We had a wonderful family vacation this past week, starting with a weekend visit with my parents, even getting to go to church with them and sit in on the Sunday School class my dad teaches. J got to hear his Grandma teach his Sunday School class, and the kids enjoyed bonding with their Florida grandparents again. Then on Sunday afternoon it was on to Walt Disney World for the Sweet Tea clan, where we enjoyed a week with park hopper passes for all four of the optimistically themed parks, “Where dreams come true.” We got to meet my friend Heather for lunch on Monday at Downtown Disney, and it was so good to see her again and catch up a little, though it was loud in the dinosaur-themed restaurant we chose to keep the kids amused while we chatted, loudly, amid meteor showers and animatronic dinosaurs. I'm sad that I forgot to get a picture with her, though.
The kids totally loved their first Disney experience, Boo was beside herself when she met “Winnie-a-Pooh” and ran up and gave him a huge hug. The boys were busy acting cool a lot of the time, but they had a blast. We can tell. They were both tall enough for all the rides, so Drew took them on lots of them and Boo and I spent a lot of time at the tamer shows and musicals and rides and wandering around waiting for the men of the family to meet back up with us. I did get to ride Big Thunder Mountain with the boys, since that was the one roller coaster I really, really wanted to ride. The rest, I’m just not as into fast and motion-sickness inducing rides anymore. Just one more legacy of motherhood, I’m afraid, is that I am much more prone to migraines and motion-sickness than I was before pregnancy changed my body forever.
One thing about Disney that isn’t so magical is the waiting. Lots of waiting. But not so bad this trip. October was the time to go, the crowds were smaller and the wait times not so much. The ‘Fast-Pass’ option is a great innovation that has come along since my youthful Disney trips. There are some rides that we agreed were worth a Fast Pass, but definitely not worth a 40 minute wait in line. (The Peter Pan ride? So not worth wasting a long wait time, which our experienced selves were still amazed that people would waste their time doing, but fun enough with a fast pass.) The boys like to say that “It’s a Small World” should have been a Boo and Mommy ride only, but I caught them smiling once or twice during that one. They just have a cool image to keep up. Don’t tell anyone.
Our finicky digital camera died on the first day (could have guessed that one, yes?). That dream of easy pictures didn’t come true. The camera has not been the same since Boo decided it needed a dunking in Oliver’s water bowl some time back, and I think it is now time to be looking for a replacement. But we did take lots and lots of pictures with disposable cameras, and Drew is taking them now to be developed, so I’ll probably have some to share later. Another cool innovation that has come along is the Photo Pass card. You carry around this little card and whenever one of the Disney photographers takes a picture of you, they scan the info onto your card. This was especially helpful when we met and greeted the characters. (By the way, we finally found Minnie and Mickey and Goofy on our last day and somehow managed to get to them before the line to meet them was a hundred miles long. Boo was thrilled, you can imagine, though Goofy was a little scary for her). Then you have thirty days to go online and look at the pictures and choose some to purchase (for a hefty price, I am sure – nothing Disney is cheap). But that was cool, too, and we are getting some great pictures that way as well.
Speaking of meeting the characters, another thing that has changed since the last time I went to Disney is that now the characters have stations throughout the parks where you can have pictures taken. It used to be that you would just look around for them to be wandering through the parks during your visit and hope to see them, but now you could spend the whole day waiting in line for pictures if you so choose. We chose not to wait in a lot of those lines because, well, there are rides and shows to be experienced and most of the time the lines were just too long, except for the Minnie and Mickey thing I already mentioned. We did make reservations on Tuesday to have lunch with Pooh and friends, and that was cool. Pooh, Tigger and Piglet all stopped by our table for pictures, and Boo thought that was great.
Boo had a great week, much better than we actually expected from our 2 ½ year old. She typically had about one major meltdown per day – and that first thing upon arriving in one of the parks. In fact, Heather got to experience the princess in all her tired glory after lunch on Monday. Thankfully, being a mommy of four, she understood perfectly, and staying in a Disney resort meant we could go ‘home’ and rest a bit when Boo got too overwhelmed, and the boys could hit the pool or the arcade with Daddy. On our Magic Kingdom day (Tuesday) there was a cold snap, and we spent our first part of the day in shops looking for Disney sweaters for the kids so the rest of the day would be warm enough. Boo hated that part. Once we got her onto the rides, though, she decided it was good to be there and enjoyed the day, and it was so much fun seeing Disney through the kids’ eyes all week.
Best way to do this kind of trip: we planned ahead, saved up and purchased the whole package ahead of time and it was paid off before we even got to the resort. We were able to relax and enjoy the vacation and pay cash, not credit, for any souvenirs. Best pre-trip purchase: a little monkey back pack with a long tail that is used as a leash to keep my little wanderer close in the crowds, but free to walk along without holding hands when she wanted her freedom. I used to laugh at people who used kid leashes, but that was before we had Boo. Now I understand. I make a deep apology now to anyone I ever laughed about before. I get it now. Worst decision made during the trip: on Tuesday we decided not to take Boo’s stroller for our Magic Kingdom day since she had spent almost all of Monday walking and very little of it strolling in the stroller. She decided on Tuesday that she didn’t want to walk and only Mommy would do as the carrier. My back and arms are still tired after toting her little 30+ pound body all over the Magic Kingdom. But, I got some great exercise! Always looking at the bright side…..After that, the stroller went with us everywhere, and, though she hated it, she learned to ride along when walking was too much for her.
There’s lots more I could share, but, the thing about vacations is that once your dreams have come true (hee, hee), you have to come home and unpack. And, no matter how much fun we had, and it was tons and worth every penny, it’s still nice to be home.