We left town on Saturday afternoon after a flag football game and win that morning, followed by team pictures. We picked up Mom and Dad from their house and all piled into our van together for the 3 1/2 hour drive to Minneapolis. We decided a direct flight would be our best option and so we booked a hotel room in Minneapolis for the night before since our flight Sunday morning was going to be bright and early. The boys had all sorts of things to keep them busy during travel, including a new set of UNI headphones that Jaden had picked out the day before. They watched a movie, ate some snacks, and we all were giddy with excitement the whole drive there.
After checking into our hotel, we headed over to the Mall of America for supper. Even though we were going to be visiting the Disney Lego store the very next day, we couldn't keep Brandon out of the Lego store at the MOA either, and he ended up walking away with a new Star Wars set bought with his own money he'd been saving up just for vacation.
After supper we all congregated back in our room for Lego building while listening to the UNI football game on our phones. We tried to get to bed early, but that's pretty hard to do with that much excitement stirring.
Brandon and I both slept horribly that night. I maybe got about three hours of sleep before my alarm woke me up at 3:45. I thought we would have trouble getting the boys to wake up at 4:30am, but they were bright and chipper and bouncing off the walls in anticipation for their very first airplane ride just a couple of hours away. We put on those valuable Disney Magic Bands before hopping on the airport shuttle bus... and we were off!
Our keys to the kingdom!!
Airport security was a relative breeze at 5am, and we were to our gate with breakfast food and drinks and plenty of time to spare. Our plane was ready and waiting for us, and were able to board our flight just as the sun was coming up.
Checking out his first set of wings!
Our seating arrangements were perfect. We had two rows back to back with three seats each. Both boys of course wanted window seats so Jaden sat in the front row beside Nana and Papa, and Brandon sat in the second row alongside Cody and me. They started getting really nervous for takeoff, but it was happy and eager kind of nervous. Jaden had come a long ways since first hearing about the trip and screaming in panic that he was too afraid to ride an airplane.
They loved takeoff, but just as I suspected, were a little underwhelmed once airborne. Once we got too high to see the ground, it was time for movies and entertainment. And I don't think Jaden stopped talking the entire two and a half hours.
Landing was a little rough on Brandon's ears, but once we hit the ground we were able to head straight for the Disney Magic Express, which picked us up from the airport to take us directly to the resort. We didn't even have to collect our bag from baggage claim, as Disney takes care of that for you, too. :) Aunt Sally and Uncle Bob surprised us at the airport, as we weren't expecting to see them until we made it to the hotel. Living only a couple of hours away from Orlando, they had planned to spend the day with us. We loaded that Disney bus and watched Disney Park videos for about 45 minutes before reaching our destination. We had arrived.
We checked into our room, very quickly looked around the resort, and then headed straight for the pool.
We got to the pool just in time for the Disney Junior pool party that's hosted at the resort most afternoons. There was music and dancing and water balloon tossing, among other activities, and the boys went back and forth between the water slides and the party all afternoon long.
One of the best amenities of our resort is the ferry boat that picks you up right on property and drives you to Disney Springs, the Disney World shopping and dining destination. I had made dining reservations for all eight of us months in advance, and after swimming we all piled into the boat and enjoyed the 15 minute ride up the Sassagoula River to our dinner spot.
We were able to see the new Disney Treehouse Villas along the way, along with many "hidden Mickey" sightings.
This being my eighth trip to Disney, I have been to Disney Springs just as many times, but I had never seen this district from the water. It was pretty neat to get a fresh view and perspective. As my dad said, Disney Springs and Chef Mickey's restaurant are some of our very earliest memories of our Disney World family vacations.
I was lucky to score reservations at the very popular family restaurant T-Rex, and though it was loud, inside with lots of "meteor showers" and dinosaur rumblings, it was definitely a cool experience for our first special dinner.
After dinner, we shopped. We stopped at another Lego store, bought more Lego sets, built our own light sabers in the Star Wars department of the big toy store, and scored our 2016 tree ornaments from the Disney Christmas store.
These little lizards were EVERYWHERE! We learned to watch where we were walking - especially on grass - because if we didn't watch our feet, chances were we would have squashed one or two!
With an early morning and some travel early in the day, we all were pretty tuckered by this point and headed back to the resort just as the sun started to dip. It sure was a pretty boat ride home.
We let the boys wind down over movies and Lego's and then hit the sheets in preparation for a really big few days ahead.
So thankful to finally be here...