The longest day
We decided to eat breakfast at the travelodge. Not something I normally do at £7.50 a breakfast, but what the heck, we are on holiday. And apart from that, we have absolutely no idea where we are, or what is nearby. Breakfast was ok, but I am not in the holiday mode because I never thought to take a photograph! We filled up on a full english, and returned to the room and packed up. We had arranged to meet the parking meet and greet at 10.30 but we were ready and raring to go at 9am, so I gave them a ring and they agreed an earlier pickup. We drove over to the terminal, and no sign of the meet & greet but quite a few security guards so I wasn’t comfortable just hanging around, so we went around the block again, and this time, just as we pulled up, there was the parking guy just pulling up at the same time. It actually worked really well, we just got out of the car, and he got in and drove off. Not without first checking our car for damage. Our car is quite old and well used, so there was plenty of damage for him to note, which was ever so slightly embarrasing!
Into the airport, and we checked in at a little kiosk, no bother at all, and not checking in online made very little difference. Check in was very painless, and we headed upstairs through security and back in to the shops. Security is very high tech compared to Newcastle, with secure gates you need to swipe your boarding pass to go through, it reminded me of the tube. We all went through security, and Molly was beeped! The lady was lovely and chatted to Molly whilst she checked her over, and then wished her a happy holiday.
Once in the shops, we were a little confused, I couldn’t work out how to get to the gates. It transpired that we had to walk through a shop – I should have realised, they’ve obviously been taking lessons from DIsney!
We do the normal hanging around the airport thing for quite a while.
There is no gate listed for our flight, but we can see a Virgin plane, so we go and sit by it for a while, and even take a photo of it.
Then we discover that it’s the wrong Virgin plane, eventually we found ours which is the Virginia Plain.
At one point all the Virgin stewardesses walk up and down the corridor looking for the gate, and they appear to be reenacting the latest Virgin commercial as all heads turn to watch them go.
We finally board, and our seated in the seats I picked months ago, 33 DEFG, right across the middle. They are as comfortable as can be expected (ie, not very at all), and we are provided with kids packs, amenity packs, pillows and blankets so as to effectively clutter our limited space with as much unwanted junk as possible.
The seat back tv’s are a revelation, in 7 trips this is only the 2nd or 3rd time we have had them, so we always travel armed with nintendos, ipods, colouring etc. The travel bags were barely cracked open, we all plugged in and watched tv most of the way. I watched Star Trek (absolutely brilliant), Last Chance Harvey (ok), Life on Mars, and a Documentary about Alan Sugar (by this point anything would have been deemed interesting), Phil and Molly watched Monsters & Aliens, and Katie watched Hannah Montana, three times.
We flew a rather strange route, really far inland over Pennsylvania and Virginia, apparently to avoid storms. It was still quite bumpy, but eventually after what seemed like the longest flight ever, we land. The head steward then comes on the tannoy and tells us 300 BA passengers are about to land, and if we want to avoid the queues we should hurry – Immediately 300 people leap to their feet, grab their bags, and push their kids off the plane. Personally, I think the steward wanted to get off work as quickly as possible! Approaching immigration I remembered a Dibb trick I’ve never been able to employ before, and we took the queue next to the US Citizens only line. We were immediately called through and cleared in immigration in record time. We had to wait a while for our bags, and then up the escalator and onto the monorail and out of the airport as quickly as possible. This was one place where I thought Molly’s achy legs might become a problem, but she was a star and kept on going. We had done FastTrack for Budget, so straight to the garage, no queue, although we did have to fill in quite a lot of paperwork considering we were fasttrack, and we get they keys to our Chevy Cobalt.
We had booked the basic car which came with our package – I need to check but I think it was Compact. Well, it was great. I opened the boot and my eyes popped out, it was massive. Our 2 enormous holdalls just disappeared into the back of the boot no problem, along with the 3 carryon bags as well. I would be quite happy with a car this size every time, we don’t need anything bigger.
We finally escape the airport at 7pm, just about an hour after we got off the plane. The last time we did MCO it took us over 3 hours to get out, so we are quite pleased with this result.
Drive down to Pop Century is fairly painless, and as we pull into Pop excitement levels are reaching fever pitch. It looks brilliant as you drive up, the signs are all brightly coloured and funky.
I really like all the little signs on the way in that say, ‘AirConditioning’ and ‘Colour Tv’ etc. just little things that add to detail. No queue at check in, and we are given a room in the 50s. I decide to pop into the store to pick up something to drink, and this is where I notice the first difference fron the other resorts we have stayed in. We have always been able to buy groceries in the resort shop, but I couldn’t find them anywhere at Pop. They had ‘Grab & Go’ food, but no section with boxes of donuts, 2 liter bottles of drinks etc. I remain convinced they must have them, as I didn’t even see diapers and they must surely sell things like that but it really wasn’t obvious. We find our room and the kids decide they want a swim. Phil takes them in the pool,
whilst I walk over to the Food Court and collect some food. By this point it’s about 8pm, which makes it 1am in my head, so I am feeling just a little tired. I wander around and around in the food court – it would’t surprise me if they had security tailing me, I just couldn’t focus. Eventually chose some pizza and Shrimp Lo Mein, both chosen primarily because they were easy to carry! and I find the kids in the pool and we return to the room. I had forgotten to get drinks in the food court, so I popped to the vending machine to get a couple of bottles of pop. $2.75 for a bottle of coke. Ouch. I am now wondering if that is standard Disney price for a bottle of coke, I suspect it probably is. A trip to the supermarket is definitely in order.
Dinner eaten, and we finally head off to bed around 9pm. 9’s not too early I tell myself, maybe we’ll manage to sleep until a normal time in the morning.
Thoughts on Pop Century
It’s quite fun and colourful. When we pulled into the drive, we were all really taken with it and thought it looked brilliant, loads of ‘ Aw Cool’, and “check that out’ could be heard. Check In looks brilliant, and Phil and I spent ages looking at the displays of 70s ad 80s gear, going ‘OMG, we had one of those’
We found our room, which isn’t in the best location in the resort, however since we are only staying one night that’s fine and I presume why we weren’t given a ‘desirable’ spot. The 50s doesn’t really have the same ‘Wow’ look as the other buildings, the icons seem a little more bland, the 60s building looks brilliant covered in Flower Power. There is a massive Jukebox by the 50s pool which is pretty cool looking.
The first thing that struck me about the room is how small it is. I’ve read sq footage before, and never really thought there was much in it between the Values and the Mods, but when you open the door into our room you walk straight into the bed. I think maybe it’s poorly laid out? If the beds were on the other wall it maybe would fill bigger as that wouldn’t happen. I don’t know. There is no coffee machine/refrigerator, or curtain across the bathroom area, and only one sink. The only one of those I would miss on a longer trip is the coffee machine/refrigerator, as it rather effectively means you have to buy the $12 mugs and walk to the food court every time you want a cup of coffee.
Compared to the travelodge last night, it’s absolutely wonderful, the bed was comfortable and the pillows are really massive and puffy. But, if I am completely honest, if we took a non DVC trip, then I think rather than staying at POP I would look at somewhere like Cypress Pointe or maybe Downtown Disney hotels. Mainly because of the size of the room, but also the lack of coffee maker & refrigerator really makes it hard to do anything for yourself and whilst the food court was fine, i don’t like to be reliant on it.