Walt Disney World Trip
Day 1 (Friday, Jan. 5)
Disney-bound(Click on any photo to see a larger version. Click on links to see additional information or photos.)
Soarin' over California Rooming on the Sassagoula River A walk to New Orleans
I arrived at Mineta San Jose International Airport about 7:30 a.m., plenty ahead of my 9:00 a.m. flight. Because of the express lanes for first-class passengers, I was able to check in, go through security, and arrive at the gate waiting area within 10 minutes.
My friend Dianne in Australia had sent me a TV miniseries called "Brides of Christ" for Christmas, and I decided that it would be good entertainment during my flights to Florida. So I popped the first DVD into my MacBook and started watching it while waiting to board the plane.
We went wheels up at 9:20. It was a gorgeous day in the Bay Area, probably because some strong winds last night blew away the haze. I was able to see all the way up to Napa County shortly after we took off. Below us were the varied colors of the southern end of San Francisco Bay.
Then the Sierra Nevada Mountains came into view past Lick Observatory. On a clear day, it's even possible to see Half Dome in Yosemite National Park from Lick. Unfortunately, we don't have many days like that any more in the Bay Area. :-(
After we flew over the Tehachapi Mountains that signal the beginning of southern California, we had excellent views of Edwards Air Force Base, legendary home of America's aerospace program.
If you've gone through the queue for Soarin' at Disney's California Adventure, you've seen photos of some of the people and aircraft that made Edwards famous. For example, it was the site of the first several Space Shuttle landings, because its unpaved high-desert runway allows ample room for safe landings even when problems occur.
Breakfast was served about 10:30 a.m. PST. It consisted of a Denver omelet, diced melon, potatoes O'Brien, and a biscuit. (The latter came with Knott's strawberry spread; I was pleased to see American Airlines giving business to a classic California company, even if it is now owned by a multinational conglomerate. :-) By the way, stay tuned for my March, 2007 trip to Disneyland, during which I plan to spend a day at Knott's Berry Farm.)
After breakfast, solid clouds below us precluded any sightseeing, I went back to watching "Brides of Christ." I had bought an aircraft AC adapter at the Apple Store just before my trip, and it was working great, allowing me to run the DVD all through my flights without using any battery power.
I had also brought my Sony noise-canceling headphones. I can't describe how wonderfully those worked on the plane! When I switched on the noise-canceling circuit, it was like turning off the plane's engines. If you travel much and you like to listen to music or watch videos, you must investigate noise-canceling headphones!
There were occasional openings in the clouds that allowed me to see the ground beneath us. For example, somewhere around New Mexico or Texas (insert standard rant about not being allowed to use GPS receivers on American Airlines flights), I saw some beautiful areas where a light dusting of snow highlighted the furrows and edges of multicolored agricultural fields. (Real crop circles!)
I had to change planes at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, which required a brief ride on their Skytrain system. I was amused to see a vending machine for iPods in one of the terminals.
My Dallas to Orlando flight was similar to the first flight: lots of clouds, so I spent most of the time watching my DVDs. For dinner, I chose the veggie pizza, which came with a Greek salad. The flight attendant later brought around some warm chocolate chip cookies. Yummm!
Because of a late takeoff from Dallas, we landed at Orlando nearly an hour late. As mentioned on the Planning page, I had decided to do Magical Express because I expected to arrive in the early evening, leaving plenty of time for my luggage to arrive before bedtime. Now, that plan was in jeopardy. But it was too late now; the yellow tag on my checked bag meant that it would be diverted to the ME baggage handlers when it came off the plane. Oh well, I'd just have to hope that it got to me by a reasonable hour.
I was on a Magical Express bus by 7:45 p.m., and arrived at Port Orleans Riverside about 8:30. My room in building 38 of Alligator Bayou is in a great location. It's on the Sassagoula River just off the north end of Ol' Man Island, giving me a fairly short walk to the main buildings (restaurants, store, etc.). The resorts of the "moderate" price category at WDW don't have balconies, but I have a lovely view of the upper loop of the Sassagoula River when I open my window blinds or step outside my door.
I found a message from Lloyd on my cell phone, so I called him and we made plans to meet at Disney-MGM Studios tomorrow afternoon. A little before 9:00 p.m., I walked down the river to Port Orleans French Quarter to get some dinner. The Riverside Mill food court is being remodeled, and they're only offering a fixed-menu dinner plate each evening. So it seemed like a good opportunity to check out the offerings at POFQ--and also get some exercise after a day of sitting on airplanes. A couple of horse-drawn carriages went past me as I meandered along the path from Riverside to French Quarter.
A jazz band was playing as I entered the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory. Unfortunately, they went on a break before I got my food and walked back to their area. The offerings at the food court in French Quarter didn't seem as extensive as I remembered at Riverside. However, I was able to order a freshly cooked grilled chicken sandwich, and substituted a serving of vegetables for the standard French fries. After dinner, I took the boat back to Riverside, and was back in my room in time to watch "NUMB3RS" at 10:00 p.m.
My bags were delivered to my room at 10:40, a little over two hours after my arrival at Port Orleans. I finished watching "NUMB3RS," unpacked, got organized for tomorrow, and went to bed just before midnight.
Steps today: 4,000. (I didn't put on the pedometer until I got to Port Orleans.) The next several days will be a lot higher!
Planning | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8
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Last updated 2/14/07