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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011 Getting There!

Oh, there are so many songs that come to mind when thinking about a car ride or drive depending on one’s perspective.  But, alas, I’m not writing about travel songs, but about travel.  Our Summer 2011 vacation almost had a false start when the air conditioning in our van went out over the 4th of July week-end.  The van was so sick it needed a second opinion and we discovered that a needed part wouldn’t be here for some time.  So, no van to drive to the airport for our vacation, but our trusty older vehicle came to the rescue.  There was just enough room for everyone and everything, and the boy lived without the DVD player in the car for the ride.

Our flight wasn’t until 4:40 ish and we had about a 3 hour drive ahead of us.  When we got up that morning, we were raring to go and since all was ready, we took off.  Better to wait at the airport than at home, especially if something happened along the way that would require more time.  Off we went.

Thankfully, our drive was uneventful and we arrived at the airport in plenty of time.  Our airline’s ticket counter was not open yet, as it opens about 2 hours before the flight.  Interestingly, we weren’t the only ones who had arrived early for our flight.  The husband and I took turns taking the boy off for excursions around the airport while the other one of us looked after the luggage.  The boy and I had just engaged in baggage carousel watching when the husband called my cell to tell me the ticket counter was open.  

After checking in our luggage, we made our way through airport security and on to the gate.  The only carry-on bag that required additional inspection was the husband’s backpack which had a shoebox full of Disney trading pins and lanyards.  Once the TSA officials saw what it was, we were good to go.  I was targeted for an additional “wanding” before heading off to get my shoes and gather my belongings.  All in all—not bad.  Trust me, we have had worse.

It wasn’t long before our plane landed and we were called to board.  We were in loading group 1 for our flight to Orlando, so we got to board the plane with the first group of passengers.  We are members of our airline’s frequent flier program and had used points for a free business class upgrade.  Row 2, plenty of room, a wide assortments of snacks, free alcohol for the husband, free milk for the boy, and. . . wait for it. . . no baggage fees!  I had packed sandwiches and fruit to eat on our flight, so once the basket of chips appeared along with the drinks, we were all set.

The flight was smooth and fast, about 2 and a half hours.  As you may already know, we frequent Orlando International Airport, so finding our way around is easy.  We even helped a few people who were headed to Disney’s Magical Express counter after the flight.  We were headed to baggage claim!

This is where a little foresight and planning come into play.  Knowing that we would have to get our luggage to the Hyatt after claiming and knowing that either a luggage cart or luggage handler would only make it to the registration desk, then Hyatt’s bell services would have to take over, I was scouring the place for a luggage cart.  Instead of going down the escalators, like everyone else, we walked past the escalators to use the elevators, as I knew people “dumped” their luggage carts just on the other side of the escalators.  Well, we didn’t even have to go that far, as we found a deserted luggage cart just outside security.  I snagged it and off to the elevators we went to Level 2—baggage claim.  

I guarded the cart and our carry-on luggage while the boy and husband watched for our bags.  Soon we had everything and were back in the elevator to Level 3 (where we started) and were headed for the elevator that takes guests to the lobby of the Hyatt.  And, I was right.  Bell services swooped in to take our bags—except for the ones I held onto, as they had our swimsuits and we would want those for our rooftop swim.

Check-in at the Hyatt went smoothly.  I had a pre-paid voucher for our stay.  I told them we were sailing with Disney the next day and would like our bags picked up.  No problem—just have them ready by 8:30 am.  Ready means zipped, tagged with your Disney Cruise Line tags, and placed just inside your hotel room for pick-up.  They asked if I wanted to put a credit card on the account for incidentals.  I declined, as we wouldn’t be having any “incidentals.”

The bellman followed us to our room, which was great as we had a bit of difficulty finding it at first.  He left the bags with a tip in hand. (Note:  I knew I would have to tip the bellman, so I didn’t want to also tip a baggage porter.  Paying for a luggage cart was the next least expensive route, but finding an abandoned luggage cart was even better—no charge!)

Soon the husband and boy had swimsuits on and were heading to the 6th floor for the rooftop pool at the Hyatt.  I was a few minutes behind them, as I wanted to organize a few things for bedtime and the next morning.  It wasn’t long before I was in the lighted pool watching planes take off and land.  It was a great way to shake off the travel day and yet it still felt very much like we were already on vacation.  I knew a good night’s sleep wasn’t far behind.

Note:  Flying in the day before a cruise alleviates anxieties about making it to your ship on time.  We were not the only ones staying at the Hyatt that were cruising with Disney the next day.  In fact, there were many of us and we even ran into some folks later on the ship that we had bumped into at the Hyatt.  A great rate can be had for the Hyatt at Orlando International.  They are on Priceline—which is one way to go.  They also offer a AAA rate, but our travel professional found another source to get the room at an even lower rate.  The convenience of the Hyatt in terms of location and luggage cannot be beat.  I love that they handled our luggage and got it to the port!

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