We did it. We bit the bullet and we did it.
After years of careful financial planning, waiting for everyone to be completely potty trained, and implementing a training regimen to make sure everyone was up for days and days of walking and waiting in line, we sucked it up and did the family vacation to Disney World.
Let me start by saying that I am grateful that we were able to do this as a family. Spending an entire week together, getting away from work and responsibilities, being able to give the kids a few extra treats, I know we are beyond lucky to be able to do this.
That being said, I have absolutely no plans to ever go through this again!
You can add “not a Disney type” to my personality profile.
From the beginning, it was clear that this was going to be a struggle.
Santa Claus, that thoughtful chap, left a scavenger hunt for my children on Christmas morning. Each clue on the scavenger hunt gave them a puzzle piece, and when they were fitted together, it was a letter outlining all of the great and wonderful things that awaited them in the wonderful World of Mouse.
Two out of three children immediately burst into tears at the news. They were not happy tears.
G was devastated because the trip would take him out of school, ruining his perfect attendance record. (When Santa approached us about this gift, this was taken into consideration, and we almost did say no for this very reason, however, going in the middle of summer seemed likely to make a lot of us cry, too.)
E’s tears were because the letter was only addressed to her and her brothers. Since it wasn’t addressed to Mom and Dad as well, she assumed they had to go without us.
It took us quite a while to convince her that Santa really did want us to go with them. I think we may be leaving Santa a bag of coal instead of a plate of cookies next year.
Life in general resembles a rat race, so when I think vacation, the last thing I want to do is worry about meticulously planning every minute of every day, 180 days in advance, but that’s what you’ve got to jump on if you’re going to “do Disney right.”
I can’t decide what I want to have for lunch later today, but I had to map out a week’s worth of dining experiences for six months from now? That was the next sign that this vacation was not going to be a vacation.
Making those plans also committed us to attending certain parks on certain days, which meant a lot of praying that the weather cooperated. It also meant needing to be ready to jump on the Fast Pass options the minute they were released.
Then, we had to get all three kids on a plane for the first time. G, the wild man that he is, had no qualms about flying, which thankfully rubbed off on E. I was waiting for her to have a mid-takeoff freakout, but thankfully, that never happened.
A was a different story. Knowing that he was going to be stressed about this, we were lucky enough to be able to book a charter flight out of a small regional airport that flew directly to Orlando.
We were spared the lengthy TSA lines and the intimidation factor, which was great. Not so great: We actually had to walk out onto the tarmac and up a rickety flight of stairs on a very cold, wintry morning to get on the plane.
The weather conditions also added quite a bit of turbulence to our takeoff and ascent, but we weathered that storm, and once we leveled off, A calmed down and actually enjoyed looking out the window.
After all of this, the only thing that E wanted to do was swim in the hotel pool, which we did a lot, and see the princesses, which unfortunately, wasn’t on the schedule until the end of the week.
We also made the mistake of starting our trip at Hollywood Studios, so the boys spent the rest of the week begging to go back to see more of the “Star Wars” stuff, which we eventually did.
Finding the right balance of “what the kids really want to do” and “we paid for all of this so we’re doing all of this” was a really hard thing to do.
The kids are still claiming this was the best week of their lives, so I guess we didn’t do too badly.
Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.