A while ago, I did a bunch of research on DVC and Walt Disney World. I did not buy guidebooks, because they get updated every year and I didn't know when I would be going. As part of that research, I learned that DVC was going to be building a property on the monorail. The result, Bay Lake Towers at the Contemporary Resort, opened just in time for a rather fantastic financial meltdown. Instead of selling out lickety-split, it _still_ hasn't sold out, and in fact there are BLT resales available on the secondary market. I saw some priced the other day at $99/point, altho there's no telling those won't be picked up by Disney via right of first refusal (altho if they do, that's a pretty cheap way to get out of a big financial commitment by the owners).
I love the idea of staying in a DVC property: they have kitchens and laundry and one or more bedrooms (I don't count the studios). They have jetted tubs. They are Awesome. They are also awesomely expensive, either to rent as hotel rooms, or to buy into via DVC. It is possible to get a hotel room with these amenities within walking distance of Disneyland -- for not a whole lot of money, even. It is not possible to do this in Walt Disney World. But if you're willing to cough up the $$$, you can either take the monorail or walk from BLT to the Magic Kingdom. Mmmmm.
We didn't fly after A. was born, because I could not contemplate traveling with two children in diapers with equanimity. Eventually, however, my desire to spend a holiday just as a family, and not at home, overcame my good sense. The Magic Kingdom, for 5 nights (4 days in the park), flying on Christmas and the 30th = Unbelievably Stupid. I knew this. I did it anyway. R. has to take the time off. T. isn't in school. Okay.
The flights both ways were uneventful. I considered (seriously) the Disney Magical Express option, which is check your bags through to the room and ride their bus with your carry-on luggage to get to the hotel. Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines does not participate. I don't trust the other airlines not to separate us, so no go. Maybe next time; DME continues to tempt. Driving to Manchester (we hate, hate, hate Logan airport, with a passion that knows no bounds) on Christmas Day was, truly, magical. There were other drivers on the road and, on average, they were unusually dippy. But there weren't many of them.
While some idiot decided that exploding undies were a good idea on Christmas Day (R. doesn't see anything weird about that psychology; I do), the impact on security for us was not detectable. On the trip out, we got an obscene amount of liquids on the plane: juice boxes, milk boxes, yogurt -- all to make sure the kids would have something to eat until the grocery stores opened on Boxing Day, which we probably wouldn't get to until that evening, since we intended to get up early to do some rides before the crowds descended. TSA thought it over and said, OK, but one of the adults gets to be a "selectee", which means pat down and detailed re-examination of all my crap. Fair enough.
We had no troubles at Orlando, or getting a rental car. As usual, my anxiety and paranoia about transporting all our crap meant that we didn't even need a cart to get our luggage from the car to check-in, or from baggage pickup to the rental car. Pretty amazing. The little strappy thing hooked A.'s car seat to the carryon rolling bag, and my briefcase rode on the handle of that bag. R. had his camera gear and laptop in his backpack (new Lowepro bag, very heavy); I had diaper gear and lunch in my Jansport, and ID in a very tiny purse with a long strap. We sat R. between the two kids outbound (infant by the window; T. on the aisle -- you can't sit them next to each other, or there will be violence); I got the hot seat on the way back. Amazingly, the Christmas flight was so empty the two seats next to me didn't even have passengers in them (not so on the way back). I forgot Dramamine on the way out. That sucked. We checked T.'s booster seat, 1 rolling back each, and a big duffel mostly empty but containing our cold weather outerwear. This was so we'd have space for all the crap we would bring back with us. I managed a stroller and 1 rolling bag. R. managed the other two rolling bags. T. managed himself (which is pretty cool, for a 4 year old).
R. remembered the navigator, so we made it from the airport to the hotel. At checkin, we were the Contemporary's "Family of the Day". They confronted us with a pre-printed certificate, balloons for each of the kids, and a request for pictures, which they subsequently delivered to our room. We'd stripped A. down to her diaper, since she was dressed for New England and had been slowly cooking on the plane. So. Naked baby, frazzled family. Yay. Perhaps a little bit more love than we were prepared for. We tipped valet and bell services. They delivered all our luggage and we left our car with them until the next day when I took it out to go find groceries. At that point, we'd realized that there was an enormous, mostly empty parking lot just for BLT. Not using that seemed criminal.
