Good Morning Fellow Disney Dorks, DISnerds, and Newbies!
I just returned from my latest Amazing Disney Adventure! For the next several posts, I am going to give a full daily trip report along with some new tips and tricks that I discovered along the way. I have 11 days to review!
Welcome to Andy’s room, toys! Please be seated, pull down your safety bar, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, and put on those 3D glasses!
Tuesday February 19th: I set my alarm to wake at 4:45am, as we were going to be out the door and headed for the airport in Buffalo by 5:45am. But I was just TOO EXCITED TO SLEEP! ( I really miss that old Disney commercial, it’s one of my favorites) I did fall asleep quickly the night before, but by midnight I was up every half hour checking the clock. Then…at 3:30am I woke from that terrifying dream that so many of us Disnerds have right before a trip…my alarm clock didn’t go off, and we missed our plane….JUMPED out of bed. Hopped in the shower half asleep. Only to turn on the bedroom light and hear Tony say “Aim, it’s 3:45am. You’re up too soon”. UGH. But it was too late. I was pumped and ready to go! By 5:30 we were out the door, in our jeans and spring jackets. Yes, in Buffalo, 28 degrees is no big deal. If it hits 50, you will find many crazy people walking around in shorts. But, I digress…warmed up the car, brushed it off, and we were on our way.
The Buffalo airport is only 15 minutes from my house. And, it’s not a terribly busy airport. Especially on a weekday in winter. So since our flight didn’t leave until 7:20, we knew we would have plenty of time. We reached the airport and got in line to check our luggage by 6am. BUT…and this is one of the reasons I hate Southwest….there were about a hundred people in line, and only three people at the counter checking people in! Amazingly, by 6:30 we got to the counter, surrendered our luggage to the powers that be. And I silently said the prayer I say every time we fly “God, please don’t let our luggage get lost!”
There are two airlines in Buffalo that have nonstop flights to Orlando. And, this is a beautiful thing. Because you leave cold, dreary ugly Buffalo, and 2 1/2 hours later you are landing in the happiest place on earth, complete with palm trees and sunshine. We are Jet Blue snobs. If I could I would fly with them every single time. But, unfortunately, Southwest actually blew their prices out of the water, which almost never happens. Jet Blue has more leg room, you can choose your seats when you purchase your tickets, they have better service, better snacks, and those lovely TV’s! We can put DisneyXD on for Matthew, and by the time we land, he has watched several shows, and doesn’t even realize how fast the time flew by. Tony and I will watch a movie, and same thing, by the time it’s done we are ready to land. Southwest – not so great. Sooo cramped. You get thrown in that cattle herd and pray you can get seats together, and I don’t care for their service. NO choice in what snack you get either. JUST DON’T LIKE IT!!!!
Our flight was great. Arrived 20 minutes early. (how do they do that???) We made a beeline for Magical Express. LOVE Disney transportation! It was so cool, because just as we got to the front of the line, a bus pulled up for Art of Animation! Magical Express will generally make 3 stops to 3 different resorts in the same area on Disney Property. For us, it was Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach (our absolute favorite place to stay). Art of Animation was the first stop. And I was so excited to be staying at this new resort! We were off the plane, checked in, and dropping stuff off in our room by 11:15! Not too shabby.
We walked up to the check in counter. First in line! I highly recommend doing online check in, which you can now do up to 60 days prior to arrival. Because all they have to do is say hello, and hand you that lovely folder, with all of your Key to the World cards, maps, and resort info, and you are on your way. It takes all of about 5 minutes. Our room is always ready upon arrival, even though they say check in time is 3pm. We always use the Magical Express luggage tags, drop our luggage at our home airport, then those wonderful Disney cast members at the Orlando airport retrieve our luggage, and it is waiting in our room later that day.
Normally, we would just drop our carry ons in the room and RUN to a bus to the parks for the day. But, we were hungry, and we really wanted to check out this new resort. So, we dropped off our stuff, took a few pics of the room, and did a little roaming of the grounds. We stayed in a Little Mermaid Room, which is the farthest section from the lobby/gift shop/food court. But it’s really only about a five minute walk, and there’s plenty to see along the way. We went out the back door of the lobby, and straight ahead is the Nemo section, with the amazing “Big Blue” pool. It’s the largest on property right now. Because it’s a value level resort, there are no slides. But there are some cute touches, like “rain” type water features that are themed like jelly fish. There’s a cute little splash pad area with Nemo and the tank gang, that all have little water spouts coming from their mouths. Behind that area is the cutest little play area, with a slide and little tunnels to walk through.
