Met the LaLas? Check.
Ridden our first Disney ride? Check.
Checked into our villa at Kidani? Check.
As much as I love the First Day Excitement – pulling under The Arches, checking into the resort, riding the first ride – there’s a part of the vacation that comes in a close second, and that’s Phase Two: The Actual Vacation. This part of the vacation can only start after the bags are unpacked and we’re sitched.
Which is why this installment comes right after the installment titled “Gettin’ Sitched.” I’m smart like that, friends.
But y’all know what I mean. There’s literally a moment that Phase Two kicks in, and you know you’re there. For at least a solid 24 hours prior to that moment – likely a full week if you’re Vacation Head of Household – you’ve been going ninety to nothin’. Gettin’ it done to get out of town. Traveling. Checking in. But all of a sudden, you’re all checked in, the last bag is unpacked, everyone has claimed their sleeping quarters and corresponding storage space, the toiletries line the countertops, the snacks fill the cabinets, and all that’s left to do is relax and enjoy your vacation. And for what is likely the only time during your vacation, your hotel room or villa is REALLY organized and everything is nice and clean.
Quick aside: This would be a good time to take pics. It is also a good time to pull out the bottle of Clorox and run it through the jets in the bathtub. And while that’s running, Lysol all the remotes and phone handsets. Your bed bug check should already be done, as EVERYONE knows it is far too late to find bedbugs if you’ve already unpacked. Those suckers are hitching a ride home with you by then.
I’m not saying the NMs are such neurotic germaphobes that we would actually do any of that nonsense, but if you ARE gonna do it, right before entering Phase Two of the vacation is the time. Cause who can relax when there are unchecked germs all over the place? I mean, WE could…but you might not be able to.
It was about 3 pm when we entered Phase Two. We had a 7 pm ADR at Coral Reef, which was perfect timing for a pre-dinner visit to the Kidani Pool. Everyone changed into their swimsuits, put on a little suncreen, and headed out the door.
The pool at Kidani Village was the primary reason we had chosen to stay there. We had checked it out on our Thanksgiving trip, and the kids were so impressed with it, there was no other place to stay even on their radar. It did not disappoint. It’s not huge, but strangely enough, it never felt crowded. The splash play area was tons of fun for every member of our party, (yes, even Roger and I) and we all love a zero entry.
So to the pool we headed. And we knew good fun as ahead. Because most of the time, I’m that Mama who is REALLY aware of what my kids are doing that might annoy the folks around us. I tell my kids that good manners show others that you value them. I believe good manners are a requisite behavior for people who love the Lord. And although we don’t always succeed, the NMs try to be those kinds of people who show a little bit of grace and mercy to folks around us. I don’t let my kids talk loudly in hotel corridors, I make sure they use nice manners in restaurants and other public places, and I really don’t believe there is any good excuse for being unkind to someone. Even when you think you’ve been wronged. In fact, especially when you think you’ve been wronged.
What does that have to do with the swimming pool? Hear this: In the swimming pool, all bets are off. We’re gonna get rowdy. If you’re hanging out by a swimming pool at Disney World, and the NMs are around, you are either gonna get splashed, get hit with a tennis ball, or hear my son’s laughter and smack talk no matter how far away from him you are. If you want an upscale pool experience, I can recommend some really nice places in Orlando where they’ll bring you a chilled towel and some fruity water while they spritz your face with a cool mist. The music is soothing and nice, and the fountains in the pool provide a pleasant sound track to the relaxation you feel as you lie in the sun. And the best part? The NMs won’t be there. Because we’re too busy being crazy at Kidani.
We’re on the slide. We’re in the zero entry playing baseball with a tennis ball. We’re in the shallow end playing Monkey in the Middle. We’re in the splash zone firing water cannons at each other. We’re everywhere. We are your relaxing afternoon at the pool’s worst nightmare.
It never fails that we draw a crowd, though. We catch the eye of all the kids who have polite parents that make them use good manners at the pool. We bring those kids into the fold, and we have a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time the whole time we’re there.
And that’s how we spent the first couple of hours of Phase Two: The Actual Vacation.
To the relief of many, we finally left the Kidani pool to head back to the villa for a little rest time before our dinner ADR at Coral Reef.
I love the downtime between the afternoon swim and the evening plans. (Yes, I realize that this is about the 14th thing I’ve said “I love” about a Disney trip, but would I be here if that wasn’t the case?) We pull the drapes closed, make sure the AC is pumpin’ some good, cold air, and settle into our various spots to slow it down for a little while. Usually, we all end up catching a few zzzzs. In real life, I’m not a napper. None of us are. But at Disney World, we can go to sleep faster than the Georgia Bulldogs can tank their football program.
We woke from our naps refreshed and ready to go. After we made ourselves presentable for an evening at Epcot, we packed our bags with the necessities and headed down the hall to the magic elevator that would take us right to our car. Said car would be parked in the shady garage and therefore not at all brutally hot. LOVE me some Kidani Village.
Arriving at Epcot is always a treat. We walked through the turnstiles and heard the Soarin’ soundtrack, saw Spaceship Earth towering overhead, and felt the warm humidity of a June night in Florida. We stopped and took some pics in front of the LaLas’ picture in the Legacy Garden, and then made our way back to Coral Reef.
We love Coral Reef – more for the atmosphere than the food – and we had a very nice dinner there. Until our waiter spilled an entire drink in Roger’s lap. But good ole Roger, ever the nice guy, just laughed and said it was OK. And that he was sure some VIP Fastpasses would make up for his trouble.
Sure enough, a few minutes later our waiter appeared with some Fastpasses, and as he walked away, we all high-fived one another and planned our next move. A quick spin on Test Track before Illuminations started would be the perfect way to end our first day.
So that’s what we did. As the sun was setting over Epcot, we took a 65 mile per hour spin around the Test Track. Screaming and laughing and hair flying. We disembarked the ride, walked over to our favorite spot to watch Illuminations, (Showcase Plaza), and pulled up to the front row. The cool pre-Illuminations music was playing, and before we knew it, the deep, melodic voice of the Illuminations narrator was introducing the show.
“Good evening, on behalf of Walt Disney World, the place where dreams come true, we welcome all of you to Epcot and World Showcase. We've gathered here tonight, around the fire, as people of all lands have gathered for thousands and thousands of years before us; to share the light and to share a story. An amazing story, as old as time itself but still being written. And though each of us has our own individual stories to tell, a true adventure emerges when we bring them all together as one. We hope you enjoy our story tonight; Reflections of Earth."
Then the sound of the torches being blown out. Then the steady drum beat. Getting faster and faster until it’s stopped by the first squeal of the Illuminations soundtrack, and the one arc of light that starts the show.
I couldn’t tell you how many Disney trips we’ve started in this exact way. Ten? Fifteen? I don’t know. But this time was no less exciting than that very first trip. And in some ways, it was MORE exciting. There was so much to look forward to. Traditions we’ve established at Disney that we can’t wait to do together. New things to experience this time – things we’ve still not done in ten or fifteen Disney trips.
Yes, here we were again. In our favorite spot. Literally and figuratively. Life moving forward so quickly that it makes our heads spin. But slowing down so that we can enjoy these next ten days together in our happy place. Phase Two has begun, and we are so blessed.
I prayed a prayer of thanks right then and there, and then put my arms around my family and sat back to enjoy the show.