Arkansas Family 7-Night Frist Blast in Disney (A Trip Report)
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Planning and Introductions
Let me start with an introduction. I am the planner ...
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Arkansas Family 7-Night Frist Blast in Disney (A Trip Report)
First Disney Trip Ever (June 4-12, 2010)
Planning and Introductions
Let me start with an introduction. I am the planner in the group, Heath. I was on the board, reading the books and making all the plans for our trip. I picked the trip date and park dates, even made the final selections and reservation for dining. Also on the trip would be my wife Candi, our two sons Jaron (4 yrs) and Clay (2 yrs), Mom Audrey (who paid for the trip—resort, tickets, flight) and my younger sister Sarah.
This would be the first trip to Disney for all except my wife who had gone MANY years ago. My family always wanted to go, but could never seem to find the money when we were all at home. My father passed away last year and my dear mom said, she would not waste another year. She was going to take her grandbabies to Disney.
We selected the days June 6-12 as out trip in hopes that we would beat the height of the summer crowds and maybe the July heat.
After much discussion we selected Port Orleans French Quarter as our resort. It was my first choice from the start and everyone else came to the same decision. We made our room reservation in October on 2009. We would be in two rooms and requested a connecting room, close to the mail building.
I book our flight in December for AirTran through CheapO’Air. We reserved round trip with 5 seats (littlest one was a lap passenger) for $1,200. I thought we did pretty well.
We also made all our dining reservations between 170-180 days out and had no problems getting what we wanted.
I will review everything we did day-by-day in my report. I hope you will keep checking back and reading to see how our very first Disney trip went.
This is a Friday and the day we will be leaving for of first ever trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Everyone worked today and we will be leaving tonight after work.
I doubt any of us was very productive today. I only worked a couple hours in the morning then headed home to finish packing and loading the van. There would be 6 people only the trip in one van. Two would be in car seats so we knew it would be tight, but you do what you have to do.
We bought a new double stroller for the trip and a luggage bag for the top of the van. It was a challenge to get it up there, but had not other choices.
Once all the luggage and people were stuffed into the van we were off on our first big adventure. Now let be start with this. We live in NE Arkansas, but the cheapest plane tickets we found were out of St. Louis. So we were headed on a 4-5 hour trip to St. Louis. We would arrive at our hotel for the night at midnight. The Airport Ramada was not my ideal of a great room. The hotel was older, and the lobby was musty. However, the room had been remodeled and was okay. Besides, we would only be there for a couple hours. We would be leaving our van there for the week and scheduled a 5:30 a.m. hotel shuttle for the airport.
We were all so wired that we did not get much sleep that night. When we got downstairs for our shuttle we realized we were in trouble. There was a group of 20 scheduled at the same time. The hotel only had 1 mini van. Needless to say, we had our concerns. They called neighbor hotels for help and finally we got to the airport by 6:45. Out flight left at 7:45 and we were concerned.
It was all for nothing. We got through security fine and all was well. Found a bit to eat in the airport and boarded the flight.
Now, I realize that I have already made it into Day 2, but really the trip does not start until we get there, so I will go ahead and cover the flight out.
Our first flight from St. Louis to Atlanta went pretty smooth. The kids were a little restless, but so were we. None of us are experienced air travelers and all were anxious. My mom was the worst. She was so nervous and taken so much medication, she was loopy.
We arrived in Atlanta and had almost no time to rest. Our second leg was already loading when we arrived.
Since we had booked through CheapO’ Air we did not get to choose out seats and that made us anxious as well. However, out Atlanta to Orlando leg was a great surprise. We had been bumped to Business Class. Much nicer seat with lots of room and even better snacks.
The fight was over booked and AirTran was offering 2 round trip tickets anywhere they flew from someone who would wait for the next flight. I was tempted, but off we went.
Couple Diet Cokes and a bag of chips later we were landing in Orlando. This is where I will stop for now and pick up with the first day for our DISNEY TRIP. Yea!!!!
We finally made it to Orlando Florida. Now we are not at all experienced travelers. Only my wife and I had been on an airplane before. So we were not sure what to do when we landed. All we knew is that we had to find the Disney Magical Express.
We looked for signs in the terminal, but found none. So we just followed the people who ended up at a monorail. Wow! This would be like a bonus Disney ride we had not expected. We asked a many who worked at the airport and he said it would take us to the mail terminal, so we got on.
Once off we still had no idea were to go. We still did not see any signs. After asking several people, we finally found our way to the location of the Magical Express, checked in and directed to the line for the POFQ. The line was very short and when we got on, we almost had the bus to ourselves. There were only two other families making this trip with us. I remember making a mental note of the low numbers and hoping that was a sign that the crowds at Disney World would also be smaller than I expected. Looking back, they were smaller than I thought they would be.
