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?
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…
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.
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…
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