Tuesday 17 September 2013

WDW Day 1....Part 2...

So you may have noticed that my WDW Day 1 post didn't actually cover all that happened that day, so here is the second part.

Story so far...we have made it from the UK to Orlando...we have checked in at Coronado Springs Resort only to be told we have been upgraded to the Wilderness Lodge...

The staff at Coronado Springs were lovely, especially Devon & Toni who helped organise a taxi to take us and our luggage to the Wilderness Lodge and who stayed with us until we were safely on our way.

The taxi ride gave us all chance to breathe and reaffirm that what we thought was happening was actually happening.  Even the kids knew this was a big deal.
In the taxi from Coronado Springs to Wilderness Lodge - still in a state of shock!
We drove up to the Wilderness Lodge, under the sign that spans the driveway, past the 'Welcome Home' sign and everything felt just right.  We were greeted as we got out of the taxi by yet another happy, friendly cast member who checked our name on his 'i-pad' and then escorted us through to the check-in desk.  He seemed genuinely thrilled by our story and spoke to us about his wife who had worked at Coronado Springs but how Wilderness Lodge was so much better!

The fantastic service continued with the lady at check-in who sorted everything for us in a blink of an eye, and also commented 'oh you've got an upgrade to a courtyard room'. What? Another upgrade? What's a courtyard room?  Everything was happening so fast!
Checking in, still pinching ourselves!
But despite all the excitement we couldn't fail to be blown away by the awesome lobby at the Wilderness Lodge.  Now Simon and I had been here once before, way back in 2008 when we had lunch at the Whispering Canyon Cafe as part of the 'Backstage Magic' tour, but this was the kids first time here.  They were a little taken aback to say the least!

We then headed off to our fifth floor courtyard room...well how lovely was our room!!  We had the traditional towels in the shape of a tri-circle Mickey on one of the beds, a beautifully decorated room, stunning bathroom/vanity area and to top it all we had our own balcony that looked out over the stunning courtyard.  We were all once again speechless...but very, very happy.
View from the balcony of our courtyard room
Now we had had plans of perhaps visiting Downtown Disney for some food but as we had been awake for over 18 hours and were now really quite hungry we decided to stay at our new resort and find out just what was on offer.  So we headed downstairs and paid our first visit to 'Roaring Forks', the counter service eatery at the resort, and had a mix of salads, BBQ pork sandwiches, cookies and massive cup cakes.
Tired but hungry
Full of food we had a little walk around the resort to get our bearings and then it was off to bed in search of much needed sleep ready to refuel us for our first proper full day in WDW :)

But when we got to our room there was another surprise in store for us...some music...which Simon and I instantly recognised as the Electrical Water Pageant.  I went out onto our balcony and looked to my right and sure enough I could see out onto Bay Lake and catch sight of most of the pageant.  The water pageant was on our list of 'must do's' for this trip as it had been a fair few years since we had last seen it so it was amazing to see it on our first night and know that we would be able to see it as many nights as we liked.

A perfect ending to an amazing first day :)

Sunday 15 September 2013

WDW Day 1

Here is my first blog post in a series that I hope gives you all a feel of what our most recent visit to WDW was all about; what we did, where we went, who we met and that all important Disney magic.

Day 1 - getting there...

The day started bright and early at sunny Gatwick with a short drive from our hotel to the airport.  We had decided to use the valet car parking service which meant we simply dropped off the car and keys, literally a five minute job, and then walked straight into the terminal building.

We headed straight through security (our hold luggage already being checked-in the night before) although my bag had to be searched separately as I'd forgot to take the i-pad out of the bag - oops!  Then it was off in search of breakfast, settling on a quiet corner in Pret-a-Manger - in fact it was so nice it didn't feel like we were in a busy airport at all.

I took advantage of walking through duty free to grab a free spray of perfume as I'd not had any with me that morning followed by a mooch about the shops.  I remembered to post a couple of letters before we left the country including a birthday card for a friends upcoming birthday and by then it was time to head over to our gate ready to board.  And no sooner than we got to our gate we were called through for our nine and a half hour flight!

Now the flight was fine...yes it's long but when travelling from the UK I'm afraid it's a necessary evil we have to put up with in order to get to the good stuff at the other end. Unfortunately our 15 year old doesn't travel well on planes, loves roller coasters but hates planes, so much so that he was ill for the majority of the flight.  This meant most of my time was spent making sure he was OK and wishing the time would pass by so much quicker!

We landed just after 3.30pm local time, cleared border control and were on a bus waiting to be taken to Coronado Springs Resort by 5.00pm.  We had time for a quick phone call home to let families know that we had arrived safely before setting off.
We've arrived!

