dinner - hot dogs at Casey's Corner! Oh my. Love that place. It's "just" hot dogs...but they're good. And it's a fun place to eat.

A strange thing happened on our way out of the MK that night - around 7:30 p.m. when we were leaving (after being awake since 4:30 am!) there were huge numbers of people POURING into the park. I found this odd, since there were no Extra Magic Hours that night.

Overall thoughts:
- stay overnight @ DTW every time!
- always use the Magical Express - it's so much easier when you're traveling with kids!
- once you get to your resort, just go with the flow - let your kids explore, buy autograph books (these are a MUST HAVE item!), head to a park (if you've got a 7 day park hopper like we did, it only makes sense to hit a park)

1. Buy an autograph book and a big pen - the kids are going to meet many characters during the course of your trip. And characters = autographs. Know this however - some characters can't sign (a few come to mind: Goliath from JoJo's Circus and King Louie from Jungle Book)

2. Whatever park you go to first, get your photo taken inside the park by a Disney Photopass Photographer and get your Photopass card. Keep this card with you at all times! Each time a Disney photographer snaps a photo they will scan the card and then once you get home you can view all the photos online (and you can order copies).
a. Our resort also had a Photopass desk which was nice - I was able to view and order some
photos while still on vacation.
b. Take advantage of the Disney Photopass pre-arrival CD offer here. For $99.95 you can
pre-order your photopass CD and then after your trip you can add all your Photopass pictures
and get the CD with a copyright release so you can take the CD to Target for example and
print out your photos. A GREAT deal!

Next stop: Disney's Animal Kingdom

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