Trip Report Day 1 and 2
Tuesday August 23rd and Wednesday August 24th, 2005h
Cast of Characters for this part of the trip:
Anna (mom, 40)
Jim (dad, 29 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ in dog years)
Brighid (DD, turning 14 August 24th)
Granuaile (aka Gracie, DD 4 months, FIRST TRIP!!)
Mom said lets pack the car Monday night, and get on the road no later than 9 AM, which will help us avoid any chance of rush hour traffic on our drive from South Jersey to Orlando. Dad said lets just lay everything out, pack the car Tuesday morning, and leave around noon. We compromised. Mom packed everything and got it ready Monday night; Dad loaded it in the car Tuesday morning, and we left at 11:45. Okay, no compromise, Dad wins.
The plan was to drive until late at night, decide if it is worth stopping in a hotel when we are both too tired to drive, and take it from there. The only thing we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t count on was rain, which prevents Dad from driving. We drove to Fayetteville, NC when a pretty big rain storm came upon us, so we stayed at the Fairfield Inn in Fayetteville. Yay, more Marriott points for more FREE STAYS IN DISNEY!!
So, its 8:30, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in the hotel, and the plan is to leave by 4 AM. DD4 decides itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a hotel, it must be party time, and we cannot get her to fall asleep until 1 AM. DD4 months decides to join the party, and she finally drifts off at about the same time. But, determined to win this round, Mom gets up at 3:45 and having showered the night before, we are in the car by 4:15. (Happy 14th Birthday, Brighid! Her birthday is today). Of course, I am falling asleep by 7, so after his 3 extra hours of sleep, Dad drives until the next rain squall.
We pull up to the security gate at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at 1:30. Our total drive time from New Jersey to our hotel Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 18 hours, and that includes stopping to eat and use the bathroom and change the baby.
I drop Dad off at the door to check in, and I am going to pull around to self parking and start unloading the bags with the kids. I packed just an overnight bag since we are only staying here two nights, so I think it will be easy to carry the overnight bag, the baby in her car seat, two large diaper bags Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one filled with bottles and formula and one filled with diapers and wipes, one small diaper bag Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to transfer the stuff from the larger bags into in small doses to take into the parks daily, the snack bag, and the laptop bag. I have everything unpacked out of the car, and I am getting ready to head over to the desk to see if we are checked in yet, and it downpours so heavy, not only am I soaked in literally seconds, but so is the overnight bag, the baby in her car seat, two large diaper bags Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one filled with bottles and formula and one filled with diapers and wipes, one small diaper bag Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to transfer the stuff from the larger bags into to take into the parks daily, the snack bag, and the laptop bag. Oh, and the other two girls as well. I pack everything back into the car, since there is no sign of dad yet, and decide to pay the $7 to park it with the valet.
Once the car and the bags are safely in the hands of our trusty and reliable valet, I head in to find Dad nearly finished the check in process. He takes the baby in her car seat (if you have never carried an infant in one of those infant car seats, my 13.6 pound baby now feels like she was 72 pounds and my arm is beginning to ache, so I am glad for the relief), and I get the room keys and we head off to our room Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it is room number 2380. We trek the distance of the entire African Continent Ã¢â‚¬â€œ okay, the distance half way across Ã¢â‚¬â€œ long ways Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and we find our Savanna view room. Uh, hello? Savanna view? I have just walked with three crabby, soaked children from Orlando to Zimbabwe and I have a fence and grass. We have stayed once before in a savanna view room, and we had a rather large span of beautiful landscaping and a large viewing area where we could watch the animals frolic and play. If anything bigger than two dung beetles are going to frolic and play here, they are going to knock the fence down and join us for breakfast in the morning. Because we are at the very far end of the building, at the very back, the view we have is excruciatingly small. I phone the desk, tell them I will not be able to visit the theme parks because I am a fat woman with a fat husband who just carried a 72 pound infant from Jersey to Swaziland and I am three seconds from a heart attack. The only comfort I have is that I can be buried with the animals on the savanna, but that dying wish is taken from me when I open the curtains to see that the only animals that fit in my piece of the savanna are two stink bugs and the front half of a termite. The front desk will change my room, but I have to walk back to the United States to have the room changed. I ask if they will send an ambulance to meet me half way. They are not amused.
