Like I said, the drive to the airport was full of questions about Disney World and Max’s excitement was building. It was so worth it to keep the trip a surprise but I could tell that some uneasiness was also stirring in him. Maybe it was too much to take in at once because after we stood in two long lines at the airport and cleared security, we noticed Max’s eyes had filled up with tears.
Oh my heart.
It was good that we got to the airport in plenty of time. And it’s a good thing that Max is a talk-it-out kind of kid. He just needed a little time sitting on Mommy’s lap and a great big hug from Dad.
And a Happy Meal.
We had a smooth flight and sitting next to Max engrossed in Mike’s iPhone, a comic book, a roll of sour apple Mentos, a SkyMall, or the plane’s emergency card was a little slice of travel goodness. Busy toddlers and preschoolers do grow up. There is hope.
Speaking of toddlers, there were about five thousand different occasions when I said THANK YOU GOD that Mini stayed home for this trip. Sure, you bet I missed her and there were times when I really wanted her to see the wonder and magic that Disney offers, but.
No Diaper Bag.
No picking up pacifiers, sippy cups, Bunny.
No crying, screaming, toddler fits.
And NO STROLLER. Oh, did I say that already?
Okay, back to our first day. The only thing we planned to do on our first day was go to Downtown Disney for dinner and Lego playing.
I was excited to have a small purse!
Sorry, you weren’t ready for the camera? Shouldn’t you know me by now?
When we arrived, we quickly got settled into our hotel room and gobbled up the warm cookies they gave us at check-in. We stayed at the DoubleTree Guest Suites (one of the Downtown Disney Hotels). I had weighed the pros and cons about staying here vs. one of the moderate Disney resorts and decided on the hotel because it was less expensive (but not much when you account for the free dining plan that certain Disney resorts were offering*), the rooms were bigger, and it came with a nice breakfast buffet at the restaurant.
*check sites like http://www.mousesavers.com for good tips.
He wasn’t ready for the camera, either.
The hotel was a very nice, newly renovated, cozy 6-floor hotel. The suite was just as big as, our favorite, a Residence Inn so we had plenty of space to spread out. Max slept on the sofa bed at night and there were folding doors that separated our rooms. It had 2 TV’s, a kitchenette and a small table. The restaurant downstairs was really, really good. I liked stepping away from Disney for bits of time, too, but appreciated that it had a Disney gift shop and provided bus transportation to the parks.
The Downtown Disney hotel buses were good. They were not over-crowded and the plush seats were comfortable. The downside – and it’s a biggie for me – was that we had to ask for help finding their pick-up locations because, surprisingly, there were no signs at each park. They were usually out in the charter bus and taxi area and not near the white Disney buses. After a tired, long day this was a source of irritation and may or may not have sparked marital conflict and whining from a child.
But you can’t believe that, can you?
The first night we didn’t need the buses anyway. It was about a 10 minute walk to Downtown Disney from our hotel.
First stop, the enormous Lego Imagination Center.
Then off to dinner at Rainforest Cafe. This was the only dining reservation we ended up keeping the entire time we were at Disney. I just didn’t plan the reservation times that well since I was doing it blindly 180 days ago. I know everyone says it’s a nice break to eat at a sit-down restaurant at the parks, but we thought it was a huge time killer since we were only there 3 full days.
Rainforest Cafe was fun, though. We were first-timers to this chain. Mike had a pasta dish and I had a stir fry something and both of us thought it was just so-so, but Max loved what he ordered (popcorn shrimp, fries, Sprite, and a dessert with dirt and worms! Kid heaven!)
Max was really funny while we were eating. He remembered it was our anniversary and he said, “wow – I get to go on your anniversary with you AND drink Sprite twice in one day!”
More fun to come…