What a great day!! The first full day I have had a chance to spend with just my son, in a long time. Started pretty early this morning, awakened by the alarm at 4:30am. Got up, let the dog out for some quick relief, gave Matt his first wake up call and hit the shower. Cab showed up at 5:45 to transport us to O’Hare for the ‘semi’ early flight.
I was expecting a rough time in the security line, but was surprised that at 6:15 am there were very few cattle at that hour. By 7 am though, all three security checkpoints in terminal 1 were packed. Glad we chose to get there early. They were doing random pat downs after you went thru the metal detectors and this was the first time I was asked to take off my pull over sweater with a 1/4 zipper.
When it came time to begin boarding the plane, they were again doing random pat downs, right at the gate. We managed to avoid both touchy feely situations. It will be interesting to see how Orlando handles the ‘heightened’ security on the return trip.
We arrived on time (thank you United) into MCO (Orlando International Airport) with a full flight of anxious kids and excited adults like me. We opted to take the Disney Magical Express as our transportation to the new Bay Lake Towers. The magical express is a nice way to get from the airport to Disney World if you plan on staying on property. As long as you reserve prior to your trip, you don’t even have to handle your bags once you get to Orlando. Disney picks up your bags for you from baggage claim and delivers them to your room. The downside is your bags can take up to 3 hours to get to your room after you have left the airport, so pack what you need for that day, in a carry on.
A noticeable change from last year is that if you do book ahead of time and receive your travel plans booklet in the mail before you leave, all you need to do is go right to the line that puts you one the correct bus. Previously, all guests had to get in a line to check in and revalidate all your information, then get in the queue line. Now you only need to get in the check in line if you forgot your passes or never received them or never booked ahead of time. Nice change as it rewards those who plan ahead. That’s me!!
We have been DVC members since the late 90’s and wanted to try out this new DVC property for the first part of our marathon trip ( we will be moving over to the Beach Club Villas once I get mom and dad down here on Friday.
Bay Lake Towers is a nice complement to the Contemporary and is connected by a walkway bridge on the 5th floor. All entrances to Bay Lake are controlled by key cards, so only guests of that property can gain entrance.
We checked in and headed up to the room for a look see before we ventured into the park. They put us on the 6th floor with a Magic Kingdom view (a requested upgrade) and the view did not disappoint. There are 16 floors to the tower and a room higher than ours would have gotten you a little more of downward view ‘into’ the Magic Kingdom, but I think the 4th floor or up gives you a wonderful view of the Castle and Space Mountain, especially at night.
We walked over to the Magic Kingdom (you can take the Monorail or the walkway to get there) to see how busy things were. Not surprisingly because of the season and the weather, it was not too busy. Kind of strange seeing people in full winter gear in Florida. They must not be from the Midwest as I was tempted to go with shorts and a t-shirt. The most popular attractions like Pirates, Haunted Mansion etc were only 20-30 minutes wait times so we were able to hit all the ones we wanted in only a few hours, with a couple of snack stops throw in.
By 5pm we had been up for 12 hours and we were starting to feel a bit slow so we decided to exit the park, walk back to the hotel and grab a drink before dinner. The 16th floor has a private DVC lounge called the Top of the World. Matt is a big fan of the virgin Pina Colada which is supplied to Disney by Oasis so he grabbed one and I had a XXX with a funky color changing ice cube (shaped plastic with LED’s inside). Cute and festive to add to our good mood. In the evening, the lounge has a viewing deck where you can watch the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom and they pipe in the soundtrack so it is as if you are in the park watching the fireworks. The viewing angle is different so instead of seeing all the fireworks lined up with the castle (assuming you are watching from somewhere on main street) you see the castle on the left and space mountain on the right, with the some of the bursts going off just to the right of the castle and the majority going off right over space mountain.
Grabbed a quick dinner at the Wave in the Contemporary. The decor was very nice but the food was only so-so. There are some fabulous restaurants throughout the World so maybe it was just an off night for them (the cold may be messing with their karma). We decided to watch the fireworks from our balcony this time and catch them up in the lounge tomorrow night. If you watch them from your room, you can tune to channel 20 on the TV and get the same soundtrack that they have upstairs and in the Magic Kingdom. Nice touch.
Early to bed tonight so we stay on schedule for the upcoming races. We have to get up at 4:30 on Friday morning and Sunday morning for the 5K and Marathon. Tomorrow.. packet pickup.