spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 1: flights and arrival

on October 22, 2015

All you need is faith, trust, and pixie dust.  Here we go!

Cast of Characters:

Me: Disneyholic and planner extraordinaire, 6 trips to the World, 2 Disney Cruises, 1 trip to Disneyland, 1 stay at Aulani

DD: teen daughter, Disneyholic planner-in-training, 4 trips to the World (1 in utero!), 2 Disney Cruises, 1 trip to Disneyland, 1 stay at Aulani

DH: husband, happy to leave the vacation planning to me, 1 trip to the World, 1 stay at Aulani, 1 Disney Cruise

DS: toddler son, loves the characters, 1 stay at Aulani, 1 Disney Cruise


Thursday, October 1st, 1:15pm, my office.  My Google Calendar alert goes off, telling me that Disney Day Zero has begun.  Day Zero refers to the 24 hours before we leave for a Disney trip.  I silently screamed with happiness at my desk, got back to working, then 2 hours later I logged on to AlaskaAir.com to print out our boarding passes for the first leg of travel.  I also printed out a self-baggage tag, the use of which would award me an extra 1000 miles.  I noticed that the baggage tag already had the Orlando airport code on it (MCO), but didn’t think much of it.  <remember this for later>

I got home from work, and proceeded to calmly finish the packing.  I had already printed the Carry-On Packing and regular Packing lists, and hung them up on the bedroom doors.  Suitcases were out and open to receiving our stuff.  My trusty hand-held luggage scale was ready to be pressed into service as soon as the checked bags were full.  I was checking things off the lists left and right.  I had left our color-coded, ticket-linked, FastPass+’ed, Party ticket-loaded MagicBands in their original box on my jigsaw puzzle table in the living room, right next to where the packed bags would be stacked. <remember this, too>

My only worry at that point was my daughter’s stuff.  See, she had been busy with school activities, and while her suitcase was out and ready, she hadn’t put any stuff in it yet.  And she wouldn’t be home until about 9:30p.  She had a half-day of school the next day, and we would be leaving the house about 75 minutes after she got home from school.  This meant, she needed to pack everything THAT NIGHT.  Her school activity is pretty physical, so when she has late practice, she tends to get home, snack, and fall asleep on the couch despite my prodding to go to bed.  Obviously, she didn’t have the option of such a luxury on this night.  I was early to pick her up from her activity, and basically stood there staring her down to prevent her from chatting with friends afterwards.  It worked, we got home quickly, and she got everything packed in record time.  Then I stayed up too late doing a Disney-inspired manicure.  I had yellow-gold polish with sparkly tips in honor of my favorite Princess, Belle.  Somehow I didn’t take a picture of my nails!  You’ll have to take my word for it.  I went to bed, and this happened:

Unlike the person who titled this video, I was TOO excited to sleep.  And then it was Disney Day!  I ticked the last few things off the to-do list, waited around for my Disney countdown clock to hit zero, then we grabbed our stuff and hit the road!  It was a smooth and fast ride to the airport.  When we got there, we headed to the “self-tagged bag” area.  All we needed to do was drop the bags and head off to ……hold on.  The agent is saying something about the bags being checked through all the way to Orlando?  Even though we had an overnight layover in San Diego, and our next flight was 12 hours after the first one landed?  Since when do they do that???  Listen, I’ve been flying the to mainland for 10 years now, and have never done a nonstop flight.  We always do a layover stop, and have ALWAYS had to pick up our bags after the first flight, and check them in again the next morning for the last leg- it wasn’t an option to do it any other way.  I had packed accordingly: one suitcase was “not to be touched” at the layover hotel, and the other suitcase had all of our night stuff for easy access on top: pajamas, some toiletries, etc.  Now this lady was saying that we wouldn’t see any of our stuff until about 27 hours later.  There were 2 problems with this:

  1. I wasn’t mentally prepared.  Had I had more time to think about it, I would have realized that we had pretty much everything we needed in our Carry-Ons: extra undies, the toothbrushes, meds, some clothes.  But not pajamas, and not the clothes I wanted to be wearing as we drove under the “Welcome to Walt Disney World” sign. Small detail, but important to me.
  2. I hadn’t attached our Magical Express Luggage Tags to the bags.  See, when you take Disney’s bus from the airport to your Disney hotel, you don’t have to claim your bags from baggage claim at MCO.  You simply walk off the plane, and onto the bus, and your bags arrive in your room later. Disney gets your suitcases for you, but you have to attach the bright yellow tags so they know which ones are yours.  I wasn’t going to attach them until the next morning, so as not to confuse the baggage people in San Diego.  So we were tagless at the moment!

In the end, I asked them to only check the bags through to San Diego, since I had based my planning off of that.  It worked out fine, especially since Alaska Airlines Visa cardholders don’t have to pay for checked bags now, woo!

