Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Disney Adventure

In August, Jason and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Rather than have a romantic getaway for just the two of us (I mean, who would want that?), we opted to do a family vacation instead. We just returned from a weeklong adventure in Walt Disney World! Other than a trip to NYC and Ocean City, Maryland about four summers ago (which was a driving trip) and our yearly visits to Jason’s family in Pittsburgh, we haven’t taken a real vacation since our honeymoon.

Planning for this trip began months ago. I essentially did no planning. Jason met with the travel agent, made reservations, scheduled the flight, ordered what we needed, and basically took care of all of the arrangements. I’m not good at making decisions and quite frankly, didn’t have the energy/desire to do it. I trusted that he’d make good choices and I was right...everything went as planned and the trip was a success. High five, Jason.

The week before the trip I began feeling the stress. I don’t like packing because I’m always afraid I’ll forget something. Jason, on the other hand, feels no stress about it (or most anything) and can’t understand why I do. He said as long as we had our Disney Magic Bands, some underwear, and our bathing suits, we’d be all set. Not so much in my mind. I dwell on what I might be forgetting. I’m sure I’m forgetting the most important item.

And on top of that, I started getting anxious about the plane. I’m not much of a flyer as I fear the plane is my coffin. Abby hasn’t been on a plane since she was about one or two, so she doesn’t remember flying and Griffin has never flown; therefore, I didn’t want to be a mental case in front of them. I’ve been known to develop stress induced Tourette’s on planes. I can’t control the inappropriate words coming out of my mouth and tears fall out of my eyes. If you think this sounds nuts, try living in my head. It’s pretty much crazytown all the time. Anyway, this flight was a success...likely in part to a little calming agent (don’t worry...totally legal...prescribed by my doctor). I handled the flight, both ways, like a champ.

The requisite photo of meeting Mickey and Minnie

While in Disney, we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We visited Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and downtown Disney. We rode lots of rides, saw a number of shows, and walked miles each day. We ate at some fun places like the Disney Royal Castle, T-Rex Cafe, Sci-Fi Diner, and Rainforest Cafe. Our accommodations were great, the Disney bus system worked like a charm, and using the Magic Bands made things super simple. All in all...a very successful family adventure!

While there, I did make a few observations:

1) Disney people are not stupid. At the end of most rides, the exit went through a gift shop. Of course every kid is going to want to purchase something. Griffin wanted EVERYTHING! At one point towards the end of the trip, to try and tame his desires for all souvenirs/toys, we told him we were almost out of money for the week. His response, “Can’t you just go buy more money?”

2) Despite the fact that temperatures were in the 90s with a heat index of around 110 all week, I was surprised at the number of people wearing jeans (or other strangely warm garments) at the parks. My shorts and tank tops were uncomfortably stuck to me with sweat. The thought of walking around in sweaty jeans, glued to my skin by a layer of moisture was unbearable.

3) On a similar note, as hot as it was, I easily became too cold when in an air conditioned place. It would feel great to walk into the AC at first, but for extended periods of time, it was rough. When we went to restaurants, I was shivering before the meal came. On the buses, it felt like I was sitting on a slab of ice. I needed that happy medium.

4) Disney doesn’t always bring out the best in parents. I saw many parents lose their crap with their kids. I am happy to report that I was not one of those parents. While there were a few frustrating moments, I never lost my cool.

5) I was also witness to many children having tantrums. It’s good to see other kids making mine look angelic. At times one of mine (you decide which one) could be quite whiny and demanding, but he or she never made a giant scene.

6) I can’t imagine bringing more than two kids to Disney. It worked just right having four of us for rides and at dinner tables. Seeing families with three and four kids looked exhausting. Without even taking the cost into account, it just looked like a lot of work. I salute those of you who have attempted this.

7) Speaking of kids, there are a lot of babies at Disney. Watching people maneuver strollers, baby gear, bottles, breast feeding, crying, pacifiers, baby food, changing diapers, and wearing Bjorns in the heat...phew. I think I would’ve waited until the child was a wee bit older. It looked like a lot of work to attempt such a trip!

8) I was amazed at how many brides and grooms were there getting married or having their honeymoon. There were newlyweds everywhere!

9) Photographers were all over the parks. We’d have our picture taken, they’d scan their machine on our Magic Band, and voila!...our photos would be in our Disney online account. It was a great service. Well, until we saw how much it was to download the pictures. $14.95 per photo!! What? To download a picture? That ain’t happening.

10) Disney is huge and runs like a well-oiled machine. From the bus system to the Magic Bands, things go smoothly. I’m curious to know how many employees work in Disney. From the bus drivers to park employees to resort employees to restaurant employees, there are a huge number of people working there. Even the number of busses is unbelievable.

This was one of the photos taken by Disney photographers.  This, however, is a photo taken as a screenshot of the photo on my computer. I was not going to pay $14.95 to download it. No way.

Well, I’m not sure when we’ll take our next vacation. If we wait another 15 years Griffin will be 20 and Abby nearly 25. Hopefully it will be sooner than that. For now, however, we’ll savor the memories because Abby and Griffin’s dream of going to Walt Disney World really did come true.

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