Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dream Trip Report Day 1--Getting There

Link to Part 1 of vacation video: Our Disney Dream Vacation, Part 1 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Brian woke up at 3 a.m., and I was up shortly after.  Not because we had to get up that early, we just couldn't sleep!  We woke the kids up at 4:45 a..m  We were in our car heading to the airport at 5:06 a.m.  Our flight left at 7:30, and we were planning on eating breakfast at the airport before our flight left.

I had pre-purchased covered parking at the Park n Fly with a coupon I found online (thanks to the advice of a fellow traveler).  We were at the parking lot about 2 hours before our flight, so we thought it would be smooth sailing.

When we got inside the terminal, we found it was a complete zoo!  Apparently the storm the night before had canceled some previous flights and people were trying to get on new flights this morning.  We had printed our boarding passes at home and paid for our luggage online the day before, the only thing we had to do was get Alyssa a lap child note.  At the Delta counter, we explained that the online site gave us an error when we tried to add Alyssa as a lap child.  They told us we didn't need anything special for her, that was only for international flights.  So they sent us to the security line, which was snaking around all the baggage claims it was so long.

After waiting what seemed like an eternity in this security line, we were starting to get worried that we might miss our flight.  And our kids were starting to get real whiny since they hadn't had breakfast yet.  I had some nutri-grain bars in my backpack, which made them happy for a little bit, but we had no water or juice since we had to dump that before the security line. 

Finally, we made it to the front of the security line.  And the TSA agent said, "Where is your permit for your lap child?"  And we panicked.  And explained that Delta said we didn't need one.  TSA said we did and we had to go back to Delta. 

Um, our flight was leaving in 20 minutes.  We had already stood in line for about an hour at security.  We were definitely not making this flight.

We had to push ourselves out of security the wrong way in line to get past all the people behind us.  Brian was running back to the Delta counter, trying to explain our situation.  When I caught up to him I flagged down the lady who initially told us we didn't need anything for Alyssa.  She had no clue how to fix this because she insisted we didn't need anything to get passed security.  We asked her to walk with us back to security and tell that to the TSA agent.  She did, waved her hand, and we were asked to cut in line in front of all these people and go through the security check. 

When we got through, they were boarding our flight.  No breakfast for us!  And we had a 40 minute layover before our next flight, so food wasn't looking like it was on the horizon.

We told our kids that whining and complaining wasn't allowed on vacation.  We had to remind them of that a few times the first few days.  Sometimes you have to just roll with it!

The airplane was a smaller regional jet, with 2 seats on each side of the plane.  I sat next to Nathan (our 8-year-old)  with Alyssa on my lap.  Brian sat with Joshua (our 4-year-old) across the aisle.

After our flight landed in Cincinnati (yes, we flew up North to go back down South, it was for a cheap airfare), we walked to our next gate and found that our next flight was already boarding.  We decided we would have to be the last ones on the flight because we needed to change Alyssa's diaper/go to the bathroom/grab some food.  So we did all those things lickity split, and boarded the plane at the final boarding call.

This next flight was not full, and there were 3 seats on one side and 2 on the other side.  Brian had no one sitting next to him, so we moved Joshua over to his side and Alyssa got to have her own seat.

Actually, Alyssa did really well on these flights.  (Now our flights home, on the other hand,  are another story for later!)

We landed around 1:30 p.m.

My favorite part about the Orlando airport--the monorail that takes you from the terminal to the baggage claim.  It makes me feel like we are at Disney World already!

We were using Disney's Magical Express transportation to our resort, so we did not have to wait for our baggage.  Besides, we got a text from Delta saying that our "bags did not travel as intended" and one ended up in Kansas City.  Oh my, I hope we get our bags before we leave for the cruise!  We had all packed a swim suit and a change of clothes in our carry-on backpacks in case we ran into this exact situation.

We went to the Magical Express part of the airport and it was empty!  I think there was one other family in the entire place.  I guess I've never arrived on a Thursday before, everyone must arrive on the weekends.

We waited about 5 minutes to board a bus, then a few families boarded after us and we headed to our resort!

Joshua on the Magical Express

Nathan and Brian on the Magical Express
Our Magical Express bus was servicing 3 Disney resorts, but luckily we were the first stop!  We arrived at Caribbean Beach Resort around 3:00 p.m.

