As we plan our annual Disney vacation, I am inundated with one question: How can you go to Disney EVERY YEAR? I usually smile, and explain that we just love Disney. I will often try and explain the level of service we receive, the all inclusive experience that staying on property with a dining package offers, the variety, the magic…but most folks just don’t get it. What it comes down to is this: we are a Disney Family. We have been since our first trip, just about eight years ago. Even this year, when we wanted something “different”, we chose a Disney Cruise Line cruise.
Our son, who will be eleven in a few short weeks, loved all things Disney as a toddler. He loved Pooh Bear, Tigger, and had an infatuation with Lumpy, the adorable purple Heffalump. One morning, a NEW DISNEY JUNIOR PREM-EAR…Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, appeared on our television. That was it, our little guy was hooked….he was all about the Mouse. Mickey toys, fruit snacks, PJ Pals…you name it, we had it.
We had done a few short trips, to Virginia, Washington DC and Dutch Wonderland, but when my baby looked at me, with big shining brown eyes and said he wanted to go see Mickey Mouse, well, game over. I started checking out Disney websites, and a few weeks later received an e-mail offer for Free Dining, for late August through September. I called Disney, got a price quote, procured funds sufficient to pay for the trip and airfare in full, and called back and booked our first trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I researched next to nothing, and booked all our sit down meals on the advice of the Cast Member I booked the trip with, and then waited from early April until September 3rd.
We bought a Disney calendar, and crossed off each day until the morning of our first trip arrived. We had chosen an early morning flight, and were at Orlando International Airport by 9:30 AM. My husband, who was sure that this trip was a waste of money, began to grumble as we walked to the Magical Express counter, sure that we would be packed like sardines into broken down, smelly old buses, and that we would never see our luggage again. His conversion to Disney began almost immediately, as we boarded nearly brand new, sweetly scented, and immaculately clean buses, that whisked us to Wilderness Lodge whilst our normally hyper 3 year old son watched Classic Disney cartoons and did not move, squirm, or fuss for a moment.
At the check in counter, our very first experience with Pixie Dust. Marta, (yes, I remember her name to this day) our check in Cast Member, informed us that our room was not ready, but…..would our Little Prince like a water view room with Bunk Beds instead??? Our Little Prince nearly cried with joy. Marta assured us our bags would be arriving shortly, handed us our Keys to the World, and off we went. We headed to the Magic Kingdom for our first ride on Dumbo, Peter Pan, and giggled along with Pooh…but we had yet to see The Big Cheese. The child then wanted to ride Triceratops Spin, so off we headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, glad that we had gotten the Park Hopper.
We spun three or four time with the baby Dinos, had our son’s face painted, and then stumbled upon the character trail…where none other than Mickey himself was appearing. We got in line and waited patiently for our chance to meet the Disney Royalty. Our son, again normally hyper to the point of distraction, was standing quietly, holding my hand. I looked down, and saw tears in his eyes. Sure that he was terrified, I knelt down and asked him if he was afraid, and he just shook his head no. I asked him if wanted to get out of line, again, got the head shake.So we waited, quietly. When we made it to the front of the line, and the Cast Member gave the signal that it was our turn, my son dropped my hand, ran to Mickey, and flung himself into Mickey’s arms…and cried “I been waiting my WHOLE LIFE to meet you Mickey!”
We have, in the following eight years, made ten more trips to Walt Disney World. There are always moments of magic, and I won’t lie, there have been a few NOT so magical moments, but that is the way it is with family. We see Disney as more than a park, more than rides…Disney is a part of who we are, a part of our family. And my husband, the one who complained non-stop that the trip was a big mistake? He asked me just yesterday why our 2013 trip to WDW wasn’t booked yet. Knowing all that I know now, I made many mistakes planning that first trip (letting Disney book the airfare..YIKES! that was an expensive mistake) but I do not regret making any of them. The memories that I have, of our family at Disney, are more priceless than words can convey.