We have been so very fortunate to have been able to visit Disney World on three separate occasions. The first time we went, we took a very small, 3-year-old Big Girl in 2000. We went again to take Little Man in 2008. We remember with fondness those trips… but when we reentered the park last week, we were reminded why we said we would never go back again.
As a teacher, summertime is always the most convenient time for us to take a family vacation. That’s the main reason why we have always gone in the height of summer with the most extreme heat and crowds. The other reason, of course, is that Hubby is an avid hunter and going on vacation during the fall and NOT including a big game hunt has been — until now– unheard of.
We were adamant this year, however, that we wanted to go back again. Big Girl will be graduating soon, and we know our funds will be going with her to college… this may be our last chance for a big family vacation for a while. Why not make it count?
Big Girl is a huge Beauty and the Beast fan. With the new Fantasyland just opened, we knew we had to make sure she met Belle and visited the Beast’s castle. That meant that our first day would be spent at Magic Kingdom. We opted to not get the park hopper this time around. The way I saw it, both our kids were older and none of us were restricted by the rides. That meant we could bypass the expense and spend all day in one park. (Other than the day we went to Epcot, we didn’t miss it). We rode everything we could. Once. We were lucky enough to get into Be Our Guest for lunch (dinner reservations are booked till 2014!).
We took lots of pictures and even found time for a nap! We ate lunch with Cinderella and her family at Park Fare (yummy!)
The weather got rough enough to cancel the parade, but we got a great spot for the fireworks. The “Wishes” firework display is so spectacular, it had Big Girl and me in tears!
Our favorite ride was Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Best. Ride. Ever. Our delicious dinner at Hollywood and Vine meant that we had seats at Fantasmic (the fireworks show). It was incredible. Afterwards, Hubby and Little Man wanted to ride Star Wars. Again. Big Girl wanted to ride Tower of Terror.
Regular readers may remember my post about my biggest fear: falling. My previous trip down Tower of Terror ended in tears. I had vowed never to ride again. But Big Girl did not want to ride alone. Hubby was refusing to ride again. I had to step up as a mom and do what was necessary for the love of my daughter. So I rode. Again. Anyone who has ever ridden an amusement park ride knows about the pictures they take during the ride and display for purchase when you exit. Let me set the picture for you: everyone seated on the elevator. Some people have their arms up in the air. Smiles are wide, screams are evident on each face. Pure excitement. Then there is me. Last row. Dead center. My eyes are the size of half dollars. My face is the color of whipped topping. My hands are clutching the bars at my hips. No smile. No scream. My face has elongated to nearly twice its length. I resemble the father from the Munsters. Sigh. I rode… but I was obviously NOT enjoying it. I did, however, survive. And there were no tears.
We spent our third– and favorite– day at Animal Kingdom. This day was a day of riding fun rides. Multiple times. Expedition Everest was a blast… we had ridden it three times before lunch. We rode the safari and the river rapids twice. There was still a crowd… but the rides were a lot more accessible. It was the first night we did NOT enjoy our meal (Tusker House. yuck) and my feet were killing me… but it was our favorite day by far!
Day Four: Epcot. I love this place. My family… not so much. We loved meeting characters. We loved eating at Garden Grill. But that was all. This was definitely a good day for catching up on sleep!
Our last day was spent in Magic Kingdom riding rides we did not get to ride or that we only got to ride once. We wanted to be able to eat at Be Our Guest again, but the line was too long. We chose to leave after lunch and head back home. Traffic was so good that we made the entire 8 1/2 hour trip that day and slept in our own beds that night.
I love vacation. It is exhausting to say the least. My kids and Hubby can each tell you their favorite parts of our trip: certain rides or characters. My favorite part was spending time with my family. Truly. Big Girl held my hand. A lot. Little Man snuggled with me and rubbed my sore feet. We giggled, had inside jokes, spoke in funny accents, ate off each other’s plates, took each other’s pictures. We had a great time. No bickering. No fussing. Just fun. And that, to me, makes all the lines, crowds, and heat worth it!