I called I. from the plane upon landing and she drove two hours (each way!) to come see us Christmas evening. We used an outrageous fraction of our Disney Dining Plan to order room service all around, because I did not feel up to figuring out where the counter service restaurant was at the Contemporary. It was a very pleasant evening, and the 1 bedroom suite was very comfortable.
I set an alarm on my crackberry for 6:15 the next morning, a compromise between when we really should have gotten up (closer to 5 a.m.) and when we wanted to get up (closer to 8 a.m.). We got room service breakfast, which got rung up wrong using up way too much Dining Plan, but we got that fixed later. We ordered the night before for a 20 minute delivery window and that more or less worked. We were surprised to see that last night's room service tray was still sitting outside our door. It was still sitting there over 24 hours later, when I finally called and requested them to pick it up before local wildlife decided to do something about it.
We got into the park around 7:45. Magic Kingdom opened to the public at 8 a.m. that day, but there was an hour of time for resort guests in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. We rode Dumbo 3 times. The first time it was a struggle to get and keep T. lined up, even for the very small number of minutes (maybe 4) we had to wait. After that, it got progressively easier. When Dumbo got a little boring, and the wait had doubled, we went on Peter Pan a couple times, then Winnie the Pooh a couple times. It was still really empty in the park, which stumped me for a minute, because Toon Town wasn't going to open until 9 a.m. IIRC, we went on Pirates a couple of times. It's possible we did something else, but I don't remember. We left the park not too long after 10 a.m. I felt a little bad leaving so early, but we'd done a lot in a very short period of time and we were tired.
Succeeding days were similar. We started one day in Tomorrowland, doing Astro Orbiter and Buzz Lightyear. I took A. on the PeopleMover, which still exists there. We split up starting the second day, and did separate things, so I took A. on the carousel, which she was quite suspicious of, and Small World, which she found interesting. I did some character greets: Buzz Lightyear, and Goofy and Donald all duded up in western wear. R. took T. on Barnstormer. I took T. on Barnstormer. I bought an outrageous amount of Mr. Potatohead crap. R. took T. on Big Thunder. We rode the train. I took T. to Tom Sawyer island. We all rode the Magic Carpets. We did the Jungle Cruise and Tiki House. R. took T. up the Swiss Family Treehouse. I took A. to the playground in ToonTown. We rode the train at some point. R. took T. to Haunted House. I took A. to Haunted House. R. took T. on the teacups several times and spun him like crazy. R. took a risk and put him on Snow White the last day and he had no problem with it -- just seemed a little confused.
Big Thunder was closed the last day, which was sad, because T. was a big fan by that point. R. took him on Splash Mountain, which he liked -- except the spray of water in the face.
R. saw fireworks from the hotel elevator lobby. I slept. R. took T. down to the BLT pool almost every day. One day it was warm enough for me to take A. down, too. I. hung out with us for the last few days. T. and I rode the monorail to lunch and/or dinner at other resorts, by ourselves once, and with I. and me later on. We took the monorail to the park every day, and walked back from Magic Kingdom the first day, but the monorail thereafter. I walked back from MK once with T. when the monorail was stalled waiting for another train. I twisted my ankle pretty bad stepping off a curb. I was really, really tired. Fortunately, it wasn't such a bad sprain it stopped me from walking.
We had dining reservations, but canceled the morning reservations at Chef Mickey's and the Plaza, because we wanted the time to do ride early in the morning. We kept the two evening reservations at Chef Mickey's. We were very sad we couldn't modify them to include I. and appreciate her understanding. Chef Mickey's is a buffet, more or less the same as Goofy's Kitchen at Disneyland. We had a great time at Goofy's Kitchen, because the chef toured the buffet with me and made a dairy free waffle (breakfast). Same deal, but for dinner: got the chef's tour and an everything-free brownie with some chocolate tofutti for dessert. Matt from Elkhart is _very_ cute and very sweet and remembered me when we were back a few days later. The buffet changes enough from night to night that I needed the second tour. The salad dressing selection was really salty italian, but that was okay. The red beans the first night we were there were wonderful, as was the curried chicken and also the salmon with dill aioli the second time. The bartender the first night made me a couple of truly excellent perfect manhattans.
T. was, generally, really well behaved. There was some messing around on the floor in the restaurants, but he walked everywhere and was mostly cooperative.