I had done online check-in a few days before, so I went right up to that  counter and picked up our room keys.  There was a children's waiting area in the lobby:

I may have mentioned this before...Caribbean Beach Resort was the first onsite Disney resort I stayed at (around 15 or so years ago).  I've stayed at a few others since then, but in my memories this was my favorite onsite resort.  It has over 2000 rooms and is very spread out, serene and beautiful.  The resort rooms are divided into different Caribbean countries, all centered around a lake.  There are beaches with hammocks around the lake.

I took this picture early one morning during our stay:
Ok, so I am not the type of person to be picky about a room location, but according to my research on the DIS boards many people prefer their room location to be close to the main pirate pool.  I asked my travel agent to request Jamaica building 45 for us, but I figured I would not be disappointed if we did not get it.  Because I don't want to have my heart set on specific things and be disappointed on vacation (see my prior post).

Here is a map of the resort. 

When we checked in, I found out that our room was indeed in Jamaica 45!  So just a quick walk over the bridge in the middle of the lake to get to the main pirate pool, and also close to a bus stop.  Cool!

Jamaica Building 45
At the check-in desk they gave us a folder with a map, park hours, and the June resort activities schedule.    Who knew there was a nightly campfire and an outdoor movie?  I think we could have stayed these 3 days at the resort without ever going to the parks and the kids would have had just as much fun!

We took an internal bus to get to our room, since we didn't yet have our big suitcases and the bellhops had a longer line to transport people by vans.

Our room was on the 2nd floor.  This resort does not have elevators, so if you need a 1st floor room you must request it.  The 2nd floor was not a problem for us, we just folded up Alyssa's stroller when we needed to go up/down the stairs.
Room 4548
The rooms are just standard hotel rooms.  2 double beds with Finding Nemo bedspreads.  Fish wallpaper boarder on top.  TV, table/chairs, bathroom.  Alyssa's pack-n-play crib was already set up for us.

So our kids had been up since 4:45 a.m. and had not slept at all thus far.  Brian decided to stay back in the room to see if Alyssa would nap while I took the boys to the pool.

Here is the bridge near our building that took us to a small island (with a playground and hammocks) which then took us to the main building area with the pirate pool and food court.

The main building area at Caribbean Beach resort has a very festive feel to it, unlike the room buildings which are quiet and peaceful.  The main pool is really quite large and has several sections.  I took these pictures one morning when nobody was there:

There is a zero-entry area, a separate 3-foot section for smaller kids, and a bigger deeper section where 2 larger water slides empty.  They also had life jackets available, so I strapped one onto Josh (he is used to wearing a swim vest at home) and both boys went down the big water slides.  Many, many times.

There is also a kiddie pool for kids 48" or less.  Nathan barely made it in there.  (If you are from the Plano area, this pool is similar to the pool at Jack Carter pool, except it's a pirate theme).  There were 3 smaller water slides in this pool area, and some water squirters on the back as well.  There is also a big bucket at the top that gradually fills up and dumps a large amount of water down every few minutes.

It had started to rain lightly, then more heavily, and the pool started to clear out. We were already wet anyway, so we figured we'd stay.  Eventually, lightning was spotted in the area so they closed down the pool and we went back to our room.

It was now about 5:00 p.m.  Our luggage still hadn't made it.  We showered and got dressed.  At 6:00 p.m., we went to the bus stop and took a bus to Downtown Disney.  It was really pouring rain at this point.  We had umbrellas and ponchos but we still got drenched.

We made our way to Earl of Sandwich to meet our friends, the Clutes.  They both work for Disney and their son was in the same room at the orphanage in Russia with our oldest son.  We met through our blogs in 2006/2007 and followed eachother's journey as we brought our sons home.  I remember meeting their son Victor on one of our visits to the orphanage.  He came running over to us trying to tell us something but the caretakers made him go back to the group.  We've been so fortunate to meet up with Victor and his family 3 times now since the boys have been in the United States. 

Earl of Sandwich was crowded and freezing cold, so we went next door to Wolfgang Puck Express.  We got a chance to catch up with the Clutes and the boys were pretty crazy and loud!
We would have liked to enjoy Downtown Disney a bit more, but it was still pouring rain.  So we hitched a ride home in the Clute's minivan and headed back to our hotel room.  We had an early morning the next day, so it was time to get to bed!

And the good news was, when we got back to our room, our luggage had arrived from Kansas City!


  1. Great start to your vacation....can't wait for the next Chapters ~ sitting here on the edge of my seat in anticipation!!

    ~Laura. :)

  2. And Victor got a souvenir umbrella too! Sorry that you left that in the van but as Brian said now Victor does not need to use the pink one anymore!

    We don't think we ever heard that story about Victor coming up to you at the orphanage before - thanks for sharing.