Monday, January 28, 2013

Thanksgiving at Disney: A Trip Report - Day 1 - Getting There

Thanksgiving November 2010
2010 was the last time I visited Walt Disney World with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew, and while I loved my two adults only trips with my travel buddy, Kyle, I sorely missed my family being with me in our happy place.  Back in 2010, my sister and I decided that Thanksgiving week, a peak season full of high crowds, would be a good time to get away for a family trip, and while we were a little apprehensive about the reported crowds, we decided to go for it.  One of the best parts about that trip was that we didn't really notice the crowds, so this Thanksgiving we decided to head back to Walt Disney World AND take a Disney Cruise all in the same week!  (Read about our Thanksgiving adventures from 2010 here!)

We booked our Disney Cruise back in June of 2011 when I was on my 1st trip with Kyle.  That meant we had over a year to wait for our family trip.  We spent the time waiting with my sister, LaRae, researching and planning, while I refused to talk about the cruise until closer to time for it!  Somehow along the way we picked up Mom & Dad, and they booked a room on our cruise too.  

Here's how we decided to spend Thanksgiving week: I teach high school, and Katelyn is in 3rd grade and Joshua in kindergarten, so we needed to try to not miss school.  We decided to fly into Orlando on Saturday, November 17th, drive to Cocoa Beach, stay the night, and get on the ship on Sunday, November 18th, in time to enjoy lunch on board.  The 3-night cruise would be going to the Bahamas making stops in Nassau and Disney's private island: Castaway Cay.  We'd get back to Port Canaveral on Wednesday, November 21st, disembark early, head to Orlando to enjoy Disney's Hollywood Studios, check in to Wydham Bonnet Creek Resort, and maybe enjoy a park that night too. Thanksgiving Day would be at Universal's Islands of Adventure (ohmygoodness! Yes I just admitted that we spent a day not at Disney!), and the rest of the week would be at Disney World. At some point we realized that Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party would be the Sunday night after Thanksgiving, and we extended our trip to stay one more day to attend the party and then return home on Monday!  Whew!  What a week, right?!  So let's get there already!!

The kids took turns rolling my carry-on.
They were good-natured travelers
thanks to the later flight.
One of the best parts about getting to the cruise was that we needed to get to Orlando the night before, but we didn't have to fly out super early in the morning.  I'm so used to flying out at the crack of dawn that getting to finish packing, drop off Sprinkles at the PetsHotel, and have lunch before boarding the plane felt luxurious!  Our room in Cocoa Beach was small for 5 people, but we enjoyed getting to see an area of Florida that we weren't used to.  Sunday morning Mom & Dad met up with us, we shopped a bit, and took a shuttle to the port. 
Fun shopping in Cocoa Beach

Once at the port, we got our first view of the Disney Dream. It was gorgeous! I never ceased being amazed at how ginormous and well run it was.  In the port I'd describe the atmosphere as hectically organized.  There were people everywhere: checking in, meeting characters, aimlessly wandering... but everything was easy to figure out, and there were plenty of cast members around to help anyone with questions.  The second you got there, you were in Disney's hands, and it showed.

Characters were on hand to greet you before you even got on the boat!

Boarding was a quick affair with a quick family photo before you were announced as you walked onto the ship!  Once on you were quickly handed off to a cast member who would guide you toward where to head for lunch and how to find your rooms.  She even took a photo for us in the atrium.  After taking our photo, our British cast member exclaimed, "oh how lucky you are! The Enchanted Garden is now open for lunch, and my friend has called to tell me there is no wait!"  Her opening line became our family joke the entire trip (good natured of course)!

This chandelier hung in the Atrium on the ship.
Chandelier from another angle - isn't it amazing?
Our cast of characters for this trip report (L to R):
Grandaddy/Dad, my bro-in-law Randy, my sister LaRae, my nephew Joshua,
my niece Katelyn, me (Joanna), and Grammer/Mom
Admiral Donald greets guests as they board the Disney Dream
Join me again on Thursday for the next installment of the trip report as we visit the Enchanted Garden and take a look around in the cabins.

1 comment:

  1. Great start! I love reliving our trips and getting to see all the pictures you took. Looking forward to the next installment.
    P.S.-Mom's nickname is spelled with "er" at the end. :-)