My husband and I are truly the least spontaneous people – two Pisces swimming in indecision. When it’s time for date night, if we don’t have specific plans set, we are at a loss for where to go and what to do and we usually wind up in an argument. So when he asked me to help him plan a Disney World trip within two weeks time, it still shocks me that I enthusiastically agreed.
While he handled the airfare and hotel arrangements, I was charged with the tasks of planning our days in Orlando, ordering and shipping food and diapers, and packing everyone, including my husband. You know, the easy stuff!
But I had to be sneaky about it all. We decided if we were going to do it, we would surprise the kids. So when my five year old saw me putting his clothes into a suitcase and started questioning me, I would ramble something off like, “I’m just packing summer stuff for storage,” and then I would shove him out of my room.
I turned to Facebok for advice on planning our days at Disney and boy did I get a lot of great advice. So many helpful tips. But that’s not to say I didn’t get a little additional anxiety too. Most of these past Disney travelers had planned their trips for an entire year prior to going. They warned that I wouldn’t get reservations at good restaurants and I most probably wouldn’t get my first choices with FastPass options (FastPasses allow you to reserve spots on rides or at shows to reduce your wait time on lines). I scrambled to organize last minute, panic setting in, questioning if we were crazy to go…all for naught! I got every FastPass and reservation I wanted! Woohoo!!! One step closer to enjoying our time at “The Most Magical Place on Earth!”
During the first half of winter break, I kept my kids home and isolated in hopes they would stay healthy before our trip. I planned and a higher power laughed. Fever viruses, ear infections, and stomachaches wreaked havoc on my children just days before our trip. And then I succumbed…bronchitis and a bacterial infection. All I wanted to do was stay in my bed and sleep for a week, but oh yeah, #1 – I am a mom and we don’t get to do that, and #2 – I still needed to pack, organize, and get a bikini wax!
Somehow, I got it all together. I went to bed early on NYE, giving my husband a hug instead of a NYE kiss (couldn’t risk spreading any additional germs), and woke up at 4:30 am on New Year’s Day to get ready for our flight.
We snuck into our oldests son’s room first – “Wake Up! We’re going to Disney!” We handed him a pair of Mickey Mouse Ears and he said, “Are you serious?!?! I think I am a little too tired.” Not exactly the response we were hoping for, but we knew he was excited. Our middle was confused, but excited, and the baby was enthusiatic at seeing us all wearing our Mickey ears. We got into the limo, strapped the kids into their car seats, and we were off. And that’s when it hit me…We were about to embark on our first real trip as a family of five. It was the first time my middle and the baby would be on an airplane. I was freaking out a bit on the inside, but managed to stay calm on the outside, all wonder-mom-esque, baby wearing, pushing a stroller, calmly doling out snacks. The flight went smoothly without incident and we arrived in Florida all clean and in one piece!
Looking awesome at 430 am with bronchitis!
We had an amazing trip, but what I learned about Disney is that in order to truly enjoy the experience you need to just go with the flow. I went armed with tons of advice and recommendations, much of which I implemented during our trip, but we learned along the way that what may have worked for someone else’s kids, didn’t work for ours. Character meals were not a big hit. Even with naps, my kids couldn’t stay awake for late night parades and fireworks. My kids were happy to swim at the hotel, so we changed some of our plans around. We didn’t want our Disney experience to leave us exhausted and needing another vacation just to recuperate. We went with the flow, we swam, we ate gourmet meals at the hotel (with our kids).
I have to take a moment to applaud our hotel, The Four Seasons Orlando, and all of the Disney restaurants we visited. Each was extremely thoughtful and accommodating when it came to allergy concerns. I’ve never met so many chefs in my life! I ate so well and so did the baby. It was amazing. I got to try chicken and chorizo paella (which I’ve since made at home – yum!). The baby tried salami and pulled pork and sorbet (oh sorbet, his new love!). We both got to eat delicious omlettes. Dreaming of vacation food… YUM!
Of course, our trip was not without incident, mostly at the fault of my dear husband. He put us on the wrong bus and we wound up stranded at night at Fort Wilderness with no taxis in sight. We had to beg a Disney employee to drive us back to the hotel. My husband also lost his wallet at Animal Kingdom and we were stuck there for an extra hour and a half and down two hundred stolen dollars. But we were able to laugh and continue to smile through a lot of the craziness, which is truly a testament to how far we’ve come as a couple.
Overall, the entire experience was one I will treasure for the rest of my life whether my kids remember their first trip to Disney or not. Seeing their faces on the rides, at the shows, peacefully sharing a hotel bed was priceless. Quality family time without life’s distractions, precious.
This trip taught my husband and I that spontaneity is sometimes just what we need. We learned to work better as a team and we learned to show compassion and empathy for each other on a whole new level. For more reasons than one, Disney truly is the most magical place on Earth.