“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver
We returned from our week-long vacation to Disney World over a week ago, so I’ve been meaning to share a bit from our trip but have been stuck in the “catch-up” game from being away! I came back to find work piled up as well as a bunch of decisions and phone calls needed to keep our remodeling project moving (more on this later!). This reminds me of something people always say at work: “The scramble to get things done before going on vacation and then the re-entry upon your return and flooded email inbox almost makes it not worth taking a vacation.” Oh, really?! No. I don’t think so. Sorry, but that work’s there whether I’m getting hit with it all at once or if its spread slowly and sometimes painfully across an entire week. And an entire week away almost completely unplugged from any work or remodel talk was so, so needed.
So, this was our family’s second visit to Disney World. We went almost exactly two years ago in October 2009, when our girls were just 18 months and four-years-old. Crazy when I think about it. Seeing those poor parents with their infants and toddlers at the park this go ’round made me realize just how exhausting the whole ordeal was. Anyway, the whole reason we went was because or oldest was getting to an age that we thought she’d enjoy the parks and we wanted to try the vacation with our friends who had a daughter who was our oldest’s close friend. We did have a great time, but I was really looking forward to this trip because the girls are now three-and-a-half and almost six years old. HUGE difference.
If you’ve never planned a Disney trip before, be forewarned: it’s not to be entered into lightly! I found that the first time we planned it was the least magical part of the experience. The site is challenging to use, especially when trying to go in and check out pricing for different resorts with and without meal plans, park passes, etc. It never seems to remember your dates or family configuration so you keep re-entering it which is annoying. Also, I quickly realized that apparently if you want to stay at the actual Disney resorts near the parks (vs. Downtown Disney or nearby) you will pay a pretty hefty premium. That said, if you can get past the trip planning logistics and pricing schemes (and definitely use vacation reservation number to call with questions along the way – they can help explain how it all works) the actual vacation IS magical, and so worth the effort and money, if you ask me. Just look at these faces!
This visit we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge Resort, it is very close to the Magic Kingdom and a massive resort area which includes great pool areas, several restaurants, and a supervised kids activity area (which we didn’t use, but looked pretty cool). We had a standard room with two queen beds, it even had a little balcony which the kids enjoyed, and from which we could see the woods and the MK fireworks every night! As I said, the amenities and decor are not so deluxe, but the service was good and the room was clean, etc. We liked this experience much more than the last time when we were at the nearby Cabins at Fort Wilderness. We chose the cabin because it was the best value for a resort in MK area that actually had a 1 bedroom and kitchenette. This was important to us at the time because of traveling with our toddler. The cabin was OK, but the resort was also further out from the park and we needed to rent a golf cart to get around the sprawling Ft Wilderness resort.
So, I’ve rambled enough, better get down to business – what are the essentials you need to know? What have we done that we’d recommend and that we wouldn’t? In no particular order:
I’m sure there are other things that will pop into my head, but think that covers it for now. For a lot more “expert” mom advice, check out the Moms Panel on WDW site, almost any question you could have they will have a variety of real moms (not WDW employees) with their answers and opinions. Happy planning and remember: dreams can come true! 🙂