How we became addicted to Disney:
Before my husband and I had kids we traveled for ourselves, which is what many young couples do. We stayed in all-inclusives when we honeymooned in Riviera Maya, and when we went to Dominican Republic. We had shorter trips to Branson, MO and Table Rock Lake. We
took some vacations to places that were known for their Casinos, like Tunica, MS and Biloxi, MS just a few weeks before hurricane Katrina.
After our first child we took a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. Like most new parents, budgets got tighter so we decided to drive. It was a 14 hour drive. That was a little rough, but a great vacation. This pic about sums it up. About two years later our second child was born. We probably took a trip or two to Branson, MO which is only about a 3 hour drive.
Fast Forward to 2013, our son was 2, and our daughter was 6. We did not enjoy most outings out of the house, let alone packing them up and heading out over a long distance. My husband and I had both been to Disney, but only once. He was about two years old. I went with a friend when I was 13 years old and we only went to Epcot for one day.
It was time to start planning our 2014 summer vacation. My husband's vacations were mostly for him. I was a teacher, so I had my summers off, but he would only get a couple of weeks vacation and wanted to make sure he enjoyed them. Our typical vacation included some activities, going out to dinner to experience the local cuisine. I like to shop, he would prefer to have some down days at a pool or beach.
One day he mentioned that it might be time to go to Disney. He figured we could get it over with, like something we just had to do once. At one point, I think he may have said that he would "give up one of his vacations for the kids" so we could go, ONCE! After I had the go ahead, I started reading blogs, surfing the Internet. The more I read, the more worried I was getting. There seemed to be some really opposite views about Disney. Some people loved it, talking about how magical it was and had these amazing pictures with characters etc.. Others would describe it as over crowded, long lines, hot, expensive, not worth it. I was very confused, how could people have vastly different perceptions of this place? The more I read the more I started to learn why.
At one point we had mentioned to our friends that we were going to go. They said they were thinking about it as well. Our kids are close in age. Our boys are 6 weeks apart and our girls are 10 months apart. We all get along really well, so we decided to go ahead and plan our trip together. So now, I had to worry about making this the best trip for my own family and theirs too.
I knew we would have to be very budget-conscious and I was looking at various ways to try to save money. I met with a local Disney Vacation Planner. Later I found out that another teacher at work was planning Disney vacations on the side with a local travel agency. After talking to her I got a quote. I was more than a little skeptical because nobody gets away anything for free, so how much more was this going to cost? I had already done all my research and figured out where we wanted to stay. I figured out different prices and times of the year to go etc. It was crazy!
She came back with a quote. I was shocked when it was the exact same price that I had spent hours researching to find the best deals. She also told me that her company had the themed Pirate rooms at Disney Caribbean Resort reserved for clients at a great rate, which is where we wanted to stay. So of course we booked with her and got the pirate room. She helped on the way with some of the other planning and I continue to research and read on the internet.
We arrived at our Disney resort, the pirate room was amazing. The boys loved it; the beds looked like pirate ships; the curtain that split the room from the sink area had a big pirate skull on it that illuminated at night if the light was on behind it. There was a pirate ship cut out of marble in the shower. Everything was great!
We got ready to go to our first dinner at Cape May at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. It was a normally expensive seafood buffet that my husband wanted to try our first night. I will have to save this story for another post.
We went to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney's Hollywood Studios. We did lots of character meet-and-greets which my daughter did great with, considering she wouldn’t walk into her school if the local baseball mascot in a costume was greeting kids on the front sidewalk. My son was a little shy but he did as good as could be expected.
I was so thankful that we went with another couple. It worked out really well. The mom’s could take the boys and Dad’s could take the girls to a different ride. Or we could split up as families when we needed to. We had each other to talk to to stay sane. There were so many unexpected things in the rides and the shows for both children and adults, the roller coasters were not crazy thrill coasters that would make you sick after riding and ruin your day. At the end of the vacation we were still exhausted and probably getting frustrated with each other and the kids. Which is to be expected anywhere.
It did not seem practically perfect in every way.
So, you can see why we got addicted, right? (can you hear the sound of sarcasm) After our first trip, we weren’t!
Over the next year we put together albums of pictures and talked about our memories with our children while at dinner. We would randomly start calling each other “Dude” and we all knew it was from Turtle Talk with Crush because he kept calling everyone “Dude.” It seemed we had a ton of those inside jokes if you will from that vacation to last us through the whole year. We really didn’t think about going back then either.
It was when we started to think about our next vacation. I named different options, the beach, Branson, etc. We started comparing everything to Disney. Not because it was so wonderful when we went. It’s when you have experienced a place that you can enjoy just as much as your kids enjoy it, why wouldn’t you want to experience that on each vacation?
This philosophy is such a big reason why Disney is a success. No one would want to come back to see the same things year after year. That’s why all of his parks keep evolving, changing and growing, it makes it interesting to adults as well as children. You have to go this year to see Pandora, or we’ve got to go back because we didn’t get to ride Slinky Dog. I can’t wait to go back and experience Galaxy’s Edge. Disney will never be boring, there will always be things to do. You will never get it all in. Even after visiting four times there are still rides we haven’t got to ride.
We will be the first to admit we really didn’t know what Disney was all about. We didn’t grow up going to Disney World and so it wasn’t normal to us. I think that gives us such a unique perspective for first time Disney goers. I am very realistic with my clients. I tell them there will be puking, crying, fighting and maybe not all with the kids. Lol Aside from all of that, you won’t remember those moments as much as the magical ones you can share with your kids.
What topic would you want me to write about the most in my next blog? Something I mentioned in this blog? Something else? What is the Disney Bubble? Let me know in the comments.
Or how my entire life I thought Splash Mountain was just like the ride Title Wave at Six Flags! Can you imagine my surprise when I found out that it was 12 minutes long. What 12 minutes? I never knew it had any characters, let alone it was a story about Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear. So even though I agree they should update it to represent twenty-first century beliefs, doesn’t mean I won’t miss it! I remember my dad reading me the Disney’s version of Uncle Remus Stories and making these incredible voices for all of the characters. That has to be some of the best memories I have of my dad. Since I lost my dad at age 19, before I had kids, Splash Mountain was one way I could share my memories of him with my children. I’m sure my kids and I will be able to make new memories for them to share with their children.