My family is all about a big reveal. It was rare, growing up, to not get a wildly dramatic, completely over-the-top, YouTube video worthy gift reveal. There was no You Tube back then, but my parents knew how to unbox before there even was such a thing. When my mother invited us to France and England for two weeks of our summer, I knew telling Miss O would be no different.
As this long, biting winter slowly drags to a close, I feel myself finally getting ready for not one, but two trips we’re lucky to go on this year. I don’t get to do too much preparation for France and the UK, since it’s my mother’s trip, so it’s been harder to get into the swing of that trip. Fortunately, our return trip to Disney World requires a little more planning on my part. I have the blessing of hindsight on my side this time and there are a few things I think we’ll do differently this time.
After we returned from our first family trip to Disney World, I understood why people love it so much they go back year after year. If you’re enjoying your trip as much as we did, you get this indescribable joy. We were positively giddy for days and everything was new, even though Hubs and I had been there so many times before. It wasn’t until I tried to scan my magic band at Trader Joe’s almost a week after returning home that I realized how much I embraced that magic. The return to regular life suddenly seemed so mundane. A few months later it was downright depressing. I really didn’t think it would hit me that hard, but I definitely had been hit with Disney Depression.
One of the greatest gifts my parents were able to give me is world travel. By the time I was ten, I had been to England, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, France, Denmark, and Switzerland. I visited Ireland at 16 and again at 18. Seeing other countries not only broadened my understanding of the world, it made me curious about other countries and their culture. It helped me see that my view is not the only view. Now I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to give that same experience to Miss O this summer when we travel to France and England.
Our final park day of our first family trip to Disney World came all too quickly. Miss O had one more day to finish her mission to collect all the Disney Princess autographs. We had amazing success in Animal Kingdom, our first day at the Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. Even though Hollywood Studios wasn’t a hit, we still met a few friends there, too. When we started, I was hoping Miss O would get one or two, but wouldn’t push her if she didn’t want to. Now we were determined to meet our final Princesses and maybe find a few extra friends. After four long, fun-packed days, I hoped we’d all make it long enough to see it through.
With our first character greeting at Animal Kingdom a complete success, I hoped our scheduled meet and greets in the Magic Kingdom would go equally well. I knew Miss O loved Minnie and Mickey, but I wasn’t sure she was over her uneasiness around costumed characters. I had FastPasses for both days in the park at Fairytale Hall and a park plan that included as many characters as I thought she’d want to see. What I wasn’t sure of were the lines, the weather and our patience holding out.
Here at the Jackpot, we get to do some very special things every now and again. This Christmas season we were given one of those magical opportunities that make you pause and realize how lucky you are, even when it seems like things aren’t as great as they could be. This time, we were invited to see one of our friends perform in New York City and that friend just happens to be a Rockette.
For our first family trip to Disney, we were lucky to get non-stop flights from Boston to Orlando at pretty reasonable times. That meant we could have breakfast and surprise Miss O with the trip in the morning and be on Disney property by that afternoon. It also meant we could spend most of Saturday doing Disney things before our flight left. It did not mean we would have enough time or energy for a park on either day and didn’t want to waste a park ticket on a partial day. This is where Disney Springs, a big open-air mall area with dining, shopping and entertainment becomes and excellent, ticket-free place to spend time.
I was worried the fifth day of our trip would be a struggle. After four full days, with one each at Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, I was concerned we’d be too tired for another day at Magic Kingdom, especially since we had tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that night, too. We only visited one half of the Magic Kingdom on our first day, and I couldn’t leave without Miss O experiencing the other half. I knew she was having fun, but our tired was starting to show and I wasn’t sure she’d make it.
I’ll admit when we first decided to include a day at Hollywood Studios in our park plans, I wasn’t convinced we needed an entire day for it. In the past, MGM, as it used to be called, really seemed more like a half-day park. There have been quite a few changes since those days and I wasn’t sure if those changes, and the addition of Toy Story Land, would make that much of a difference.