It seemed like it took an eternity to return to Disney World after my first trip when I was twenty years old. I was able to return with my family for a very quick, one day trip, when I was 29, but that only left me yearning for more, wishing for a day in which I could relax and enjoy myself, without the pressures of trying to cram in a week’s worth of rides, dining, and character meet and greet opportunities in just a day. As we all know, that is IMPOSSIBLE! But, I took my one day, and I ran with it, choosing to be glad that I was there for one day instead of not getting to be there at all.
Flash forward nine years, and I began planning a return to Disney for our family, but this time, for the week I had always dreamed of. As plans were made for this trip, I found myself more ecstatic than I ever imagined being. Every moment I had “down time”, I found myself researching ideas about how to navigate around the parks, which rides I should select for my FastPasses, which parks had Extra Magic Hours for the day we were there, and how to maneuver through the various options for Park Hopping. We customized shirts, packed bags, and eventually, our time came to fly to Orlando. We optimized using the Magical Express, and began to realize that our dreams were coming true. Living in the particular moment of seeing dreams come to fruition is a beautiful thing, especially through the eyes of your children. I thought that I couldn’t contain my excitement, but seeing my children, and the sense of anticipation through them, was even better than I could have ever imagined.
Our week flew by, as we spent multiple days at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. No, I didn’t forget Epcot, we just didn’t go there on this trip, but I will get to that in my next post. We spent a day swimming, and going to the water parks. We battled the rain, enjoyed the fireworks, relished the amazing food, and truly appreciated all of the hard work that each cast member put into making our days and nights as magical as possible. We had autograph books filled, photographs taken with dozens of characters, and loved using our Magic Bands to open doors when our hands were so full from shopping or carrying our drinks. Finally…..the rides…..OH the rides. From hearing my children scream with excitement, to singing along as we glided through classic favorites, to stealing a snuggle with my husband, the rides were simply unforgettable. We didn’t sleep much, but when we did, it was just enough to recharge our batteries.
Don’t get me wrong….we had a few moments that weren’t so bright and shiny. We got lost a few times, we were sunburned, tired, and thirsty. However, all of those situations were our own fault, from not paying attention, not reapplying sunscreen enough, not putting our phones down when we went to bed and not drinking enough water. This had nothing to do with anyone at Disney making things less than perfect for us. In fact, it was things AT Disney that would get us back in a good mood again after we got through our little challenges.
Finally the day arrived in which we had to leave. Bags were packed, we had checked out, and decided to leave our things at Bell Services to enjoy one last jaunt through Magic Kingdom before we went home. The day didn’t seem as bright to us, we were a little down (ok, REALLY down), and the thought of this being our last time was overwhelming. After a great morning of three final FastPasses, we made our way out the exit one last time. I look down at my children, who were crying, and I cried as well. Something amazing happened on that trip….something I truly can’t put into words. My then seven year old son said to me, “Mommy, is this the last time we will ever be here? This is my favorite place!”. I promised him that we WOULD return, we WOULD come here more often, and we WOULD make this a family tradition. Disney had created a bond within our family that, while it is impossible to describe, it is so easy to feel.
That next trip came sooner than we would have ever thought on that final day at Disney. Just three and a half months later, we were back on a plane to The Happiest Place on Earth. Stay tuned to read the details of that magnificent trip, and our return to Epcot.