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
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.