Oh, Mickey, You’re So Fine…

We love to travel.  It’s a priority to Hubs and me, in planning our family budget, to take our kids on as many trips as possible.  We’re both pretty organized people, and we’ve streamlined the trip-planning process to work for our family.  We can pinch our travel pennies until they bleed, and we’veMickey_1  finely tuned our strategies for managing trips with young children. 

But we have met our match.

One week from tomorrow, we are leaving to take our children to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  And I have learned, as I’ve done my research, that you don’t take a vacation to Disney World, you take a pilgrimage.

For example, we have had our dinner reservations for six months.  SIX MONTHS.  Almost as much time as it takes to grow a baby.  But we were warned that this was the only way to be assured we could have dinner with Goofy and breakfast with Donald, so we did it. 

And then there’s planning what to tackle while we’re there.  Friends who know what they’re talking about (thank you, Chilihead) assure me that if you show up with just a smile and a camera that you’ll miss all the good stuff.  You need a game plan.  And maps.  And water bottles.  Kind of like Survivor, but with embroidered mouse ears.

So the game plan is formed by visiting sites like this, or this, or reading books like this, and one quickly realizes that so much has been written on the subject of Disney World that it would take a lifetime to read it all, and seven or eight vacations pilgrimages to see it all.  And this is hard for control freaks like Hubs and me who are normally in utter control over every moment of our trips.  But I’m deep breathing.  Hakuna Matata, as they say in Disney-ese, right?

Because, really, it’s Disney World.  The most magical place in all the world, and I’m determined not to let my tendency toward hyper-planning turn me into Clark Griswold.  When we stroll down Main Street USA on the first morning, as Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah plays over the loudspeakers, I imagine that the looks on my kids’ faces will have turned me into a blubbering mess.  Plan?  What plan?

30 thoughts on “Oh, Mickey, You’re So Fine…

  1. Sarah Stirman says:

    You are stressing me out and discouraging me from ever even trying to make the pilgrimage to the Great World of the Mouse. I am not NEARLY as organized as you seem to be to begin with. How will I ever do that? If you show up with just a smile and a camera will there be ANY good stuff to be had — or do they take away the mouse ears? We better just stick to tents in the back yard. . .

  2. Shannon says:

    Lauren, no, I’m not. I’m taking my laptop, but only so the kids can watch DVDs on it. I’m going to “ground” myself from all things blog-related for the week. Think I can do it?

  3. Carol says:

    Toss the stress! Have a good time and wing it. We did it at Disney Land (the original, right?) and it was great.
    Take your maps and books and water bottles if you must, but don’t leave the childlike wonder and awe behind!

  4. mimi2six says:

    One thing you can be sure of on any family vacation……”the best laid plans of mice and men….”. The vacation will take on its own flavor regardless of your careful plans! The wonderful part is that the kids will think it’s an incredible experience even if nothing works out as well as you had envisioned. Go have a wonderful time revisiting your childhood with your own children, and I’ll be enjoying your little one for the week here at my house!!!!!

  5. Jennifer says:

    We too will be at disney at the end of this month. We live in Florida and have been everywhere in Orlando except Disney. I too am a planner and I have our day planned to a tee. Where we will eat and so on. We will only be there one day so we have to make the best of it. Have fun on your trip. It will be so exciting.

  6. GiBee says:

    Daggone it! My entire comment just got deleted. DELETED. I’m so insulted! So, here’s the long comment I was about to post before the computer ate it…
    You’ve probably already thought of this, but make sure you take all your cables that go to your camera so you can upload your pictures onto your laptop. It would be very irritating, to say the least, if you went to snap that perfect picture with Goofy or Donald, and you were out of room (memory) in your camera! Doh!!!
    Also, if you are disciplined enough to stay away from the blogs… you can log on in the evenings, and send your pictures to Costco so they are waiting to be picked up when you get home! I found you can send a ton of pictures to Costco at one time, instead of the 12 at a time for Wal-Mart.
    I’m sure you’ve already thought of all this and your eyes are glazing over as you say, “yada, yada, yada” so … I’m off now to figure out what I’m going to do for ONE.WHOLE.WEEK with out posts from you.
    First chiliehead, then momRN2, now you. I’m starting to take this personally! At least Her Royal Highness only went away for a weekend.

  7. Julie says:

    At least you’re attempting the trip. Disneyland is like my husband’s idea of Hell. Long lines and lots of kids ๐Ÿ™‚ We took our son when he was 3 1/2 (it was a free trip for us) and he swore we wouldn’t come back until the kids were 10 and 7. We are, however, going to Legoland next week. (He thinks that will be calmer – we’ll see). Hope you have a great time!

