It’s confession time. For my husband’s 40th birthday, our family went to Disney World. For my 40th birthday, we went again. While your mind wrestles with the weirdness of adults choosing a Disney park over an all-inclusive beach vacation, I’ll also confess that we had already visited both Disney World and Disneyland.
DON’T LIKE DISNEY?
There are people who DON’T think Disney World is the happiest place on earth. Some of them don’t even think it’s happy. In fact, some have zero desire or intent on taking their children to meet Cinderella and ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Understandably, there are many people who can’t afford a Disney vacation. But, it’s the ones who can and choose not to that intrigue me. What’s not to love about roller coasters, fireworks, musicals and sunshine? It’s the ultimate, harmonious family experience at a place that smells like cinnamon.
WHEN TO DO DISNEY
There’s definitely a good way and a very bad way to do Disney. July or August in the blazing sun? NO WAY. You couldn’t pay us to stand in hour(s) long queues with thousands of sweaty people just to discover, “It’s a small world after all.” There’s nothing magical about the sickening realization of how much you’re spending per minute to stand in line for a stinky restroom.
The absolute best way to experience zip-a-dee-doo-da is to go during “green light” weeks. Sure, you might have to sacrifice a little school. You might even have to pack a jacket. But, there’s no education quite like the Hall of Presidents or a whirlwind trip through 11 countries at Epcot. And when it rains? Matching ponchos make a great photo opp! An uncrowded park is the best way to preserve the wonderment of mingling with a mermaid. It’s the ONLY time you’ll meet Elsa and Anna without a coveted FastPass.
OUR DISNEY MEMORIES
One glorious morning we arrived early enough to walk behind the rope and open up the Magic Kingdom. The jubilant music swelled, and our kids were downright giddy as we approached the magnificent castle. I looked into their bright eyes, and for just a moment, all was right with the world. Not a lick of sibling rivalry in sight. Dare I say there was hand holding? There may have even been skipping. And I didn’t even know my husband could skip!
Our son was 3 years old when he first spied the real-life Tigger. He took off, waving both arms wildly and exclaiming, “TIGGER! Hi, Tigger! It’s me! It’s ME!” We all died of cuteness. Because OF COURSE Tigger recognized him from their lifelong friendship. The toddler story we love to retell about our youngest involves her obsession with that certain boat ride that features a bazillion singing dolls. She was so caught up in the song that it wasn’t until the end when she noticed the boat in front of us was empty. (Green light week.) With sincere fret, she exclaimed, “Oh, NO! The people fell out of that boat!”
CALL US GOOFY
It’s easy to be cynical. Disney is expensive. (But so is a gym membership). Disney is cheesy. (But so is television). The kids might not remember it at such a young age. (Then why do we take them to baseball games? Or parades? Or play with them at all?) There’s no other place that completely seals you off from reality. Where else do you find strangers so eager to make your wishes come true? Go ahead and call us goofy. We’ll take the eye rolls and “let it go.”
Amy Brase is a writer who loves to travel to National Parks and Disney Parks. Her very favorite ride is Soarin’, and her husband’s is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover. She’d like to dedicate this column to her Disney-loving parents, the best travel companions around.