Thursday was the big day – the official start of the first-ever DISDads Convention. We were running a bit slow in the morning, and genius that I am I’d planned a rope-drop ride on Space Mountain on an Extra Magic Hour morning. Jon was going to melt down if he didn’t get his Pop Century breakfast, and this was our last morning at POP, so we decided to split up for the morning. I jumped in the car and headed for the TTC. Miriam and the kids would catch the bus (and be delivered to the front gates). I parked at the TTC, and overheard people saying that the monorail was down. No big deal. I started heading for the ferry . . . until I overheard another group of guests heading the opposite direction talking about how the ferry wasn’t running yet (I had forgotten about that little quirk of EMH mornings). Ultimately, I boarded a bus at the TTC, which proceeded to make stops at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary resorts before finally getting to the Magic Kingdom.

Randall and MikaelaI went through the turnstiles and started looking for red shirts. Shortly before the Welcome Show began, I met Randall and his MUCH better half Jodi. We watched the Welcome Show together, and headed for Tomorrowland at rope drop, all the while watching for more DISDads. We found Ian and his family and we all set up shop looking for fellow DISDads in front of Space Mountain. I got texts from Carl, Nate, and Mark indicating that they were running late; and another from Miriam telling me that she and the kids were on their way to Tomorrowland. We rode Space Mountain (almost walking on) in three rockets, one for each family group. We headed next for Astro-Orbiter, getting in another ride while we waited for more of the crew to catch up to us. I played a bit of a game of hide and seek with Carl and Nate, finally catching up with them after outside the Space Mountain exit.

Photo shamelessly stolen from Nate's trip report on the DISDads boards

Photo shamelessly stolen from Nate’s trip report on the DISDads boards

We still had over an hour before the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor meet, so Mikaela and I headed across the park to Big Thunder Mountain with Nate and Jayce and the Shepard family. Jonathan insisted that Miriam take him on Stitch’s Great Escape (glad I dodged that bullet). The crowd of DISDads grew as we were gathering at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Unfortunately, just as we were about to enter the theater, I got a phone call and had to put on my travel agent hat.

ChickenWaffleSandwichIn what I should have recognized as a bit of an omen for the day, a client was having a problem with his tickets. I missed the show, but a few phone calls and text messages later, we’d worked out the problem. (This became a recurring issue for several people that weekend. Cast Members at multiple resorts had problems getting tickets properly encoded on room keys, especially the new RFID keys). The group split up after Laugh Floor. My kids wanted another ride on the Tomorrowland Speedway (have I mentioned yet that I’ll be THRILLED when they outgrow that one). After the Speedway it was time for lunch, and I got to make my stop at Sleepy Hollow for a Spicy Chicken & Waffle sandwich.

I don’t know what it was about this trip, but all of us were pretty worn out again after lunch, and we did still need to get checked in at Port Orleans-Riverside (our resort of the rest of the trip). So we headed to my car at the TTC. One of the challenges of traveling with a child in a wheelchair was that, with the wheelchair in the trunk, there was no room for luggage in the rental car. So we had our luggage sent from Pop Century to Port Orleans. We’ll come back to that too. By the time we pulled up at Port Orleans, Jonathan had already fallen asleep in the car. We had to wake him to go into the lobby to check-in. Check-in started out just great. The line moved quickly, we had a friendly CM. She found our reservation in the system immediately. Our room was ready . . .Oh. Wait. The room we were assigned to was ready, but it was also already occupied. Oops. I think that getting us into a different room actually required the intervention of Bob Iger himself. The resort was booked solid because of Marathon Weekend, and because we were booked into a group block of standard rooms, the system would not allow the CM at the desk to assign us to a non-standard room. But there were no open standard rooms. Finally, after what seemed like a day and a half (but was probably more like about 20 minutes), and multiple levels of supervisor intervention, we were assigned to an upgraded water view room on the first floor (easier with the wheelchair).

Fresh off the thrill of actually getting assigned to a room, I decided to roll the dice and getting our paper tickets moved over onto our shiny new RFID Key To The World cards. Again, the CM was cheery and friendly, but had LOTS of difficulty getting done what we’d asked him to do. The process took longer than any other ticket change/switch I’ve ever done. As we discovered throughout the rest of the trip, even with taking that extra time, the addition of the tickets to the KTTW cards hadn’t really worked properly, as we had difficulty every time we used an RFID-reader turnstile.

We still had the big Convention kickoff dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe to go. Our luggage was supposed to arrive in the next hour and a half or so (we had been told to expect it by 3 p.m.), so this seemed a good time for a nap. We all immediately appreciated the queen-sized beds. Our bags didn’t make it to the room by 3 p.m. And with a 5 p.m. dinner reservation back at Wilderness Lodge to get to, I was getting a bit nervous when the bags still were there at 3:30 p.m. Our bags finally arrived at about 4 p.m. (the apologetic CM explained that a Magical Express bus had forgotten to load baggage before heading to the airport, so the luggage van had been diverted to the airport to deliver baggage there first). We hurriedly got dressed and were off to Whispering Canyon Cafe.

Next up: “DISDads, party of 40.”

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