  8. Phyllis says:

    You will have a terrific time. Funny you should mention the difference between a vacation and pilgrimage…Disney is most definitely the latter. There is so much to see and do that you are more tired when you come home than when you left!!
    Are you planning on visiting all the parks? We live in the Orlando area and just a few weeks ago were part of the commercial taping and test ride audience for Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom’s new coaster). If you are a coaster buff, I really recommend it. It’s a lot of fun but not too wild for your youngest riders. My 6 year old rode it seven times in a row. =)
    I can hardly wait to hear (read) about your adventures…

  9. Stacey says:

    I think it’s great that you’re going to Disney World. I’ve only ever been to Disney Land but think’s it wonderful. This year I think we’re hitting Lego Land and Knott’s Berry Farm…
    We’ll see : )

  10. chilihead says:

    Shannon, I cry every time we get through the gates because I’m so happy and my kids are so excited. You are right about not losing site of the kids’ excitement. Trust me, no matter how much you plan (and you know how I like to plan!) it’s OK to let it slide. I know I didn’t tell you that when I was drilling it in to you plan out which rides you want to go on before you get there, but I should have. Believe it or not, there’s a fine line between Griswold and Goofy. No matter what, it will be a blast! I can’t wait to hear all about it and see all the pictures!

  11. Carla says:

    Ah-ha!Disney World! Been there. Done that. Twice in Florida. Twice to Disneyland in CA. No amount of planning in the world will prepare you for the adventure you will have. Expect the unexpected and go with the flow. Last summer we took our 8 year old grandspn to Disneyland. After lunch, we stepped out on the street and Peter Pan skipped by, grabbing Drake by the hand and saying, “Follow me! We’re off!” We skipped up Main Street, hopped on the verandah of an outdoor restaurant and searched for pirates. Wendy appeared and patted Drake on the cheek. The gleam in his eyes made every penny we spent seem like a pittance. May you all have a magical week!

  12. Michele says:

    When we went to Disney World a number of years ago, we had lunch at Cinderella castle and were able to my daughters’ picture taken with Cinderella. That was one of the few highlights of our trip. My daughters became unreasonably afraid of the โ€œBug’s Lifeโ€ 3D movie and started crying hysterically at the first squirt of water, then my youngest got a tic in her ear, threw up in water during the โ€œIt’s a Small Worldโ€ ride and cried on most of the rides. To top it off, my husband developed kidney stones and I got to visit the Orlando area doctors and he was in pain and unable to go to the park for the rest of the trip. I made my mother-in-law take my daughters on the rides because I get sick on most rides.
    I tell you this so that if anything goes wrong you can say, โ€œAt least it wasn’t as bad as that.โ€

  13. Laura Testa says:

    I really enjoyed reading this one post. We went to Disney World last year when my daughter was 4 and my son was 3. I did just as you did and mapped out exactly where we would spend most of our time. We were only their for one day because our trip was more business than pleasure. We both felt they were too young to really enjoy the entire park – this proved true. We ended up staying primarily in the Princess / Toon time section and were able to see everything we selected.
    Get their early (as soon as it opens). I also suggest that you rent one of their double strollers – both my kids were tired of the walking after the first 2 hours. It was great to store snacks, lunch boxes, camera equipment,etc.
    Have fun! We now live in South Florida and are loving it here. We have not visited Disney again, but anticipate going when my son is a bit older and we can visit for a few days. Enjoy !

  14. Faith says:

    I can’t wait to back to disney. It’s been several years. I want to take our entire family, so we must penny pinch for sure. Have fun. I’ll miss your posts.

  15. Kate says:

    Awwww have a wOnDeRfUl time! It is so magical. My parents suprised us to two days at Magic Kingdom last year. It’s a memory that will last forever. If you want a good seat for the fireworks, find a spot an hour and a half before the show! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Partner in Prayer for Our Prodigals says:

    Have a GREAT trip! Our family has traveled to Disney World many times. The BEST advise we have ever received…..is simply……ready for this….it’s big……..here it comes…drum roll please……
    We found this to be valuable advise. The crowds get large and human nature is to walk to the right….we have found that because of this, when we entered the park we would travel left! It’s really that simple. Although, I must add–if the crowds are really large….walking forward, hand-in-hand…is your best bet! ๐Ÿ™‚
    However you navigate through the magical kingdom….I hope your family has a wonderful time. We have many cherished memories…and love to sing the theme song from Pirates of the Carribean around the dinner table still to this day. Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirates life for me!

  17. Kristi says:

    Part of the “Magic” of Disney is being able to experience it without being intimidated. Relax, it is just a place full of goofy, happy, smiley and some grumpy people. You will have a blast no matter what!
    I grew up in FL and had more than one magical visit and I can say your kids will love it even if Mickey Mouse calls in sick for the day.

  18. Lauren says:

    Shannon, sadly… I’m pretty sure that you can do it, stay away from blogging that is. Oh well, absence makes the heart grow fonder, at least that’s what I’m told.

  19. Shalee says:

    First of all, I love the new design.
    Secondly, five years ago we told our little 4 year old that we would try to go to Disney world when she was 9 or 10, when her brother was old enough to go without being carried. (Necessity for going to this world of fun!) Every stinkin’ year she has reminded us how many years til we go… Now we are old enough, but not rich enough… maybe next year.
    Morale of the story, when you promise your 4 year old something, make it a trip to McDonalds.

  20. Kathryn, The DYM says:

    Oh…I am so jealous and so happy for you. You guys are gonna have a great time. I know you’ll have everything planned out and then be flexible enough to let your kids have a great time.

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