Ohana Means Family: The Disney Difference
Day 1: Wilderness Lodge and Monorail Loop Resort Fun
The weeks leading up to our trip were extremely hectic. Just days before Christmas, I had finished my child life internship and coursework for the semester. As much as I loved my placement, it was such a load off not to have to commute so far (2 to 2.5 hours each way by subways and buses) and to not have to worry about assignments during the holidays. Then of course there were the holidays. It was seriously a mad dash to get all of our gifts ready to take up to my family in Connecticut. When we got up there, we were able to spend a good amount of time visiting my family and some friends. We came back to the city, celebrated New Years with some friends and my brother, and then I headed back up to Connecticut on New Years day for an interview on Friday. After my interview, I took the last possible train home to New York to fly out to Orlando the next morning! It was seriously a whirlwind!
The Flight to Orlando
Living in the city, it makes getting to the airport both easy and difficult. We took the subway which took about 1.5 hours, not so bad. Luckily it was a Saturday and 5:30 in the morning so the trains were not packed! We were also lucky to time our arrival at the subway stop to get right on a train and leave as sometimes they run much slower earlier in the morning and especially on weekends.
We usually fly JetBlue to Orlando, but this time had elected for Delta because it was oddly much cheaper. However, after our flight, comparing the two we will stick with JetBlue any day. The service is so much better, the seats are more comfortable, not having to pay for a first checked bag is awesome, and I’m not going to lie, it’s really nice to get a full sized drink and snack. Delta was fine of course, I’m not complaining, but we really did miss the service and experience we get at JetBlue. Allowing Disney to pick up our bags at baggage claim, we headed onto Disney’s Magical Express to the Wilderness Lodge!
Now there will be more pictures, I promise! We got to Wilderness Lodge and I went to go check in while Dave wandered around the lobby. It was his first time at this resort, and within 10 minutes decided it was his favorite one. I had stayed there a few years back, but with all the Christmas decorations up it looked like a completely different resort!
Christmas tree in the main lobby of the Wilderness Lodge.
Christmas tree in the entrance to the villas.
My favorite Wildnerness Lodge decoration, but please ignore the scaffolding in the background!
All checked in and with our room already ready for us, we went to check it out. We would be staying in a studio villa in the vacation club area. This villa sleeps 5 (one queen sized bed, one pull out couch, and a twin sized murphy bed) and has a kitchenette with a mini fridge, toaster, microwave, and coffee maker. We love staying in the villas and being able to have breakfast in the room in the morning and a balcony to eat it on!
Here are just a couple pictures of the room:
From there we went out to grab some lunch at the Roaring Fork quick service. We tend to share meals at least for lunch at Disney because the portions are usually pretty big so we split the Grilled Northwest Chicken Sandwich which I highly recommend. It does have Canadian bacon on it for those that do not eat pork, but otherwise it is delicious and has a very tasty sauce. After eating by the pool and exploring the resort a bit, we decided it was time for a rest. We spent longer than we meant to in the room but, hey, we were on vacation!
Monorail Resort Loop Fun
We didn’t have park tickets or any reservations for that night, we weren’t really sure what we were going to be in the mood for after an early flight. So after our rest we decided to go resort hop a bit through the Magic Kingdom resort loop to see some of their Christmas decorations. We hopped on the boat from Wilderness Lodge to the Magic Kingdom. We tried to make up elaborate plans that would get us into Magic Kingdom for the night, since they were open to 1:00 am, but knowing they were completely ridiculous sighed a bit and moved on to the resort monorail.
Our first stop was the Grand Floridian to see the gingerbread house and their tree in the lobby. Neither of us have ever been to Disney during Christmas and after seeing pictures of the gingerbread house I really wanted to see it in person. You can actually smell it when you walk into the resort, it’s pretty wonderful. Here are some pictures of the Grand Floridian decorations:
From there it was on to the Polynesian. We skipped the Contemporary mostly because it is our least favorite resort (though we’ve never stayed there) but also because they had a HUGE line of people trying to get to Magic Kingdom on their monorail. It just didn’t seem worth it. Instead of jumping back on the monorail, we walked along the water. If you are ever at Disney World without tickets or a plan (I know, a rarity if you aren’t a Floridian) definitely check out this walk at night. It was so peaceful and a very pretty walk!
We grabbed dinner at Cap’n Cooks at the Polynesian: a spicy shrimp sushi roll and the pulled pork nachos. Both were so-so. We used to be huge fans of the pulled pork nachos but they seemed to have changed the recipe and added a whole lot of mayo that neither of us remember them having on them at all before. They used to be one of our favorite quick service meals (we could get one and split them for dinner) but we probably won’t be getting them again.
We took our meals out to the beach and watched Winnie the Pooh on the outdoor movie screen and waited for Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant. We made sure we got one of the few seats that wasn’t blocked by construction or the new bungalows and had a great view. Unfortunately, though, they weren’t pumping in the music that night. Hopefully once construction is done they will begin doing that again, or maybe it was just that night?
We considered stopping at the Tambu lounge for drinks before heading back, but figured we’d have enough fun and fruity drinks on the cruise. Our favorite drink, the Backscratcher, would just have to wait for our next trip. But we did stop through the lobby to take some pictures of the decorations before heading back to Wilderness Lodge:
Time for Bed!
When we got back to our resort we did a few quick changes between our checked bags and carry ons. Disney allows guests to bring alcohol onto the cruise, but it must be in your carry on luggage. We bought one bottle of rum with us knowing we could stop in port if we needed anything more. We also made sure we had swim suits and dinner clothes for the first night in our carry ons so that we could change before dinner.
We also received a letter in our rooms giving us a time for pick-up because we would be using Disney transfers. For a family of four it might be cheaper and easier to rent a car, but for us it was cheaper to go with Disney and not have to worry about our bags! We were told to meet in the lobby at 11:00 for an 11:15 departure and were told to have our bags inside the room by the door by 8:00 the next morning. We put them there in preparation before going to sleep and hit the hay. We were in for an exciting day the next morning!
Next Up: Embarkation, Sail Away, and Meeting the Table Mates