Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day One - Beach Club Resort

After two and a half days of tough driving, we knew that the girls needed to be out of the van as quickly as possible.  Rich and I brought them into the lobby with us to check into our rooms while Grammy babysat our minivan out front.  (They would only allow us to park it out front if someone stayed with it.) Luckily, we had arrived shortly before check-in time and didn't have to wait in the line that formed behind us.  And our rooms were ready!

When we booked this vacation, Disney had been offering the dining plan for free, which means you pay the rack rate for the rooms.  I had run the numbers (free dining vs. room discount) with us staying in standard rooms at Beach Club and it was about break even. ( I'll talk more about my thoughts on the dining plan later.)  By the time we finally settled on our travel dates and called AAA to book, Disney was sold out of the standard rooms with free dining.  We agreed to move up (and book) water view rooms in order to keep the free dining, which meant that we paid more than we originally expected/wanted to but we justified that with the fact that this was to be our big family vacation of year.

Our only room request was that the rooms be connected.  I use the word request but really, it was almost a necessity.  The CM (you will see me use that term frequently - it stands for Cast Member, which is how Disney refers to their employees) who checked us in was very pleasant but it did make me a little nervous when she stated, "We were able to meet your request of connecting rooms.  That's good!"  Wait.  What?  I didn't think our request was that big of a deal and I'm probably reading into her comments too much but it does make me a little nervous for future trips.

We were assigned to rooms 3503 and 3505.  The CM pointed out the elevators and other important areas.  As we were about to walk away from the desk, I asked, "I'm curious.  How far away are our rooms from the elevator?"  I really was just curious as I was trying to plan out transporting kids, strollers and gear to our rooms.  If you have never stayed at a Disney resort, I need to point out to you that these places are HUGE.  The CM seemed a bit nervous as she pulled out a map and pointed to our rooms.  We were at the very end of the resort.  I think she was afraid I was going to ask for different rooms so she quickly added, "But you have the best view.  It's really wonderful.  Go check it out."

The first thing I did when we walked into the first room was take pictures.  It was a now or never type of moment.




For some reason, this room had a bit of a hallway before you reached the bathroom area and the closet, which was opposite of the bathroom area.  It was a great space as we were able to park the jogging stroller there at night.  (We would leave the double stroller outside in the hallway.)

The kids were posing on this couch/could-be-a-bed when Emily cut the inside of Allie's ear (not her ear canal) with her fingernail.  Hence, the look of pain on Allie's face.


And now for the view.


Until we went outside, we didn't really know what we were looking at.  While our rooms were at the very end of the resort, they were right next to "the secret door."  This door gave us immediate access (well, after two flights of stairs) to the outside walkway and was a huge time saver.  We often used this to walk back to the lobby instead of hiking down the four extremely long hallways of the resort.

The one negative was that our rooms didn't have full balconies, which was a little bit of a disappointment as they would have definitely been used.  We did have "standing" balconies, which ended up working out just fine. The girls were shorter than the railings so they could all stand out there without me having to worry about someone climbing on a chair.  They've never done anything like that but it was something I didn't have to worry about at all.  The girls liked to go out there while they were waiting for us adults and wave to people on the walkway below.

After we settled into our rooms, we decided to bring the girls to the pool despite the fact that it was lightly raining. It was still very warm outside and we kept our fingers crossed that the heavy rain would hold off for a bit.  We spent some time in the little pool with the little waterslide.  I didn't bring my camera because of the rainy conditions so I don't have any pictures (but I will have some in a later post.)  The girls LOVED that pool and slide.

We returned to the rooms to change for dinner, which we had already decided would be at Beaches & Cream.  This restaurant doesn't take reservations and we lucked out by only having to wait about 15 - 20 minutes for a booth.  I had read that it was small inside and I'm here to reiterate that it is small inside.  There are only three booths. 



This isn't the best photo (the lighting was terrible without a Speedlight and Allie's making a weird face) but it's the only one I have of Allie at dinner.  Both she and Anna look tired but Allie has that sick look as well.


Allie had thrown up at our first rest area stop in Florida earlier that day.  I had run into the bathroom and when I returned, I found Rich hunting around in the back of the van for spare clothes I had packed exactly for that reason.  She hadn't thrown up very much and said that she felt fine afterwards, so we assumed that she was simply car sick.  When we pulled her out of the van when we arrived at the resort, she felt feverish to all of us.  And stayed that way.  We had visited the store at the resort that afternoon, where I purchased children's Advil.  My Things to Pack for Disney list had included a thermometer and children's Tylenol but at the last minute I had decided to not pack them.  My kids won't get sick.  My kids won't get sick.  La la la.  The resort's store didn't have Tylenol, except for a generic version, which is why I went with Advil.  In addition, the Advil lasts for 8 hours while the Tylenol (and generic version) needs to be given every 4 to 6 hours.   

