goofychefAnd we’re off – onto our whirlwind vacation in Orlando for the Disney Marathon Weekend. After a full year of preparation (my husband with his constant training, me with my advanced dining reservations and shopping for low-cost flights), we were finally off to Orlando. Of course, we had to go to Philly first. We decided we were going to drive our van to the Philly airport and use one of the Park and Fly lots nearby. So he and my son went to park the van while my daughter and I checked the luggage in at PHL.

My little girl was really excited – not only was she getting time off from school and heading to Disney, but she was also going on an airplane for the very first time.  I even let her have the window seat. I don’t do that for just anybody, but I am kinda fond of the kid!

Our flight was perfect. In fact, we arrived in Orlando ahead of schedule, and were immediately struck by the weather. After all, we were still bundled up in our winter jackets that were just fine in the hovering-around-freezing temps of Philadelphia, but really out of place in the autumn –like Florida sun. We headed over to Alamo to pick up our rental car, hoping to get to the house we rented and change clothes pronto! Unfortunately, the woman at the counter told us the four-door we requested would be too small for us (two adults, one gangly-tall teenager and one little girl) and our luggage (yes, I tend to overpack) so we ended up upgrading to an SUV. It did cost us almost $200 more (ouch!) including a tank of gas, but it ended up being a real treat, as the Hyundai we chose only had six miles on it!

I was a little nervous about the villa we rented because we were going into it sight unseen. The one we had chosen had been double-booked by accident, but the rental agent assured us that the one we would be staying at, the Magical Manor, was even bigger and wouldn’t cost us a cent more (unlike the rental car!). It turned out I had nothing to fret over, as the house was absolutely gorgeous and even came equipped with a closet full of princess costumes, jewelry and shoes that our youngest really adored. In fact, as we unpacked, we had a visit from “Belle.”

After settling in, we decided to head over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports to check out the Expo and check our runners in. My husband, of course, was running the marathon on Monday. My son was going to run the Mickey Mile and my little girl the 400 meter dash as part of the Kidsfest on Friday. And I, the walker of the group, had signed up for the Cheer Squad. So we ventured over to ESPN, got our respective packages and wandered around the Expo, where various vendors were shilling their wares.

This was the first time I’d ever been at ESPN, and I really loved exploring this new-to-me property. But we couldn’t take too long, because we wanted to make a quick stop at the Magic Kingdom before our dinner reservations at Chef Mickey’s that night. We did a quick round of rides – The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Railroad – before heading to the Contemporary for our meal with the Big Five!

Coming Up: Day Two – Kids’ Fest and Cousins!