LA to Orlando & our first glimpse of WDW #ourUSAadventure

After our quick trip in LA it was time to get ready for the main game. The next leg of our journey was the whole reason we had flown 13 hours across the Pacific – to get to the wonderful world of Walt Disney (aka WDW). With another 5 hours of flying in front of us we thought it would be easier this time around – surely it couldn’t be as taxing to travel from LA to Orlando as the big flight barely 48 hours before?

Assumptions are funny things. And as autism parents we should no longer have them – 11 years of this parenting gig should have beaten our expectations out of us, yet sadly not. It’s always the way that the thing you don’t expect to become a problem, becomes one. And that’s what happened with our flight between LA and Orlando.

It started with Delta not being able to electronically check us in – apparently there was a duplicate flight in there somewhere. After a few touch and go moments and a call “upstairs”, we were manually checked in and could take a breath again.

Then the flight itself was a challenge. Gilbert had become more and more anxious as the morning went on. The big flight had taken it out of him and he really didn’t want to get on a plane again. Like me, he experiences ear problems when landing and he was worried about experiencing the change in ear pressure again. Plus he had lost a tooth on the first flight – what happens if he lost another one?

(On a similar note, Matilda had sworn to never go to the toilet again on a flight after finding herself caught in turbulence EVERY single time she went to the restroom on the flight from Sydney to LA. The poor child had a huge complex and was too scared to even get out of her seat by herself after that…)

Back to Gilbert. Nothing comforted him. There was no point using the in-flight entertainment system as it was interrupted all the time by announcements. The headphones hurt his ears and why did he have to wear them anyway? His books weren’t the right ones, he needed a book he had left at home. And there was nothing to eat – why weren’t there any meals like on the first flight?

Boy under the blanket


Eventually he calmed down with some food and softdrink, an iPad (that couldn’t be interrupted by announcements), an adjustment to his headphones and a blanket thrown over him to give him some privacy and respite from all the strangers around him. It wasn’t an ideal flight but we survived and had the most sympathetic crew and fellow passengers. The cabin crew were beautiful and did all they could to help us while several passengers who passed us on their way to the toilet talked about their own experiences with autism while they waited.

BTW, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out one of the Delta safety videos – they are gold and change all the time so they are well worth the view (we should always watch the safety videos on planes but no other airline makes it as entertaining as Delta!)

In the end, it did end and we landed in Orlando safely. Orlando airport is light, bright and architecturally beautiful – nothing like the seemingly soulless smoothness of Sydney or LA. There is a central hub with 4 terminals jutting away creating a snowflake affect. The terminals are linked to the main hub by monorail so you really want to get your gate right before you head on shuttle rail to the wrong terminal…

Orlando International Airport

The rail ride was quick and we found ourselves in the main terminal building in no time. Despite our physical and mental exhaustion after a tough flight our excitement built up as we passed the Disney, Universal, and Kennedy Space Centre airport stores – we were really here!

It seemed to take us forever to walk through the main terminal to the Disney Magical Express counter for our transfer to WDW. I have to admit I was not feeling AT ALL magical by this stage. However, the Disney cast members manning the counter were so lovely and enthusiastic and welcoming that the magic of Disney started to seep in, even before we left the airport.

We were directed to stand in line for a bus taking guests to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Yacht Club and Beach Club (our hotel) and it was only 5 minutes or so before we were ushered to one of the waiting buses. Luggage was loaded yet again and we headed to the back of the bus to get comfortable (yes, the kids, Gilbert in particular, like riding up the back!)

We were entertained on the way by inbuilt DVD players that showed us all the delights in front of us. The seats were comfy and the air con welcome after our steamy welcome to Florida (for 7pm at night, the humidity when you left the terminal hit you like a brick). Delilah, setting the tone for the remainder of our trip, fell asleep on the bus but was raring to go once we arrived at our hotel.

On our way to WDW

The greeter at the front of the Beach Club hotel welcomed us home as we stumbled with relief to our destination for the next 8 nights. At the reservation desk we received our magic bands (your room key, credit card and souvenir all in one!) and the unexpected news that we had a dining plan included in our booking.

Now, the Disney dining plan basically pre-pays meals for you so you have less to pay for and worry about during your stay. We asked them to check it a couple of times but we, somehow, had one table service meal, one quick service meal and a snack covered for everyone for each day of our trip. Considering we had set aside money for meals, this was great news – more money for souvenirs and experiences – woot!

After checking out our room which overlooked the smaller of the two pools at the Beach Club, we utilised the unexpected dining plan to grab some kids pizzas and some GF snacks. And of course, we had to all try out the ubiquitous Mickey Mouse Ice cream…

Mickey mouse ice cream FTW!

I think they were relieved to finally get there too!!!

After a long and tiring day, it was a relief to finally be at WDW and to have nothing more to worry about for 8 glorious nights.

