My First Trip Report! - "Escape from New York" - completed
My apologies for posting this so long after the fact. This is my first ever trip report.
Myself, my DW of 6 years, and 4-year-old DD, are DVC members. I have been vacationing at WDW since I was a kid. I brought my DW for her first ever trip back in ’98. I think she is hooked. She has now been there 12 times , including the trip I am writing about here. My DD has been to WDW 5 times already. We have yet to visit any other Disney property outside of WDW.
We had just taken a trip to WDW at the end of March 2010. Then, in the summer of 2010 we found out that our family would be growing!! Almost immediately we wondered how that would impact our next WDW vacation. After some thought, we decided to borrow from our 2011 points to squeeze in another trip before the baby! We had never been to WDW for the holidays, so we booked a trip for the week after Christmas and staying through NYE! And based on DW’s previous pregnancy, the trip would fall right in her second trimester, which was when she felt the best. It was genius!! We booked our stay for SSR from 12/26/10 thru 1/01/11. ADRs were made, flight was booked. We were wavering on adding DDP, but other than that, we were all set.
Table of Contents:
1. The Plan
2. Escape from New York, Part 1
3. Escape from New York, Part 2
4. Escape from New York, Part 3
5. Escape from New York, Part 4
6. Escape from New York, Part 5
7. WDW Day 1, Animal Kingdom, Part 1
8. WDW Day 1, Animal Kingdom, Part 2
9. WDW Day 2, Resort Hopping, Part 1
10. WDW Day 2, Resort Hopping, Part 2
11. WDW Day 3, Magic Kingdom on NYE, Part 1
12. WDW Day 3, Magic Kingdom on NYE, Part 2
13. WDW Day 3, Magic Kingdom on NYE, Part 3
14. WDW Day 3, Magic Kingdom on NYE, Part 4
15. WDW Day 3, Magic Kingdom on NYE, Part 5
16. WDW Day 3, Magic Kingdowm on NYE, Part 6
17. WDW Day 3, Magic Kingdom on NYE, Part 7
18. WDW Day 4: How we spent the first few hours of 2011
19. WDW Day 4, Part 2, EPCOT
20. WDW Day 4, Part 3, EPCOT
21. WDW Day 4, Part 4, DHS
22. WDW Day 5, Saying Goodbye
i. Escape from New York, the forgotten Pictures
Up Next... The Plan.
The plan was to fly out on 12/26 on an afternoon flight from JFK to MCO. DW's family was coming to our house from CT for Christmas, so we were kicking them out the next morning and heading to the airport. (That's not rude, is it?) We booked the MK dessert party for that night to give us something to kick off the vacation with (and since it wasn’t available on NYE when we wanted to be at MK later in the week). This was our itinerary for the week:
Sunday: Arrival and MK Wishes Dessert Party
Monday: EPCOT and Candlelight Processional w/ dinner at Teppan Edo
Wednesday: AK w/ Tusker House Character breakfast and dinner at Boma
Thursday: Resort-Hopping Day, Character dinner at 1900 Park Fare
Friday (NYE): MK with Crystal Palace Character lunch
Saturday: DTD in the morning before catching our flight home.
It was looking like a we had a great trip in the works. We were all very excited to see WDW decked out for the holidays, and to ring in the New Year at MK!!
Next up... Escape from New York
I'm joining in! popcorn:: I want to know what it was like the week after Christmas. I love Christmas time at Disney, but we always go either right after Thanksgiving or mid-December.
ETA: I've never been first on a TR! Yay! Yes, it's the little things that make me happy! LOL!
Escape from New York, Part 1
Escape from New York, Part 1:
We were all very excited for the trip. DW’s pregnancy was going very well. DD couldn’t wait for Christmas because not only did it mean presents, it meant going to WDW too!
The week before our trip the Weatherman became our enemy. Forecasts were calling for heavy snow on the afternoon/evening of our flight out of NY.
I called the airline a few days before and tried to see if we could fly out earlier in the morning, or maybe the day before or after. No Luck. Everything was booked. I then called DVC to express my concerns we might not make it on time and to ask whether we could maybe slide our trip back a day. The CM was very nice but told me they had no availability to maneuver us around. There was a chance the snow wouldn't start until after we left, and some reports were saying the storm could miss us, so we stuck with our booking as it was and hoped the storm would hold off until after our departure.
