We decided a few months ago that it was time to take the kids to Disney World again. They've been running some great package deals, and my mom's a travel agent, so she can always get us the best rates available. So we booked it.
I've been to Disney lots of times – a few times when I was a kid and it was only the Magic Kingdom at that point, and you had to use those paper tickets, the best rides were always the "E" tickets. We had friends who lived in the area and we'd always stay with them.
When I got married, I went there on my honeymoon. After that, often because of business travel, either mine or DH's, we'd tack on some vacation time and buzz around Disney for a few days. We stayed in lots of different places, with different options. From top of the line, to economy style.
When my daughter was in kindergarten, we took her for the first time. We decided, after having tried out various other hotels, we wanted one with the monorail. We booked the Polynesian, which was one of the first resorts when the park first opened. My daughter loved it – she got to ride with the conductor on her first monorail trip, back when they still allowed people in there. It was Halloween too, so she dressed up as Sleeping Beauty and we partied in the Magic Kingdom with characters in costume, trick or treating and the whole works. Disney does an amazing Halloween party. Breakfast in Cinderella's Castle – for which I had to get up early and call three days in a row, 30 days in advance to get those reservations.
We took the family two years ago, again for Halloween. This time we stayed at the Grand Floridian. We stayed there on our honeymoon, and have concluded there is no place better to stay – and it's where we're staying again this time. Last time was the little guy's first experience, and I have to say, much as I love everything about Disney, the best thing about it was seeing my kids' faces when they saw it all for the first time. It is impossible to accurately describe the expressions. They're just that amazing. He met his favorite characters – Woody! Buzz Lightyear! Lightning McQueen! Tigger! He loves rides, and wanted to go on everything he could. He did have a few sort-of catastrophes - got so excited to see Mickey for the first time at breakfast, he fell and hit his cheek on the corner of the table. Then nearly choked on a piece of the ice we'd gotten to reduce the swelling. But overall, he had a blast!
What kills me is the fact that both times, all they wanted to do was get back to the hotel and go in the pool. Seriously? What is with that? Not that I minded – DH and I would get a few drinks and hang out poolside while they splashed and swam. The pool is open 24/7, so we were often there at 11:00 or later. But come on – with all the cool things there are to do in Disney, they wanted to go swimming? Really?
We hung out with other parents, all saying the same thing. Their kids loved everything in the parks, couldn't get enough, but throughout, all they heard, just like we did, "Is it time to go back to the hotel yet?" I guess in Disney, that's the equivalent of "Are we there yet?"
There are some new things this time around but sadly, we're getting there too early to see all the new Beauty and the Beast attractions. That'll be for next time – maybe two years, when DD is a senior and can afford to miss a couple days of school again. We're both disappointed – from the age of 2 until nearly 6, Beauty & the Beast was her favorite. We watched it at least daily the first couple of years, and several times a month for a few years after. We still find ourselves watching it together when they show it on one of the Disney channels. Sometimes I think I love the story more than she does! Actually, there's no surprise there. The Beast, like many of my heroes, is rather a jerk in the beginning, though he has good reason to be. Then again, being a jerk got him in that whole mess anyway, but Belle saw through all the crap to the real hero within. Personally, I preferred he would have stayed as the Beast, but that's not how the fairy tale goes. But he is definitely one of my favorite heroes, simply by the virtue of his un-heroic traits. :D
As for our trip, we will get to see the Christmas party this go-round. We're a little later than normal, so that'll be something new and fun we haven't done before. We've seen the start of the decorative prep our last couple of trips, it'll be cool to see it all done. One thing about Disney, no one does it better. The attention to the tiniest detail, both in the attractions, events and shows, as well as the guest services, blows me away. I've yet to find a place that does it better. Some come close, true, but IMO, Disney still holds the top spot by a very wide margin.
In any case, we're about a month or so out and I've got to start my lists. I already have a folder with all my reservation info – hotel and dining so far - I love that everything is online now, planning all the details is so much easier. This time, we're kind of going to just go where the mood takes us – this trip is way less structured and scheduled than the last. But there's still so much more to do to be ready. I need to figure out what to bring – car trips are easy, we bring it all. Can't do that on a plane. But I am a good packer and can get a ton into a suitcase without going over weight restrictions.
Should be an interesting month as I try to wrap up this ms, get the last of the revisions on the other done, and prep for the trip. Oh yeah, and Halloween's coming, too.