Disney World: a grandkids holiday

The last thing my husband wanted for his 67th birthday was visit Disney World.  The last time I had talked him into going was for my 40th.  I have always enjoyed Disney.  I went to Disney World while I was in college, with my dad, when it first opened.  I had been many times to Disneyland when I lived in California and always enjoyed the rides and sights and people watching.  I must admit I am not a big fan of the Disney movies. I find them heart wrenching, and am still scarred from Bambi and frightened of the queen in Snow White. I also was never a girl who bought into the whole Princess story or dreamed about Prince Charming.  But I do love to have my imagination challenged, and of having the lights, sights and sounds remind me of my technicolor dreams.  Yes, I often dream in vivid colors, sometimes animation and often I fly!  But I digress.

It took the perfect storm to convince Mike to go back: the grandkids wanted to go, Matt had bought them annual passes and my Aunt Millie offered us her timeshare points for a place in Orlando. So the week after Thanksgiving we packed up the Mini and headed to Orlando.  Of the 3 nights, Mike agreed to spend one full day at Disney IF we could all agree to go to Animal Kingdom.  DONE!

First let me give a little plug for Summer Bay Orlando.  My aunt’s timeshare is through Wyndham Resorts, and at 92 she had not used it so she “banked” them with RCI.  We are not fans of timesharing, but that’s a long story to be saved for another day.  Let’s just say a free 3 nights stay using my aunt’s banked points cost us close to $1,000 when all was said and done.  There are fees for EVERYTHING. And  RCI, as the non-responsible middle man, charges the most money possible for zero guarantees!  Buyers beware.  It took several phone calls just to get the confirmation emailed me and even then, they tried to add even MORE fees!  UGH!

All that said, once my reservation was turned over to Summer Bay, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the staff and service!  They were amazing.  They made notes of my request that we have rooms close to each other, they answered all my questions, they even moved us when they realized the two rooms were next to each other but did not share the same entrance.  No problems, all was fixed in 10 minutes time.  Each staff member we dealt with was warm, friendly and helpful, from the reception desk to the bartenders and even the grounds keepers and shuttle drivers were excellent.  They invited us to join the owner’s party the first night we arrived and treated us to burgers, dogs, beer and wine. 

We did sign up for the “talk” with the promise of $100 and breakfast.  Breakfast we passed on and I must say it was the easiest, most pleasant “not timeshare talk” we have had.  The grounds were clean, and had it not been the coldest days in Orlando, we would have totally enjoyed all the resort had to offer – lots of heated pools, Jacuzzis, arcade, workout center, activities, playgrounds, marina, a water park, mini golf and more all within the private grounds, with a lovely walking trail that included places to stop and do a work out. 

We had the kids on our second day and they had a great time enjoying the playgrounds which they had practically all to themselves, followed by ice cream and the arcade where even at 2 and 4 they were able to play and win prizes. 

We had 2 adjoining 2-bedroom condos.  Both were identical with large patios facing the lake, very large living area with couch, chairs, dining room table and fairly wel- stocked kitchen.  One bedroom had 2 beds and a bath, beside it the master bedroom had a balcony/patio and very large bath with shower, jacuzzi tub and king sized bed.  There were TVs in each bedroom and in the living room. 

Ah, but we didn’t travel to Orlando to just stay at the resort.  Back to Disney World: I was happy that we were traveling with Matt and Lisa, she took care of planning our day and setting our “Fast Passes.” We got there early and headed straight to the Lion King show with the kids.  It was a fabulous production and all ages enjoyed the songs, and especially the acrobats jumping, rolling and flying through the air.  I was quite envious.  From there we grabbed a snack and headed for the safari ride.  I did mention it was a very cold day in Orlando, well African animals are no more a fan of cold weather than I am.  They were not out in mass, and those that were seemed to be huddled together to stay warm. 

Following the safari the kids had a date to meet Mickey and Minnie, so off we went.  By the time their photos were done, they were too, so Matt and Lisa took Miles and Lyla back to the resort for nap time.  Mike and I used the time to visit Asia.  Thanks to some kind people who offered us their ponchos, we did the water ride, which was mildly entertaining, and I am sure on a hot summer day it is a welcomed relief from the heat. 

The highlight for us was the Nomad Lounge at Tiffins Restaurant.  It is a lovely break from the crowds, exquisitely decorated with pieces from all over the world, comfortable seating and a great bar.  We sat at the bar and ordered a drink and some small plates of tuna poke and chicken satay.  Perfect  amount of food and the bartenders were very pleasant. 

After lunch we headed to Pandora to get on a boat ride that Lisa had scheduled for us on “Fast Pass.”  It was like It’s a Small World or Pirates of the Caribbean went to Avatar.  Relaxing and a little more than mildly entertaining because the visuals were quite amazing.  I commented that it was almost as if someone had snuck into my dream world. 

By the time we finished it was time to meet up with Matt, Lisa and the kids and head to Dinoworld.  This section was a lot of fun for the kids – arcade type games, reminding us of  the county fairs Matt used to love so much in Westport, NY when he was young.  There was also fun Dumbo-type ride that we all enjoyed and an incredible play area.  Lyla impressed all of us with her fearless climbing and agility.

Where did the day go? It was time to grab a beer and head to the Night Show on the lake.  They really did an amazing job of melding water, lights and sounds to create an amazing closing show.  One last stop at the Tree of Life and homeward bound we were.

All in all it was a great time for all the ages.  I’m not sure I will be able to get Mike to go again but I do know he will forever cherish the memories, just as I will.

Lydia Pontius