Saturday, April 21 - flying day
We decided that we would meet Shaun & Linsay at Mom & Dad's house at 8:30am Saturday morning. Dad came with us in our van, while Mom went in Shaun &Linsay's vehicle and off we went to the airport. After dropping us off, Shaun drove our van home for us and Linsay drove their vehicle. Saved us a bundle on leaving our vehicles at the airport for 2 weeks!
We left on a Delta flight at 11:35am. Our flight left on time and arrived in Minneapolis shortly before 1pm. We were supposed to take a connecting flight to Detroit, leaving at 3:30pm and arriving at 6:16pm with a quick layover before our final flight at 7:35pm set to arrive in Orlando at 10:13pm. We decided that we'd check if there happened to be a direct flight from Minneapolis to Orlando that we could switch to instead.
We found some very friendly gate agents who checked and found room on a direct flight that was set to leave at 5:35pm with arrival in Orlando at 9:45pm. It would only save us 30 mins, but it would also save us the hassle of another connecting flight - especially with 4 kids! The only snag was that only 6 of the needed 8 tickets were in coach, 2 of them were in first class. The gate agent was training a new agent and was willing to change the coach tickets for free, waiving the usual $50 fee for training purposes, but would have to charge $100 per ticket for the first class tickets. We decided it was worth it. We figured if we had known ahead of time that we would have an option for a one stop connection with these times, for $25/ticket more, we would've done it. So we went ahead and made the switch. Then we headed to Chili's for lunch. After that we wandered the airport a bit, let the kids play at a play place, picked up some ice cream, looked at a bookstore and then headed to our gate. The original, friendly gate agent had said that when they assigned the seats, they may upgrade us all to first class for free - so we were really hoping for that! But when we got to our departure gate, that agent wasn't quite as friendly so we weren't overly hopeful. Sure enough, they left us in coach and originally we were seated in 3 different rows, 2 seats in each row with 1 stranger beside us. But when we boarded I asked 2 of the strangers if they would mind switching so we could sit with our kids and they more than happily agreed - I think they were together so it actually worked out better for them too! The flight ended up being delayed by almost an hour and we left Minneapolis at 6:25pm and arrived in Orlando around 10:30pm. We had to pick up our luggage at our original flight carousel but it all worked out!
Romancing the Mouse, the same rental company we used on our previous 2 trips, and the exact same 5 bedroom/5 bathroom house we stayed at the first time. After a late lunch at the Minneapolis airport, we had only eaten snacks on the plane (except for Nathan's parents who had meals offered to them in first class!), we were a bit hungry. Thankfully the home owners had left muffins and juice for us so we all had a quick snack and unpacked. It was almost 1:30am (12:30 our time) by the time we got to bed!
Sunday, April 22nd
Monday, April 23rd
Then we headed to The Land where we rode Living with the Land (it's an educational boat ride describing innovative faming techniques. It seems a bit boring and something kids wouldn't like, but for some reasons our kids really liked it - Olivia rode is last time and it was one of her favourites). Then we saw The Circle of Life - it's a combination of the Disney cartoon characters Simba, Timone and Pumba and a documentary about taking care of the environment - yup, Epcot is educational! Then we waited about 10 minutes for our Soarin' fast pass return time to arrive and road that. Jacob was a little bit scared on this one - but it's definitely one of the favourites for the girls.
It was about 11:15pm by this time and we decided to start heading around the worlds looking for princesses. Canada is the first land (going counter-clockwise) and we walked around there a bit. Next we hit the United Kingdom and took pictures at a red phone booth. We happened upon Marie (the cat from Aristocats) and just missed Belle (in her street clothes) in France as she went on her break. The girls wanted to wait for her so we walked around France a bit, and then let the kids play at a playground nearby. We then spotted Aladdin in Morocco so went to meet him, then back to meet Belle and then back to United Kingdom to meet Sleeping Beauty.
We decided to head back and ride Spaceship Earth on our way out of the park. Spaceship Earth is a slow moving ride that takes you through a history of the world and our advancements in technology and includes an interactive portion where you input where you're from and answer a few questions which personalizes the ending of the screenshow on your individual car.
After leaving the park we picked up from Chick Fil A and then swam in the afternoon. Our van key was missing a key fob with keyless entry so Nathan tried phoning Alamo to see if we could get one. They said we'd have to trade vans but we could do that at a location nearby. So Nathan, Dad and Jacob went to trade it in at a nearby Alamo. When they got there they said they had nothing left but that the one at Disney World always had lots and to go there. When Nathan got there he asked if they had the Sienna vans and they said they did. But they insisted that he fill up gas first even though we had prepaid that originally. So he went to a gas station and went through the rigamarole of going in to prepay, filling up and returning to the car rental agency. At which point they said they didn't have any Siennas. Even though they had just said they did. Ugh, so frustrating. An hour's waste of time.
We went to Carrabbas for dinner, at the suggestion of Lorne and Arla from church and it was fabulous! Then we did some shopping at Target and came home to get to bed before our day at Magic Kingdom tomorrow.
Stay tuned for "the rest of the story".