It was supposed to be simple. Tate and I decided several months ago that we were going to take the kids to Disney World during Carson’s fall break. The kids, old enough to get our money’s worth of memories, this Disney adventure would be laid back and relaxed, no itineraries, and lazy days spent at the resort pools. Carson and Ella aren’t really even into Disney characters, except for the Pixar variety and they don’t even know what Disney is or what to expect, so we figured we could just skip the character meals and fast passes and all that other mumbo jumbo that quickly turns a laid back vacation into one that included a color-coded itinerary.
Then I went online and oh my gosh, YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS! There are approximately 4.2 million blogs and websites devoted to planning your trip down to strategically planning routes and meal times to get the most out of your Disney experience. I mean, I just didn’t know, not really anyway. These people are DEVOTED, y’all and love themselves some Disney. It was like navigating a foreign land where I didn’t speak the language.
But our vacation was going to be different. Laid back and relaxed, no itineraries…
“Well, maybe I should talk to Shelly,” I said to Tate after an evening of pulling my hair out trying to figure out where we would even stay. “She’s a travel agent and can help guide us. I’ll be sure to let her know that we want a laid back Disney vacation.”
I also started to talking to friends who’ve been to Disney.
“You must eat at ‘Ohana!”
“You have to go to Chef Mickey’s!”
“Do not miss the fireworks, they’re amazing!”
“If you want my travel books, list of favorite Disney planning websites, maps, and itineraries, I’d be happy to show them to you!”
“The Toy Story ride is our most favorite, go there as soon as Hollywood Studios opens!”
“Do you have any reservations for character meals? You HAVE to do a character meal, it’s DISNEY-FREAKING-WORLD for goodness sakes!”
“You’re less than 180 days out, you have made some dinner reservations, haven’t you?”
And there were also the knowing head nods when I explained, “No, no! You don’t understand. We’re not going to do Disney World that way! My kids won’t care about the character meals! Our trip is going to be laid back and relaxed! We don’t want an itinerary!”
Shelly has been more than patient in dealing with Tate and me, obvious Disney World amateurs who didn’t realize that in fact, the no itinerary idea probably wasn’t going to work. She never once told us that we were crazy, she just offered very wise suggestions and ideas based on her personal experiences.
It’s like a rabbit hole, this whole Disney planning thing. There’s just so much I needed to learn, like if you want to eat at a sit down restaurant at Disney World you must have reservations, that’s just how it works. Now I get why people would eye me nervously when I said that I didn’t have any dinner reservations yet. One thing lead to another and the next thing I knew, I realized that since we are spending a decent chunk of money on this trip, it really doesn’t make sense to go willy nilly and end up spending all of our time waiting in lines and missing all the cool stuff there is to do. If we’re going to do Disney, we should DO DISNEY.
Our original idea has morphed into a full blown Disney EXPERIENCE, complete with dinner reservations with 2! Yes, 2! character meals! Even one with Cinderella and Prince Charming (squee!!), the Disney dining plan (free!), and a lovely color coded itinerary that includes seeing fireworks, getting fast passes for popular rides, and seeing a Pixar-themed parade. I could not be more excited!
We’re not telling the kids until the day we leave for Orlando. You guys, we’re going to Disney World!