WDW Birthday Trip Intro and Travel Day, July 2003

Who: Kathy and Rich
When: July 11-17, 2003
Where: Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, July 11, The Yacht Club, July 12-17


I was having a big milestone birthday (grin) and I wanted to celebrate it in a place where I would be having so much fun, I wouldn’t notice. I had gone to Disneyland for the first time in January of 1956, approximately 6 months after opening day. Growing up near Disneyland was a wonderful experience. Even after I moved to Northern California and Oregon, I still made frequent trips to Disneyland and a couple to WDW.

So when life brought us to Ohio in summer of ’02, I figured that the place to celebrate my “big” Birthday would be at Walt Disney World. This would be my 5th trip to WDW–our most recent trip was in March of ’03. On the March trip, we purchased our first Annual Passes. Might as well make the most of it and go as often as possible, right?

We had originally planned to drive to Orlando from Columbus, OH. There was a possibility that we might be relocating to Florida before my birthday, so we didn’t want to purchase airline tickets, just in case. But as the time got closer and we realized that we wouldn’t be moving just yet, and we thought about how long the drive would be and how tired we would be when we arrived, we checked the airfare. It was reasonable, so we purchased 2 tickets on Delta.

The only flight left was Friday night, at 9:15 PM and we wouldn’t arrive until midnight. Since our arrival would be so late and our Yacht Club reservation didn’t start until Saturday, we decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency at the Orlando airport. We didn’t want to check into the Yacht Club that late at night. We had done that in 1999 and preferred to check in earlier in the day. We had noticed the Airport Hyatt on our March trip and thought it would be fun to stay there sometime anyway.

We had difficulty making our final decision on which Disney property we wanted to stay. We had thought about a monorail resort, but we enjoy going to Epcot in the evening. Earlier this year we had made a reservation at Beach Club Villas. Well, we had let that reservation expire, because at that point, we were still unsure if we were going to make the trip.

As it got closer, we made a reservation for a Wilderness Lodge Concierge room. As it got even closer, and we started reading reports about the heat, we thought, no, we need to have access to Stormalong Bay and Epcot. We love being able to just walk over to Epcot, especially in the evening and we felt that Wilderness Lodge would be too remote on this trip without a car. We finally decided to return to the Yacht Club. We’re hoping to stay at WL in December.

After salivating over the meal descriptions in Bob and Larry’s trip report, we got very excited over the possiblity of dining all over the World and made PS at the following restaurants:

Tony’s Town Square for birthday lunch (7/13)
The Yachtsman Steakhouse for birthday dinner (7/13)
Sci-Fi Dine-In for lunch (7/14)
L’Originale Alfredo di Roma for dinner (7/14)
San Angel Inn for lunch (7/15)
Restaurant Marrakesh for dinner (7/15)
Rose and Crown for lunch (7/16)
Flying Fish for dinner (7/16)

We wanted to return to some of our favorites (Sci-Fi, Alfredos, and San Angel) but we also wanted to try some new places. But, before you start anticipating reading about these meals, I’ll have to tell you that we kept our PS at very few of them. It could have been the heat, but the parks were also open late on this trip and we spent more evenings touring.

We found ourselves doing more snacking rather than taking the time for a sit-down meal. I think we were too ambitious in making so many PS before the trip. For many of these places, it just wasn’t necessary – unlike our ’99 trip, when it was busier and the parks closed earlier in May than July. So, we’re hoping to try more new restaurants on our December trip.

Friday, July 11: Travel Day

Rich worked from home that morning and we spent the afternoon finishing up our packing (including my new Straprunners, hoping to avoid blisters and sore feet for once), putting out the long-term feeders for our 3 Burmese cats, posting the instructions for the pet sitter, and playing with the kitties until time to drive to the airport around 6:30 PM.

The Columbus airport was easy to get around and it was pretty quiet on a Friday night. Quite a change from the SF and Portland airports we’re used to. It didn’t take long to do a self check-in and send our bags through security. On the way to our gate, we scouted out the airport, looking for a place to get a bite to eat but found only one place open: Mulligan’s. It looked promising. We each ordered a sandwich and a Columbus Pale Ale and enjoyed relaxing a bit before the flight. It was a nice way to start the trip. We were probably the last ones to be served. The restaurant closed just as we were finishing our meal and we remarked on our good timing.

We headed into the gift shop and Rich noticed John McEnroe’s autobiography but didn’t purchase it. We went to our gate and as we sat there and I started reading my book, Rich decided to run back to the gift shop to get the McEnroe book. Rich got there just in time. The gift shop closed just after him. Good timing again. Our trip was getting off to a good start.

The plane, however, was going to be half an hour late, due to weather-related problems with the incoming plane. Although we left Columbus 30 minutes late, we were only 15 minutes late arriving in Orlando. Other than that, the trip was uneventful. We enjoyed having only a 2-hour flight to Orlando compared to the cross-country flight we used to have to take from the West Coast. The biggest downside was that the seats felt like cardboard and it was an uncomfortable 2 hours. But, before long, we had arrived, picked up our luggage from baggage claim, checked into the Hyatt, and were soon fast asleep, dreaming of all of the Magic ahead of us.

About Kathy

Novelist & Music Producer