Even before my husband and I had kids, we loved Disney. We traveled to Disney World with a big group of friends and had the best time ever! Instead of running to Anna and Elsa at rope drop, we contemplated when it would be appropriate to start drinking around the world in Epcot. You know…for the cultural experience.
When we were younger, my parents headed to Disney without us. Yes, they did… for a wedding. It was one of those sparenoexpensebecausethisisonceinalifetime weddings. There was a Cinderella Coach, footmen, cocktails in the rose garden during evening fireworks, and a reception dancing the night away with Mickey in “tails” and Minnie in evening sequins. My parents said it was the best time, the best food, the best Disney magic ever. (They really enjoyed going on all the crazy rides sans kids… but I digress).
After we had our first daughter, we planned a vacation to Disney. Then the second daughter came, and well, we had to let her have the same experiences as her older sister, and the cycle began. We keep going back to Disney – and we will continue to do so- Disney is NOT just for kids. Yes, at some point in my life, I want a kid-free vacation. I want to sit my ass on an island and drink margaritas. BUT for now, my kids are 7, 5, and 2, therefore, Disney it is…
But beyond the ever-changing way that Disney encourages fans to return, again and again, it is the Disney moments that keep me up late at night clicking to get the best deals.One day in the park, both our girls were dressed in red and yellow Snow White gowns, sitting in the stroller munching on great big shiny red apples. We handed them the unplanned snack and started scanning the park for our next fast pass destination when we noticed a small crowd gathering around them asking to take pictures. Peyton was very happy to be “in character”, reassuring her adoring fans not to worry, it wasn’t a poisonous apple.
Later that day, as we were leaving Animal Kingdom, a cast member saw the two “Snow Whites”. She asked if we had met Mickey and Minnie in their Christmas finest. We were whisked into a secret door, walked down a long hall and into a room – apparently skipping the entire line. We got great family photos with a very attentive Mickey, Minnie and cast members.
One of our favorite encounters was with the evil stepmother and stepsisters from Cinderella. My oldest daughter had just finished the full treatment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Magic Kingdom and was dressed in an amazing Cinderella dress that my mother bought in Harrods, London (yes, bragging here). The two step sisters immediately began “taunting a terrified Cinderella… a.k.a. Peyton. She started walking backward, “ I AM NOT the real Cinderella! I know I look like her and I am dressed like her, BUT I AM NOT the real Cinderella!” Then the wicked stepmother turned to my mom and said, “I might have had a little too much fun at the ball last night … oh my head.”
Stepsister Anastasia took Parker aside and said, “Isn’t it annoying to have a sister that is a princess?” The rest of the people waited in line while the stepmother and my mom commiserated on wine, and the step sisters chatted with the girls on the woes of courtly life.
During another trip, my husband Kevin was the hero to all women and the pity to all men as we had my niece with us – hence 4 little girls – In Disney – In princess dresses. After a nice dinner at Olivia’s, we headed back to our room and discovered on the kitchen counter balloons and Disney gift bags. Inside were perfect gifts for each of my daughters and my niece. Parker announced that Tinkerbell must have come to visit. (The real story is the manager, at Disney’s Old Key West, Rodney, saw my husband with all girls – poor guy- and decided to send some Disney magic our way. )
Oh, and for those Christmas and New Year’s Eve vacationers, please know that Disney creates the BEST holiday special cocktails… for when the kids need ice cream and you need a little afternoon pick me up. (another reason why it is helpful to bring moms, sisters, and dads along for the vacay!)
Okay, tolerate me as I go into my travel agent mode now…We are a Disney family because each time we travel to Walt Disney World, we experience something new, such as Pandora-The World of Avatar and the Frozen Ever After Ride in Epcot. Disney also just announced the opening date for Toy Story Land. YAY!
Like I actually needed a reason to book another trip!
My Top Ten Disney Tips
- #10 Don’t stress. If you’re overwhelmed with planning, hire a travel agent that specializes in Disney. Most TA’s are paid by Disney and their services are free.
- #9 Enjoy the experience. There are stressed out parents all around you. Simply accept the fact that your kids are going to melt down at some point. You might even melt down. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re in DISNEY!
- #8 Don’t parent shame. There is absolutely no parent shaming in Disney- Got it?- If you don’t know what parent shaming is – look it up and just don’t do it. Parenting 101: We are all doing the best we can, especially in Disney with excited, exhausted, and over-stimulated kids.
- #7 Be flexible. Even the most organized Disney trips don’t go as planned. You might wake up late, the bus system may be off schedule, or it might – wait for it – rain. Contrary to popular belief, there is NO dome over Disney, so please don’t lash out at the cast members if it rains.
- #6 Get Memory Maker. Don’t forget to stop and take it all in. For some families, Disney is a one and done trip, or a once in a lifetime trip. Don’t try to get the “perfect” picture or take “every” picture – (I am guilty of this) – be in the moment. Memory Maker is worth every single penny.
- #5 Be respectful. There are people from ALL over the world vacationing at Disney. Every family and person that is there, spent money to be there – like a lot of money – Everyone’s trip is special in their own way – please don’t act like an entitled ass.
- #4 Respect the cast members. I PROMISE YOU, cast members aren’t trying to ruin your trip by telling you to move your stroller or to exit a certain way. Disney has a system and it works. If you have an issue or concern, address it in a mature manner.
- #3 Stay hydrated. Florida heat is like NO other. Don’t forget to drink water and make sure your kids are hydrated. If you need to take a mommy or daddy “time out” and grab a beer, there’s plenty of places to do so – just don’t act like a buffoon. (Also it’s an unspoken parent rule, when you see another parent pushing a stroller with a beer in hand, it’s socially acceptable to have a drink). Please read Disney tip #8 titled – “no parent shaming”- sometimes mommy and daddy need a drink.
- #2 Don’t “expect” Pixie Dust. You will be highly disappointed in your trip if you “expect” Pixie Dust. There will be lines, there will be crowds, and every single second of your trip may not be perfect. If you want a relaxing trip, without kids, don’t go to Disney. Go to an island.
- #1 PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP. Sometimes Disney leaves bounce back offers. Be sure to ask upon check out or check your room before you leave.
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