We don’t live THAT far from Disney, so driving is an option; however, the hubby is not interested in driving 8-9 hours for vacation … so, we like to fly! In 2013, we were able to fly out of our (somewhat) local airport – with a direct flight to Orlando. That direct flight has since been cancelled by Southwest – so, if we were to fly out of that same airport this year – we’d be changing planes – also not on hubby’s list of ‘acceptable travel arrangements’. So… what is the Foster family to do?? Drive to Atlanta, the night before, and fly out of the ATL!
After the girls finished school on Thursday, we loaded the car and headed to Atlanta – this is an easy drive for us (though, driving through Atlanta does give my husband a bit of anxiety). We arrived at our LOVELY hotel by 7 or 8pm. We like to stay at Hilton Garden Inn – as we’ve had great success with all of the locations we have been to – so, that is what we chose for this overnight stay.
As is typical – this was a very clean establishment that met all of our needs! We found our room to be clean and inviting – and we knew we’d rest (as much as one can rest when they are excited to start their Walt Disney World vacation!!) well before our flight out!
We booked a stay, park and fly package – which allowed us to leave our vehicle at the hotel for the duration of our vacation – and utilize the transportation to/from the airport, that the hotel provided! This worked out wonderfully for us! Unlike some of the area hotels that offer this service, the Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Airport/Millenium Center offers gated parking for it’s guests – so there was a sense of security in leaving our car parked there for over a week.
We had dinner in the on-site restaurant. While somewhat expensive (as is the case, typically, with these on-site restaurants) – it was a very nice meal. Of particular note – my husband really enjoyed his 1/2 roasted chicken which was exceptionally seasoned and moist. The girls had cheeseburgers, including The Classic Mobley (which is, apparently, a signature dish at Hilton restaurants).
I had some sort of steak wrap that was, obviously, somewhat forgettable. Certainly, the stand out was my husband’s chicken! All in all – a pretty good way to start our vacation.
After a good night’s rest – we were up early, for an early flight to MCO! The shuttles run every 30 minutes – and, unfortunately, we just missed one of the shuttles as we arrived downstairs – luckily, this hotel has a beautiful and comfortable lobby – so we waited for the next shuttle.
Once the shuttle came – we were on our way to the airport!! It was a short ride to the airport and the shuttle let us off at the Southwest entry and we were on our way!
We had chosen, this year, to utilize the Magical Express luggage service – which allows you to check your luggage at your departing airport – then you don’t have to worry with it at all! They get it from the airport for you – and deliver it to your room within 3 hours of your arrival to MCO! It worked out great for us!
Our experience in the ATL airport was mixed – mostly good – but, a few hiccups. Baggage check in was easy enough – though, we did find it a bit rude that the clerk ASKED for a tip (we were planning to tip, anyway – but, them asking is a bit rude – in my opinion). Anyway – that was easy enough – as was the TSA line (waiting, aside). Then we headed to the tram to get to our terminal!
Once we were checked in and through TSA, we headed to our gate to grab a bite to eat … and wait…. not so patiently… for our departure time!
We decided to grab bagels and other breakfast goodies from the Atlanta Bread that is in the airport – everything was good – though they certainly did flatten out our sandwiches. We did, however, find the service to be wonderful here! Then, my oldest and I wanted to get a coffee from Starbucks… let me tell you – there were some ‘characters’ working there … not rude, so much as just not engaged – and certainly more concerned with entertaining one another than helping their customers. Coffee was good – service, not so much.
Finally – we were boarded… and supposedly on our way – but, NO! Due to weather delays – we sat IN THE PLANE for an additional 1 1/2 hours before take off…. So we did what any self respecting people would do – we whined and complained to each other … and took silly selfies!!
Aside from some turbulence and a longer than normal flight (due to re-routing to avoid bad weather) the flight was good… but, we were so ready to be there!! Nothing worse than being on vacation, but not able to start your vacation yet!!!
Eventually – we made it to MCO …
and then boarded the Magical Express …
and then to Disney World …
and then to Pop Century …
and, eventually, to Magic Kingdom…
Check out the next installment of our trip report for what happens next!!!