I always scoffed at the idea of taking my kids to Disney World. I didn’t want to take them somewhere so commercial and manufactured. Travel is supposed to be about experiencing new cultures, learning about history and our environment. Not to mention- the crowds, the lines, and all the Disney fanatics. However, living where we do, my kids are constantly immersed in culture and new experiences. What they rarely get is manufactured fun. So when my mom suggested going to Orlando (since they had discounted lodging), a Disney trip actually began to seem pretty fun- especially during the holidays- the decorations, the lights, the magic. All of my previous concerns fell away, and I was genuinely really excited. My sister and I even plotted to get matching shirts.
I have to say that we could have only done Disney the way that we did. My cousin and his wife both work at Disney. Not only did they get us in at a ridiculously low price, they personally escorted through the park like a concierge service. Yes, there were crowds, and lines, and crazy people, but all of that was overshadowed by the wonder (and the fast passes that helped us blow past everyone else).
We did Disney Studios, the Magic Kindgom and Animal Kingdom. We were joined by Mama Shelley, Papa John, Aunt Heidi, David and Logan. The kids did amazing through three long days (probably better than the adults). AJC, at 6, was the perfect age. He totally bought in to all the magic. He was amazed by everything. It was such a joy to see his excitement and helped us be more excited.
Day 1- Disney Hollywood Studios
The only pic of us as a family. Our kids love the Incredibles, and I wish there was more Incredible themed stuff, but they did get to see Mr. Incredible. Uncle Brandon- the cool uncle that the boys worship-joined us this day. He is also a Disney expert so it was like having a personal guide.
At Hollywood Studios we also saw lots of shows- Frozen sing along, Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. Of course, PJC dropped his pants and peed on Belle’s rose bushes. Some kids you can’t take out of the jungle. To my surprise, AJC’s favorite thing was the Star Wars ride which he did twice.
Day 2- Magic Kingdom
I don’t know why, but I was uber excited to ride the monorail- so iconic. The Magic Kingdom was definitely the most crowded, but getting to see the castle lit up and the fireworks display was worth it. This day we were joined by my cousin Jeff (also now worshipped by the boys) and his wife Ashley who have worked for Disney for their entire adulthood.
AJC was amazed when Elsa used her ice to decorate the castle. He kept screaming, “She really has powers!”
This night get down to 64 degrees and BC actually had to buy a Disney snuggy to keep warm. Apparently you can’t take him out of the jungle either. Even though he had too much pride to wear our matching t-shirts, he had no problems walking around in public in a snuggy.
The night ended with an epic fireworks show. PJC didn’t make it, he somehow slept through it all in the stroller. We were super far back, but we could still see. AJC watched it atop Papa John’s shoulders as Papa John sang the words to all the Disney songs (another person who was too proud to wear our shirts).
Day 3- Animal Kingdom
Mama Shelley has tried to talk us out of going to this park, but I’m so glad we went. The Lion King show was like a mini cirque du soliel, and the decor through the entire park is so detailed. There’s not many rides, but kids loved seeing all the animals. AJC even got to see cheetahs which are super rare. PJC has a new found love for rhinos, and there were several. For winter, they had these really amazing arctic animal puppets that greeted us at the entrance.
We never did get that good family pic all in our matching shirts- oh well. However, I would totally do the shirts again because it helped us easily spot each other when we got separated.
So I thought I would never want to do Disney, but I have to admit- it was magical. Granted we were totally spoiled with family connections. Also, I would never do more than three days. That was plenty. But would I do it again? BC is probably a hard no, but I feel like I could be talked into it again in 3-5 years. As my mom says, “I’ve never been one to turn down a vacation.”