Anna June loves all her aunts and uncles. Most of them live here in Alabama, so we see them pretty frequently. She also loves her extended family, although we don't get to see them all that much. Some are in Wisconsin and other states. A whole bunch of them are in Florida, though.
My Aunt Heidi, after having lived in Montgomery, AL, for a while, moved back to Jacksonville, FL a few years ago. Ever since she moved, she has been telling us that we ought to take Anna June to Disney World and stay with her and her daughter Morgan. It sounded like a good invitation.
Ben's Uncle Jeff and Aunt Gail had retired to their home on the island of Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands, where they used to just escape the harsh Wisconsin winters. A few years ago, they left the BVI for St. Augustine, FL. Ever since they moved back stateside, they've been telling us to bring Anna June to Disney Word and stay with them.
It sounded like a couple of offers we couldn't refuse.
To make it even more important, Anna June had never even met Jeff and Gail in person. They had visited Wisconsin, but not at the same times we did.
So we started planning our trip.
Did we want to drive? Not really. AJ is a veteran flier, and she lobbied for taking an airplane rather than a car. We only have one car that can travel far, and it's getting up there in miles. Renting is not ideal, either.
From the map, Jacksonville and St. Augustine were not THAT close to Orlando. It's do-able, but it's more than a couple of hours.
Although it was tempting to fly straight in and out of Orlando, where they have a bus called the "Magical Express" to take you away to your Disney World resort, we decided that we really wanted to visit. I would not be talked out of quality time with people we never get to see, who live only one state away.
So we flew into Jacksonville via Atlanta, as there are no longer any direct flights between the two. Then, we rented a car at the airport, and drove to Heidi's house. After staying with her for a night, we drove to Jeff and Gail's, about a 45-minute drive. We stayed there a night and drove to Disney World, checked in to our hotel room, returned our rental car at a location on their property, took a shuttle bus to a different hotel inside the park and took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Simple, right?
We flew home out of Orlando, which was almost as magical as advertised. We were able to check in to the airline and check our bags right at our resort! It was great to be able to go hassle-free, although we did have to check in 3 hours before our flight, which meant 6:30 AM!
Ben did a fantastic job of finagling our schedule to make it all work. I seriously could not have done it without him.
The first snafu of the trip occurred when renting the car from Alamo in JAX. We had a reservation all taken care of, but when we arrived, they printed out the contract for someone with a different name. After a really long time, they figured out this was occurring because they had a previous customer in their computer system that had the same driver's license number as Ben. The other guy was from British Columbia, Canada. Can you believe it? That's our luck. The trip got better, for the most part.
1 day ago