Travel, Walt Disney World, WDW 2012 Live

Day Zero – Getting Here & Value-Added Chicken

If you read my trip reports from last December’s Disney trip, you might recall this nugget:

This has really been a tale of two trips – the parts where Aly has “been a shit”, as my mom used to say about me with some regularity – sorry mom, but it’s true, you did say that about me a lot, and I’m sure deservedly; and the parts where we’ve been able to have fun as a family, where Aly has had lots of fun.

I’m not so happy to report that we’ve got the first part out of the way. Well, I doubt it’s out of the way, but let’s just say I actually told Aly today that I might not come to Disney with her anymore if she couldn’t start behaving better. Yeah, I know, Father of the Year and all that, but I can’t stand brattishness, lo though I love to spoil. I never said I was an easy Dad to put up with when the kids chose me as their father.

Leaving late morning for the airport meant that we didn’t have a lot of stress getting out of the house – probably also helped by the fact that my Dad didn’t have to drop off dry cleaning on the way to the airport. Granted, my Dad is not with us (on this trip, I mean), but anyone in my family will know what I’m talking about. Shall we stay on that tangent for a moment? Sorry, Mom – I know it’s probably not a good strategy to alienate my only reader, but we’re all grown-ups now and you’re not mad at me all the time like the old days, so I can probably get away with this.

Scene: Some interstate in upstate New York

When: Back in the day

Vehicle: ’86 Taurus

Why: Family trip to the east coast

So I’m like a tween, my brother is a high schooler, and the whole family is in the car many hours into an even more hours drive to our vacation destination. My mother is driving, dad’s in the passenger seat, and Doug and I are in the back seat – Doug spending his back seat time reading 27 books during the course of the drive and my time spent Walkmaning Poison or some other such hairspray glitterock. Anyone with siblings who has ever been on a family car trip has gotten in trouble for giggling, threatened by the front seat authorities, and found that no force on earth could curtail the giggling, causing further front seat anger, leading to more 2nd row (the only 3rd rows back then were rear-facing in station wagons, and we weren’t a wagoning family) giggle bursts. It’s like a mini-high, because you completely lose the ability to control yourself – I’m sure you all know the feeling, though we feel like it’s part of a secret club we belong to.

So we’re driving along, my Mom says something, and one of the backseaters makes a (undoubtedly brilliant) smart-ass remark. It turns out this was exactly the wrong moment for that sort of thing, as the driver shot back some sort of angry threat, and the cycle of backseat giggles began. Here’s where things take an interesting twist: as the anger from the front left seat reaches a boiling point, whatever threat was directed towards curtailing our awful behavior not only drove us up the wall with laughter, but the front right seat passenger somehow caught the laughing bug as well, clearly a breach of societal norms and parenting partnerships to defeat the undermining behavior of disrespectful gigglers. In this case, there are two ways that this development can break: the contagion of the laughter consumes the left front occupant and all tension abates, or contagion is replaced by incineration and the tension, well, it ain’t just tension anymore.

As you’re probably guessing, the latter is what took place. As the 3:1 giggling became 3:1 raucous laughter, the anger boiled over and these words were screamed:

“I’ll kill us all!”

followed by a mashing of the gas pedal to the floor. Five seconds later, despite whining engine noise that could actually be heard over our laughter, we had only gained perhaps ten miles-per-hour in speed – which caused the three evildoers to positively erupt with further laughter. My stomach still hurts thinking about it and I have no idea how we recovered to have a vacation together.

alrighty then…

I had the pleasure of sitting next to a 77 year old lady from New Jersey [at least her accent was still Jersey] who had lots to say, loved her iPad and iPhone and Mac computers, and then told me that she used to work on UNIX at Bell Labs. She said “Have you ever heard of UNIX?” To which I chuckled and said yes, I’d heard of it. She proceeded to tell me that she was so glad that UNIX wasn’t around any more, because she hated all those old macros and word processing from a UNIX command line. I pulled out my Mac, launched Terminal, and opened a VI window and said “You mean like this?” Her shock and amazement can’t be overstated – I think she almost died when I told her that the Mac OS is built on UNIX. She lives in Michigan half the year, comes down to Florida this time of year, then leaves Florida “when those Michigan snowbirds come down and take over.” I’ll just lol and leave it at that.

Aly again got to hang out the cockpit of our plane, and on the way out, they even gave her the paper version of the flight plan. Once again, AirTran rocks.

Leah, who usually naps sometime between 11:30 and 12:30, did not nap in the car on the way to GRR. Nor did she nap on the plane, despite being exhausted. No, she decided to nap as we pulled into the driveway of our hotel here at DisneyWorld at 5pm, the brand new Art of Animation resort. We toted her over to the main building and hopped over to the “Online Check-In” desk to get situated. If you haven’t tried it, the resort online check-in is not a bad deal and saves time when you arrive. Well, usually. Apparently WDW is doing some major system upgrade, and the entire resort has no computer system access to guests and rooms – so we got checked in on a paper form, and they ran our credit card with a slidey machine thingy and carbon copies – I got a big kick of out that since this hotel has only been open for like a month. We got one generic keycard that the guy wrote “Room Key” with a Shapie across the front – apparently we’ll get our real room keys (“Keys to the World” in Disney parlance) tomorrow?

We picked up our rental stroller from luggage services, plopped the still-sleeping Lele into it, and headed over to the food court to get some dinner. The food was pretty good – my bacon (!) cheeseburger and fries were decent, Aly enjoyed some baked mac, and Rachel had some steak and rice concoction. I wheeled the stroller outside, where some six year old girl jumped at the front of the stroller and yelled “heeeeeyyyoooooooyyyyyyyooo” at Leah, which woke her up and scared the crap out of her. The girl’s grandma says “sorry” to me. She looked pretty fried though and I can testify that it’s not easy harnessing a pack of kids all day here at WDW.

We found our way to our room, a Lion King family suite on the 4th floor (room 424490 if you want to send chocolates). The theming is over the top, and we miss the space of DVC accommodations, but it will be a pretty nice setup for the girls on this trip. We are admitted deluxe resort snobs here at WDW, but we like to try different things and this hotel has some great pools and outdoor spaces.

I’m exhausted, and haven’t really taken any pictures today, other than a couple shots of Leah’s feet hanging out of the stroller, but they’re still on my iPhone.

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