So, we head left, and up above we see the seagulls from Finding Nemo, perched up on some posts. Guess what? They periodically say “MINE, MINE, MINE!” So cute.
Next you meander on a winding path through the savannah that is the Lion King area. Every themed area of the resort has music playing related to the movies. Which makes such a nice transition from one to the other. Rafiki greats you first.
Then up on pride rock is Mufasa, keeping watch over the pride land. (incidentally, Tony, Matthew and I had the same argument every time we walked through there…is that Mufasa? Because it looks like older Simba!” I tried many times to convince Tony that it’s supposed to be Mufasa. As I had read it several times online. And I heard many guests have the same reaction as they passed by. But, this lion just didn’t have that “regal” sense about it. The face wasn’t as chiseled. And, I just couldn’t imagine James Earl Jones speaking to us.
Onward…You see a HUGE log about 15 feet in the air, with fat old pumba, little Simba, and Timon prancing across it, definitely in a Hakuna Matata state of mind.
Further back along the path is evil Scar and his side kick Iago.
Then you transition out of Lion King and find your self smack dab in the middle of Ariel’s whozits and whatzits galore….Prince Eric is not far behind. Little Mermaid has her own pool, which is pretty nice and cutely themed. The Lion King section is the only area that does not have a pool.
Now, our room was the very first room, on the left, first floor, on the corner. BUT, there is no direct way to get to it. You either have to wind around another 300 feet of path, or do a big no-no by tip toeing through the landscaping. Sometimes we behaved, and other times we were just too tired, so we were naughty and tip toed instead. (sorry Disney Imagineers, but this was an OOPS on your part when you designed this resort!) I imagine as time goes by, there is going to be a path carved out by guests trying to get to their rooms on the first floor of that building.
We stopped at the food court, they call it the Landscape of Flavors. We were too hungry to wait until Magic Kingdom, and we knew that once we were in the park, food would be the last of our priorities. I was not at all impressed with the selection. There’s all this hype online about how diverse the selections are, how much there is offered, and that there were some great healthy options available. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There was the typical quick food area – drinks, snacks, fruit, etc. A section that served smoothies, ice cream and desserts. The regular pizza/pasta area with the same offerings as the other Value resorts. An area for create your own burger or chicken sandwich. It had the toppings you would expect for a burger, but it did also offer black bean relish and feta cheese. (ewe) Then there is a section for Mongolia stir fry – which I never saw a single person in line for that. And, a make your own salad bar along with some sandwiches- that were pre-made, so you couldn’t say “I don’t want Swiss cheese, or can you leave off the dressing?” And, that was pretty much it. I chose to try the kids chicken sandwich. It was cute, a whole wheat fish-shaped bread with chicken and I got some lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Along with grapes and carrots. Not much flavor. I tried to doctor it up with mayo and BBQ sauce, with no luck.
Matthew had a burger from the adult menu. He enjoyed it, said it was juicy, but just a typical burger that you’d find at Red Robin or another burger joint. I don’t even remember what Tony had. He usually picks something smaller because he always has to finish our food.
By 12:30 we hopped a bus and arrive at Magic Kingdom around 1:00.
I was so excited to see the new Fantasyland! So, our plan was to do our traditional hold hands, kiss in front of the castle, and the sap that I am, I always have some tears. So, I said a quick “Hello Walt, so good to see you. You’re looking well”…And we were on our way…
This visit was extra special, because I had endured and survived 4 surgeries and two cancers last year. And there was a small part of me that thought I may never get to Disney World again. So, that realization hit me pretty hard. But I made it!!! Cancer free, all recovered from surgery, and it felt so amazing to realize that the nightmare was over, and we could celebrate! What better way to celebrate, than to visit my home away from home, a place where I can shut out the rest of the world for a while, and find that little princess who always comes out to play when we are there.
I’m going to stop here for now….thank you for joining me on my Amazing Disney Adventures…I can’t wait to share more!