At about 2am I finally went to bed for a couple hours of sleep before getting up and calling a cab to the airport for my 6am flight.
Once I got to the airport in plenty of time, I found out that for some inexplicable reason, my flight time had changed and was not actually until closer to noon. WHAT!?! I guess I had been bumped, which really pissed me off, because a) I was working on very little sleep and b) it meant that the carefully orchestrated planning we had done to meet up at the same time at MCO was all a bust. I wouldn't be getting into Florida until 11pm now, while Mum and Stitch were getting in at 5pm. That meant no dinner at Epcot and Illuminations on our first night in the World!
Even though I could have gone back home and gone back to bed for a few hours I'd already paid almost $50 for the cab ride there and wasn't about to spend another $100 for two more cab rides that day. I was so cranky I took an anger nap right there on the dirty floor of the airport. I'm a grown woman, but there I was in my green hoodie and backpack all curled in a corner of the concourse, head propped on my purse. Ever the Oregonian college student. Nobody bothered me (I expected some security people or airline agents to come tell me it was against federal regulations to lay on the floor at an airport but I guess it's not) except a janitor who came and vacuumed around my body.
Once I made it to Dallas for my connecting flight and contacted my vacation partners again I was in a better mood, even though they were already in Florida and I was terribly jealous. I had some veggie noodle dish at the airport there; the counter dude was nice and chatted me up a little so I was feeling better. I tried not to let the odd looks get to me as I ate-- I felt very much a fish out of water in Dallas. My purple hair was getting many stares and my run of the mill, causal, not-even-a-hipster look was not as endearing at DFW as it is in Portland. But the layover passed without incident and pretty soon I was on my way to Florida!
By this time it was dark of course, and as we flew I saw the most incredible thing! There were sporadic puffs of clouds around us, and each giant cottonball cloud was occasionally lit from within by lightning. They were illuminated in shades of grey, purple and pink, and I was mesmerized. I've never seen anything like it; I was a little surprised not to hear any thunder. I was also surprised that we seemed to be flying right through this little electrical storm in a giant metal tube and it wasn't affecting us at all. I tried to get a few pics after messing with the settings on my camera but it never worked out, so there aren't any photos of this first day of the vacation at all. I guess being so cranky and getting into MCO late wasn't all bad-- I never would have experienced the odd lightning phenomenon otherwise!
Image from Wired Science
After a little irritated wandering at the baggage claim in MCO trying to find Ursula and Stitch we finally met up with big hugs and happy faces. Ursula had already picked up the rental car (free upgrade from standard to luxury-- she chose a Lincoln Towncar) and driven to the Swan with Stitch navigating on her iPhone to check in. Mum is a nervous driver and even though Stitch is 16 she doesn't have any desire to learn how to drive. So getting from the airport to the Swan and back without a map was a major accomplishment. I was the official driver of this trip, so after a fast visit to the rental counter to add me to the agreement we loaded into the car and took off for Disney property!
We cracked a few jokes about doing some unlicensed tourist transport if we needed to earn extra money during the trip-- after all, we had the right car for it.
I was really excited, albeit quite tired, so when we went under the Disney arch and saw the Tower of Terror from the road I couldn't resist emitting high pitched squeals, much to the delight of my passengers. I think at this point we went to the Swan and dropped off my stuff, then loaded back into the car to go on a Taco Bell run. Coming from a small town in Alaska without very many fast food places, Stitch was very excited to get to Taco Bell. I was hungry enough I could have managed to chow a 7-layer burrito or two myself, but our phones weren't able to help us locate the nearest TB very easily, and after almost an hour of wrong turns we gave up. It was after 1am by this point and even though Stitch was disappointed I called a moratorium on our search for cheap burritos.
The Swan looked very nice, even though the large swan fountain in the lobby had been turned off due to the late hour, I liked it a lot. It all felt very grand as we walked by. There was practically nobody around, it was very quiet.
The air outside was balmy but not overly humid, a very pleasant night. Immediately upon setting down my stuff in our room I stepped out on the balcony and admired the view of the corner of The Dolphin and the landing for the Friendship boats. It was fantastic to actually be in WDW again after years of being away and all our planning.
The room was really nice, with a long desk/counter surface over several cupboards and drawers along the wall opposite the beds, which I thought utilized the space quite nicely. There was a giant TV which took up a lot of room on this sideboard thing though, and it would have been better to have that either as a flat screen on the wall, or in a cupboard so we didn't have to look at it or have it in our way all the time. We are not TV watchers on vacation, and having read about the limited amount of channels available, none of us ever bothered to turn on a TV the entire time we were there. I was able to set up my computer and check in with my classes, put away my clothes, and store the empty luggage in the little closet. There was a coffeemaker set up at the sink outside of the bathroom, and another set of sinks inside the bathroom. Having food so near the bathroom was still not terribly appetizing, but we kept the door closed and hopefully all contaminants were securely locked inside.
A few really nice things about the Swan: Rooms come with free bottled water in the mini fridge which is replenished every day. They serve Starbucks coffee and supply paper cups, so you can easily take your room-brew with you to the parks in the morning. The Friendship boat launch is right outside, and they will take you to Disney Hollywood Studios and Epcot's International Gateway entrance, as well as a few other deluxe Disney resorts, including the Boardwalk. So convenient!
We really loved staying here!
Here are some photos of the room. Note these are from the last day of our stay at the Swan, but it gives you an idea of what the accommodations are like.
Heavenly feather beds
Sideboard/desk/drawer thing, loaded up with our stuff
The extraordinary view from the balcony!
Even looking down offered a pretty courtyard view