Going to See the Mouse by Margaret Hart
Very soon we will be on our way to Orlando, Florida. It’s spring break at my son’s elementary school, and we decided to take him to Disney. It’s his first time, and he is very excited!
I’ve been to Disney three times. Twice to Orlando and once to California. The last time I was in Florida, I was newly married, had no children, and my husband was attending a financial conference. A few of the large banks involved with the conference hosted private functions at some of the Disney parks, as well as Universal Studios, so we enjoyed some VIP tours. Before that, I had been Disney in California when I traveled with my high school best friend to visit her father.
My first time to the Magic Kingdom was when I was 16 and my younger sister was 9. I have many fond memories, but the one that my mother and I like to reminisce about the most was our terrifying ride on Space Mountain; the force of the coaster was so great that despite whatever contraption they had to keep us in our seats, my sister and I slid down my mother’s lap toward the front of the car, popping nearly every button off her button-down skirt. My mother said she held onto both of us for dear life!
Since I am the primary vacation planner in our family, I have been hard at work planning every detail of our visit for several months. As prepared as I am, and as informed as I think I am, so much of our trip is still going to fall under the category of “playing it by ear.” I’m sure that many moms will relate when I say that planning a trip to Disney even with the ease of a “package deal,” is mind boggling. It’s just not as simple as buying a ticket. You have to decide among various ticket options, including one day, two day, park hopper with expiration, park hopper with no expiration, and so on.
But perhaps the most daunting task is getting dining reservations. It’s true what people tell you: you need to book your dining reservations six months in advance—especially if you want to experience a character breakfast or dinner. And dining at a popular restaurant is a commitment. Many restaurants take your credit card when you book, and if you don’t cancel 24 hours before your reservation, you get charged $10 per person.
Unlike other vacations I’ve planned, I found that Disney required much more research. I needed to become knowledgeable about all the parks, the rides, the parks that open early and those that stay open late. And in an effort to avoid really, really long lines, I needed to learn about the crowd calendars and touring plans, and Fast Pass, and more! There is definitely a lot of strategy involved in planning a trip to Disney, and all I can say is thank God there’s an app for that!
So the countdown has begun, and we are ready! Our goal is to visit six parks in eight days—plus a special day of swimming with Dolphins. I understand this insanity is par for the course, even among veteran visitors. It’s going to be exhausting and exhilarating, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Apart from not having to cook for a whole week, I’m most looking forward to seeing the expressions on my son’s face as he experiences the most magical place on earth for the first time. I’ll be holding onto him for dear life!