We happened to arrive at Disney in Florida on Sunday along with Tropical Storm Debby.
This is not a trip we would typically take. We had decided long ago that we wanted my wife to stay at home with our girls, and as a result vacations were limited to places where we had family or weekday trips to the Jersey Shore with maybe a New York City day trip thrown in. My parents wanted to take us to Disney, though, as my wife and kids had never been there.
While I’ve been to Disney World once before, I hadn’t been here in 20 years. Since I tend to write and blog, it seemed a great opportunity to share our experience given the challenging weather situation.
Upon landing we took the Magical Express to Coronado Hotel where we were staying. Despite the steady downfall of rain, the driver was positive and upbeat even commenting, “On a Sunday afternoon, we will have no troubles arriving to your hotel in 45 minutes.” A movie started to play, which highlighted different attractions and essentially told us that we would be having magical experiences and making lifetime memories. Hats of Disney marketing team, great use of prepping a captive audience.
At the hotel, we checked in. The girl at registration was very nice and didn’t bat an eye or drop her smile as she pulled a map out, circled where we were, drew a long line around the lagoon to the area where our room was. No apology for the rain, no mention of shuttle service, no comment if you don’t have an umbrella we have ponchos in the gift shop. We said thanks, popped open the two fold-up umbrellas we had for six people and started sloshing our luggage and selves through the downpour around the lagoon to our rooms located just past the pool area (yes there were people in the pool).
We were drenched by the time we got to our room. Fortunately, when we had to return to the main area for dinner at the Maya Grill, the rain was lighter.
We had wanted to go to a nice restaurant each night, so my wife booked reservations ahead of time based on which park we planned to attend that day. The good side of this is you could be sure to get into a restaurant. The down side is that in the event of weather, you had to cancel reservations to change the order of when you visited each park.
Fortunately it worked out well for us because our first two stops Epcot and Hollywood Studios have a fair amount of indoor activities.
Dinner was very good. I had grilled pork, my wife grilled chicken, and my daughters both had shrimp tacos. I wound having half of my daughters brown rice and beans and probably two tacos in addition to my meal, so I was stuffed and a cup of decaf was all I needed. My wife and I both had a glass of wine. The girls all had desert.
We had a meal plan, and I find this to be business genius on Disney’s part. Our plan included a meal, soft drink, and dessert. Anything was in addition. I should point out that your room key is essentially a passport and credit card. Your Disney plan is connected to your card and at registration you add a credit card to it. As such you can charge through to your card for pretty much anything on the Disney properties.
So back to dinner. The total bill has tax and tip added to the total cost of your meal, ours, 2 drinks, 4 soft drinks, 4 entrees, and 3 deserts, came out to roughly $175. Your key is then run, your plan items deducted, and the balance charged to your card.
To me, the genius of this is that you don’t feel like you’ve paid as much (the plan is pre-paid) and you are encouraged to add desert since it is already ‘covered’ in your plan, but it helps out the waiter via total bill increasing.
So after dinner we walked back to the room and began planning for Monday’s trip to Epcot Center.
Our girls are 14 and 10 and I felt it was important to be positive about the situation. We can’t control the weather, so we simply had to plan for it. We saw that the weather forecast was in flux, but Thursday and Friday looked positive and those were the days we were going to Magic Kingdom and over to Universal for Harry Potter. For the other days, we looked at what was available indoors and said we’d play by the hourly forecast and try to do some outside things.
And isn’t that really the trick to anything? It is what you make it and you must recognize what you can and can’t control and plan accordingly.