On the bus to Coronado Springs

We were the second drop-off; we grabbed our luggage, tipped the driver and headed into the lobby to check-in.  The hotel was relatively quiet and we walked straight up to the check-in desk and were greeted by smiley faced cast members who asked our name and proceeded to look for our booking on the computer system...which was followed by a pause...which was followed by a more senior cast member being called over.

My initial thought was 'oh no what's gone wrong, can't they find us?'  But then the second cast member gave me the biggest smile and said 'Congratulations!' Now at this point I was a little bemused - had we won something?  Maybe we were getting Magic Bands? (I got very excited at this thought!  For non-Disney fans these are a new way of accessing all you need whilst at WDW - room key, park tickets, charging etc and much coveted by us Disney devoted). 'You're getting an upgrade', again much bemusement from us all...'an upgrade?' I said...'yes, you're being upgraded to one of our deluxe resorts, the Wilderness Lodge'.  At that point I think I was officially speechless...I didn't know what to say I was completely taken aback.

Me - speechless!!
Now I never win anything or get anything for free and couldn't quite believe what I was hearing.  Part of me was thinking 'but I've done all my pre-vacation research about Coronado Springs, I'm supposed to be running around Lago Dorado' whilst at the same time thinking 'but we're going to Wilderness Lodge', we would never have chosen to stay there because it was out of our budget, OMG we're going to Wilderness Lodge!
Happy...and stunned family
I can't really recall the reason why we had been selected for an upgrade...I remember asking the question but can't remember the answer!  I remember the check-in staff saying that they had had a few recently and I wondered if it was because the resort was busy with conventions, but whatever the reason we were off to Wilderness Lodge.
Hidden Mickey at Coronado Springs
The cast members were brilliant and looked after us while we waited for them to confirm all the details with the Wilderness Lodge.  They took the time to point out the hidden Mickey near the registration desk, insisting that we had our photo taken, as well as organising a taxi to get us to the Wilderness Lodge and then staying with us until we were safely on our way.  Now that is how Disney do things - professional, exemplary and all the time with a smile.

This was when we knew this vacation was going to be different and full of new experiences and adventures.

Monday 9 September 2013

1 day to go...part 2

So I was thinking that before I start my series of blog posts all about my vacation I ought to go back to my '1 day to go' post and finish off what happened that day.

We had problems that morning trying to check-in online with Virgin Atlantic and so had a late change of plans and decided to try their 'Twilight Check-In' that evening before we flew the following day.  This had meant a quick re-packing to ensure we had sufficient items for an overnight bag at our airport hotel.

Mid afternoon we made our way down to Gatwick airport, about a 3 hour car journey from our home.  We had the usual holdup on the infamous M25 but other than that it was a relatively easy journey.  We drove straight to the airport, got our hold luggage and popped over to see the lovely people at the Virgin Atlantic check-in desk.  Check-in was a dream, it was lovely and quiet and very relaxed and we even had a little joke with the check-in desk staff as they instantly said 'I bet I know where you're going' to which I looked a little confused until they pointed out my Mickey Mouse T-shirt - bit of a giveaway I feel!!  Doing check-in this way meant we had taken some of the stress out of the following day by dropping off our hold luggage which would mean a simple walk through security the following day.

After checking-in we had a short drive to our overnight hotel where we enjoyed a nice meal and a glass of wine before heading off to the land of nod to get that all important sleep before our long day of travelling ahead.

And look what we found in a painting in our hotel room...
Is that a hidden Mickey?

Sunday 8 September 2013

Back to Reality

Well, we've been home a few days now and the return to reality and normality is in full affect.

We had an absolutely amazing vacation spent in the 'happiest place on earth'; we created some fabulous memories, made new friends and met up with old ones too and experienced some good old Disney magic.

Having returned to our home in the UK by early afternoon last Wednesday we were thrown back into the thick of it by heading off to work and school (for our two children) on Thursday!  And whilst this was a good way to avoid the jet-lag this weekend has seen us all rather tired...no alarms for us this weekend just plenty of catching up on missed sleep.

So Monday morning is looming and the beginning of another working week...vacation is over and time to slot back into the normal routine :(

But we have our memories, only today my daughter said 'just think what we were doing this time last week' to which I replied 'I know...Epcot followed by the Magic Kingdom and shopping!'  So to help me through the post-Disney blues I shall be taking you on an adventure through our vacation, letting you know all about what we did, where we went and the magic we experienced.  I shall be letting you in on my thoughts about new attractions and changes, as well as chatting about some classics and favourites.

So please take small children by the hand, move all the way to the end of the row and please stand clear of the doors as I embark on a series of blog posts all about the magic and wonder of a WDW vacation.