Sick of hearing about my recent whirlwind, spur-of-the-moment anniversary trip to Disney World? Too bad, ’cause you’re getting more! A lot more, actually. This was our amazingly fun trip, in a few different installments.
First, we shall never speak of the flights – both those to and from Philadelphia and then on to Orlando and home – ever again, beyond noting that my husband is really too tall for cattle class, and I’m now apparently that woman that sits there in an ice cold sweat, thousand yard stare barely registering over the edge of an at-the-ready vomit bag. Truly one of my life’s great fears, guys, getting physically ill in public, and I was *right* on the verge of it for five-plus hours. Je n’aime pas.
But do you know what I aime‘d very much? Our absolutely gorgeous accommodations, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. I stayed on-property about 20 years ago – one of the value resorts, and it was serviceable, though nothing special – but the Port Orleans experience was something else altogether.
It goes a little something like this: Book yourself into a Disney resort, and from the moment you step off the plane in Orlando and check in with an always-friendly cast member (that’s what they’re called, cast members) Disney takes care of the rest. You’ll be ushered aboard a waiting bus, part of the Magical Express fleet, by a relentlessly – yet somehow still genuinely – upbeat dude, who will congratulate you with high-fives on your 13th wedding anniversary. You’ll think your face might break from grinning so hard. You’ll take goofy (Goofy?) couple selfies that match the ones you took on your honeymoon 13 years earlier.
Your driver will then usher you and a busload of your new! best! friends! (because you’re all goin’ to Disney, yaaaayyyyy!) to your resort, where you will stand gobsmacked beneath a gorgeous raftered cupola while your husband immediately steps off the bus and begins petting a horse, before charging over to you, declaring that you just gotta get over there and see that bucket of manure! What the hell, man?! You’re so weird. 🙂
The resort was stupendously gorgeous, impeccably themed and absolutely spotless. There were something like four different restaurants on property, six pools, an early morning fishing hole, a running path and half-hourly boats to and from Disney Springs, Disney’s shopping and entertainment district. The first night we were there we took a wonderful, albeit freezing, in-the-dark boat ride down the Sassagoula River to Disney Springs for dinner at Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming. Snuggled together for warmth, bobbing down the river as jazz music drifted from the speakers and the resort’s sister site, the French Quarter, drifted by, it was the perfect way to kick off our little trip. 🙂
We didn’t spend a ton of time at our resort using its impressive assortment of amenities, but we popped in on the fun from time to time. The night we arrived they were hosting a cool BBQ fest out by the sawmill and down by the docks, and when we returned from our dinner much later that evening, they were just wrapping up a Halloween dance party. And on Halloween night itself, they had candy stations set up along the resort’s considerable network of paths for kids and old kids alike to get their mini Snickers fix. And the candy-hunters probably cleaned up, too; the resort was absolutely massive. Here’s the map the woman at check-in handed us with directions on how to get to our room. Directions. To our room!
I took precious few photos of the interior of our room because we were hardly ever there (we slept just 16 hours in four days) but I assure you it was as beautifully appointed as the exterior. Our corner room featured an inviting little window seat, log frame beds, grain sack curtains, carpet printed to look like roughhewn floorboards, lantern light fixtures, two Queen beds outfitted in ultra soft and luxurious linens and 48 solid hours of Hocus Pocus on one of the innumerable Disney television channels. Our room even came with a raccoon, a chubby little devil that saucily waddled across our porch in welcome. It seemed quite fitting that two Canadians were being greeted in the faux Louisiana bayou by an animal that shows up in my parents’ Ontario backyard nearly every night.
Speaking of entering your room, that is done via MagicBand, Disney’s RFID-based tracker tech. When you book a Disney vacation and stay at one of their resorts, you’ll be sent your MagicBands – which you will use for everything from getting around your resort, to entering the parks, to setting up dinner reservations and FastPasses, to paying for purchases – a few weeks before your trip. If you plan and book your vacation with two days to spare like we did, you’ll be given your Bands at check-in! And if you lose your MagicBand the first afternoon you’re in the park, like my husband did, they’ll give you a temporary card at Guest Services, and then a replacement MagicBand back at the hotel later that evening (the pink was Mr. Finger Candy’s stylish choice.)
Visiting the Magic Kingdom’s Guest Services centre was a Disney first for me, and our minor issue was dealt with with all the efficiency and friendliness you come to expect from Disney. We even snagged these cool celebration buttons – another Disney first! – honouring both our anniversary and our individual lifetime trips (just entered double digits, I did.) When you wear them around the parks, random cast members will just shout out congratulations and other tidings of goodwill as you pass; it’s really cute.
Think we’ll leave things off there for this first installment. For such a little trip – just an intense few days! – there’s so much more to discuss, including the food we ate, a very cool experience at Be Our Guest, and, of course, our two fabulous days at the Magic Kingdom. Thank you for sharing in the fun, and I hope you’ll join me as I continue to dance down Recent Memory Lane in a cloud of post-vacation happiness. 🙂
9 thoughts on “Disney World Blitz: Parklife Part I”
Tired? Nah! Speak on and tell us all about it!! This was your dream trip so go on!
The magic bands seem like they would be very convenient yet can be a little concerning with everything they are capable of doing. Disney has truly stepped up their game, that is for sure!
Oh, I’ve always wanted to go to Disney during Halloween and on Christmas to see all the many festivities and decorations. Too fun!
Actually quite concerning (MagicBands) once you really start seeing what they’re capable of. There were a few oddly serendipitous moments where cast members greeted us by name; you freak out a lot until you realize it’s because you’ve scanned yourself in somewhere and they’ve now got your name, precisely so they can personally greet you. Then you freak out a lot more because holy cats, it’s Skynet!
The decorations were incredible, and absolutely everywhere. So much detail. I’d love to see Christmas – hmm, maybe this year?
Who would get tired of witnessing a friend living a longed for dream? Not I, and I hope you never tire of thinking it and the memories bringing a smile to your face.
Thanks, Jay! And it does indeed – I’ve been listening to a lot of Disney standards during my workouts this week, and the memories they conjure have been putting a big, stupid grin on my face – very odd looking when you’re thumping away on a treadmill.
How cool! I love reading travel stories… especially ones that are in my backyard. Port Orleans is a cool resort. And hello there raccoon friend! Lots of those, squirrels and lizards hanging about. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip!
And I’m looking forward to hearing about yours – I greatly admired your dedication to staying fashionably warm. I cannot ever manage the same toward the cool end of the spectrum when I’m down your way – I just bomb around Florida kind of looking like a pink mess (I was super negligent about sunscreen the first day we were there and now I’m paying for it with an itchy chest covered in (more) freckles.)
Port Orleans was incredible; have you ever stayed or been? I loved it, wished we had a bit more time to explore the grounds. Disney does it all so well, even “filler” landscaping (there was a little “swamp” just outside our building!)
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