Disney Day 1: Swimming and Suitcases and Sticky, Sweaty Sleep

So a bit more info on our trip to Disney: (1) It was meant to be shortish, so it wouldn't be too expensive, (2) the Beaner and I went by ourselves, and (3) again to save on expenses, we only got 2-day non-Park Hopper tickets for a 3-day stay.

I made meal reservations before leaving Philadelphia (and about 8 weeks in advance, before I'd started eating a largely raw diet), and since two of the restaurants I knew I wanted to eat at were in the parks, it was pretty easy to figure out our park schedule once the dining reservations were in place.

Our plan was to arrive around 9:30am on Tuesday, have our main suitcase brought to our hotel room by the Disney's Magical Express service, spend the day swimming, shopping, mini-golfing, and then have dinner at the Cape May Cafe over at the Beach Club resort. We'd purposely used the Beaner's Lightning McQueen suitcase as our carry-on and filled it with swimsuits, sunscreen, medications, and toiletries. (I remember well when Lightning was lost by the airline last year and arrived a day late, and I wanted to make sure we could brush or teeth and stay on our meds if the luggage disappeared again.)

When we checked in we were told that we'd be in Love Bug 7, and that I'd receive a call on my cell phone when our room was ready. (Technically checkin is at 3pm, but sometimes rooms are ready before that.)

Our first stop was the food court, where the Beaner got some oatmeal and an orange juice, and I ate a few of the nuts and dried fruit I'd brought in my backpack. Next we went outside to inspect a life-size model of the RC car from Toy Story, and then we visited the playground. The Beaner didn't stay as long as he normally would because there were no other kids to play with (the playground, for him, is all about making new friends). After about 10 minutes we went to the bathrooms near the pool and changed into our swim suits.

We must've stayed in the pool for 2 hours at least; after about 10 minutes, I realized that no matter how much sunscreen I had on, without some kind of cover in addition to my hat, I was going to FRY. I ended up using one of our towels to cover my shoulders, back, and most of my arms. I didn't care that it got soaked in the process, making it useless as a drying mechanism—as long as I didn't end up with angry red patches like just about everyone else in the pool, I'd count myself lucky.

after an hour in the pool

I finally convinced the Beaner that we should get out and have a snack (we ate crackers and fruit from my backpack), and we also dressed at that point. It was about 1:30, and I hadn't heard that our room was ready, so I checked Lightning at the bell stand, and we took a bus to Downtown Disney. (In retrospect, I should have asked at the front desk about the room; I'd really been hoping to drop off our bags and rest a bit before going anywhere else.)

The main reason for visiting Downtown Disney was to transfer to a bus that would take us to the Boardwalk area, where we'd be having dinner. The Boardwalk area is also where the Fantasia Gardens mini-golf is, and I thought the Beaner would want to play. He didn't, however, so we ended up staying at Downtown Disney for a while instead.

[At this point I should probably mention that it was HOT. Very hot. 92 degrees and humid hot. After a very chilly, rainy, April-like start to June in Philly, the heat was kind of a shock. This is why most of the photos you'll see from now on feature sweat and lots of it.]

I'd heard there was a LEGO store at DD, so we went in search of that. It turned out to be a very big hit, and we spent almost as much time there as we did at the pool.

at Downtown Disney building a wheeled vehicle picking out LEGO bricks darth vader or dark tower?

There was a play area next to the outdoor LEGO brick pits, but a sign warned that the play equipment might be very hot, and it was right. We opted for a bit more fun with some Duplo-sized blocks, and then we walked back to the bus stop at around 3:30.

I was trying to decide, as we rode on the bus, whether to get off at the Swan/Dolphin and walk around the Boardwalk to the Beach Club, or whether to get off at the Beach Club itself. If we did the latter, we'd be very early for dinner, but the Beaner was looking floppy and tired. We'd gotten up at 4am to make our early flight, he had not slept on the plane, and as I mentioned, it was very hot. He made the decision easy for me by falling asleep on my lap.

The bus ride ended up taking an excruciating hour and 20 minutes. Do not ask me what took so long (I know that loading a scooter passenger—and the resultant malfunctioning door—was part of the delay, but I have no idea about the rest of it). Disney Dining always reminds you to allow at least 90 minutes of travel time if using the bus system to get to a meal reservation, and I certainly did leave that much time, but MAN—to actually be on a bus for 90 minutes, especially with a super-hot, sleeping kid stuck to you, absolutely sucks. (I was not the only one with a passed-out kid on me, btw.)

The bus stop was a couple hundred yards from the entrance to the hotel, and I carried the still-sleeping Beaner to the door, at which point he woke up. It was 4:50, and I still hadn't heard about our room. I tried to get the number to call to inquire from the front desk staff at the Beach Club, but they were extremely confused about what I was asking, where I was staying, and where to find the number. They ended up giving me the fax number of All-Star Movies, and I didn't go back to correct the problem. Instead I spotted a house phone on the wall and picked it up.

Our room was indeed ready, and I wondered for how long it had been, but I didn't ask. Instead I sat and enjoyed the air conditioning and called Al, to whom I'd been sending regular photo updates by iPhone, until the hostess started checking people in at the Cape May Cafe at 5pm. I gave our name and explained that we had a 6:05 reservation (which was a bit late for us, given the lengthy ride we'd have back to our hotel). We were seated at 5:30, right when the restaurant opened, praise Mickey.

eating an all-yellow meal the coveted Lightning McQueen cup
[L] an all-yellow meal; [R] the Beaner hinted that he wanted one of these cups about 8 times before I asked the waiter to put one on our tab but to bring it to the table empty. The "lite" raspberry lemonade that was supposed to come in it was unsafe on three counts: artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. I filled the cup with the apple juice from the photo on the left instead.

I had several small plates of (cooked) mussels, but what I was truly grateful for were the salads. I had two servings of mixed melon and three huge plates of greens. I have to say, I'm enjoying the heck out of eating so many raw fruits and vegetables, and they're particularly refreshing in the summer heat.

We took our time over the meal and ended up leaving around the time I'd originally calculated we'd be done if we were seated at 6:05. We decided to take the first bus that came along, since all the parks are transportation hubs and would offer a ride back to our hotel. The first bus happened to be Downtown Disney, so we returned there and transferred back to All-Star Movies, where we finally shuffled back to our room.

Love Bug 7 tail lights
Herbie's front end was across the way on building 6; both his headlights and his taillights lit up at night.

It was a long walk to the back of the resort from the bus stop, and at first I wondered why they'd put us back there when I knew I'd booked a preferred room (which usually means by the pool/main building). Then I remembered that I'd noted on our reservation that the Beaner loved Cars. I'd noted this because I wasn't sure if they'd added a Cars building since my last visit here, and I would've hated to hear the Beaner moan that he'd rather be in the Lightning McQueen building. Instead, I heard him ask questions about Herbie (whom he referred to as "she") over and over for three days straight. :-) He doesn't like the Herbie movies, but he really did enjoy being in the Herbie building.

I ended up getting the Beaner bathed and in bed only about 30 minutes behind our usual schedule, and he fell asleep quickly. I showered and set the alarm for 7am, and then I went to bed too. We had a reservation for breakfast at the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday, and I wanted to have time to go on a ride or two before breakfast if possible.

Posted by Lori in travel at 1:51 PM on June 25, 2009