A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Disney World with my friend, Jackie. She wanted to have one last hurrah of acting like a kid before she shipped off for med school and the serious life of studying and saving lives, so we threw our cares in the backseat and flew down to Orlando for some fun in the sun... and the rain.
We arose bright and early Thursday morning at the ungodly hour of 4:45am for our flight to Florida. We'd already packed our bags and laid out our clothes the night before (more like a few hours before), so we threw on our dresses, grabbed our stuff, and headed straight for the airport. Fun fact we learned: dresses are an automatic flag for pat-downs at airport security. So ladies, you may be going for easy and comfortable, but I advise leggings instead. Same effect, no pat-down. With our new-found appreciation for privacy, we boarded the flight and were off. We spent pretty much the entire trip down trying to catch some shut-eye, and before we knew it, we'd arrived.
And may I just say, Disney is a well-oiled machine. We walked off the plane, passed right by baggage claim (they picked up our bags and delivered them to our room), and got on a coach bus headed for our resort. So easy! I am a huge fan of Disney's "all inclusive" mentality. In about an hour we were dropped off at the Pop Century Resort and shown our room. We dropped our stuff, did a quick change, and headed for the parks.
First up was the Magic Kingdom. Arriving in the height of the afternoon - in terms of both heat and people - prevented us from really getting around the park easily, but we tried to make the best of it. We started with hot dogs from the famous Casey's Corner on Main Street, U.S.A, which are delicious at any point in time but particularly when you haven't eaten all day, and then headed for Adventureland. Pirates of the Caribbean only had a five minute wait, so that ride got the honor of officially kicking off our Disney experience. After that, we had much tougher luck. We ventured over to Frontierland, where naturally the line for Splash Mountain was a mile long, but Big Thunder Mountain was much more reasonable so we took our chances there. When we were half way through the line, the skies opened up for Florida's typical afternoon summer shower. We were lucky enough to be under cover, but we looked out to see a train just cresting the hill. Unfortunately for them, the ride has to stop when it rains, so they had to sit there for about 15 minutes while the rain poured down on top of them. Then to add insult to injury, when the rain stopped, the ride broke and they had to be taken off via the emergency stairs while the rest of us filed out of the queue.
Next, we wandered through Fantasyland, dodging children, aggressive parents pushing strollers, and now puddles - and determining that no continuously moving kiddie ride justified a 30+ minute wait - before hitting Tomorrowland. We rode Buzz Lightyear, where Jackie kicked my ass at shooting Zurg, and then decided to cut our losses and head to Downtown Disney.
Now here is one of my beefs with Disney: transportation between parks in an absolute pain. With a few rare exceptions, you can't get from one park to another without first going to a resort and then switching to a bus for the next park you want to visit. For example, we took the Monorail from Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary and then switched to a bus for Downtown Disney. Annoying.
Luckily we hit all the transportation pretty much instantaneously, and soon we were wandering Downtown Disney. Since we had dinner reservations in about an hour, we just moseyed through some shops while working our way down the length of Downtown to the restaurant, Bongos. We also said hello to some Lego friends (yes, they are made completely out of Legos).
Dinner at Bongos was absolutely delicious. As someone who is wary of any menu without chicken fingers or a cheeseburger, I was a bit concerned about finding something I'd like among the Cuban cuisine, but I needn't have been worried. Jackie voted it the best meal we had in Disney, and I voted it second best (I may or may not have been biased for hibachi in Epcot). I also appreciate how accommodating - as are all Disney restaurants - they were with our reservation. We arrived a little early, but they still sat us right away. We were also mercifully seated outside the main dining room, away from the children and band, in a private booth by the bar.
Towards the end of our meal, we heard the first rumble of thunder and soon the skies opened again. But this was no summer shower. I wish. It was a full on torrential downpour. I didn't know it could rain that hard for that consistent a period of time. We tried to linger over our meals and pray the rain stopped, but we realized it was a lost cause; the rain was going to carry on for a while. Luckily we had a small plastic bag to put our valuables in (thanks for the shot glasses, Bongos!), because we decided to make a break for it. I can safely say we were drenched within seconds. There was absolutely no way around it. It was too windy for an umbrella, and by the time we stumbled upon ponchos, we were already soaked through. It was such a ridiculous situation, we actually laughed the whole way back to the bus stop. I honestly don't know which was worse: walking through the rain, which was at least warm, or riding on an air conditioned bus sopping wet, which was beyond freezing. Certainly one heck of a way to start off our Disney vacation.
The storm was probably a blessing in disguise, though, because for the rest of the trip, we weren't the least bit deterred by a little rain. We got an afternoon shower every day we were there, but nothing compared to that downpour. After that, showers were no problem. The biggest problem was inventing creative and effective ways to dry our clothes, but luckily we got pretty good at avoiding the outdoors during the afternoon showers.
Anyway, when we made it back to our room the first night, thawed and dried off, we crawled into bed and promptly passed out. Next up, stories from Day 2, including our princess breakfast and tour around the World Showcase in Epcot!