Monday, July 27, 2015

Florida Trip Report Part 1: Getting There, Poolside and Chef Mickey's

Florida Trip Report:

Travel Hacking a Trip to Florida
Vacation music video
Disney's Contemporary Resort Review
Hyatt Daytona Beach Review

Part 1: Getting There, Poolside and Chef Mickey's

We left on a Wednesday around 1:00 p.m. for Dallas Love Field airport. My two younger kids were at a church camp in the morning, and we picked them up and headed straight from there to the airport.

We parked at the Parking Spot and rode the shuttle to the main terminal.

My huband has TSA Precheck, but our entire family was ushered to the Precheck area. It's nice to not have to take off our shoes, and it's a much faster way to get through security.

We had time for the kids to burn off some energy at the airport play area before our flight.

We waited at the gate when it was close to boarding time so that we could board at the family boarding time (between A and B groups on Southwest). Our flight was delayed about 30 minutes due to the crew arriving late from another flight.

On the airplane:

After our 8-hour flight to Hawaii, this 2-hour flight was a piece of cake.

We love arriving at the Orlando Airport and riding on the monorail to the baggage claim.

We stopped for a few photos in the airport:

It was about 7:30 p.m. We decided to have dinner at the food court inside the airport. Did you know that there is a mall with shops and a large food court outside of the secured area? We only discovered this last October when we stayed at the Hyatt inside the airport. It's a big food court with lots of choices, and we figured that would be easier for dinner than schlepping the kids around for food after we got to our hotel.

Fish tank at the food court:

For our first night, we decided to save a few hundred dollars and stay at the Hyatt Place Orlando Airport instead of going directly to the Contemporary Resort. The Hyatt Place was free to us by using 5000 points. After dinner at the food court, we called the hotel to catch the shuttle. We only had to wait a minute before the shuttle met us in a specified place.

Our room looked the same as all the other Hyatt Place hotels. This hotel had double beds (instead of queen) and a cozy corner sleeper sofa. We were in bed before 9:00 p.m., but unfortunately the first night of sleeping all 5 of us in one room never goes well. I hardly slept at all.

We woke up the next morning and headed to the breakfast buffet before catching the shuttle back to the airport.

Once at the airport, we went to Disney's Magical Express area to catch the bus to the Contemporary Resort.

It wasn't very crowded. I've been here before when all the queues were completely full of people.

Our bus combined guests from the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian. The Contemporary was the last stop, so it took about an hour to get there. The kids didn't mind since they could watch Mickey cartoons on the overhead screens.

We dressed the kids in their swimsuits so that we could hit the pool as soon as we arrived at the Contemporary after dropping our luggage off with bell services. But much to our surprise, our room was ready early when we checked in. We decided to head to our room to drop off our stuff before going to the pool. For more photos of the resort, see my review here.

Our room and patio:

Next, we headed to the pool. We met a few other families from our reunion group. We all went down the water slide a few times.

In the afternoon, there was a pool party with games.

At some point, we went over to the nearby Sand Bar for some lunch by the pool.

We were at the pool almost the whole day, and the kids were still disappointed to leave!

In the late afternoon, we had to go back to the room to shower and get ready for our dinner reservation at Chef Mickey's. Before heading there, we wanted to check out the 4th floor viewing area. It has a great view of the Magic Kingdom.

We also stopped at one of the gift shops inside to get some silly hats and Minnie ears.

Dinner at Chef Mickey's inside the Contemporary Resort was fabulous! I had only been there for breakfast in the past, but the desserts at dinner were fabulous. There was an entire dessert bar with lots of creative temptations, but this photo doesn't even do it justice.

The kids had a blast meeting 5 characters:

After dinner, Alyssa fell asleep in Daddy's arms. But the boys were still rarin' to go! So we took a ride on the monorail:

And then had a photo opp back at the Contemporary:

Roasting marshmallows was next. The resort provides marshmallows and sticks.

The boys and I decided to go back to the 4th floor deck for another view of the Magic Kingdom at sunset. We could have stayed up to watch the fireworks from here and also watch the Electric Water Pageant on the lake, but we wanted to be refreshed for a full day at the parks the next day.

Alyssa couldn't let go of her new ears while she was sleeping:

The boys slept with their new hats, too:

There is so much fun to be had at a Disney resort without even going into the park.

Next up: A day at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

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