I woke up this morning really early after a restless night’s sleep. The night before, I went to bed way too early, as I was so excited about the beginning of my Adventure! I came in to Phoenix a day early, because I couldn’t find a flight that worked for me that would land in time to meet up with the group. Today was the day for my first Adventures By Disney!
I ran downstairs and grabbed a yogurt from the counter service cafe in the Aloft lobby and ate my Blueberry Scones and drank a Coke that I had purchased at Target the night before.
I also drank about 3 bottles of water. Since I was up so early, I decided to go for a walk. The weather was nice and sunny. It was also really very dry! I could tell it was going to be a hot day, but during my walk it was very pleasant! Afterwards, I went back to the room and watched a bit of Morning television and did a bit of work while I waited until it was time for my shuttle to the airport to meet the ABD group.
I had arranged for the Aloft shuttle to take me to the airport at 11:30 and it was outside waiting on me when I went down. Checkout was at noon and the checkout process was a breeze! I was meeting the Adventures by Disney Guides at the Starbucks in the Baggage Claim area at 12:30. I assumed I would be really early, but by the time I arrived, there was already several people there!
I walked up to woman wearing a Disney name tag, and she introduced herself as Diana, one of my Adventure Guides for the week. She already knew my name, and asked me where Christine was! (Christine is the owner of the agency that I work for, and is my traveling companion for the week). I told her that she was due to land any minute. Diana then said that she would be arriving in a different terminal and would be met by an ABD rep in the baggage claim area. She then took my luggage, tagged them with an orange luggage tag, and I didn’t touch my suitcase the rest of the trip, unless it was in my room! I didn’t know it at the time, but part of the magic of Adventures By Disney is that luggage seems to appear only when you need it!
Diana then asked me if I had ate lunch, and suggested a few restaurants (and gave me directions on how to get there!). I met Christine, we had a burger and tater tots at Delux Burger and by the time we ate, it was just about time to leave with the group.
Doug & Diana introduced themselves to our group, and told us that we were going to stop at Montezuma Castle National Monument on our way to Sedona. This was just one of the first “surprise” stops on our Adventure. Today’s published itinerary only had the meeting at Starbucks, transportation to Sedona, Check-in at the Enchantment Resort and then a Welcome Dinner. Another thing about an Adventures By Disney vacation–there are surprises all along the way!
After getting settled on the bus, Doug & Diana introduced us to Peter, our bus driver for the trip. Peter became almost like a third guide. He chimed in at a few times, and always hosted a huge cooler filled with cold bottles of water at every stop along the way.
On our way out of the Phoenix area, Doug & Diana took turns telling us about the area. How & when Phoenix was settled, and then as we left the city, all about the Saguaro Cacti that were literally everywhere out of both windows. Having never seen cacti like this, I was a bit frustrated at not being able to get a good picture of them. I was sure the pictures I was taking from my seat on the bus weren’t great.
About that time, The Guides announced that we would be making our first unscheduled stop. Peter knew of a spot that we could get out of the bus and have an impromptu photo shoot with some of the large Saguaro Cactus plants. How awesome was that?!? It’s like they knew people wanted to get a better view! Of course, when we got out of the bus and felt the wave of heat, we understood why they said that we were only stopping for 10-15 minutes!
After our “photo-shoot”, we got back on the bus and Doug told us a bit about the Saguaro Cactus and how their root system gathered water when it actually rains out here in Phoenix. He also shared a song about how a Saguaro Cactus killed a man (they are very heavy plants!). Here you can hear the song by the Austin Lounge Lizards that Doug played on the bus’s sound system. Doug invited all of us to sing along with the chorus. Amazingly, (lol) no one really did sing. I’m betting that if this had happened a few days later, 2/3 of the bus would have been singing “Saguaro, Saguaro, Saguaro”. While the song was playing, the Guides passed out a candy made from cactus. They said that this was made from the Prickly Pear Cactus (not the Saguaro). This would prove to be just the first of the many snacks that Doug & Diana would share with our group.
By this time, we were moving along the road, and were going up in elevation. Doug actually pointed out the last Saguaro cactus we would see on our Adventure. I didn’t get a picture, but it was a lone cactus almost on the top of a hill. Very Cool! It wasn’t long before we reached our first real stop of our Adventure…Montezuma’s Castle National Monument.
Upon arriving at Montezuma’s Castle, we had a bathroom break, then gathered together and walked to an outdoor classroom area and where the Guides gave us a quick & interesting talk about the history & the people who used to call this area home. Truly fascinating to have history brought alive like this. I didn’t realize at the time, but not only was I going to have one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, I was going to learn a lot about history and the Southwest!
After the talk, we had time to explore and of course, the guides were at their ready to grab photos of everyone!
After gathering together inside the National Parks store, where several of the Adventurers got their National Parks Passport Stamped, it was time to board the bus for Sedona, and our first hotel of the trip!
When we arrived in Sedona, we were told all about the history of the area and all about the vortices of the area. Sedona has some fascinating and colorful history! I had really never heard of a vortex before, and not really sure I believe in all of that stuff, but it’s truly fascinating! On our way out of the town, we passed by several formations, and were told all about them & what their names were. My favorite, of course, was “Big Thunder Mountain”! Disney Legend has it that this is the mountain that inspired the “Wildest Ride in the Wilderness” in many Disney Parks around the world!
After about a 20 minute drive out of Sedona, we arrived at our first hotel, The Enchantment Resort. We got off the bus, and Doug & Diana had arranged a special check-in area for us. We lined up in one of four queues (to save a lot of time), gave the resort a credit card to allow for room charges, and were given our key cards. Then, we went outside where we had a personal driver to take us to our Casita!
We had a couple of hours to relax and freshen up before we were to meet for cocktails and our Welcome Dinner. By the way, those towels in the bathroom have to be talked about! They were so plush, and they were SIX feet long! My beach towel isn’t as big as these towels. Our room was quite simply beautiful, and the view outside our balcony was stunning!
We dialed “0” on our phone to have a driver come pick us up at our room and take us to dinner on a golf cart. How decadent! I felt a bit bougie, but I enjoyed every minute of the pampering! At the reception, we were given our Adventures By Disney lanyards, only we were instructed to take another person’s name. We were to wear this lanyard during the cocktail party and to meet other people and find our own lanyard!
What a fun way to get to meet the people you’ll be traveling with for the next week! When it was time, we sat down at a table, and had an amazing Southwest dinner buffet ready for us! I have to say, the guacamole was delicious!
During dinner, we were entertained by a Native American entertainer…he played the flute while we were eating and after dinner sang a few Navajo songs.
Yes, this is an authentic Navajo Disney song. To the chagrin of Doug & Diana, we actually heard this song three different times from three different Native American performers! Apparently, of the three performers we were to have this week, two were substitutes. The Guides have asked their regular performers not to sing this song (for no other reason that it becomes an ear worm and gets under their skin! Lol!!)
After he performed, he handed out our first Adventures By Disney Pin for the trip! I’ve been very anxious to get my collecting hands on an ABD pin, and was so excited to see that the the first pin featured my favorite Disney Character!
After the pin ceremony, Doug & Diana told us that there would be an optional sunrise hike up a mountain trail beginning at 5:30, so if anyone wanted to participate, to meet up at the spa. Because of the time change, (from Florida to Arizona) I didn’t think this would be a problem, so Christine and I agreed to make sure to get up in time! After we left our dinner, there were plenty of golf carts and drivers to take us back to our rooms. What an amazing start to this Adventure!!
PS: You can read all about Day one here: My Adventures By Disney vacation begins! Into the West, Day One!