Day 1 - Animal Kingdom Lodge
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|Thu, 04-03-2014 - 7:31pm|
Day 1. Friday, March 21, 2014
Chapter1. Falling in Love with AKL, and the First of Many Meltdowns
Most of our traveling was uneventful, so just a quick recap. We got up, only a little earlier than normal (around 5am) and drove to Denver. We had to make one unplanned stop when we were only about 20 minutes away because Owen had to go potty and didn't think he could wait. While we were stopped, I picked up some children's Tylenol because I realized while packing that we were out, and I don't like to travel without it, just in case.
We always park at an offsite lot a couple of miles from the airport. It's cheaper and actually more convenient since they pick you up right your car, and drop you off right in front of the doors to the airport. Owen was being especially chatty on the shuttle bus ride, and in a cute 3-year old way. Telling everyone that "Mommy doesn't let us go to Disney World every day", and worrying that the bus was going to get in trouble for going too fast. I think he was quite the entertainment for the other passengers on board!
The check in line was longer than I had expected. Had I printed the boarding passes when we checked-in online, we wouldn't have needed to stand in it, but it had had never mattered before. Oh well, we still had plenty of time. Going through security was about the easiest it's ever been. For once, we had no suitcases, no laptops, and no milk (in sippy cups, which always has to be tested). Just one simple backpack for each of us. I was trying really hard to travel light on this trip.
Once through security we grabbed a quick breakfast at the Mexican place (it's Brian's favorite, he wants it every time) I left them a little early to pick up some snacks, and also to replace the bottle of children's Tylenol that I had left in the car (yes, the one I JUST bought on the way up that morning!) $18 for the same bottle I had paid $7 for an hour ago, but sure as I left town without it...
Owen was getting grumpy as the flight was about to board. Brian took him off by himself for a few minutes to calm down, but then Lily decided to play drama queen and get upset that she wasn't allowed to come with them, and suddenly our vacation was about to start with two melting down kids. They both managed to get it together in time to get on the plane though, thankfully.
Despite having checked us in exactly 24 hours in advance (down to the second!), we still had crappy boarding numbers, so had to take advantage of family boarding. I guess once Owen is too old to qualify us for that, we'll have to start paying for early bird check-in. Brian was initially sitting across the aisle from us, but offered to move when another family was split up. I have to admit, I was selfishly grumpy that he so easily offered to split our family up, just so another could avoid the sacrifice. But that's him, alright!
Overall, the flight went pretty well. Both kids had moments of roughness, but nothing disastrous. As we were walking through the Orlando airport, Owen said that we MUST be in Florida, because "he could smell it", lol! Then we had to convince him that it wasn't a bad smell, he tends to assume that anything he isn't used to must be bad. Typical 3 year old, I guess.
We made a quick stop at the restroom (though Owen wouldn't go), but he and Lily were having fun in line pretending that their Magic Bands had super powers and they were shooting people with them. I was worried the other ladies in line would take offense to the fantasy-attack, but they all seemed to think it was cute.
We were able to use our Magic Bands to get in the ME line. It was only a few minutes before they called us to go to our bus, and of course, right on cue Owen suddenly needed to go potty. They assured us that there was still time, but told Lily and I to go on out and board. First problem, Owen has this weird thing about not wanting anyone but me to take him potty. I asked if we could switch and I take him, but the CM was seeming strangely stubborn about Brian needing to take him "to the men's room". I probably would have argued it more, but Brian simply whisked him off, and we were quickly ushered outside to the bus. Owen watched us from the other side of the glass and was very upset that we were leaving him :( I made sure the driver knew they were coming, the bus was almost full already!
We barely found 2 seats together, and within a couple of minutes I didn't see any more at all. The driver came on board and I could tell he was about to leave so I had to get his attention and remind him that we were still missing our family! Fortunately they appeared about a minute later, and Brian managed to find a single seat somewhere, and Owen sat on my lap (which he was NOT happy about, he wanted his own seat). Split up again, darn it!
