If the measure of one’s vacation is how many metric tons of French fries and ice cream one consumed, then I pretty much just took the trip of a lifetime.
We spent eight nights at Walt Disney World and, I have to say, I am having serious withdrawal. When I came home and was faced with the pesky reality that my kids still required three meals a day and the inside of my fridge looked like a barren prairie, it was sad to face the music. As for the unpacking, I’m conducting an unofficial scientific experiment on how long one can live out of a suitcase and early indicators show that I can totally go the distance.
While vacation is definitely over, we have the photos and the memories to keep our trip alive.
And the credit card bill.
Just a few recap points:
- In past trips, we have been known to be climate-challenged. As in, we visited Florida and the high temps were about 54 degrees. This year, we earned our weather. High 80s and sunny. Hot, actually. Nobody in the family was allowed to complain about the heat or I would scream “DO YOU REMEMBER THE POLAR VORTEX?! DO YOU?!” There was that one Tornado Watch in the middle of the Magic Kingdom. I was less upset about the actual sideways ark-like rainfall than I was about the $872 we shelled out on five Disney rain ponchos.
- Disney has upped their technology game. Between their newly updated app, the FastPass+ system and the Magic Bands, shit got real. No more messing around with flimsy paper FastPass tickets or room key cards. Or silly American cash. Oh, no. With the mere wave of your wrist near a Mickey-shaped RFID reader, you can easily charge any and all WDW purchases equal to your monthly mortgage payment. I was disappointed that the reach of the technology did not extend to my home arrival experience. Because when I tried to use my Magic Band to buy groceries in New Jersey and open the front door of my house, no dice. I guess that will be in the next upgrade.
- To counter the fries & ice cream bender I went on, I also took it upon myself to implement my own version of T25 while at WDW. Basically it entailed renting a double stroller, having your baby refuse to sit in it, placing said baby instead in a carrier against your sweaty body and watching your 6 and 4 year-old kids assume the vacation recline position in the stroller. For those keeping track at home, that’s about 90 lbs of kid in the stroller and 20 in the carrier. Extra chocolate syrup on my ice cream? Yes, please. I am a big fan of baby wearing, although it is slightly less appealing in the 4,000% humidity. On the upside, it did afford me the opportunity to take advantage of the 2-for-1 happy hour special at our hotel pool bar without skipping a beat.
- This is a good segue to the presentation of the Lowest Maintenance Traveling Child Award. OMG, I could not have asked for a more cooperative baby on this trip. Although he consistently waived his right to nap and we pushed his bedtime beyond imaginable limits, he was all smiles.
- My mom, stepfather and sister joined us for a few nights, which was great. If you weren’t counting, that’s six extra hands to manage the kids. Score. Plus, I got to torture my sister with my neurotic approach to roller coasters. It’s basically “Yes, let’s go!” until I’m in the seat. And then my unbridled fear of death kicks in and I tell everyone I dragged onto the ride what a bad idea this was. Repeatedly.
- Can we just address the Frozen insanity for a minute? Thanks to the marketing genius of Disney, families with young kids are now paying for entry to EPCOT (not typically a draw for the younger set) and then hauling ass over to THE NORWAY PAVILION — also known as the place nobody ever used to visit. Now home to Elsa and Anna, the lines to see the newest Disney royalty range from two (on a very lucky day) to seven hours. SEVEN HOURS. Luckily, we caught a glimpse of them exiting Norway to take their union-mandated break, and that was good enough for this family. But you want a Frozen dress for your daughter? Sorry. Not one available at the entire Disney mother ship. But please know that any Let it Go ear worm you may have while at home is kicked into high gear and borders on clinical insanity while at WDW. I was begging my kids to go on It’s a Small World just so I could have a different, awful song on repeat loop in my head.
Is it all Disney Magic? It’s not. Young kids invariably don’t do well on long lines or out in a public restaurant more than once in the span of a week. But I tried — really tried — to refrain from slipping into “WE TOOK YOU TO DISNEY WORLD, ENJOY IT, DAMN IT!! HAVE FUN, NOW! FUN!” mode.
In this spirit, I went into the trip trying to veer toward yes. Instead of defaulting to “no” or “later” or “we can’t,” I made a real effort — within reason — to try to say yes to as much as possible during the trip. I wasn’t always successful but it was a good change for me. In fact, on the last day of vacation, I introduced the concept of Kids’ Choice to my children. As in, let them pick what we do, what to eat, when to (not) go to bed, etc.
Their minds? Blown.
I’m just grateful they didn’t choose the nasty giant Disney World turkey leg as a meal.
In the end, the sunshine and change of scenery were fabulous. I was happy that my biggest decision all week was which ride to FastPass or where to eat lunch. Or which drink to order at happy hour.
Now, once we stop wishing for the minivan to be a monorail and I get the FastPass+ system to work on the school car line, I’ll be OK with my transition back to reality.