I finished writing this a few weeks ago, and I thought that I had published it, but now I discover that I did not. So now that it’s super overdue…
We survived our vacation to Disney World (ha ha about the “vacation” part), and there were ups and down and some more downs, but the ups were truly lovely.
I never went to Disney World as a kid. I first went after I had finished my masters degree, a “now-I’m-all-grown-up-and-can-do-what-I-want” present to myself. And I loved it. Technically, this is not the first time for the kids either, since we went with Jacob on a work trip when Gabriel was 2 1/2 and Anneliese was five months, but this will always feel like their first time there.
The kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement right before we left, all through the airports on our way there (thankfully they were much calmer on the airplanes), and at the hotel once we arrived. Even though I tried to give some ideas about what Disney World is like, you cannot prepare kids this young. In the end, once they got past the sickness (Anneliese’s asthma flared up) and got used to being tired and hot, I think their minds were blown. We’ve been home more than a month, and they keep asking about going again. Jacob can probably make that happen next summer.
Anneliese was taken aback at first at how big the characters were, but once she got over that, they had a lot of fun meeting the characters (but not much fun waiting in line in order to meet them). Gabriel did some kung fu with Woody and Buzz, and he was often interested in details of the costumes themselves. Anneliese would jabber fairly incoherently at Daisy, Minnie, and Jessie. However, she felt disappointed that the friends never played with her, which was rather sweet and sad. (Speaking of characters, I have some thoughts on princesses, which I will try to turn into a separate, semi-interesting blog post at some later date. Probably a year from now.)
I was worried that the rides would freak the kids out enough that they wouldn’t want to try anything, but that was not at all the case. We did Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios first, and they asked for Toy Story ride all week (luckily there’s the Buzz Lightyear ride at Magic Kingdom as well). Anneliese basically threw a tantrum every time a ride was over because she wanted to do it again immediately. We didn’t do the 40-second Goofy roller coaster until the end of our final day because I thought it would be too much for them, but they loved it so much I wish we had tried it much sooner. Gabriel pointed out the tea cups, which was another favorite, and it was fun to see Anneliese’s delight at It’s a Small World. Anneliese loved the animals at Animal Kingdom, and Gabriel was excited about the slides at the play areas both there and at Hollywood Studios. We didn’t spend as much time at Epcot as we could have, but I’m very glad that we went on the Spaceship Earth ride (in the giant golf ball) because they thought it was really neat and would have ridden it again.
We were able to minimize the time we spent waiting in lines by grabbing fast passes (it amazes me to overhear cast members constantly explaining what they are to people…don’t you do basic research before you come to Disney World?). It was also incredibly helpful that I had gone in September with this trip in mind, so I had a very good idea of what rides we wanted to do and how to cut through the parks as efficiently as we could without having to refer to park maps terribly often. We were able to average 5-6 hours at the parks each day, which was better than I expected, and we were happy with what we accomplished. Although I had planned that we would definitely see fireworks at least one night, we ended up not doing it. Anneliese had a few hard nights, which meant that everyone (except for Gabriel) had some hard nights, so it did not feel like a good idea to keep them out late. Especially because we will be back.
Jacob and I talked a lot about how Disney World is a vacation that we can do again and again because it will always be such a different trip as the kids grow. Now that they will remember it, we won’t have another “first time”, but there is so many rides and shows and experiences for them to continue to discover. Ten or 12 years from now they won’t have the same joy giving the characters hugs (I would hope), but they will be old enough to go entertain themselves while Mom and Dad start to explore all of the fantastic restaurants we couldn’t even dream of walking into on this particular vacation. (On the day of our anniversary, we ate our way around the World Showcase after renting a second stroller for Gabriel. And we got buttons because it’s actually pretty fun to have every cast members tell you Happy Anniversary everywhere you go.)
And we loved our hotel. I’m pretty sure that I will never again find another lazy river so perfect. And we were upgraded to a Disney view, which meant we could see the Epcot fireworks/laser show from our window.
It was tiring, and I have to admit that I yelled at my kids a little too much, but we have really good memories. Memories that get sweeter the more time that goes by.