WDW Trip Report - Day 1 (Arrival, EPCOT)Saturday finally came and off to the airport we went. Since we each had two checked bags plus a carry-on, we splurged and parked in the Daily parking deck between the terminals rather than heading out for the cheaper park'n'ride and having to shuttle in. We made it through security quickly and out to the gate with WAY too much time to spare, but that gave us time to pick up a couple of magazines (and, as a loyal Tar Heel fan, I was able to "flip the Weasel" (turn Duke's Coach K's book face-down) at the newsstand for the first time). I was unable to get us seats together, but we did have seats on consecutive rows on the single-seat side of the aisle. Since we last flew to Orlando, Delta had ditched their old Canadian Regional jets for Brazilian-made Embraers, with a single seat on the left and two on the right of each row. I'd gotten a lot of flight time in them both to Philadelphia a few years ago and every other week to DC this past year in my old job, so I knew they were noisy but quite comfortable. The flight was on-time and uneventful and we were promptly met by the Tiffany driver, who had our bags out to the Navigator and us on the road to WDW in a matter of minutes. No lines, no waiting, no hassles.
We arrived at the Boardwalk just after 3pm and were able to immediately check in and go to the room (check-in is officially at 4pm). The room was awesome - on the 4th floor (over Flying Fish) overlooking the courtyard of the Boardwalk resort and with a huge deck and a view of the Boardwalk itself. It was still in the 80s when we arrived (there was a cold front that was supposed to arrive that evening) so I ditched the jacket, grabbed the camera and we headed for EPCOT.
If you're not familiar with EPCOT, the main entrance is at the Spaceship Earth geosphere (which we were happy to see is now unadorned again, after a few years of it being surmounted by an absurd Mickey hand and magic wand), but there is a second entrance - the International Gateway - that opens out to the EPCOT resort area. For years, when we've been stressed and trying to think relaxing thoughts, the walk from the resorts to the International Gateway and then on to the England pavilion has been our little "happy place", so we enjoyed our slow stroll up the path. We had a couple of hours before dinner, so we took a stroll around the lake, enjoying all the Christmas decorations, the huge tree and lighted archway where the Futureworld and the World Showcase halves of the park join and marveling at the number of people that were there. We should have anticipated that regardless of the time of year, it would be crowded on the weekend and there were a lot of people there, although it wasn't uncomfortable. Dinner at Marrakesh was wonderful (we've eaten there before many times but this was our best meal there!), the belly dancer and the musicians were good and we made it out in plenty of time to see the wonderful nightly fireworks (Illuminations) which had a special holiday tag of an extra five minutes or so.
By this time we were pretty pooped (that was probably the most tired I was on the whole trip), so we stopped off at the Screen Door on the Boardwalk for stuff for breakfast and a couple of beers for me (a mistake I won't make again - the single beer price was outrageous even for Disney standards), poked around at the clothes in the shop and then headed up to the room. It was still warm, so rather than unpack, we hung out on the deck for a bit watching the folks on the Boardwalk (unfortunately they switched from the Christmas music they'd been playing all day to pop) and then called it a night.
More photos available at the gallery here.
Next: Sunday at Disney Studios