Did We Just Win the Super Bowl?

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Why, yes.  Yes, we did!  Cause we just went to Disney World!  We took the plunge and finally went for our first “real” family vacation!  Ya know, on an airplane and everything.  I feel like such an adult.

We cheated a little bit…or a lot a bit.  The traveling salesman husband cashed in airline miles, hotel points and car rental points.  One very nice benefit of his job.

My husband has wanted to go to Disney for years.  All the planning to take a vacation to Disney has always turned me off –  Should we do the park hopper?  Is this ride Fast Pass worthy? What day should we do Magic Kingdom? One water park or two? To stay or not to stay on Disney property?  It was just too much thinking for something that’s intended to be a vacation. Like why do I need to decide in early July what time I have to wake up on August 20th?! Way too much pre-work!  Book me a resort on an tropical island and I couldn’t be happier.

When he said let’s “really” do it this time, my first thought was the heat, which my daughter loathes. And all the walking and traipsing about, which my suburban kids usually tire of after about 1 city block.   I looked at him, pointed to the kids and said “Have you met them? These two?  You want go to Disney?  With Them?”  He has been traveling a lot in the past year, so maybe he forgot that neither of them have much of the “go with the flow” personality?  So yes, Disney.  In August.  Cause we’re insane.

The kids were really quite excited.  And not “annoying” excited.  Genuinely and adorably excited.  To quote yet another Disney commercial, the night before we left my daughter said “I’m too excited to sleep!”  Once we started packing, my daughter freaked out a bit about airline losing her luggage, so basically she packed like a hobo. 

The last time my son flew he was 2 1/2 years old, which he doesn’t remember, and my daughter has never flown, so it was a pretty big thing for them. We flew out of LaGuardia Airport on a mid-morning flight.   I put my foot down when my husband went to book the crack-of-dawn flight to Orlando.  We will be at Disney for 8 days – there’s just no need for it.  We didn’t need to hate each other this early in our trip.

At the airport, my daughter requested a New York shirt from the gift shop, to which we responded that she didn’t need one because she lives in New York.   With a look of confusion, she says “Right! That’s why I want one!” Sorta makes all the sense in the world, no?  Luckily this request was reverted…because then she saw the shoe shining guy and wanted to get her sneakers cleaned!

Eventually, after a full tour of the Delta terminal, we boarded the plane.  Dad sits alone and mom sits in between both children.   Did anyone think otherwise?  After we took off and as the flight was soaring higher, my daughter looks out the window and says “I can see the whole world!”  To observe a child – your child – experiencing something for the first time is so priceless.

Once we got to Orlando, we did the norm…got the luggage, rental car, drove over to the hotel and checked in.  We took that first day to settle in and lounge at the pool before the insanity began the next morning.  Over the next 7 days, we did everything humanly possible (for our family anyway!)  We hit the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, the Blizzard Beach water work, Epcot and the Animal Kingdom – with a return trip to the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

There’s an incredible amount I could speak about, so I’ll just point out my Top 5 Observations about Walt Disney World:

  • Oh my goodness, the workers are genuinely nice.  ALL of them. ALL the time.  It’s interesting how many New York transplants are in Florida.  My theory is that they did not move to Orlando and work at Disney.  While I love being a native New Yorker, let’s face it – we are simply not cheery all the time.
  • If you don’t like roller coasters, like me, I honestly recommend Space Mountain and the Aerosmith one at Hollywood Studios.  Because you know what?  You can’t see what’s ahead of you and you have no idea what’s next.  Somehow that made it all the better, as opposed to anticipating that huge hill or upside-down flip that you could clearly see while waiting on line for the ride.
  • Love/Hate relationship with the Fast Pass.  Hate because it made my husband into a time sensitive, lunatic, control freak – which was probably the least attractive I’ve ever seen him (I love you, but sorry hon).  But love because it really is ah-mazing!  90 minute wait for Space Mountain…Pfft.  We fast passed that baby!  – and walked through our little special entrance passing by all the peons on the regular line – feeling like we should wave to them like the Queen of England does.  Granted, there were times when we were the peons, but there’s no need to discuss those trying moments.
  • Definitely, definitely, definitely go back to some of the parks in the evening. Everyone told me this before our trip and that advice is spot on for so many reasons.   Remember that the Magic Kingdom Fireworks are fireworks.  You can see them from anywhere.   No need to stand near the castle unless you’d like to know what it feel like to stand in a NYC subway car in the middle of the summer – where you are basically molded into the person next to you and sharing your sweat.
  • Lastly, I sorta think the Animal Kingdom is underrated!  We had such an incredible time there!

The customer service at all the parks is pretty top-notch.  My son’s Yankee Hat, which he has had for years and years, flew off of his head in the middle of Space Mountain! We were in the midst of the ride when a shadow of my son turns around to me and he screams “My hat flew off!”   The ride operators told us that the rides are swept at the end of the evening and any lost items are sent to a Lost & Found.   Obviously our first thought is that we would never see that thing again, but we gave our information into the Lost & Found “just in case.”  Would you know they called us the very next morning saying that a Yankee Hat was found?  They said they’d mail it home to us in New York, but as we were still in town, my husband went to pick it up.  I mean, would you ever expect you’d see an item you lost the Magic Kingdom?  Let alone on Space Mountain!?  That really impressed us.

Of course, there were times when we hit the wall:

The kids:

  • Why did they even invent summer?  I wish it wasn’t even a thing!
  • It’s so hot! I want to go to Alaska instead.
  • I hate vacation!
  • I’m hungry!  I’m thirsty! I’m hot! I’m tired! Can we go back to the hotel?
  • But I need that $15 souvenir BB8 cup! You can get refills for only $1.50!

Your spouse:

  • You kids are ruining this for me.
  • Quick! NOW! We only have 45 minutes to get to our next fast pass!  We’re going to miss the ride!
  • Do you really need another Dole Whip?

Me:

  • Need. More. Water.
  • My feet hurt.  Can I buy flip flops?  (This may have just been a ploy to buy new shoes, btw).
  • Stop being a fast pass lunatic!

As much as I adore my little family, I didn’t have the best anticipations about Disney. But I will say that it turned out really well.  And we DID have a lot of fun.  It was crazy busy, crazy hot and crazy tiring – and we were all cranky and complainy at certain points – but oddly enough, I kinda did feel the magic.  I drank the Disney Kool-Aid.  There really is something for everyone.  We’re not running back any time soon – but I will admit that I’m sold.   It’s a right of passage for a family and I’m overjoyed that we did it.

So if you’ve been on the fence about doing Disney, I say GO!  Anytime of year.  But, may your patience be strong – and may your deodorant be stronger.

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