Hello readers and welcome to another installment of The Life and Times of Jamie. There has been lots of happenings since we last spoke so I will break this story up into parts. As you know, I travel for a living. This makes my free time very anti-social in nature…I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. But every 4 years, I decide to take a vacation. This year, Yvette decided it was time to see Disney; she has never been. (I know, she’s a weirdo.) So we packed our bags and hit the wide open roads. Now traveling with a rookie is always entertaining and seeing the perfection that is Disney through someone else’s eyes is a great experience, so I will take you through it step by step.
Experiences on the road have formed habits in me. For example, I’m an early flyer. So we get up at 3 AM to catch the 6 AM flight to Orlando. Jamie’s Travel Tip (something new I’m trying out…let me know what you think): Fly as early as you can. The longer you wait, the more variables you have to factor in. The more variables to consider, the higher probability of things going wrong. Even if your plans are flexible, it gives you more options. After we dealt with the nightmare that is airport parking construction, which is a separate blog, we go to the counter. My favorite agent, Mary is there with her usual smile welcoming me to the counter. Since I practically live in the San Antonio airport, she recognizes me immediately and asked where I was off to this time. I told her me and the little lady would be traveling to THE HAPPIEST PLACE ONE EARTH! She checked our bags and were on our way. It took us less than five minutes from talking to Mary to sitting at our gate thanks to Delta Platinum Status and TSA Pre Check. (the Road Warrior life has to have some benefit, right?) A 30 minute Starbucks break and we were on our way…
We didn’t have a direct flight; stopped at my most favorite airport in the world, Atlanta Hartsfield International. there are many reasons that it is my favorite but to come to mind in both of them can be found in concourse A: G Garvin’s Low Country restaurant and Piece of Cake. Why you ask? G Garvin is one of my most favorite chefs and you can get THE BEST RED VELVET CAKE YOU HAVE EVER HAD IN YOUR LIFE at Piece of Cake. Fast forward past landing in Orlando and witnessing several rookie travel mistake induced flameouts although…
Jamie travel tip: before you travel, sign up for every reward program of the companies that you will use during your travel. It doesn’t matter if you travel 80 times a year or just one, reward programs are actually worth it. With reward programs come benefits like apps, mobile check-in, bypassing customer service comments, etc. Waiting until you arrive at your destination to engage rental car companies, tour bus companies, attraction ticket companies, etc. is the biggest mistake you could ever make.
We arrived at our vacation condo pumped like two five-year-olds at Chucky Cheese. After promptly unpacking, I gave Yvette a tour of the resort. When done, we proceeded to go over our execution plan for the week. The engineer in me plans everything so this execution plan was pretty intense. Let’s just say there were value stream maps, A3 diagrams, dashboards, variance allowances diagrams… You get the picture. In a week, we wanted to do all four major Disney parks, Universal Studios and Islands of adventure, the Navy seal Museum in Fort Pierce, and visit with friends who were in town for a conference. There was a lot to do in a very short amount of time so precision was key. Side note: remind me later in another blog to fully go into how much respect I have for the precise engine that is Disney. I will refer to it several times in this blog but it really needs its own blog to reflect the pure genius and efficiency of the system. there will however be a couple tools that I will refer to in the blog that I feel that I must explain beforehand:
1.My Disney experience – this busy account allows you to manage your Disney experience more effectively. The app, which you can download on both iOS and android, has maps to all of the parks, wait times at the rides, as well as Disney character locations for photo ops. It also allows you to link your tickets to your account, link your tickets to your magic band as well as fast pass.
2. magic band – this wristband allows for easy entry into the parks as it has all of your ticket and my Disney experience information loaded to it.
3.Fast pass – the VIP service for rides, performances, and the like. The all-important “Skip the line” pass
OK… Back to the regularly scheduled program. We struggled to close our eyes and sleep for sunrise would bring the first part of our plan: Magic Kingdom!!
After we listened to the timeshare management tell us how happy they were that we were owners and shamefully try to sell us another timeshare, we were on our way to MK . We purchased our four day hopper through the Air Force’s MWR which issued us vouchers in our name, so we had to go to the front gate to exchange them for our tickets. Understandable since the hopper came at an extreme discount and they are trying to avoid fraud. The one drawback to this was that we couldn’t sign up for Fast Pass until we actually got our tickets. As the lovely gate attendant, Denise, processed our tickets, she asked us if we wanted a magic band. 12 bucks for not having to keep up with that ticket for four days??? YES PLEASE!! It’s pretty cool. When you put your Magic Band up to the Star Trek scanner, you also do a fingerprint scan. Disney FTW!!!. The next five hours flew by in a blur of parades, rides, photo ops, and great food. No time felt wasted; no wait in line felt without purpose. I have never seen that many teeth displayed in Yvette or myself for that long EVER! Magic Kingdom definitely lives up to all the hype. (See picture proof in the link below) We slept the sleep of contentment that night.
National Navy SEALs Museum and Downtown Disney
On Tuesday, I woke more excited than I have in a long time. For on this day, we were invited by a good friend, Ron, to tour the National SEALs Musuem at Ft. Pierce. We were totally jazzed for the tour, but we need to kill a little time so we headed to Downtown Disney for some retail therapy. I had an itch and the only thing that could scratch it was Star Wars T-Shirts, Marvel collectibles, and LEGOS!!!!! We spent several hours scouring thru a mountain of Disney merchandise imagining either what it would look like in our wardrobe or where the best place in the house would be for it. After a few hours of bliss, we meet up with Ron to make the hour and a half drive to Ft. Pierce. Ron arranged for his father to give us a tour of the SEAL musuem…Did I mention Ron’s father is a former Captain of SEAL Team 6? Yeah…there’s that. 🙂
This tour was one of the best experiences of my life. Seeing the history of one of the most storied military groups ever was a joy in and of itself, but having the stories told by such an esteemed member of the SEALs put it over the top. It all came alive in a way only someone who has lived it can make it. Exellence out of neccessity…I am a common man with an uncommon desire to succeed. Goosebumps! Historical accounts, weapon displays, and battle plans take on life as we are lead thru a perfect shrine to the best of us.
This is probably a good plae to take a pause. I’ll pick this up later. If you would like the visual version, the link is below. Until next time…