Disney Cruise and Walt Disney World 10/07 – The night before and the travel day.

A couple years ago, we bought into the Disney Vacation Club timeshare and have been doing annual visits to Walt Disney World in Florida.  This makes a lot of sense for our family as we are all big Disney fans (my wife and I even met, got engaged, and had our wedding at Disneyland) and my parents and sister also live in the Orlando area. 

For this year’s trip, we saved up enough points for a 4-night cruise on the Disney Wonder followed by 5 more nights staying at the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge.  As much as possible, I’m going to try and keep up with at least some general reporting on the trip as it goes.  I’m actually writing this entry during our flight from Los Angeles to Orlando.

The last 12-hours or so before the trip didn’t exactly go smoothly. Shortly before I was ready to head home from work last night, I got an email from my wife that water was backing up in our kitchen sink and washing machine drains.  As soon as I got home and confirmed that it wasn’t a problem that could be quickly fixed, we called for a plumber.  It took them until around 11pm to get the problem fully repaired at a cost of around $1300. 

While the plumbers were working, I was fortunately able to get my part of the packing done (my wife had packed for herself and our son earlier in the day), which meant that we were able to get everything organized enough to head on to bed by around midnight.  As we were heading on to bed, we also noticed that it was starting to rain…

To give a bit of additional history, there was a fairly serious fire in our building at our townhouse complex back in late December.  While our unit didn’t suffer serious damage, it did put us out of our home for several weeks and has resulted in a number of other inconveniences during the reconstruction work.  After a big rainstorm a couple weeks ago, I woke up to notice a fairly obvious water stain on the ceiling of our bedroom.  It turned out that the recently replaced roof was leaking and had filled the crawlspace above our unit.  We ended up spending another week in a hotel (at the construction company’s expense) while they tore out and replaced our ceiling.

Last night’s rainstorm was the first significant rain that we have had since those repairs.  Around 3am this morning, I was awakened by the sound of dripping water. Getting up to investigate, I found that water was dripping from the ceiling inside of one of our bedroom closets.  Further investigation found that there was also another visible water stain forming on the ceiling and that water was periodically dripping from several spots (including, unfortunately, at least one right over our bed…) 

I quickly sent out email messages to the homeowner’s association president and the project manager for the construction company, explaining the situation and the fact that we had to leave for the airport by 8am this morning.  I followed up with some phone calls this morning and also dropped off our spare keys in a locked mailbox that is provided for correspondence with the HOA board.  Hopefully, they will be able to get the problems repaired once and for all during the time we are out of town.

The biggest problem with all of this is that I probably didn’t get much more than 2 1/2 to 3 hours of sleep at the most last night.  I’m managed to keep pretty wide awake on adrenaline today (my wife has been able to nap some on the plane), but I suspect I will crash pretty hard as soon as I give myself the chance.  It is fortunate that our bus to the cruise port doesn’t leave until around 12:30pm tomorrow, which will hopefully let us sleep in a little bit.

We did manage to get to the airport, park (we use a nice, well-run parking facility called Wally Park), get our luggage checked, and get through security to the gate with a fairly minimal amount of hassle and with an ample amount of time to spare.  We then grabbed a quick breakfast from a coffee stand in the airport ($14 for two bottles of water, a small bottle of apple juice, a croissant, and a bear claw…) which we were easily able to finish before the boarding time for the flight.

The boarding for the flight was something of an ordeal, but at least it wasn’t an unexpected one.  When we took a trip to Chicago last June, we discovered that our three-year-old (almost 4 now) son has developed what can really only be described as a fully panicked reaction to boarding an airplane.  On both flights during the June trip, he went into a screaming panic as soon as we got to the seat on the plane.  It took about 10-15 minutes of very focused comforting to settle him down.  After that, he was pretty much fine for the rest of the flight.

On this trip, we knew that this same problem was a distinct possibility.  With his doctor’s advise, we gave him a small dose of Benedryl in the hope that it would cause him to dose off or at least help him to relax a bit. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much good.  This time, he went into the full panic as soon as we started to step onto the jetway.  I made an attempt to try and calm him down enough to get him to walk on to the plane, but I ended up with no choice but to carry him on, fighting pretty much the whole way.

As before, we had to spend about 10-15 minutes working to comfort and calm him.  The Delta flight attendants were very understanding and sympathetic as well, which we definitely appreciated.  As before, he did eventually settle down and was generally well-behaved during the flight.  The whole reaction is very unusual as it is really pretty out of character for him.  In fact, he almost seems like a completely different kid during the panic attack, essentially returning to normal once it passes.  This is all the more strange because he gets very excited about air travel, even excitedly watching the planes and chattering about riding on it while we are waiting at the gate.  He also generally loves just about everything to do with planes, apparently with the one exception of actually boarding them… 

I’m sure that this is a phase that he will outgrow and I hope it doesn’t take too long.  I’m definitely not looking forward to the likely repeat performance at the start of our flight home in a week and a half.  Maybe with it being an evening flight at the end of what is likely to be a very active vacation, we might at least have a chance at getting him to sleep early on.

At this point, we are about an hour away from our arrival at the Orlando airport.  While the preparation and first part of this trip hasn’t been as smooth as I might have liked, hopefully the rest of it will be the fun and exciting visit that we are all hoping for.  I’m still really looking forward to all the fun stuff that will hopefully be starting soon.

It is hard to say how much time I will have to write during this trip, but I’m at least going to try to at least post short “highlights” reports as I go.  I figure I can always fill in some of the missed details when I have more time after the trip is over.

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