Day 1 - Let's GET THERE!! (Arrival & Epcot)
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|Tue, 05-07-2013 - 5:24pm|
Chapter 2. I Just Want to GET THERE!
Day 1. Thursday
Most of our traveling was pretty uneventful. We took a 6am shuttle from the hotel, checked-in, found our gate, ate some breakfast, boarded, and endured the 4 hour flight. It was a little delayed, but after the chaos yesterday’s poor travelers had to endure, I knew better than to complain. Owen even slept for quite a while, which was good. But by the time we got to the Magical Express area in the airport, we were already almost an hour later than I had hoped to be. We were loaded onto a bus pretty quickly, but it was still another 20 minutes before it left. Then it made a stop at Port Orleans Riverside before taking us to the Yacht Club.
My plan had been to be at the Yacht Club by 3pm, but it was well after 4pm when we finally checked-in. So something in our afternoon plans was going to have to be sacrificed. We had a dinner reservation in Epcot at 7pm, and I had planned on swimming for a couple of hours in the afternoon before heading over there and doing a couple of rides before eating. In hindsight, we should have just gone swimming and saved the rides for another day.
But I was feeling so antsy by now, and just wanted to BE THERE!! Being at the hotel wasn’t good enough, I wanted to BE in Disney World! And if we swam, we were only going to make it over there in time for dinner. So I convinced everyone to skip the pool today and head straight to Epcot. Afterall, we had plenty of swimming time scheduled for tomorrow afternoon….
So we found our room and dropped off our carry-on bags (our checked luggage would be delivered to us later, directly from the airport – love not having to deal with baggage claim!) Our room was in a great location – it was directly off the main hall (ground floor), basically the very first room you can reach from the lobby, but being at the very end of the main hall it wasn’t likely to be noisy outside. We really couldn’t have asked for better. Later in the week as we explored, I realized that many of the rooms were down very complicated mazes of hallways. So glad ours wasn’t! My request for “Close to Transportation” must have paid off! My other request had been for a daybed, which we also had. Owen really loved having his own “little bed” all week.
Then we grabbed a quick snack/lunch at the Beach Club Marketplace, and made the short walk to the International Gateway entrance at Epcot! This was one of the main reasons we chose this hotel. A 5 minute walk to Epcot, and a 10 minute boat ride to Hollywood Studios. For Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, we would have to rely on the buses though.
I had never actually been to the International Gateway, though I had known of it’s existence for many years. For some reason I pictured it being much smaller. And much less busy! It was packed. We made our way through though, and were ready for our first stop – the United Kingdom area of the World Showcase. WHO could we possibly be interested in seeing here???
Chapter 3. An Evening of Ups and Downs
POOH!!! That’s who we were going to see here. And Tigger too! I had only recently learned of their meet-n-greet in one of the UK shops and was anxious to meet my favorite character, and see how Owen would react too. I was so nervous that he would be afraid of the characters on this trip. Just weeks ago, the Easter Bunny had sent him into a screaming frernzy.
There was only a short line, maybe 5-10 minutes. Unfortunately, as we were the very next in line, they announced that Pooh and Tigger were leaving for a short break. Rats! Owen had been watching the other kids hugging and posing, and seemed almost ready to do it. But I was worried the sudden lull would cause him to either lose interest or get scared again. It was really only a couple of minutes until they came back though.
At first he didn’t want to go up to them, and knowing better than to push it, I told him we could just stand back and wave while Lily went up to meet him. He was only okay with this for about 10 seconds. He started crying and I thought even that was too much, but I quickly realized that he was actually crying because he WANTED to go meet them!!!
Slowly, cautiously, he approached. Tigger even got down on a knee so he didn’t look so intimidating. We were able to get a good family picture with them from the Photopass photographer, and get autographs! It ended up being a great character experience. I just wish I hadn’t been so busy with Owen – I didn’t end up getting any shots with my own camera. But it was fun. And the greeting area was made to look like Christopher Robin’s bedroom, a much better backdrop than we usually get at character meals. Maybe this is the way to meet characters afterall… we had several character meals planned but I knew going into the trip that we may end up canceling some of them, depending on how things went.
Despite the somewhat unexpected heat and heavy crowds, we were all on a high as we headed into Future World. We liked looking at all the Flower and Garden Festival topiaries, and stopped to admire some. Owen really liked the Captain Hook and Tick-Tock ones. He wanted to stop at the Oz playground as we passed, but I convinced him to wait until another day when we had more time.
I definitely wanted to do the Seas ride tonight, since that’s where we were eating dinner. And I was hoping to do one more. I thought about Figment, but as we were coming into Future World, Owen was mesmerized by Spaceship Earth so we decided to make that our first ride. It’s always been one of my favorites.
