Tuesday, September 13, Day 1
We flew out of Minneapolis at 9:05 am. Our dear friend took us to the Airport, making sure he wore a Mickey Mouse shirt to keep with the spirit of the day. We flew Delta and had a fabulous flight, enjoying the little screens on the back of the seats where the kids could order a movie to watch or games to play. I particularly enjoyed tracking our flight, watching the little airplane make it’s way to the Happiest Place on Earth.
As a side note, another dear friend ended up being on the same flight as us for a business meeting. We told him we were going to MNSSHP and he decided to head there with a buddy after his meeting that afternoon. What a coincidence!
Our flight attendant was hilarious, making all kinds of funny comments. For instance, when he announced it was time for landing, he instructed, “Turn off all electrical devices and FIX YOUR HAIR!” When we landed, he got on the intercom and announced, “The Brakes Work!” When it was time to remove ourselves from the airplane, he got on again and instructed, “Make sure you take your personal problems with you.” Every time he got on the intercom during the flight, we got a chuckle!
Our flight landed in Orlando at 1:05 and we were in line for ME at 1:25, having bypassed the “Getting Lost” tour this time. We were escorted onto our bus at 1:46 and pulled out of the airport at 2:00. We arrived at POR at 2:50, excited to check out this beautiful resort for the first time! (This paragraph provided for the benefit of those who are new to ME who may wonder about how long the whole process takes, from start to finish!)
Online Check-in did not work quite as expected when I tried it from home 10 days earlier. I had linked our reservation with my parents and it would only allow us to check in my parents. I called the reservation line when it wouldn’t let me check us in and she assured me that there would be no problem, but when we got to the desk, there was a little bit of an issue trying to find our reservation. It only took 15 minutes to work out, but I felt bad for the nice man trying to help us.
The next step was picking up my dad’s scooter from the luggage area. Polite, informed CMs had that step taken care of for us in 5 minutes. He broke his heal last October, so this scooter was a new experience for us at Disney, but it went off without a hitch.
A brief interruption for a short commercial: We rented our scooter from Apple Scooters, and were amazed at the quality, the service and the timeliness and ease of this whole process. We definitely would recommend them to anyone who asks. The price was phenomenal and the service was well above expectation!
Our room was in building 39 in Alligator Bayou, and also surpassed our expectations. The walk from the main building wasn’t as long as I was expecting it to be after studying the map of the resort, and was beautiful besides. We’ve only stayed at ASMo, so the size of the room was pretty impressive to us. We also had a refrigerator, which we weren’t expecting, and made good use of throughout the trip.
After unpacking our carry-ons, we noticed the time was now 3:30 and recognized there would not be time for the nap we had been hoping for before heading to MK for MNSSHP. I gathered everyone together, passed out keycards and MNSSHP passes and we were off to the North bus stop.
We were the first people at the stop, except for a couple of people who got on the DTD bus. We waited for 25 minutes and when it came it already had some people on it. Dad was at the handicap spot and the driver must not have noticed him because everyone loaded up and the driver looked like he was taking off. I got nervous because of our Dining Ressie and irritated because all the people who had arrived after us were on the bus. A nice young couple with young kids told Chris to knock on the door and he talked to the driver and the driver did load my dad. We figured we wouldn’t be able to make that bus, so we told my parents to go ahead and meet us at the entrance of MK. In the end, the driver made everyone move back and we all got on.
Our dinner reservations were at 5:45, so we had time to make a quick stop at Chappeau in Town Square to buy Mickey Ears for the party before heading to Crystal Palace. Dinner went as expected and the buffet was good. Truth-be-told, I have pretty much had enough of CP, but we will probably always eat there first night if we are on the regular dining plan because it is tradition and DD15 is ALL about tradition. I guess I just get over-stimulated with all the noise, interruptions when the characters come, etc. Food was good, though
We hung out on Main Street to wait outside the doors of the stores as they escorted regular guests (many of them surprisingly disgruntled!) from the park and brought out all the MNSSHP merchandise. Once the doors opened, all 7 of us tried on T-shirts and made a grab for the special event Pins on the racks.
We had discussed our plan for this event with our kids before we got to WDW and again right after we got to our room, making note that we would not be doing any of the attractions except for HM and maybe BTMRR. I tried to get a good idea of the family’s expectations of the event, but once we were in the midst of it, I had three kids who wanted different things all acting disappointed at not getting to do what they wanted to do, and I was STRESSED. My dad was trying to learn how to navigate through throngs of people with his scooter, my mom was trying to help me stay calm and my DH was doing the same. What ended up happening, is that I sat on the curb with my head in my hands trying to figure out what I had been thinking when I planned the party for the first night we arrived. I got frustrated with DS who was pouting about rides, at my DD who was nagging about Trick-or-treating and just wanted to go back to the resort – in fact felt like the only option was for me to put my High-Strung Self into a time-out before I ruined everyone else’s time.
In the end, we ended up taking a deep breath, parked my dad and DH and I on the curb to save spots for the parade, sent DS to ride some attractions by himself, sent my mom, DD14 and DD10 to do some trick-or-treating and everything went uphill from there.
We enjoyed the parade (My Favorite by FAR!), Loved the fireworks, and got plenty of pictures to make the Photopass CD purchase worth the price. We had fun on HM and got our ride in on BTMRR in the dark, which we like to do at least once each trip. DD left with so much candy that we had no idea how we would get it all home, so all was well with her world
We headed out at 11:30 to get a little ahead of the crowd (since our candy bags were packed full) and were back at our rooms at 12:15 with lights out at 12:45.
While we all believe MNSSHP lives up to expectations and is something we want to do again, we learned a few things that we will do differently next time.
- We realized trying to navigate this party in a group of 7 is unrealistic and stressful. Next time we will divide ourselves into area of interests, make sure everyone has a photopass card with instructions to take at least X number of pictures and go our separate ways for much of the party. We will have a meeting time to get the required pics in the dark (in front of the castle, in front of HM) as well as sit together for the parade, but with only 5 hours to fit everything in, we would have been better in a smaller group.
- We wished we would have taken the advice of people on MB and gone to the second parade. After the first parade people cleared out and we would have had no problem getting a spot on Mainstreet for the fireworks later that night. We felt we wasted needless time waiting for the 1st parade and should have spent that time Trick-or-Treating and getting pics with characters. Our decision to do the first was because we weren’t sure my parents would be able to make it for the late parade, but they would have been fine.
- We didn’t realize that the best place to get candy was near Splash Mountain until very late in the night, after my dad and mom had left. We wished we would have asked that question early in the evening when we realized they had closed the path between Toontown and Tomorrowland.
- I wish I had just let things flow without worrying so much about whether or not my kids expectations were being met. I spent most of the time stressed out and kind of ruined the night for myself. DD10 says that MNSSHP was the highlight of the whole trip for her, however
- If I had it to do over again, I would not have gone to MNSSHP on our arrival day. It made it more stressful from the get-go and, with my temperment, that little bit of extra stress was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for a moment there.
Pictures will be uploaded shortly