I am mad about Walt Disney World. I think it began when my parents took me to WDW when I was three and ˝ weeks old. At that age, I had seen so little of the rest of the world, that I must have assumed that the good places in the world were full of flying ships and singing dolls, because WDW has felt like home to me ever since.
I had the pleasure of taking numerous trips with my family as a child. We camped at Fort Wilderness once, but stayed off-site otherwise. My dad deserves the title King Commando for his vacationing style. As an example, he recently went on a trip where he toured Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York City, Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown in 6 days.
I was lucky to have spent so much time at WDW growing up. As an adult, I was eager to do WDW in a more relaxed manner. I always joked that I would marry the first guy I dated who would agree to go to WDW on a honeymoon. As it turns out, I did exactly that. Our honeymoon in 1996 was his first trip ever to WDW, and it was magical. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, relaxed, ate decadent food and had a wonderful time. Happily, he became almost as hooked as I am, and we returned two years later.
After our 1998 trip, we became busy with the business of buying a house and having a child, so WDW was on hold for a while. After our son's first birthday, we began discussing when we could return. We had never seen the parks at Christmas, and realized that the clock was ticking for off-season trips, with a son who would be entering school in a few years. We decided that the beginning of December would be the perfect time for our trip.
We were thrilled to be heading back to WDW. We enjoyed the anticipation of planning our trip. We originally booked a 10-night package at Dixie Landings through AAA, but upon receiving a postcard advertising a $134 rate at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we made the switch. Because of some conflicts with my work, we had to drop the last 2 nights off of our trip, but we were still delighted to be staying for eight nights at a resort I imagined would be beautiful.
It pays to have gumption
In August, we had booked a non-stop flight on Delta from Kansas City to Orlando, through Yahoo travel. We would depart early Friday morning, November 30, arriving in Orlando mid-morning, able to enjoy most of that day with the Mouse. Knowing that we would be traveling with a toddler, we knew that non-stop was the only way to fly. Then the events of September 11 occurred. Within a few weeks, we received an e-mail saying that we had been moved to a flight with a 90 minute layover in Atlanta.
A quick call to Yahoo travel confirmed my suspicion that Delta was no longer flying non-stop from Kansas City to Orlando. Since we live midway between Kansas City and St. Louis, I asked the gentleman at Yahoo travel about a non-stop flight from St. Louis, but, alas, Delta had no non-stop flights from St. Louis to Orlando, either. So, it was apparent that we would be stuck with a flight with a connection. I couldn't be too upset, though, knowing that this was a very minor inconvenience, and in the wake of September 11, minor inconveniences are not worth becoming upset.
As I continued to consider our flight situation, however, I realized that our new schedule had us landing in Orlando at a time that would make it impossible to make a lunch appointment I had scheduled for the day of our arrival. I had made plans to finally meet in person a group of friends with whom I had been exchanging e-mail almost daily for the past three and a half years. We were going to have a late lunch at the Rainforest Café at the Animal Kingdom, and my noon landing time would not allow for this.
Time for another quick call to Yahoo travel. I did a bit of research on-line and found that Delta had a Kansas City to Atlanta to Orlando flight on the evening of Thursday, November 29. I figured we could arrive late that evening, stay at a cheap offsite hotel, and be ready to hit the Magic Kingdom first thing Friday morning. This seemed like a reasonable plan, however, the woman I talked to at Yahoo travel informed me that in order to make the change, we would have to pay the difference between the price we paid for the tickets and the current price of the tickets ($250 X 3) plus $50 per ticket for making the change. $900 to take a flight 16 hours earlier? No thank you.
Luckily, I am the kind of person who has gumption, and I decided to call Delta directly. I was fortunate enough to get a very helpful woman. When I explained my situation to her, she made the change, said she would send me an updated itinerary in the mail, and that there would be no charge for the change. Woo-hoo!
Now we had the flight we desired. I put in a bid at Priceline, and got a room at a Doubletree Suites on 192 for $28 the night of our arrival and we were ready to go!