(Editor’s Note: The writer is on vacation this week. This is a reprint from 2014.)
It’s cliché, but a vacation in Disney World truly is magical.
I can’t even write that corniness without laughing, but it’s so true. I’m skeptical by nature, thanks to my profession, and had high expectations for Disney, but the entire experience exceeded my hopes. It’s a trip I will never forget.
There will surely be more trips in our future to Disney, but the first one will always be special. In Beckett’s words, “this is the greatest place in the world, next to home, of course.”
Getting to Disney I knew was going to be interesting because we opted to drive this year and splurge with on-site accommodations at the Contemporary. Since my kids have never been in the vehicle for more than four hours at a clip and struggle with boredom on the way to Salisbury, I was dreading the drive with those idle minds and assumed it was going to be rough.
After driving a combined 35 hours on the road roundtrip, I can honestly say my boys were great. They were not perfect and there were tense moments, but they did much better than I expected. Technology, of course, was a huge help, and Pam was stocked with videos and games to assist during periods of particular boredom. In our vehicle, at least, there were not any “are we there yet” questions, but plenty of “how much longer until we get there” inquiries.
Probably the roughest part of the long haul was the first night we spent on the road in St. George, S.C. It was late and the boys were both asleep, but they unfortunately woke up during the transition from the car to the hotel room. Once they were up, they were excited and it was difficult to get them both back to sleep. After what seemed like very little sleep, it was time to get back on the road to get to Disney as early as possible.
Although the adults were dragging, that’s when the fun began and here are a couple highlights, and I can’t promise there will not be additional reflections in the weeks to come.
- Beckett likes to think he’s a tough guy and nothing scares him, even the haunted rides. He confirmed that over and over again with his zealous nature for all the rides.
For his part, Carson was equally up to the challenge, but he clearly was scared on some rides and did not enjoy all of them. He failed to meet the height requirements on some of the roller coasters and that was probably a good thing because they may have been too much for him. Whenever we approached a ride that gave him some consternation, he would immediately let go of my hand and seek out his mother. Clearly his safe space is with and next to his mom, and some of the photos from the Memory Pass program confirmed those feelings.
For those unfamiliar, I highly recommend the investment in this program. Disney has photographers all over the place and they can take your photo and then link the images directly to your online account. Within minutes, the photos can be seen and downloaded on your phone or on your computer back in the room.
Additionally, it captures unknown action photos on the most popular rides. It was fun to see all of our expressions as well as those of the strangers seated near us.
After riding the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios twice, Beckett maintained it wasn’t scary at all. However, I knew better because I was right next to him. We went back and forth and I tried to get him to admit that it was a little scary.
His stubbornness was cleared up though when I showed him on my phone his face five minutes earlier. His eyes were closed and he was clearly screaming when the elevator-like ride went into a free fall from 60 feet up. That’s my wallpaper on my phone.
- If the 30 rides or so he went on were clearly Beckett’s favorite part, Carson’s favorite moments seemed to be the character meetings.
I have to admit this was not something that excited me too much ahead of time, but I started getting into it when Pam had the idea of buying two Disney hats and having the characters each sign them.
Carson has always been more of a Disney kid. He’s the one who likes watching Disney shows on television and cherishes his Mickey and friends’ stuffed animals. Beckett prefers to use them as tackling dummies, while Carson sleeps with them and insists on bringing one downstairs each morning.
To see Carson’s face light up as characters came to our table at our first breakfast in Disney may have been the highlight of the trip for me. A Disney vacation is a whirlwind experience. It’s tough to digest it all while in the midst of it. It takes a couple days of being home to reflect and soak up all the special times.
As I looked through the photos, particularly those with the boys and the Disney characters, it was touching to see Carson repeatedly using his fingers to push up the corners of his mouth to smile.
His low muscle tone issues have hindered his speech, but it’s also made it difficult for him to smile like his big brother and other kids. He compensates for it by simply pushing up the corners of his mouth to show when he’s happy. There was a lot of that in Disney and that’s good stuff.