Christmas and the in-laws came and left quickly, and we were on our way. No delays were being reported when we left for the airport. Leading up to the trip, there had been a lot of hype about the new screening procedures and we had worries about being subjected to pat-downs and full body scanners. I had no worries for myself, just for my pregnant DW and almost-4-year-old DD. To our surprise, we zipped right through security. There was hardly any line, and no body scanners in sight. We saw noone getting patted down either. It was almost disappointing.
When we got through security we found the flight before ours was slightly delayed, but it escaped before the storm. Then, our flight was delayed. It turns out that our pilots were coming in on a flight from Florida and their flight was delayed. We had a plane ready and waiting, but no pilots. By this time it was snowing and the airport was scrambling to get flights out. The flight after ours was delayed as well, with the opposite problem, they needed a plane. I thought the decent thing to do would have been for them to give us their pilots and then take ours, so at least we could get out of there. But nobody asked me.
After almost 2 hours of delay, we finally got our pilots, boarded our plane. The snow was coming down and we could see plows and men outside the plane working hard to get us fueled and ready to go. We were going to make it out by the skin of our teeth. The flight crew was giving us our safety instructions when the airplane's phone rang. Apparently, the plane only has that one phone and they use it for both announcements and for taking calls. You could hear a pin drop as we all waited for one of two things... either bad news, or the rest of our emergency procedures. Well, it was bad news, the airport was closed.
I was so disappointed at that moment the pilot made the announcement. All around me, the passengers were grabbing their things and making calls. The captain was making an absurd announcement telling the flight crew to prepare for landing and I remember thinking, "how can we prepare for landing if we never took off?" I then realized the people on their phones were all calling hotels, or trying to book another flight. I had no plan B. DW was asking "what do we do?" and DD was starting to cry as she realized the plane wasn't going to take us to WDW. I honestly had no idea what we were going to do... all I knew was that I had to get my family off of the plane. So I turned to my daughter and told her, "hey, we're still going to WDW. We just can't take this plane. But we're still going. We are not giving up."
We got off the plane and it was an absolute madhouse inside the terminal. The desks closest to our gate had lines that wrapped around and around the terminal endlessly. We made for another wing in hopes that if there had been less gates in use, maybe there would be less people. But we encountered the same snaking lines of people. So being the Disney troopers we are, we got on line. DW and DD went to grab a seat, and I pulled out the cell and called the airline. I was simultaneously on hold and waiting on line... it was a race to see if I would get to the front of the line before someone answered my call.
I was on the line almost 45 minutes when my call was answered. (there were probably only 10 people in front of me at this point). A very sweet woman with no geographical understanding of the state of New York attempted to get us rebooked onto another flight, but the best she could do at that point was Wednesday. It was Sunday night. That was 3 days. I laughed one of those psychiatric ward laughs when she told me she would stay on the line as long as it took for me to decide, even while I called other airlines. I only had one phone, so calling around to other airlines was out of the question. I was conveying all this information to my DW when the rep said "ooh" excitedly and asked if I could get to Buffalo. Buffalo? There was a flight that had 3 seats open from buffalo to Orlando on Tuesday... a whole day sooner than Wednesday. I laughed again and said to the lady, "we are nowhere near Buffalo. I would have to drive there… and if I am going to drive to Buffalo, I might as well just drive to Florida."
And it was decided right in that moment... we would no longer be flying to WDW... we were going to drive! The airline said they would issue us a refund. The next thing we had to do was...
Get out of the Airport
Escape from New York, Part 2
This is what we saw when we got outside:
I waited outside in the cold and snow for cabs that never came. There was a bus that came, but the line to get on it was chaos and we had no tickets. No other buses came after that. A couple of taxis came and went when we first got there, but there was a long line of people waiting. Even if we got a taxi, we had no destination. I was calling all the hotels in the area, but I couldn't find a vacancy anywhere. It appeared we were stranded at the airport until morning. We weren't alone. There were employees handing out flimsy airplane blankets to the hundred or so people that were toughing it out around the baggage carousels. Every seat was occupied, and most of the spaces of the floor against the walls. It was cold because the doors were constantly opening and closing. I saw a few brave souls head out on foot trying to either reach their cars, or maybe the other terminals. There was a Dunkin' Donuts that had run out of food, but they still had coffee and hot chocolate… and yes, we still had to pay. DW and DD had staked out an alcove that was actually the doorway to the TSA office. We shared it with a couple of people, and there was an outlet, so we all took turns charging our phones.
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-y...0/DSC_0008.JPG https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-n...2/DSC_0007.JPG https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-8...5B1%25255D.JPG
Poor DW was over 5 months pregnant and trying to sleep on the floor of the airport. Poor DD was sleeping in her stroller and starting to show signs of a cold. (runny nose and slight temperature) She woke up briefly, looked at me, and said, "Daddy... we're not giving up, right?" and I said, "that's right. we're not giving up." It became our mantra. I was ready to do anything to get my family out of that airport and into a hotel room. It didn't matter that is was after midnight and there was a raging snowstorm outside. I wasn't giving up. And that's when the man came around asking people if they needed a taxi.
When I first saw him across the terminal he was approaching anyone who was awake, speaking to them and getting turned down. Then he would move on to someone else. Finally, he got a bite and a few minutes later, a car pulled up through all of the snow outside of the terminal and the woman he had spoken to got her bags and went off into the blizzard. I knew it was risky, but I thought it was worth a shot. He was stationed by the sliding doors to the storm when I got up and walked over. He asked me if I needed a ride and told me he could get me a car for $100. My choices were pay the $100 and possibly get my family to a place with a warm bed, or keep my $100, stay and be miserable. I didn’t hesitate. I still needed a hotel though, so I got back on the phone and started dialing numbers. On the third or fourth hotel, I got a break. At first, I was told no vacancies, but in my exasperation I said something half-to-myself about only needing the room for a few hours. At that, the hotel clerk changed his tune. He had a room. We just had to check out in the morning.
Feeling hopeful for the first time all night, I went back to the man with the cars. He told me he would call his driver. He walked away, made his call and came back to tell me that the original driver wasn't coming back, but that he had another driver who would come and get us, but he wanted double what the first guy would have done it for. I am generally a very trusting person, but I got the feeling I was being played. And since I was the only potential customer this guy had at that moment, I acted disappointed and told him all I had in cash was the price he told me earlier, and then I started to walk back to our little TSA alcove. He caught up to me and told me he talked the driver into coming for the agreed price. I woke up DW and we got our stuff together. 15 minutes later, the car pulled up and out into the storm we went, on the...
The Scariest Ride EVER!
I see you have a link to your TR. I am taking a break to go read it!! I promise to not steal any of it!
OMG! I read your 2 updates & I'm just dying for y'all! First of all, my heart was breaking (especially for your adorable DD) when they said the airport was closed & y'all had to get off the plane. Then, your poor DW 5 months pregnant stuck on the floor of the airport. :sad2:
I'm scared for y'all about this upcoming cab ride. Obviously, y'all walked away from it unscathed but I'm still scared! :scared1:
I can not get over those pictures of the snow! Oh, there is a reason why I live in the south - I could NEVER deal with that!
Thanks for going to check out my TR. I just finished it up this week. I really had a lot of fun writing it. I never got around to putting chapter links - oops! - sorry about that!
I want to see how this all ends! What a start to your vacation:scared1:
:scared1: :scared1: :scared1:
That's about all I can say. I can't imagine a worse start to a magical trip. I admire you for doing everything that you could to get your family on their trip.:goodvibes The snow pictures are truly frightening. I can't wait to here about the "Scariest Ride Ever."
Writing about it, even 8 months later, it's like I am reliving it. What a nightmare it was...
Let's see if we can't get through this and on to something good...
I'm from NYC too and man do I remember that storm!! Our street wasn't plowed for 5 days and I didn't get mail during that week at all!
Good luck! Can't wait to read more. :)
im in!!! :thumbsup2 i remember that storm. one of many.:lmao: we only got 4 inches. we drive to wdw, theres been a few trips we have left a day early or later to beat the storms in or out of the north east. back in 1986, dw and i were on i81 in virginia and ended up sleeping in the car at whites truck stop one year. ive never seen that much snow in that short of time.we pulled in there and stayed the night in the car. not to bad, we were younger and i guess if your gonna get stranded on the road, being parked 20ft from a gas pump and 50 feet from a dinner.:lmao: we never tried it again!! now we watch the weather forcast.:lmao:
I'm in!!! This is great!!! thinking this is going to be the next Disney movie!!!
