So HEY! We're back from Disney World! And it turns out that I am not developing Post-Vacation Depression at ALL, and I am certain that's due to a direct combination of a fast-approaching and all-consuming holiday we call Christmas, as well as the fact that five non-stop days at Disney with four kids age five and under was PLENTY for me, and I am full-up on Disney for at LEAST three more years. AT LEAST.
That's not to say that we didn't have a fantastic time, because WE ABSOLUTELY DID, and that is despite one whole morning of hard rain that required us to wear enormous ugly ponchos, the ones I schlepped out to Walmart on a special trip to buy for $2.88 (adults) and $6.88 (children) and figured we would never use so I saved the receipt to return them when I got home. Except then we had to use them, which: TOTAL BUMMER. But only for three-ish hours or so, and then after that, the weather was absolute perfection. Truthfully, after its been raining at a theme park, any kind of weather that doesn't include precipitation is absolute perfection, but it stayed warm and mostly sunny for the remainder of our stay.
What is there to tell you about our ACTUAL experience? It is hard to think of anything that stands out as super unique or crazy amazing. The thing about a Disney vacation is that I imagine nearly everyone has a similar experience to the one we had. We met characters, we rode rides, we watched parades and fireworks and shows and we slept very, very little. The kids loved every minute – well, Asher was pretty pissed that he got wet on Splash Mountain, but otherwise, they loved it - and were very, VERY reluctant to climb onto the bus back to the airport on Thursday morning. (Seriously, the kid was perfectly fine with a 50-foot drop on an amusement park ride, but NO WATER IN THE FACE, PLEASE.)
In terms of what we did RIGHT: we visited during a relatively off-peak time, meaning we stood in a handful of 10-minute lines the whole week, with the worst line (80 minutes) being at the most popular and newest ride at Disney (Toy Story Mania) during a rainstorm, which is kind of everyone's ideal time to stand in a line indoors where it's safe and dry. Otherwise, the crowds were super low, we walked right onto everything we wanted to ride and every show we wanted to see. We also stayed on property at the Wilderness Lodge: the major perks were easy access to the Magic Kingdom via boat and relatively inexpensive rooms with bunk beds for the kids and a balcony that overlooked the lake (we could see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our room each night). The boat was wonderful – we took a Maclaren double stroller with us and we were able to roll it right onto the boat from the dock, without ever having to fold it up. HUGELY helpful, especially when you've got a bazillion little things with which to survive a day in an amusement park crammed into the mesh baskets underneath.
In terms of what we did WRONG? Well, honestly, not much. Except that I was unprepared for how difficult it would be to get into the groove of moving a group of 10 people around a crowded theme park for five straight days. THAT part was tough, mentally and physically.
Asher was enamored with riding Big Thunder Mountain – a roller coaster that's relatively tame, in roller coaster terms. But dudes, once he got a taste, it was ALL he wanted to do. He did also enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean and Snow White's Scary Adventures and Peter Pan and was very unimpressed with the Haunted Mansion, Dumbo and (as mentioned before) Splash Mountain. He was a smidgeon too short to ride Space Mountain.
Lucy was focused on expanding her stuffed animal collection as much as humanly possible – we allowed her to bring two of her animals with us to Disney to sleep with while she was away, and somehow we came home with FOUR MORE. Unfortunately for us, Lucy is charming and sweet and adorable and WHY ISN'T ANYONE TURNING THIS CHILD DOWN WHEN SHE REQUESTS ANOTHER PLUSH BABY BAMBI? (She told me she needed it to match her shirt. I KID YOU NOT.) She also loved meeting the princesses and Winnie-the-Pooh, and her favorite rides were It's a Small World and the People Mover (I KNOW) and she sat happily through the entire 40-minute Finding Nemo musical at Animal Kingdom with big, wide eyes.
And Dave... OH, DAVE. The guy who was completely skeptical of the entire Disney experience ended up making a bunch of calls on Wednesday night before we were supposed to depart on Thursday trying to figure out how much it would cost to extend our vacation. (For your information, it would have been $167 a night to stay in the hotel, but more than $400 to change our flights, so... yeah, no.) He had such a great time with the kids and was probably the saddest of all of us to have to leave. I was completely charmed by it – it's not that he loves Disney in the kind of way that would make him want to come back WITHOUT the kids, but he just loved being in a place that was so kid-centered; it made it so easy to really ENJOY them while we were there.
I'll write another post about planning for those who asked, but in the meantime, here are a few photos from our week. Two thumbs up, without a doubt. Even my skeptical husband admits that it was money well spent.
At our hotel:
Meeting his idol: