Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort

For this trip convenience was the number one consideration in choosing a hotel. LJ's Pop has a bad ankle and knees so needed an ECV and LJ of course had his stroller. The Polynesian would normally be our first pick for a monorail resort but they don't have any villas (yet) and the construction (of said villas) was taking place, so we decided to steer clear of our slice of paradise. The Grand Floridian was way out of our price range, so that left Bay Lake Tower (BLT) at Disney's Contemporary Resort.

Bay Lake Tower from the bus stop walkway.

This is an extremely popular resort, so much so that we paid full rack rate for our stay as no discounts were offered at all for our dates (very rarely do they discount rooms here since they have no trouble selling them). We also made sure to make our reservation as soon as the 2014 rates were released to give us the best chance of securing a 2-bedroom villa.

The resort has a 'contemporary' theme, in the same vein as the connecting Contemporary Resort. Whilst some people love the resort for this reason, we just didn't really feel like we were in Disney. We commented on the fact that it felt as though we could have been in a hotel anywhere, as opposed to one of the happiest places on Earth. For this reason alone, I don't think we will stay here again. If it had a different, more immersive theme it may have given the Polynesian a run for the title of favourite resort because it was super convenient, comfortable and had plenty to offer in terms of dining and recreation.

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Flying with a 1-Year Old

This was LJ's third international trip, he came with us to Walt Disney World last May and then to Thailand for a wedding last August. However, we knew it would be the first trip he would be mobile and he was also going to be too big for the bassinet (we affectionately call him the monster and at 12kg and 84cm tall he lives up to that name), so we made the decision that we would purchase a seat for him as opposed to nursing him on our lap the entire way. We are so glad we did this; none of us would have survived the flight if he were on one of our laps with a stranger sitting in the third seat of our row. It definitely wasn't the cheapest option but the 9 hours of sleep we got out of him on the way home made it worth every cent.

When we selected our seats I purposely avoided the bulkhead seats. They would have offered more leg room but the arm rests are fixed and wouldn't allow LJ to lay across the seats with his head on one of our laps, which is how he spent most of the trip.

We also purchased a CARES harness, which allowed LJ to sit in his own seat for take off and landing. This wouldn't work for all 1 year olds, as it is for kids between 10kg and 20kg, but I felt much safer with him in the harness during take off and landing than I did with him in my lap. Delta doesn't provide the lap belts for infants that Qantas do, so this was even more important to me. He didn't love being in the harness all the time, so once the seat belt sign came off we would leave him in the lap belt only or he was being held by one of us. As he gets older and understands more of what is happening he will hopefully get more comfortable with wearing the harness for longer. I imagine we'll continue to use this beyond 2, even though it's not required after that point, to maximize his safety. The harness was super easy to install, especially with early boarding for families, and was nice and small for transporting. It has a strap that goes around the seat back (you have to put the table behind you down to tighten it and then the table closes over it) and two sholder straps that have loops for the lap belt to feed through. You then buckle the lap belt and the chest strap to secure the harness. LJ did slide down a little at times, since there isn't anything between the legs, but it wasn't too much of a drama.

LJ all strapped into his CARES Harness. You can see the red strap that goes around the seat back in the top right and the black straps that hold him in.

I had purchased LJ some volume-controlled headphones for the trip but LJ's still a bit young to sit and watch the shows on the personal entertainment systems. He was happy enough with just the pictures and preferred pressing the power button continuously to watching the shows.

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Delta Airlines Review

We normally fly to the United States with Qantas but a couple of things had us looking at alternatives this trip. Our bad experience with getting our luggage in May had us keen to try another airline with better connection options for Orlando and hopefully no need to sprint from one end of LAX to the other. We also had my Dad travelling with us this trip and as a larger man we were hoping to find an affordable way to get him some more legroom – Qantas' premium economy didn't check the affordable box for us unfortunately.

We considered Virgin Australia, but didn't like their connection times to Orlando. This left United and Delta for direct flights to LA and then connecting on to Orlando. Until United get their new planes in April they don't have in-seat entertainment, so they were out. That left us with Delta, who had the best connection times of any airline and the opportunity to upgrade to economy comfort for a reasonable price to tick the extra legroom box.

So how did they do...

Check in here in Sydney went relatively smoothly. We couldn't check LJ in online since he was an infant with his own seat but that didn't end up mattering as there was nobody in the check in queue when we arrived! LJ's booking did mean our Delta agent had to consult with a superior, but they handled the uncommon booking a lot better here than in LA where it took about 20 minutes for the agent to check us in and then she'd entered LJ's passport details for both him and Jim we discovered once at the gate.

The baggage allowance with Delta is identical to Qantas, so we could have taken two cases each plus LJ's stroller for free. Excess baggage charges are pretty high, so if you can manage two bags each (or even an extra bag for one or two of you) then I'd bring them along just in case. When we were checking in at LAX the woman at the counter next to us only had one bag that was way over the weight limit. She was looking at $100 USD in fees for the bag until a friend offered some space in her second bag. We took three cases and were smack on the limit coming home – 48 pounds, 49 pounds and 46 pounds (the limit is 50 pounds). As LJ gets bigger we're going to have to add a fourth bag to that. I should say that we don't fill them on the way there. One suitcase was full entirely of outlet purchases coming home, we stock up on a year's worth of clothes at a time!

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January 2014 Trip Report

We obviously love Disney and it is a huge part of our lives. If we're not helping people plan their holidays, we're planning our next adventure, researching the current happenings in Disney destinations around the world or just enjoying Disney magic wherever we can find it.

We decided it was time to share some of our Disney love with our extended family, so we convinced LJ's Nan, Pop, Aunty Sammie and Uncle Josh to hop on a plane with us and take a guided tour around Walt Disney World before some down time on a Disney Cruise.

After the cruise we all went our own ways and our little family of three finished up the Disney trifecta with a short stay in Disneyland.

We are glad to have had the opportunity to experience Disney with a larger group, it is certainly a little different to just the three of us.

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May 2013 Walt Disney World Trip – Checking Out and Final Remarks

Checking out is without a doubt the worst part of any holiday. We had mostly packed up the night before, so after our Cape May Café breakfast we just had a few things to fit into our bags before calling bell services to come and collect everything to store for us until our Disney's Magical Express collection time.

We had a 5:30pm flight and Disney's Magical Express was scheduled for 2:15pm, giving us just over 3 hours to kill between checking out and getting picked up. We had requested a late checkout in the hopes of giving LJ one last nap in the crib but we soon discovered that late check out isn't a possibility with the villas. If you're in a non-DVC resort and request a late check out Disney are normally fairly accommodating and will extend your check out time free of charge if they don't need your room for an incoming guest.

In an effort to kill some time we walked over the Epcot and wandered over to the Seas with Nemo and Friends. We'd hoped to see a showing of Turtle Talk with Crush but there were too many people about so we passed. It was turning out to be an extremely hot and we just weren't feeling it, so we ended up returning to the BoardWalk in hopes of finding some air conditioning. We grabbed a couple of last minute things from the gift store and then just lounged around in the comfy lobby chairs while LJ napped in his stroller (thank goodness).

Because our flight number was a domestic flight number, Disney scheduled our pick up time for 3 hours before departure. However, once we arrived at MCO we encountered a nightmare security line. Even when LJ started losing it (after over half an hour in line), nobody offered to help us get through the queue a little quicker. It was excruciatingly slow and I believe they were having pretty much everyone complete a full body scan which I guess was part of the problem. We had planned to grab a bite to eat once we were through security but that didn't come to pass since we had absolutely no time. Next time I am going to request a pick up 4 hours in advance. Taking pick ups at other resorts into consideration, check in time, security time etc. I would prefer to wait for an hour comfortably stress free on the other side of security than in the lobby of the hotel and be rushed at the airport. I don't really remember it ever being this bad before, so maybe it was the time we were flying, who knows? I'm interested to see what it's like on my upcoming trip and if this day was just an anomaly.

That's pretty much it, no photos or excitement on this day, just a see you later and we'll be back real soon! Having another trip in the planning is the only way I have found to quickly and effectively overcome the post Disney blues. Bringing LJ along for his first visit made this trip a very special one and we are looking forward to experiencing the magic of Disney with him as he grows. Lots of people make mention of the fact that he won't remember the trip, so why take him? That's true, he won't remember it, but we will. Seeing his face when he recognised Mickey Mouse (we had watched lots of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in preparation) was the most magical moment of any of our trips!

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