Friday, September 19, 2008

The Vacation Diaries - The Adventure Begins

Okay, so I was up and wide awake at 2:30 a.m. on Monday and could not fall back to sleep no matter what I tried. I didn't even bother waiting for the 4 a.m alarm to go off and instead just got myself in the shower - all the while counting down the minutes until we could leave. Frank got up rather crankily (and who could blame him, it was still dark outside!) and we were out the door at 5 a.m. just as I needed to be. Now, I am a stickler about following all of the airport guidelines and we arrived 90 minutes before my flight. What no one really tells you is that NO ONE gets to the airport that early anymore and so I walked in, checked my bag, breezed through security and was at my gate with 85 minutes to spare!! Now my only job was to sit there and wait. And wait. And wait some more.

Southwest Airlines rocks. Totally. Such a difference from the whole Jet Blue fiasco and it just added to the magic of the trip. We took off on time and landed on time. I arrived in Orlando at 8:35, de-planed, called Frank and then went in search of the Arrivals board so that I could meet the others at their gate. Well, guess what? THEIR flight was delayed!!! So now, here I am at the Orlando International Airport by myself, anxious to get on the Magical Express to get to the Grand Floridian and can't go anywhere because I am the one holding everyone's vouchers! I could not believe my bad luck. So their flight was due to come in at 10:00 and I went and shopped a bit (at the airport Disney store - both of them), had a little something to eat and then went and sat at the Magical Express terminal. And sat. And sat. And then sat some more. At 10:15 they finally came down the escalator and my sister ran up to me screaming "CANTALOUPE!" - I did not take this as a good sign. We checked in with the shuttle, walked to the red carpet and were escorted out to the bus. We left the airport at around 10:30 and headed off to our resort laughing and giddy at all of the fun waiting to be had.

At the resort (which was BEAUTIFUL) we checked in and told them that this was my 40th birthday trip. We were each given carnations, we got adjoining rooms right by the pool and were told that our rooms were already ready for us. How cool was that? Now, when we first got off of the bus, we were greeted by many 'Cast Members' and noticed that one of them was from East Islip, NY, our home town. So after we went and freshened up in our rooms, we went back out to the bus stop so that we could go to the Animal Kingdom and tracked down the East Islip guy. Well, not only was he FROM East Islip, it turns out that we graduated in 1987 together and were in the same homeroom for three years! It really IS a small world! The funny thing is that neither of us remembered each other but this guy completely bent over backwards our entire trip doing nice things for us - all of which I'll get to later.

The bus to Animal Kingdom was taking too long so we decided to grab the monorail (which was in the resort) and go to the transportation center where we'd grab a bus. This was my sister's brilliant idea. Well, 45 minutes later, we were in the park sprinting to the nearest lunch counter before we all died of starvation. It was hot, the lines were long but the food was well worth it. Flame Tree BBQ: beef bbq sandwhich, baked beans, slaw, water and a slab of chocolate cake. Yummy! We split up after lunch because we had two very distinct groups - Karen and I do the thrill rides, the other three do not. So we first went and grabbed some Fast Passes for the Kali River Rapids (which amazingly, the others said they would try) and then went off to ride Dinosaur and Expedition Everest while the others went on safari. We said that we'd meet up in two hours. I mean, your in a Disney park, killing two hours is not a difficult task.

Or so one would think.

Karen and I walked to Dinoland, chit-chatting, laughing and rode Dinosaur. Then we walked over to Asia and rode Expedition Everest three times in a row. We received a phone call after our first ride that the others were done and waiting for us - only an hour had passed and they weren't sure what to do. Um, I don't know...SOMETHING ELSE MAYBE??? We stuck around to ride the coaster a few more times and then went over to meet them at the rapids ride. Now, you all know me, I am a planner. I told them all this and what they needed to have with them at all times. One of those items was a poncho. So, lining up for the rapids, no one had a poncho (other than me) and they were not selling them on the line like they have in the past. So we are watching people coming off of this ride completely drenched and daggers are being shot at me from the angry mob of relatives. Not my problem, people, I was prepared. So we get on the ride and needless to say, I was the only one who emerged somewhat dry.

By now it's only 4:00 and our early dinner reservation wasn't until 4:30 but we headed over to the restaurant anyway - Yak and Yeti. The place was nice - a sit down/table service restaurant but the service absolutely sucked. I mean, at one point, the waiter came over and asked us to hand him all of the dishes to clear away instead of doing it himself. Needless to say, Jay did NOT get a tip. It was Asian cuisine and I had some pork dumplings (potstickers) as an appetizer and some fabulous skirt steak and shrimp tempura with stir fry veggies as a main course. It was all very delicious but everyone was cranky because they were wet from the ride and the air conditioning was making them cold. Funny, I was quite comfortable, go figure.

We left the park and took a very full bus ride back to the Grand Floridian. I checked in with high-school-Frank about changing our dining reservations for the next day at Le Cellier. We had lunch reservations there but really wanted to eat dinner. So he made some calls and said to check back with him in the morning. At around 7 pm, me, Karen and my cousin Jess hopped the monorail over to Magic Kingdom. Mom and Aunt Robyn decided to lounge by the pool and have cocktails. We left them just as a tuxedoed server was delivering their drinks. As soon as we arrived at the park, we had our pictures taken. First in front of the Main Street train station and then again in front of the castle. I LOVE that first walk down Main Street. It just gives me a rush. We walked over and rode Pirates, then went on to the Haunted Mansion. And FYI, the ride vehicle does NOT seat three people comfortably. EVER! Then we headed over to Tomorrowland where Karen and I rode Space Mountain (the left side - very fast) while Jess rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Unfortunately, Jess is not a thrill ride person so we had to split up.

We left the park and headed to the boat to take us back to the Floridian and got to watch about 75% of the fireworks while on the lagoon. We missed the first part because a family of three who were told NOT to get on, would not get off. Stupid people ruining my fireworks view!! Come on!! But the boat captain did have everyone sing Happy Birthday to me! When we checked in at the hotel, they gave me a birthday pin. It started to rain while we were on the boat and when we got to the dock at the resort we met up with mom and auntie and watched the Electric Water Pageant. All very cool. By this point, the younger ladies in our party were craving some snacks. So we left on a mission to find food. I wasn't too impressed with the room service menu and eventually Karen and Jess went out themselves to Gasparilla's (the 24 hour food court) and came back with gourmet pizza's, veggies and dip, chicken nuggets with chocolate pudding and cookies and milk. Seriously, I asked for chips and salsa and Karen translated that in to chicken nuggets and veggies with dip. It turned out she had taken her Ambien before leaving for the food court and then had a cocktail while waiting for the food and so...well, you see why we got the variety that we did.

At 11:30, it was lights out for us all after a very full day. It was just such a relief to finally BE on vacation after all of the planning. I took the day bed for the first night to make life easier and then mom announced that she did not have to take a turn on it so it would be Karen and I fighting it out each night. Hey, thanks for changing the plan! It's not like we didn't discuss this like a bajillion times before we left, but hey, no worries. I'm on freaking vacation.

1 comment:

Roo said...

Hey... I stumbled across your blog via the Scribbit contest. I was especially drawn because of the DISNEY topic! I LOVE DISNEY. I just read your the first entry from your September trip. We went in December. I haven't written too much about it yet, but I will. I want to get some pictures ready to post with it. I'll be back to read some more. LOVE IT!

Rhonda "Roo"