Allie had her first dose of Advil late that afternoon.  She ate a good portion of her dinner so I was keeping my fingers crossed that this was a fluke and that she would feel better after a good night of sleep.

The food at Beaches & Cream was pretty good.  I had the grilled veggie sandwich, fries, cherry (diet) coke and a small hot fudge sundae.



After dinner, we rushed back to our rooms because the girls needed to be in bed as soon as humanly possible.  When we are traveling and staying in hotels, it usually takes a little bit of effort on our part to get them to sleep.  We turn all the lights down low or off and lie in the beds with them.  After they fall asleep, we can pretty do whatever and they very rarely wake up.  We had somewhat early dining reservations for the next morning so Rich and I left Grammy to watch the sleeping beauties while we went out to explore.

I had read that it was a 5 to 10 minute walk from our resort to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot.  We wanted to see exactly how long that walk was before morning so Rich and I set off to time the distance.  He was wearing a watch so once we exited via the secret door, I asked Rich to check the time. We took a left and walked up a little hill.  On the other side of that hill was what appeared to be the entrance to Epcot.  We walked down there and sure enough, it was the entrance.

"Is that it?  What's the time on your watch?  How long did it take us?"

"Um.  Three minutes."

Being so close to a park entrance was a fantastic surprise.

I'm going to talk a little bit about photography stuff here.  Even though this was family vacation, it was really about the kids.  I know that there's a lot for adults to do and see and experience at Disney as well but at this point in our lives, if Rich and I were to go on a real nonworking vacation, it would be somewhere tropical where we could sit and not have to move for hours.  We planned meals and rides/attractions based on what the kids wanted to do and see.  The only ride I wanted to experience was Soarin' (and any kids over 40 inches tall were free to experience it with me.)

The only other thing I wanted to do was experiment with taking photos of new material.  When I have time, I read some photography blogs that focus on Disney and I was really hoping to find a few moments here and there to just take photos.  That didn't really happen.  Some of it is partly my fault.  Like not even bothering to bring my tripod which was a really stupid move considering we will probably never drive down there again (or not within the next 20 years) and it wouldn't have been that difficult to toss the tripod into the bubble on top of the van.

So on this night, our first night of vacation, Rich and I were both exhausted.  After we walked to the Epcot entrance, we walked back to the bridge connecting the Beach Club area to the Boardwalk and watched some of the fireworks that went off at 9:00.


This would have been the perfect opportunity for me.  Instead, I tried to find a fence post to rest the camera upon and fired off only a handful of photos before retiring to our rooms and to bed.  It had been three very long days.



Tinkerbellemommy said...

Didn't you just love the Beach Club?!! It's our fav resort, we will go there just for a quick weekend getaway and might not hit the parks at all. And we love the back entrance to Epcot, especially during the food and wine festival. I am going to guess you did have a full balcony, even as small as it was, it had a chair and table, the standing ones are only big enough for 2 people to stand out there, and no furniture, maybe 18 inches wide and 3 feet long, really tiny. I love seeing pics of the girls, can't wait to see more of the outfits you and Grammy made. :-). (I'm Nanci from Disboutique)

Sarah said...

Hi Nanci - we really loved the Beach Club. We definitely had a standing balcony. No furniture. It was only about 18 inches wide but because the girls are so small, they could all fit out there. 2 of them could even sit out there sideways. I'll have more pictures coming up.

Anonymous said...

The room looks beautiful! We always said we would never take our (hypothetical) children to Disney - it always seemed too crowded and rushed to me as a kid. But now that we are 3-4 months away from adopting our sweet Ukrainian girls, we're starting to think we *have* to take them to Disney. It is the ultimate symbol of America to them, so once they get a good grasp on English I think we'll do it. Your posts are incredibly helpful since we live in RI and were considering driving; after your last post, I'm not so sure! Maybe we'll just save an extra year and FLY!
Looking forward to more posts on your trip.

Christy said...

We are planning a trip to Disney in the spring so I am really enjoying your posts.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in Orlando, and we have annual passes to Disney so we are there almost every weekend. Let me know if you have any questions that I could answer to help make your vacation easier next time! Hope you had fun! :o)


Sarah said...

Thanks, everyone!

Congrats on your adoption. Disney can really be a wonderful experience for kids (and adults to.) There is just so much to see and do.

Molly said...

Another great post! However, I don't like knowing that Allie is going to have a hard time the next few days. :( I just wanted to mention that as a med student, everything I've ever heard is that the generic drugs are exactly the same as name brand. Maybe you've heard something I haven't, but definitely look into it because with 3 kids, you may be able to save some money in the coming years if you try generic. Just a thought. I can't wait to read about the rest of your trip. You're making me excited to one day take my daughter (now 15 months).

Sarah said...

Molly - thanks for the info about generics. We sometimes use them. I guess the Advil jumped out at me b/c I knew it vs the generic, which was one I was not familiar with.