Yes Disney, I did indeed finally feel at home!

There will be more to come about the wonder of each of the Disney parks in future updates 🙂

Linking up with Jess for #IBOT

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24 Responses

  1. Sounds like a wonderful trip, despite the challenges!
    Amy @ HandbagMafia recently posted..Mad Max: Feminism and Fury

  2. At least there is one huge consolation after the flight from not quite hell. A fantastic fun family adventure at Disneyland which did live up to your expectations!
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted..A Family Getaway to Bali with Kids: A trip of firsts

    • Kirsty says:

      That’s true – there was always a very good reason we travelled halfway across the globe with three kids – it wasn’t for fun, that’s for sure!

  3. This has taken me down memory lane a little bit. We had a girl’s weekend to WDW when I lived in New York so can relate to all things Orlanda. So glad that Gilbert managed to get some peace during the second flight. It must have been exhausting! That Delta video rocks! x
    Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me recently posted..I hate to sound like a psychopath but…

    • Kirsty says:

      The Delta video is definitely worth a watch. The kids thought it was hilarious and there are a few variations you can find online too – all very funny. They certainly know how to get people’s attention!

  4. Denyse says:

    I was holding my breath reading the first part as that must have been quite a trial for everyone..lucky too that you could come up with some ideas to help Gilbert through the stressors…and then reading and seeing the ‘happy ending’ as you arrived I exhaled! Loved catching up here again K. Denyse x
    Denyse recently posted..Love At First Sight. 139/365.

    • Kirsty says:

      I have to say I was holding my breath that whole day myself Denyse! It still took a few days to fully relax but I have to say that the WDW part of the trip ended up being the best experience for all of us. Especially Gilbert!

  5. What an adventure and how gorgeous for your kids that they will be able to look back on this online journey of your travels. So glad that you didn’t receive any grief on the plane from staff or other passengers. That just makes the whole ordeal worse.

    I had a screaming baby on the flight to Melbourne. The poor thing screamed from the minute they lined up to board the plane till about 10 minutes before we landed. I felt sorry for the poor mum.
    Raych aka Mystery Case recently posted..Worth Casing Blog Spotlight | The Style Within

    • Kirsty says:

      The reception from everyone on that flight was particularly caring and supportive – not so much on subsequent flights but then we didn’t experience the same level of angst either (thank goodness). Oh I feel for that family and for that little baby – poor little mite x

  6. Those long flight are tough for everyone and I can imagine your relief to finally check in and have some fun. Looking forward to more installments of the time you have at WDW! xx N
    Nikki@Wonderfully Women recently posted..How To Ask Your Intuition For Advice!

    • Kirsty says:

      I didn’t intend to write a whole post about that one day but it was a big one and we survived it – then things just got a whole lot better!!!

  7. You survived the flight – the worst part of any travel adventure. Cannot wait to read more.
    You might like to add your travel posts to my #wednesdaywanderlusts 🙂
    Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages recently posted..Geometric Artwork

  8. We’re off to Disneyworld later this year, so I can’t wait to read more posts about it. So sorry you had such a difficult flight. It’s definitely the only thing that worries me about our trip. Being cooped up in a plane isn’t easy for adults, let alone the kids!
    Kirralee @ Escape With Kids recently posted..Top 8 kid-friendly city hotels for a winter weekend in Melbourne

    • Kirsty says:

      You and your family will love WDW Kirralee – we’d be back there now if we had any money left to spend!!!! And the flight is only one part of the adventure – the destination is definitely worth any hardships experienced along the way x

  9. Maxabella says:

    We’ve arrived! But now I have to wait to go on. Ah well, I’ll just swap my popcorn for a Mickey Mouse ice block… x
    Maxabella recently posted..The importance of everyday rituals

    • Kirsty says:

      They’re gluten free so I can vouch for them – sit back and relax, you won’t have long to wait until the next instalment!!!

  10. Hugzilla says:

    OMG that sounds equal parts exhausting and exciting! The long flights are the main reason we haven’t attempted something like this with a 5 year old and a 3 year old.

    • Kirsty says:

      The flights weren’t entirely pleasant but they weren’t unbearable and it was worth it to get to WDW – so very worth it 🙂

  11. I can’t wait to hear more about what you thought of WDW. We went there in 2005 and had a brilliant time. Just loved Epcot Centre. We have lots of good memories. Can’t wait to read about yours. I’m glad you survived the flights. You all did well!!
    Renee Wilson recently posted..This is 38 + giveaway

  12. Oh I love WDW! I can’t wait to read about your adventures and what you liked best. We went in 2005 and loved Epcot Centre. Glad you survived the flights. You all did well!
    Renee Wilson recently posted..This is 38 + giveaway

    • Kirsty says:

      I’d love to hear your thoughts Renee. We loved Epcot too – it really has a bit of everything for everyone – very cool.

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