Escape from New York, Part 3
The Scariest Ride EVER
The very non-descript black car pulled up to the terminal and we loaded our bags and jumped in. Most of the luggage was in the trunk, but the carry-ons were crammed in to the backseat with the 3 of us, with DD half-awake and lap-belted into the middle. I gave the driver the hotel address and we were off.
I was amazed to see the car pull up to the terminal in all that snow in the first place, so when the driver hit the gas and we lurched ahead into the storm... well, I was speechless. There was no turning back. We had put so much distance between us and the terminal in that first minute or so. The guy driving that car had absolutely no fear. DW was white-knuckling it, and thankfully, DD was too small to see the trees, guardrails, walls, snow banks and other obstacles that we were coming within inches of hitting.
I am sorry, I have no pictures. To begin with, I didn't go into this vacation with a TR in mind, so there won't be as many pics as my next TR. But when your life is flashing before your eyes and you are thinking that perhaps you are living your last moments, you don't really stop to think about documenting it. The best I can do is describe it... and i'll try to do so in a way you'll all understand.
Imagine you've boarded The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, only to discover that the blustery day has become the blizzard-y day. Now, turn over the controls of your bouncing-floating-sliding honey pot to Captain Rex, the former Star Tours pilot. Hang on as he "pilots" your honey pot off its tracks, out of the ride and into Space Mountain. So now, you can't see a thing, you are bouncing, sliding/floating, and jerking around and when you do see something appear in front of you, you turn violently to avoid it.
Oh yeah, and take the fun out of it.
I can't stress enough how crazy this guy was. I remember thinking that if he should crash, even if we somehow avoided major injury, we would be stuck in the snow and cold. I decided I would opt for the instant death if I had any say. But we obviously did not die, nor did our driver leave us on the side of the road, which was another fear which crept into my head as we were careening toward the hotel. I was trying to stay calm on the outside, but some of the scenarios that went through my head were frightening. I had no idea who this guy was, or if he was actually going to get us safely to the hotel.
I pulled out my phone and tried to use GPS to figure out where we were in relation to the hotel. On the map, it said we were heading AWAY from the hotel. In my head, things got worse. I imagined a scenario where this guy wasn't driving us to the hotel, but that he would rob us and leave us on the side of the road. I actually went as far as to remove my debit and my main credit cards and some cash from my wallet, and stuff them down my sock... just in case.
Shortly after that, our driver made a sharp u-turn and started back towards where we needed to go. I am pretty sure that at this point we are driving the wrong way on the belt parkway, not that there were any other cars on the road. We didn't see any other cars until we finally turned onto a side street, and those were all almost completely covered in snow. Our driver was speeding down these side streets, which had just enough room for the car between the piled up snow around the cars parked on each side. I think our driver was thinking that the faster he went, the less likely he was to get stuck.
Suddenly, he slowed and made another sharp turn, up an incline. I thought we were getting stuck in a snow bank, but he got through it and a moment later, we pulled to a stop in front of the hotel... only it was the WRONG hotel. I got out of the car and looked up at it and my heart sunk. What do we do? do we go in and see if we can get a room? or do we get back in the car?? We wanted no part of the car. We were about to get out and take our chances getting a room when the snow cleared a bit and I caught sight of another building just behind this one. It was our hotel!! It was in the next building complex, just one block over.
So back in the car for another minute and we were there. Finally. I paid the driver the money he was promised, and then some. He got us there in one piece, and I was awed by that fact. The clerk I had spoke to on the phone came outside to help with our bags and get us checked in. He turned out to be an extraordinarily nice guy. Maybe he took pity on us or perhaps he never believed we'd make it and was amazed we showed up, but he discounted our rate to a partial stay and told us we could have the room until the afternoon. We were finally safe, warm, and comfortable... and it was just shy of 5am. We sent out texts to family to update them on what was going on, and then we tried to get some sleep. Only a few hours later we had to get up and deal with...
The Day After.
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