Well, I said this would be an evening of ups and downs, the Pooh meeting was definitely an “up”. So you know what’s next. Owen starting freaking out as soon as we got in line (well there wasn’t really an actual line, but we had to walk through part of the queue area.) We’ve known for some time that he gets very nervous trying new things, like rides, but usually once we are on it and moving, he’s fine. So I was sort of prepared for this reaction, but still a little frustrated by it.
He was still screaming his head off when we loaded into our car. As I expected, he quieted down once we got going, but never really relaxed throughout the whole ride. He asked every few seconds to “go back”, and I kept assuring him that we were on our way back, just had to see a few things first. The only part he really liked at all was at the end where they tilt you back and you can see the stars. We had told him before the trip that we wanted him to try everything (that was reasonable) once, and then he could decide if he wanted to do it again. He said he definitely did NOT want to do this one again, lol! Oh well. Hopefully he would relax more throughout the week as he got more experience with the rides.
We played around in the activity areas at the end of the ride for a while, but I knew if we were going to have enough time at the Seas that we would have to get going soon. Again, heading into the queue he started throwing a fit. An even bigger one this time. I’m sure all the CMs and other guests were thinking I was the meanest parent ever at this point, but I also knew he was never going to get over this irrational fear without some help. So, I really did drag him into the clam-shell kicking and screaming. Much like before, he calmed down almost immediately, but also like before, never seemed entirely comfortable in the situation. He did like looking for Nemo in the different tanks though. And was seeming a bit cheerier by the time we got off the ride to explore the aquarium.
We had about 40 minutes before we needed to go to dinner, so were able to pretty thoroughly explore many of the sea-life exhibits. Owen was having a blast, Lily unfortunately was a little grumpy. We really should have brought some water with us, we made several trips to the water fountain but I think dehydration, combined with fatigue was greatly affecting her mood. We saw some cool stuff though. Owen really liked the shark playground, even though we did lose him for a few minutes. I was glad we had decided to put a tag on his back with our phone numbers. And he also saw a diver in one of the tanks who came over to the window to wave at him!
Our dinner reservation was at the Coral Reef, which is inside the Seas building. We checked in about 10 minutes early, and the place was so packed! There had to have been at least 50 people waiting in the very large lobby for a table. The kids were at the end of their rope by now. And it ended up being almost 30 minutes before we were seated. Lily was in such a bad mood that she actually embarrassed us in front of the host who seated us. This wasn’t how I was hoping this trip would start! Maybe rushing over to Epcot without our planned swimming break had been a mistake afterall…
But they both came around a little once we were seated and had drinks, and shortly food. Overall, we liked the restaurant. As I expected, the atmosphere reminded me a lot of the one we have at the aquarium in Denver, just a little darker. The service was pretty good once it got going, and Brian loved his food. Mine was a little spicier than I would have liked, but still had a good taste.
So we were all feeling a LOT better by the end of the meal. And I will count this as some of the first (of many) lessons learned on this trip. Clearly, I shouldn’t have been so impatient to get to the park, the downtime at the pool would no doubt have done us all good. What is it they say? Patience is a Virtue… But another good reminder was that even the bad times don’t last forever. There were many moments leading up to, and in the early parts of dinner, where it just felt like the whole vacation was surely ruined. But by the end, we were all happy and laughing together. This too, shall pass…
Unfortunately, it had taken a LOT longer than I expected, so Illuminations was already starting by the time we came out. I had hoped to be out of the park and safely back to YC by then, since Owen had already told us he was scared of the fireworks. But since it was so late, I didn’t want to have to wait around until it was over to make the journey back to the International Gateway. This was one time that it would have been better to be leaving on the buses from the front, at least we would have been going AWAY from the fireworks on the way out! But, somehow we made it. He spent most of the walk with his head buried in my chest crying, but would occasionally look up for a second and seem completely fascinated. But then terror would take over again. We would have to make sure not to get stranded in Epcot after 9pm again. (Haha, well that’s what I was thinking at the moment anyway. It would turn out to be a totally naive plan)
Finally back at the hotel, we got unpacked, settled in, and to sleep as quickly as we could. And ordered room service for breakfast. We wanted to be at Magic Kingdom by the time they opened at 9am, and thought that was our best bet for food, since none of the restaurants in the hotel opened until 7:30. We arranged it for 7am, thinking that would give us plenty of time to slowly get ready while we ate, and thinking the kids wouldn’t even have to get up quite that soon. In hindsight, I do wish we had tried Captain’s Grille like I had initially planned, it would turn out that their buffet was very good and very fast and we would have been just fine. But, as always, hindsight is 20/20!
So maybe it wasn't the PERFECT beginning to our trip, but we did have some fun, and the important thing was that we were here now, with the whole week stretched out un front of us. In some ways, this is the best part. When you're there, but still have it all ahead of you to look forward to. And we were definitely looking forward to tomorrow at Magic Kingdom!