The ride to the POFQ was longer than I expected. Not knowing the area, I did not even know what I was looking at along the way. Did I ever even see Orlando? Can someone tell me.
Finally the time had come and the driver announced that we should get our camera ready as we were about to enter into those famed Disney gates. We were moving so fast that I did not get a good picture. But that was okay.
The others on the bus got off at the Old Key West Resort and ours was the next stop. The POFQ was more than I expected. The grounds are so pretty. A bellman helps us with our bags and we were off to check in. I had done the online check-in so everything was waiting and ready for us. We had requested connecting rooms, and that is what we received. We were in building 4, which was right next to the main building and the closest one to the bus stop. We were in rooms 2335 and 4336. One was a corner and had two windows, which was very nice. My only complainant was that there was only one elevator per building set and it was not very close to our room. We needed to use it with the stroller, so it made our walk a little more each day.
When we opened our door, we were so pleased. The pictures on the internet really do not do justice. It was so nice. Some had mentioned that the rooms seemed dated, but I did not feel that way at all. It was perfect.
Plenty space for the amount of time we would spend in the room. It was so nice to have the fridge, and the added touch of the curtain that closed off the sink area was a really nice touch. Almost seemed to add a private space.
There was a Mickey towel outline on one bed when we arrived, which was very nice. Also, there was a bounce-back card on the table. I had herd many people talk about the bounce-back, but I honestly think that everyone at POFQ got it. Every open window I walked by had one on the table. Actually, the offer it gave was the same offer that we booked with – 30% off a moderate resort. Wish we could have booked again before we left, but just not in the budget right now.
After settling in we went to the dining room for a late lunch. Were are on the basic dining plan and this would be our first counter service.
One word of advice. When it come to counter service, as long as they do not know you are ordering for a child, it does not matter. Counter service adult and kids meals count the same on the plan. If they know it is for a child, they insist you get a kids meal. If an adult just orders, they all count the same in the computer. We always ordered three adult CS meals rather than 2 Adult and 1 Child, that way there would be plenty to share with our 2 year old who was not on the plan. All worked out fine in the end.
I had a Bacon Double Cheese Burner, and my wife and kids had Pizza and Spaghetti. Both were very good. I especially came to love the fries at the resort. We also bought one of the mugs and refilled it every chance we got all week. It was so worth the $13.
After lunch my boys needed a nap and so we went back to the room. My mom and sister headed to Downtown Disney for so shopping before a late dinner we would join them for at Kouzzina by Cat Cora.
The boys slept and Candi and I looked over our plans for the week. Finally at about 6 p.m. we changed clothes and headed to DTD. This would be our first experience on Disney transportation. The bus arrived very quickly and we arrived at Hollywood Studios to get on the boat for DTD. HS was my first time to see a park, though we would not be back here until Thursday, it was exciting to see the water tower and the TOT. I was really excited now. The kids loved the boat ride and the Boardwalk was magical. There was a lot of action going on. We passed a juggler and a magician on our way to eat. While waiting to get in we went into the candy shop to scope out the potential goodies we could have all week, though we resisted for the time.
We got to our table just after our 8 p.m. reservation time. Our waiter came right over to take drink orders. My sister asked about the light-up ice cubes which he put in her drink even though it was just a coke. She was so excited.
We all ordered. My mom and I ordered the lamb shank. I thought it was great. So tender that I did not ever use a knife. My mom did not like it at all and our waiter was very attentive. The chef came out and the ended up preparing her a new steak dish at no charge. My sister ordered a sample type platter that had three different items on it. One was a lamb slider, one was chicken and one was a pasta dish. She hated the slider, so I ate it. She did like to other two. My wife ordered a pasta dish that had cinnamon in it. I thought it was strange, but she thought it was okay.
Dessert were all pretty good. We ordered different things and shared. We tried the cookies, the chocolate cake, and the donuts. I have to be honest and say that I think my some hot fudge Sunday was the best.
I am happy we went here. It was very different for us and a good experience. I guess our tastes are just to simple as it was a bit to exotic for us. We were on the DDP, so price was not a issue.
After dinner we had to navigate the busses back to the resort. It was late and HS had been closed for a while so we were going to catch a bus to MK and switch to a bus for our resort. However, we were the only ones on the MK bus and so the driver just took us right to our resort.
When we got back to the resort, it was time to crash. The next day promised to be a full day, and we needed to rest.
Day 1 Ratings:
POFQ Resort -- Excellent POFQ Dining Hall – Good Kouzzia – Average (Ok to do 1 time) Disney Transportation – Good