The bus stopped first at Art of Animation, where we would be staying in a few days! I was a little worried though that only two families got off, that still left a LOT to get off and checked in at AK. But it turned out we were also stopping at Pop, and the vast majority of the bus emptied there.
Finally, we were at AKL!! A CM greeted us almost as soon as we were off the bus. He had us sit down on the couches and brought over our packet. So we were on our way to our room in just a couple of minutes. Brian and the kids were convinced we were going to have a Savannah view, even though we hadn't booked one. I tried, uselessly, to warn them not to get their hopes up. It would more likely be a parking lot.
I was a little disconcerted as we came off the elevator and saw the room numbers, there were still over 100 numbers between us and our room! We've somehow always gotten lucky and been close, but not this time. It was a hike! Oh well, I knew we'd have to switch rooms partway through, maybe we would be closer the second time.
Once we finally got to our room, there was much elation as they declared that they were right, we had a Savannah view!! Well... not one of the main savannahs, but maybe we'd see something anyway. Better than a parking lot, at least. I think they did spot a couple of gazelle back there once.
We still had about 2 hours until dinner, time for a swim! We got changed, and decided to get a quick snack from the Mara first since we hadn't eaten lunch. The water was a little cooler than the pool Owen is used to swimming in at home, so it took him a couple of minutes to get comfortable. (The pool Lily practices in every day is basically an outdoor pool with a tent over it, so she's well used to it,lol)
Owen is very close to being able to swim, and was having blast working on his skills some more. Lily and I did the water slide, then we all decided to go to the hot tub. The theming here is so incredible! Truly felt like being in an African jungle, and everything had such a warm, happy vibe. (Sorry I didn't take any more pictures this afternoon!)
I could already tell I was falling in love with this resort. It just seemed to "fit us" somehow. I hadn't found a resort that I truly got attached to since our first trip at the Poly, so for 6 years it had held this sort-of supernatural draw for me. Perhaps it was finally about to meet its match!
Lily and I decided to head back to get ready for dinner, but Brian said he would stay a little longer with Owen. When they still hadn't come back almost 40 minutes later, I figured I better go see what was up.
Turns out Owen had thrown his first, of unfortunately many, temper tantrums, and Brian had just finally managed to get him out of the water. He was completely flustered at this point and convinced the vacation was ruined. (Brian, that is. Owen was seeming a little sullen, but calm now)
I feel terrible admitting this, but I felt a little vindicated now that Brian had seen his temper in full force. I had been complaining to him for weeks that Owen had been extremely difficult to manage in the afternoons, throwing one fit after another. But for some reason, always acted nearly perfect when his dad was around. So Brian was convinced that I was either causing the behavior, or just over reacting. Now, at least he could see what I had been dealing with.
Dinner, which we had an ADR for at Boma, was suddenly not a certainty, since they were both still in a mood when we got to the room. Somehow, I got everyone out the door though, only a few minutes late. It didn't seem all that busy when we checked in, and within a few minutes almost the whole lobby had cleared, except us. Then it slowly filled up again, and started emptying again, and STILL we waited. Not sure what was going on, ended up being 25 minutes past our ADR before we were called. And Owen had been a handful for every single one of them.
Owen ate a few grapes, then immediately fell sound asleep in the booth. Those were some expensive grapes, but at least we were able to eat our meal in peace after that. Brian was still having a hard time shaking off the afternoon's drama, but good food and a drink helped him relax a bit. Dinner did end up being very good, and Owen never even woke up as I carried him back to the room and put him in bed.
So the first afternoon had dealt us some challenges, and they wouldn’t be the last. But we were very happy to be there, and already felt very much at home with the resort. Even the long walk to the room didn’t seem so bad after the first couple of trips, and we enjoyed looking at the decorations, and out at the savannah as we walked. Time for a good night’s rest, tomorrow is our long-awaited return to Animal Kingdom!