Monday, May 10, 2010

Disney we come!

Olivia "meets" Scarlett O'Hara at Georgia Welcome Center

Saturday, April 25

I am awake before the sun is up.
How can I not be???
I'm headed to Orlando today!

We get the kids up, pack our things, grab some breakfast (you have to love hotels that offer free HOT breakfasts!) and hit the road just as the sun starts to rise. We have a long day of driving ahead of us and we know that the weather in Georgia could get stormy.

Thankfully, I have The Weather Channel app on my BlackBerry so every now and then as we get close to Georgia, I am checking the radar. So far, so good. No rain until south of Atlanta.

Yeah, right.

It ALWAYS rains in Atlanta when we're driving through. Always. Never fails. And this time was no different. There was not a speck of rain on the radar, but sure enough, as soon as we were just outside the city the rain came down. In buckets. It was a deluge. I almost cried out of sheer terror because you could NOT see the car in front of us. It was raining that hard. And suddenly as it started, the rain stopped.

However, the radar was showing some VERY nasty storms just south of Macon, I made an executive decision (which, as The Navigator, I am allowed to do!). We would stop in Macon for lunch (a real, non-fast-food lunch) and by the time we were done eating the radar would be clear.

That was the plan.

And I am happy to report -- it worked like a charm. We stopped at Cracker Barrel (normally I would say 'ick' to CB, but I had pecan Georgia - home of the pecan! and they were delish), enjoyed a somewhat leisurely lunch, and 45 minutes later we were good to go. When we got back on the road, the radar was CLEAR. The sun was shining all the way to Orlando!

Let me say this - ever since I was a kid and we would drive to Florida every summer, the BEST part of the drive down was stopping at the Florida Welcome Center.

It's really the first time you see palm trees! And then there's the sign "Welcome to Florida" and of course, you can't go wrong with free sample of REAL Florida orange juice! I was so excited to see the Welcome Center I nearly jumped out of the car and ran inside! Olivia was excited too -- she picked up every single tourist brochure and book that had anything to do with Walt Disney World.

Oh. My. Gosh. We were in FLORIDA!!!
(It was at this point when I said to Kevin, "We should just move to Florida. I love it here.")

Now the anticipation was growing but we had one problem -- we had nowhere to sleep that night in Orlando. Our hotel for Sunday night (Best Western Lake Buena Vista) was booked for Saturday night. So, I did what any Neurotic Disney Mom would do ... I started looking up resorts in The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2010. We considered staying on property, but knowing we'd have to move off property Sunday and then back on Monday was a bit excessive - even for me.

Then the lightbulb went off!
Hold the phone!
I would call the Holiday Inn Express where I stayed in February (the last time I had to arrive early because Mother Nature was wreaking weather havoc). The rooms were nice. It was SO close to Downtown Disney. And, I remembered it had a POOL! (Not to mention free breakfast with really yummy cinnamon rolls).

As Kevin drove, I called and hoped they had rooms.
We were in LUCK!
They had rooms!
We had a place to stay when we arrived in Orlando.

For whatever reason it seemed to take FOREVER to actually get to Orlando! We just kept driving and driving. The girls were getting cranky (as was mommy!) and we were all tired and hungry and just wanted to GET THERE ALREADY!!

And then, I saw it.
The gates to Walt Disney World.
Oh my gosh.
I was HOME!!!!!
I shed a few tears of sheer joy as we drove through the gates and saw the signs to the parks and resorts. (We were taking a 'short cut' through property to get to our hotel. My choice. I just HAD to see property!)

A short time later, we made it to the Holiday Inn.
All Olivia wanted to do was SWIM! .... but we needed food.
We grabbed a quick dinner and then it was time to decompress.

And dreaming of what magical adventures were waiting for us.....

The beginning of our Disney 2010 adventure

Emma says "let's go to Disney!"

When it comes to planning for a Disney vacation, I am obsessive.

I plan every little detail. Where we are going to eat (counter service or sit down), what rides we are going to ride at what time, what time we MUST arrive at the parks, when we are taking breaks, what snacks we should get the picture.

And, I obsess over the weather. Is it going to be sunny or rainy? Hot or cool? I start checking the extended forecasts on and The Weather Channel at least 15 days before our arrival date.

And this time, I saw a lot of rain for our first full day of driving. We were supposed to leave home on April 24th and drive as far as we could and then arrive in Orlando on Sunday, April 25th. But...I told Kevin that I did NOT, under any circumstances, want to be driving through the mountains in Tennessee when it was raining or storming.

And so...our adventure started a day early.

Friday, April 23rd
Bright and early I check the weather for Saturday. It looks bad. Really bad. Kevin suggests "well, we could leave today at noon and drive for about 7 hours and then get to Orlando tomorrow."

I'm sold! I mean...arriving in Orlando a day early? That's music to my ears!!! And, due to my Neurotic Disney Mom-ness, we are completely packed (and have been for about 10 days). All we need to do is pack up the car and we can GO!!! (after Kevin works 1/2 a day and Olivia gets home from school and I take Emma to a doctor's appointment).

By the time Kevin gets home at 11:45 a.m. I have packed the entire car (yes, even the 55 lb suitcases were NO match for me!). The kids have been sitting in the car since 11:15 a.m. I'm pacing with nerves/anticipation/eagerness/anxiety! I just want to get in the car and GO! GO! GO!


Noon: We are in the car. We stop at McDonald's drive-thru for lunch.
Finally! We are on the road.

By 3:30 p.m. we are in a traffic jam in Cincinnati. For the record, I dislike driving through big cities on road trips. Too much traffic and too many crazy folks who don't know how to drive. Case in point - as we near the end of Ohio and are crossing into Kentucky we are still in a JAM, yet the driver behind us is LAYING ON HER HORN in a futile effort to get us to somehow drive OVER the 100s of cars in front of us. She suddenly whips around us and then cuts us off, only to get off the interstate in a huge hurry...all the while, flipping us 'the bird' out the driver's side window as she drives away. Really.

Kentucky was a rather uneventful drive. The girls keeps asking "how many more hours?" and I jokingly ask Kevin every hour "Are we there yet?"

We make it to Tennessee and know that a trip through the mountains is ahead of us. I don't like mountains. Or big hills. I'm from the flatlands of Ohio - the glaciers took care of us a bazillion years ago. We have no mountains. Or hills. And that's just how I like it.

Thankfully I have Twitter to amuse me as we begin the drive through/over the mountains. I tweeted at least once "I don't like mountains!" Finally we are 'on the other side'. According to our trip tik from AAA, the rest of the "scenery" is "rolling hills" ... this I can handle.

We make the executive decision to stop just outside Knoxville, TN and are lucky enough to score the last room at a brand new Comfort Inn! We are tired, yet relieved to be on our way.

As I drift to sleep all I can think is "tomorrow we'll be in Orlando!" ... and I am happy.