Today is my birthday! 🎂🥂🎉
Since it’s a pandemic birthday, we are celebrating it with a quiet, socially-distanced, dinner at home with my hubs, son, and his girlfriend. It’s the perfect celebration for our current circumstances, and I’m looking forward to it.
One year ago, my dad was very sick, and in the hospital on my birthday. So we celebrated with take-out pizza, and opened gifts in bed after we came home late from the hosptial.
The BIG 5-0 !
But the year before, is when both my husband I turned 50– me on December 9, and he on January 9!
Because it was a big birthday for both of us, we decided it deserved a big celebration. And, because my husband is such a good sport, and always goes along with my ideas, we ended up planning a 50th Birthday Celebratory Trip to the Happiest Place on Earth!
You can’t stop getting older, but you’re never too old to play and have fun like kids, right? So what better place to celebrate than the place where you never have to grow up!
We spent 5 beautiful days laughing, riding, playing, eating, drinking, adventuring, relaxing, and just pushing the real world away for awhile. It was glorious.
A “Throwback” Trip Report
Today in honor of my pandemic birthday, I decided to revisit our magical birthday celebration from January 2019.
Since my blog didn’t start until just a couple of months after this epic trip, I haven’t shared it here with you before. Now, seems like the right time. When so many of us have had all of our travel plans sidelined due to COVID, it helps to reminisce about travels past, and plan future adventures for when it’s safe to travel again. I can hardly wait.
Writing this post brings back so many happy memories for me. I hope you’ll enjoy coming along for this throwback adventure.
Pre-Travel Preparation & Chaos
A day before we left, I stopped after work to get my nails done (remember when that was a thing? I haven’t been in a nail salon since pre-Covid).
When the manicurist at the salon learned we were preparing to depart for Disney, she hooked me up with these fun Mickey nails! I was already bubbling with excitement, and this put me over the top! 😂
That excitement was short-lived however, as that evening the weather reporters began talking about a major winter storm headed our way.
Not long after, the airline called. Our scheduled flight for the following evening was already cancelled due to the impending storm. Our options were to wait, and fly out two days later, after the storm was over, OR, she could rescheule us on an early morning flight out before the storm arrived– a flight that was now less than 12 hours away!
Obviously, we agreed to the early morning flight, which kicked our packing into high gear. We spent the rest of the evening frantically doing all of the things we thought we had a whole other day to do, and fell into bed with an alarm set to go off at 2am, so we could get to the airport for the new 5am flight. 🤪
As we drove to the airport, the snow had already begun to fall. We made it onto the plane for the first leg, but because of the weather, and de-icing of the plane, we were quite late taking off. We knew our connection was going to be tight, but we were still happy to be headed to Florida and away from the snow!
Florida, Here We Come…but first, Detroit ☹️
By the time we arrived in Detroit for our connecting flight, we knew we were in trouble. Looking at the app on my phone, I could see our next flight was already boarding, and we hadn’t even deplaned yet. Once we finally exited the plane, the new gate was, of course, a looooooong way away. 😩
We broke into a sprint, hopping on the people movers, running…. Yup, we were those poor people you step out of the way for in the airport as they dash past frantically.
We rounded the corner to our gate, and I literally watched the gate attendant handing boarding passes to a lone couple still at the gate. I saw the look on her face when she saw us running toward her, and knew immediately she had just given our seats away.
I’m not sure what happened, but she quickly printed out two more passes and thrust them into my hands, saying, “Hurry up and board”. We hustled onto the plane, only to find no seats anywhere. I thought they were going to tell us to get off, but thankfully a nice attendant apparently took pity on us, and escorted us to the very last row and pointed to two seats. “These are the seats reserved for flight attendants, but you can sit here.”
I thanked her profusely, and we plopped into our seats. It took nearly half the flight for me to catch my breath, but before I knew it, this is what I saw out the window.
Blue sky, sunshine, and NO SNOW. Hello, Orlando.
Before long, we were on the Magical Express and headed to….
The Animal Kingdom Lodge!
We checked out our beautiful room…
And then headed down to the food court to grab a bite to eat, which we of course took outside into the sunshine to enjoy. With a blizzard raging at home, we were going to take full advantage of Florida weather.
We were using the Disney Dining Plan for this trip, and had a dinner reservation made for later that evening, so we used one quick service credit to split a burger and fries, got our refillable mugs, and used a snack credit for some Zebra Domes.
We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the resort, enjoying the animal views, and relaxed in our room.
Dinner at The Polite Pig
Since we weren’t originally supposed to arrive until late in the evening on this first day, we didn’t have park tickets yet, so for dinner, we hopped a resort bus and headed toward Disney Springs (anyone else still want to call it “Downtown Disney”?)
We had a reservation for The Polite Pig, and it turned out to be one of our favorite meals of the trip.
We shared the Butcher Board for Two, and used our drink credits for two Grapefruit Margaritas.
It was all fabulous. And messy, as good barbecue should be.
After dinner, we strolled around Disney Springs, visiting some of the shops. We bought a Christmas ornament, and then headed back to The Animal Kingdom Lodge well after dark, happy, full and tired.
It had been a wonderful, but looooong first day. By the time we returned to our room, we had been up for close to 20 hours because of our early flight, so we headed straight to bed.
Tomorrow we’d be making an early start on our first day in the parks.
Coming soon…. Day 2 = Magic Kingdom, breakfast at Be Our Guest in Belle’s castle, allllll the rides, Dole Whips, and a birthday dinner at Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort! I can’t wait to tell you all about!
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