They tell me on the phone which room is my new room, so I send Dad with the 72 pound infant to the new room to wait. I grab some water bottles, check my map, and prepare for the journey back to the front desk. I get the new room keys, and head once again back to find the room. Thank goodness, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only 2/3rds as far Ã¢â‚¬â€œ there it is! And there is the Savanna! The WHOLE Savanna, not just the arachnid section J
We get all settled in, the baby gets fed, and we phone the grandparents who live in Solavita in Poinciana. They are coming over for dinner at Boma to celebrate BrighidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s birthday. Dinner is at 5, figuring we will be in bed early after our long ride. We all shower and change, and then the grandparents call to say they are in the lobby. We send Brighid, who is young, thin, and a dancer with excellent stamina. She comes back with her grandparents. Her Grandmother, who is handicapped, comes in beet red, huffing and puffing, and collapses right away into a chair. We cannot leave for dinner until she can breathe again and she complains that we have chosen to stay at a hotel whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lobby is in Orlando and whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rooms are in some far off nation.
We head down to dinner at 5, and we are waiting for them to open. I will review Boma in another report. After dinner, we head back to the room, which is really not that bad of a journey from Boma, and Grandmom has to sit for a while to rest. Pop-pop sits on the balcony with Brighid, completely amazed at the animals. After the grandparents leave, we watch a few of the bedtime stories, and we all are in bed with lights out by 10.
Day 3, Thursday, August 25, 2005
We are awakened bright and early by our very own peeing and pooping alarm clock (the baby)! The 6:45 wake up call enables us to open the curtains and enjoy watching the zebras and the giraffes have their breakfast. We shower and dress and decide no one is hungry enough to eat breakfast yet. The decision is made to go to Animal Kingdom. We figure that with this being the babyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first day in the Florida heat, we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to push our luck and make this a long day. We are at the park at 8:50, and we head up to the ticket window to get our annual passes. We had decided not to get them, since Brighid is going to be in high school and we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel like we can have her missing days to indulge my Disney habit, but when we got her school schedule, I started planning trips around her school holidays. That made it necessary to get the annual passes J
Once inside the park, we send Brighid to get fast passes for the Kilimanjaro Safari ride while we go get in line for the first show of Festival of the Lion King. This has to be, easily, the best show on Disney property now that my all time favorite Hunchback of Notre Dame show is gone. I am so pleased to see that there is no line, and we are just going in when Brighid gets back with the passes for the safari. The baby cannot take her eyes off of the colorful dancers and acrobats, and Eilis is beyond thrilled to be asked to help with the show. She also gets big kisses from Timon and some playful tweaks from a Ã¢â‚¬Å“monkeyÃ¢â‚¬Â.
When we are done here, it is time to use our fast passes at the safari. The heat is barely a factor so far, since there is a small hurricane brewing in South Florida, and we are benefiting from the breezes and the clouds. We have a great time on the safari, and once we are off, the whole skipping breakfast thing we did is catching up with us. Brighid volunteers to go get Fast Passes for Kali River Rapids while the rest of us go pick up lunch at Tusker House. It is still very early for lunch at just after 11 AM, but the place is packed. We feel resigned to having to share a table and splitting up when I spot a free table in the back corner. We enjoy a leisurely lunch, stop in the restrooms for a diaper change, and head over to the Kali River Rapids ride. We have four passes for the ride, and since one of us has to wait with the baby anyway, Jim gives up his pass so Brighid and Eilis can ride twice. That works out great. Jim and I wander over to see how the new attraction is coming along and get back just in time to see the kids coming under the bridge after their first ride.
After the two rides, we decide not to push our luck with the rain clouds and the baby, and we decide to head back to the hotel. The kids decide to do one of the activities that is available for kids and Eilis ended up with an adorable homemade rag doll J We try to decide what to do for dinner, and Brighid graciously offers to watch her sisters so her father and I can go to Jiko. We have never been, and are thrilled to find out when we call that we can have any time we want, as they are not busy at all for the entire evening. We chose an early dinner Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 5:30, right as they opened Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so that we can get back and get dinner for the girls.
Dinner was wonderful, and we headed back up to the room. The kids decide the food court is just what they want, so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pizza and fish and chips from The Mara for them. After the kids eat, we head down to the pool. I love the zero entry, and so did Eilis. The kids swam for about an hour, and we headed back up to the room for bedtime snacks and bedtime stories. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a busy day, but it was a great vacation day in that everyone got to relax. The baby has done exceptionally well and I would definitely recommend taking a child of this age to anyone (so far). Eilis has had her up and down moments, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how Eilis always is. Brighid has been a huge help J