With Thanksgiving approaching this week, I wanted to take time to talk about one of things I am thankful for and that is my family has been able to take many Disney vacations. I realize how blessed we are and that for some families this is a once in a lifetime trip.
When I got my first “grown-up” job, you know with actual benefits and a living wage, my supervisor prided herself that she vacationed at the same place every year and at the same hotel. At the time I thought that was so bizarre. Not only bizarre, but BORING! Why would you want to take a similar vacation every year?
Now I get the questions asked of me about our Disney trips. Why do you want to go to theme parks for vacation? Why Disney? We can ride roller coasters at Kings Island, Great America, Cedar Point (insert any other non-Disney theme park) for much less. How do you afford it? That is a topic for another show! It is expensive and there are ways to keep the cost down, but I am not going to lie. Disney is not a cheap vacation. However today we are tackling the personal decisions of my family.
First Ryan and I are theme park kind of people. We always have been. Our honeymoon was at Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio. Our first big vacation after our “grown-up” jobs was to Walt Disney World. We had a blast. Does Disney have the extreme-thrill rides that Cedar Point has? Of course not. But they have something that is hard to put into words. It really is just Magical there. You can suspend being an adult for a while and just enjoy exploring all the details that are around the park. You can have the type of vacation you want. Slow and relaxed…. Eating at fine dining from world renowned chefs. Or you can Go, Go, Go and see how many attractions you can get on in a day.
On our second trip we were lucky and stayed at the Beach Club Resort (bounce back offer from the first trip. SCORE!). Because of the closeness to EPCOT we spent a lot of time there. At this time, we were still fairly newly married and didn’t even think of kids yet. World Showcase to us was this wish list of places we would like to travel someday. Japan, China, Mexico, the United Kingdom. We knew that travel would be a part of our family. We both loved seeing what the world had to offer. I remember especially on this trip being amazed by the Japan pavilion. My brother was in the military and spent time there with his service. It made me feel connected in a small way to him. Silly probably. But it did.
We then took a couple of years off from Disney to experience some cruise vacations. But then we were back at Disney it just felt like home. We knew our way around. We had the lay of the land already figured out. However Disney is always changing things. Improving or swapping in a new parade here or show there. Especially now and for the next several years with the known expansions and the rumored ones, Disney is changing rapidly. In its essence it is still the mouse and the castle and wishes for a magical tomorrow.
We then adopted our first son from China. We knew immediately where we wanted his first vacation to be. It was on this trip and seeing Walt Disney World through his eyes that we knew this was our vacation destination for the next several years. We bought Disney Vacation Club on this trip. We have been to a Disney park every year since. Even as I mentioned before introducing our second son to Disney in Hong Kong only after being in our family for 10 days. These vacations give us priceless memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
I am going to share some of them now. You are probably going to laugh because most of them are so small. But they are priceless to us.
· Ryan and I on our first trip at Magic Kingdom after an E-ticket night. This was the precursor to Extra Magic Hours and we paid to get to stay in the park for more hours after closing. We rode Splash Mountain 3 times without getting off because the park was so empty. On the way out walking down Main Street practically to ourselves. Priceless.
· Once we had our oldest, Ryan and I never got around to having proper date nights. One an early trip, we took Evan up to the Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower in a stroller to watch the fireworks. He fell asleep, so Ryan and I had a semi- date night with him in the stroller next to us. We had a couple of drinks and watched the fireworks. It was such a nice time for us.
· Evan (our oldest son) his first favorite was the teacups. We have video of him riding it. He didn’t seem to enjoy it, but kept asking to get back on.
o He started asking when we could go back to our “Disney” home after the first trip.
o We made him ride the Tower of Terror when he really didn’t want us to. He constantly reminds us that he will not ride THAT Elevator!
o In Hong Kong Disneyland, Snow White made eye contact with him from a parade float and blew him a kiss. The sheer joy on his face when that happened was enough to melt any mammas heart.
o At the Grand Californian lobby while Ryan was checking in, both boys, but especially Evan cackled with laughter over the old time Mickey Mouse cartoons.
· Joel (our youngest) has always been about speed. He is small for his age. I went off to ride at Disney’s California Adventure, the roller coaster California Screamin. While I was gone he cried non-stop. We thought that it was just that I had gone. We later realized that he was mad he didn’t get to ride.
o When Joel enjoys anything he does his little happy dance and jumps around and claps his hands. He does that almost continually at Disney.
o On the trip from his past summer his phrase was “Go fast”. “Joel go fast”
o At the Frozen sing-a-long , he not only sang-a-long, but he did it louder than anyone else while being off key.
These are literally just the moments I came up with while typing as fast as my fingers would go. We love it there. We think Disney destinations encourage the imagination and freedom to explore all the possibilities whether they are probable or not. You can just let go and have fun. Can you do this on another vacation? Sure. Is it the same? Not in my opinion.