For this trip, we did things a little differently than how we usually approach a trip to the World.
Normally, we plan on leaving on the first flight in the morning to be able to have as much time in the park as we can for the day, In order for us to make that first flight out in the morning, we have to book a hotel near the airport the night before since we have about an hour drive to get to the airport. The idea of getting 3 kids out of bed and out the door by 3:30 am just doesn't work for us! Rob got the idea to see if we could change our flight out to the day before and book an extra night at Port Orleans Riverside. Once I looked into it, the cost to do all of that wasn't much more that the what the hotel near the airport cost, so we got an extra night at WDW!
Since we only had 2 days in the parks, that led us to the second big change for this trip; we booked park hoppers. For a quick trip like this, they were the perfect option for us, however, for our typical week long vacation, I would not want to have a park hopper, as I would feel the need to fit in too much for us to make the park hopper seem worthwhile.
The other huge difference was we went without the dining plan this time. We knew once we got on the Dream, we would have amazing food for 4 nights, plus, we didn't want to waste precious park time being tied to reservations. I did book one table service for us, and that was perfect for this trip.
We scheduled a Friday evening flight, which meant the kids would get in most of the day at school before i had to pick them up, and Rob would get most of his work day in to wrap up everything before we left for a week. As I am driving, I got a text from Rob that our flight is delayed an hour, take our time driving up to meet him at work. Too late...I'm already on the road! I let the kids know, and tell them it will be a good chance to get a start on some of their schoolwork since we have an extra hour to kill. We grabbed an early dinner once we met up with Rob, knowing that it would be pretty late once we got to the resort. We got to the airport, and fortunately, there are no other delays, so an hour after we were scheduled to leave, we take off.
By the time we land, it is after 9:00, and I start to get nervous about what time our luggage will be delivered from Magical Express. We were the first to board the bus, and ended up sitting for close to 30-45 minutes before we finally got on our way.
FINALLY, we pull up to Port Orleans Riverside, and stop at the Online Check In desk to make sure our Magic Bands are good to go and have them show us where our room is on the map. At this point is is quarter to 11, and everyone is hungry and tired. We made our way over to the quick service, Riverside Mill, and tried figuring out menus for each of the lines. Once we made up our mind, we went to get in line, only to be told that they close at 11:00...it was 11:02. They had some grab and go options, but no one wanted fruit, chips, or sweets...we were hoping for something a little more substantial.
We left to start the (long) walk to our room, and several times, we said how happy we were to not have to deal with all of our luggage as late as it was. Finally, we find our room (yay, we got our first floor request!) and get everyone settled in. We have a quick decision with the kids on who gets the Murphy bed (Carolyn ended up insisting on it, and we tried telling her she wouldn't be comfy in it, let Evan take it, but she refused), debated ordering a pizza for about half a second before we nixed that idea because no one wanted to wait up for it. Everyone rummaged through their carry ons for snacks that they didn't eat on the plane (one of my checked bags was nothing but food since we skipped the dining plan, but luggage had not arrived yet!), and we called it a night. I couldn't sleep to save my life, because all I could think about was what time our luggage would finally get here, and is it delivered to your room regardless of time, or does it go to the front desk? For the record, they bring it to you in the middle of the night. I also start thinking, what if our luggage is not there in the morning...it's February, and I wore my boots down...my tennis shoes and flats, yup...all in the checked bags! After what seemed like hours tossing and turning, (why no clocks in the rooms?!) there is finally a faint knock on the door. Luggage in room, I can finally attempt a few hours of sleep!
Lessons from our first night: Pack more food than you ever think you will need! Also, in addition to all the things I recommend for your carry on, pack a pair of shoes for the parks if you didn't wear them on the plane. Finally, if you are coming in after 5 or 6 in the evening, take the time to go to baggage claim to get your luggage and take it on the bus with you! It was so not worth the stress of worrying about when or if our bags would arrive that night! One other little piece of packing advice...if you have a small travel clock, bring it. The lack of a clock really got to me this trip!