Ok, that was figured out.  We ate a little something at the airport, and our flight went off smoothly.  We were happily coloring, taking selfies, etc. until about 2 hours into the flight, when I realized with horror that I HAD FORGOTTEN TO BRING THE MAGICBANDS.  I frantically tried to remember grabbing them from the table, and couldn’t.  Why, you ask?  Because they weren’t there.  I desperately asked my husband if he’d grabbed them.  He said, no.  I asked where they could have gone.  He said, I moved them.  My first reaction:


Why would he do such a thing?  Because my son was trying to play with them, and he didn’t want them to get damaged or lost, so he put the MagicBand box on a shelf in the closet.  Which is a good thing.  But then he forgot the put them back, where I would see them, right next to the suitcases.  Which was a bad thing.  I will admit that this was not all his fault.  In a rare departure to routine, I had not put MagicBands on the Carry-On Packing list, thinking that I would never forget those!  If I had, there would have been no problem with forgetting them, because I am physically incapable of leaving without checking everything off the list.  But he moved them, I didn’t put them on the list, and the result was me crying onboard an Alaska Airlines flight halfway over the Pacific.  Not my best moment.

Once I calmed down, I remembered that all the info is linked to the band via the My Disney Experience site/app.  Upon check-in, Disney would be able to issue us new Bands, and move all the linked information to them.  So nothing would be lost….except for the colors.  Resort guests can customize their bands, and the generic ones are gray.  So, we would have ugly gray bands, boo!  But I also knew that Disney has started selling “MagicBandits,” which are like charms that decorate your band.  Not perfect, but at least it would be fun picking them out.

We landed in San Diego (SAN), and since it was late at night there (almost midnight PST), the hotel’s airport shuttle had stopped running and so we grabbed a taxi.  We wanted real food, so we had the cab driver go through a nearby In-N-Out drive-through.  With a Burger Deliciousness Achievement Unlocked, we checked into the Ramada San Diego Airport.  It was…adequate.  I knew that on the way to Disney, we wouldn’t care too much about amenities, so this fit the bill.  Plus, it had a free continental breakfast and was super-close to the airport.

We slept, woke, ate, and made our way back to SAN, where we checked our bags in again, and settled in for the last leg to Florida 🙂 🙂 🙂

The kids did great on the flights, no motion sickness at all.  Several uneventful hours later, we were finally within spitting distance of Mickey’s house.  We made our way down to the Magical Express bus area, and had to check in with our reservation # instead of just scanning our MagicBands to get in line for the bus.  <still a little grumpy>  Our Cast Member was from Ecuador, so we had a nice chat as she looked us up.  We got on the bus, and were off within about 10 minutes.  As soon as the welcome video on the bus started to play, I started to cry.  Of happiness this time.  A quick review:

On a trip to Disney World when I was 8 years old, I vowed that one day I would take my family there.  When I took my husband for this 1st trip in 2008, I cried then, too, because there I was, with my “adult-lady” family, experiencing the magic.  On a personal note: at the time of that trip, my husband and I were pretty sure we would try for a baby eventually.  So I reserved a part of my dream fulfillment of “taking my family to Disney” for a future trip with just one more passenger.  Of course, my son was born, and I’m happily done having babies, so this was IT- the moment I had dreamed of since I was 8 years old- I had made it happen.  I took my family to Disney World.  So the crying had all kinds of happiness and destiny and euphoria and nostalgia and anticipation all mixed in.

We passed under THE SIGN:


and arrived at the Art of Animation Resort:


and checked in, where the friendly Cast Member from Brazil had no trouble whatsoever linking our info to some new MagicBands.  Our Little Mermaid room was ready, so we dropped our stuff, barely even noticing the super-long walk from the lobby, marveled at the theming in the room (the tiles on the inside of the shower are painted like Ariel’s grotto!  So many thing-a-ma-bobs to look at), then immediately hit the Landscapes of Flavors Food Court for dinner, and dropped some (digital) cash at the Ink & Paint Shop gift store.  We got some MagicBandits, I got my resort magnet, my 2015-year-dated photo albums, and my daughter got a huge stuffed Stitch.

Back at the room, I immediately turned the TV on to watch Stacy and Must-Do Disney!

It runs on a continuous loop 24/7.  So fun!  We unpacked and got everything ready for our day at a Universal park.  I made everyone turn in early to let our bodies recover from the travel stuff.  We need to be ready for a day of Wizarding fun at Islands of Adventure.

I think you can see how excited I am to be at Disney. This is the check-in area for Art of Animation.

I think you can see how excited I am to be at Disney. This is the check-in area for Art of Animation.

I was on cloud nine and no one could bring me down!  And, in fact, I pretty much stayed in that happy state for the whole trip.  My husband commented that I am such a disciplined person most of the time, and pretty reserved, especially at work, but when I am Disney, I am totally a kid and he got a kick out of it.  Stay tuned for from Universal fun!

2 responses to “Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 1: flights and arrival

  1. gina says:

    well, you made me cry too!!! I love the fact that it went as wonderful as you wanted.


  2. VivaLaDiva405 says:

    THE AGONY OF LEAVING THE MAGIC BANDS. I feel you 100%. But the ease of transferring, and the added bonus of the “bits” added to them to magic them up, YAY DISNEY!


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