Okay so I've finally gotten around to this TR. If I don't start it now I'll never get it done so here goes....
Cast: Myself, DH, DS7, DS5, DS3, Gran(my mom), Pop(my dad), DB, DSIL, and DN2.
This is the kids shoes, sweatshirts, and "safety tags" laid out the night before for our 3:30am wake up call!
We flew out of Midway on the 6:05am flight on Wed. 8/4. This was my only my second experience with Southwest, and my first to Orlando. It did not start out well. We got to the airport terminal about 80 min ahead of time, and I was thinking "hey it is so early, how crowded can it be"? VERY. I already had my "A" group boarding pass, but the line to check luggage at 4:45 am was several hundred people long! There were desk people for Delta and Air Tran just standing around drinking coffee and talking with no customers, but Southwest was jammed. And the lady trying to direct everyone, well...lets say she was not the poster child for friendly Southwest employees. She was not rude to us directly, but abrupt and quite rude to others. I'll admit people were getting on the wrong line, etc...but it was quite confusing. I don't think the majority of people were trying to cheat ahead of everyone, but there were so many people and lines were long and no one knew what was going on. The signage was poor at best. Thankfully the rest of the Southwest people we encountered were quite nice. My poor boys were starving, and in the past we get McD's after getting through security, but since it took over 45 min line at luggage there was no time to get food. We ran to our gate and it was last call for group "A". We just made it. Of course the boys keep asking "but mommy we're hungry" and I reply "mommy is sorry guys, but I had no idea the line would be so long and we usually have more time". The nice flight attendant a few rows up heard me and got me a bag of snacks. THANK YOU! The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed a few minutes early to MCO.
Off to the ME! Let me tell you, flying on weekdays is great. No crowds, and we walked right up to the ME desk, and waited maybe 2 minutes for the CM to escort us to our bus. Granted, we waited about 10 min on the bus (but hey, I'm sitting in air conditioned comfort so who cares?), and we were off. Of course Kidani was the last stop after CBR, POP, and Jambo, but again no big deal to me. Interestingly, I always thought the bus driver was responsible for starting that video on the ME, but our driver mentioned that "in about a half mile or so the video will be triggered by GPS". COOL!
We arrived at Kidani about and hour and a quarter after our flight landed. As we got off the bus, and were heading in the door, a nice female CM walks over to me and says "excuse me, are you Mrs. Melody"? WOW! There she is waiting for me with my packet and KTTW cards!! A big thumbs up for on-line check-in! Our room is not ready, but they were able to meet my request for "close to the pool". They will send a text when the room is ready. I am impressed. For about a minute.
Suddenly I notice my KTTW card says my last day is 8/9...uh... we check out on 8/10. So we follow her into the desk, and so begins my week long struggle with this reservation. For anyone that may remember, I in my infinite stupidity cannot count. So when I made my original ressie 11 months out, I miss-counted my weekend schedule. It's not that hard, off, off, on, off, off, on....but somehow I scheduled our vacation on my weekend to work. Gosh darn those people keep coming in and having babies on weekends and holidays! So I had to call and cancel our 2br Value, and decided on 2br standard at Kidani (if I'm not getting a value, I want that Kidani bathroom). I called once or twice a day, and played the waitlist game for about a month, until I had 6 individual ressies for 2br L/O standard view Kidani. No problem according to the CM at MS. They then "linked" the ressies. About a month before the trip, we decided to add DDP. I called to add it. Good old Disney IT.... the CM must unlink them, add the DDP to each day, then relink them. Are you kidding? Okay, fine. I sit on hold for about 15 minutes. "All Done"!....ha ha ha...
Basically while at the desk at Kidani we figure out that the CM at MS never relinked the last day to the ressie. Okay, no problem, we will re-run your KTTWC's. Yes, you have DDP on the last day...no problem, etc.. etc... I wait about 15 minutes watching TV with the kiddos, and Voila! they have my new KTTWC's that have the correct check out date of 8/10 and they say DDP on them. Okay, that is fantastic I am happy. We leave our bags with bell services and go to walk over to the Mara to eat, and then we will swim. It is now about 12:30. Little did I know that that screwed up linked ressie was only beginning to rear its ugly head.
The Mara was great. We really like this as a CS option. We purchased our refill mugs for the week, and were able to get bottle drinks to take back with us via the DDP. I think the CS at your resorts can be a good deal because if you have the mug, you can use that as your drink, and the dessert options tend to be better. I was able to get zebra domes as my dessert (cannot compare to those silly chocolate cake things you get at the burger joints in the parks). They also let DH swap his dessert for a side salad. I had the veggie flatbread, which I usually love but was disappointing today, it tasted different and they forgot the olives! DH had the turkey ciabatta it was great. He disagreed however because he loves basic food and he DID get the olives on his!
We then walked back to Kidani and the kids enjoyed the pool for a while. Around 2pm we got a text. Our room was ready! It was on the jambo side of the lobby, 3rd floor, in the first "bead" of the necklace. View of the entrance, walkway to the buses and......the SMOKING AREA? Ugh. Okay, it actually wasn't that bad. We hardly use our balcony anyway, that is why we get standard view instead of savanah, and it was far enough away we really didn't have a problem with it. But some folks might. Overall it was a good location rms 7309 and 7311. Close to the lobby, which equals not far from the pool, and also very close to the buses. Great except for the smoking.
Towel Elephant left by Mousekeeping!
DS3 loves the splash area at Kidani
DS5 at the splash area
More of the splash area...
By the time we got up to the room and did a quick unpack, Gran and Pop arrived! They had driven down from their vacation condo in Charleston, SC. Time to get ready for dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe.
This was our first time to Whispering Canyon and our fist time to Wilderness Lodge. We took the bus to MK, then the boat to the Lodge. We LOVED IT! This is going to be on our "must try" list. The lobby was beautiful, the boat ride the MK was an attraction in itself, and the pool area looked like a lot of fun.
We were seated within 5 min of checking in and at 5pm it was not crowded at all. DH and I had the skillet, which was very good. The cornbread was wonderful, and milkshakes are included on the DDP!?! I got one. Shouldn't have. They were good, but too much food. Gran had the maple glazed trout, or maybe it was whiskey glazed trout? it was delicious. I wished I had ordered that instead. Pop had the meatloaf and he was very happy with his selection as well. Dessert was to go, of course because Disney is always too much food. One thing about traveling with kids and strollers, I always have a cooler bag, so the dessert went into the cooler bag and was safe until we could return to the villa.
Us at Wilderness Lodge
Gran and Pop were not wasting a ticket for a few hours at MK, so off they went for a beer at Raglan Rd. We were off to MK for a few hours with our AP's.
Gotta get to work, will be continued......