I finally made it to Disney World.

I say finally because I have never been to Disney World. Dave went when he was a little guy and our kids right now are a good age to go, so we thought.

Although it was a great trip, it was frustrating and exhausting as well. Granted anyone who’s vacationed with children, especially young children would understand what I mean. A “family vacation” is quite different than a regular vacation. The countless tantrums that were thrown and scolding’s that were handed out made the trip more difficult. But, at the end of the day when you see the look of amazement in each of their faces, it makes you realize how magical this place really is.

To be honest, we had no idea what to expect when we took this trip. We’ve driven with the kids to Colorado numerous times. But each of those times, we drove at night and arrived in the morning. We planned on a 2 day drive with the first one being the longest. It was 2 of the longest days of my life! Frequent bathroom breaks and long meal times with some rest area stops to allow time for running made our 10 hour 1st day drive into 15 hours. We dreaded the 2nd day, but it turned out better. We made sure that there were scheduled stops more frequently. For example, we’d fill up the car with gas while the kids stretched their legs and went potty. This way, there wasn’t a “my legs hurt” or “I have to go potty” within 30 minutes of stopping. But traveling with kids is anything but predictable! We had to be more go with the flow in order for everyone to be happier.

After visiting family in Riverview (it was so great seeing you all and we miss you all terribly!!), we headed to Orlando on Monday. We read a lot of blogs about Disney (there are a million at least!) and I came across this one which gave us some great packing tips for the parks. We also rented a stroller from Kingdom Strollers (they were great! Our stroller was delivered to our hotel before we got there and for $75 for a double stroller for 6 days- that’s a steal!!) and I was amazed at the amount of strollers in and around the parks. Stroller parking everywhere! But we realized that you can’t leave your stroller just anywhere, the workers in Disney will move it to a designated area so after a little freak-out about “where is my stroller?”, we found ours where it belonged. So, for the packing, we had 2 bags for our stroller. One had snacks, diapers, wipes, sun block, etc. These were our replaceable items. The second bag had out park cards, cell phones, money, camera, autograph books, etc- our difficult to replace bag. This bag went everywhere with us. So, if we parked the stroller, someone put this back pack on so that it never left our sight.

We stayed at the Art of Animation Resort in a Lion King Suite.

and visited the other sections

This was a great place! We had plenty of room and it allowed us to put the kids to bed and relax with an adult beverage before we clonked out by 10pm. Oh yes, 10pm. We were exhausted every night. Chasing these kids around and trying to get to every ride all in the mid 80 degree heat and crowds (albeit moderate crowds) was tiring. Even though we had our friend, Lacee come along to help with the kids and also given Dave and I some alone time at Disney, it was a lot of work.

I do wish we had more time to explore all the parks. But, with 2 children who are running the opposite way make that difficult. I would have loved to look in some gift shops but the couple that we went to with the kids made us not want to go in another one with them. Also, Madelyn made the height cut-off on most of the rides and, of course, Asher isn’t quite there yet so it was impossible for us to not split up sometimes to keep them both happy.

Madelyn must have my genes, so she was eager to try every ride that she could. Her first ride? Tower of Terror. Yup, the one where the “elevator” drops and rises and drops and raises until it drops from the very top. I wasn’t sure if she should go but after the wonderful Disney cast member who saw our discussion came over and talked with Madelyn, she was a definite yes and I figured why not. She was screaming “get me out of here” after the 2nd drop but now she proclaims it’s the best ride she went on. And speaking of Disney cast members- they truly are wonderful! A fabulous lady came up to Madelyn and I as I was trying to get her to calm down from a tantrum that she was throwing after we realized that it was 3pm and we haven’t eaten. This cast member came up to Madelyn and was able to get her to stop crying by giving her a sticker and asking her if she would like a drink of water. If I did that, I’m guessing the reaction would be different. But her coming in and giving Madelyn some pause, helped change her attitude. I was so grateful to get a face of understanding what I was going through instead of looks of inadequate parenting. I wish I would have remembered her name, along with the girl at the Tower of Terror.

We tried to do it all: Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, time at the pool, and a visit to the beach.

We saw Mickey,

Goofy, Donald, Daisy,

and many more.

Madelyn and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with 5 different princesses.

We saw wonderful fireworks along the Castle at Magic Kingdom.

The looks on the kid’s tired faces were priceless.

We rode many rides and I saw a side of Madelyn that I knew was there. I saw a girl who was scared to try new things, but she tried them anyway. I heard Asher try to name everything he was seeing and I realized that even though he loves Buzz and Mickey, seeing them in person was a completely different story! Dave and I enjoyed a day at Epcot (thanks Lacee!) where we tried different foods and drinks. Most importantly, we had a chance to be husband and wife in a magical place. One that made us forget the frustrations of parenting and allowed us to remember the triumphs.

It was a wonderful trip. One that seems surreal now. I can’t wait to do it again though

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