Today my Facebook Memories reminded me that exactly a year ago today- we landed in Orlando Florida at Walt Disney World for a weeks vacation!
It was such an exciting day for so many reasons!
- Who doesn’t LOVE a trip to Walt Disney World?
- It was our youngest daughters first visit!
- The original vacation had been cancelled and this was the make up trip.
I love Disney.
My first trip to WDW was in 1989 over March Break. We didn’t stay ‘at’ any of the WDW resort hotels of course. In those days- only the lucky kids stayed on site at Disney. (Me and my first world childhood problems….eh?) I believe on that vacation- we stayed in a hotel in Orlando- A Days Inn -I think… and we had traveled to Florida for the first time with a large group of Family Friends and I even brought one of my good friends with me- which was AMAZING!!
This started our love of Florida and visiting Walt Disney World- so every year after that we ended up back in Florida- staying in Kissimmee always visiting Disney one year and Universal Studios the next. We alternated every year and did other things- like visit Old Town, shopped, hung out by the pool…..
I have such happy memories from all of those travels!
When I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter- I knew that Disney was a MUST while she was a child -but I wanted to wait until she was old enough to remember it and be able to ride most of the rides. My husband had never been there either- So in February 2010- while she was six and a half years old- we went on a Family Vacation to Walt Disney World!
That year we stayed at Port Orleans- Riverside- which was such a cool resort. I’ve never been to Louisiana – but staying at Port Orleans and all it’s charm reaffirmed that one day I really want to go and tour the real thing…. the Plantations and see New Orleans. Our daughter was so excited while we stayed at that resort- the staff kept handing her Mardi Gras beads every time they stopped to talk to her.
It was a memorable vacation for so many reasons. (Not going to lie- vacationing on site at one of the Disney resorts was amazing after years of staying off site!!) One of which was that while we were at Disney- I realized that I was pregnant with my second child!
Funny enough that little baby of mine ended up being obsessed with Disney.
Of course SHE needed her own Disney visit- just like her sister had. She is a smaller girl (her nickname is Tiny Dancer) but she is demanding. She was always telling us we HAD to go. I used this to my advantage to bribe her to eat vegetables (which she refused to touch at the time) and we even would measure her height- telling her as soon as she was tall enough to ride most of the rides we would go. (OH- you are just shy of the height limit….here- eat a carrot!)
2015 was a tough year for us. We had to pack up and move across the province. The girls had to change schools. It was an incredibly stressful time and it was a very hard adjustment to make.
My husband and I made the decision that the girls needed something to brighten their spirits. We tossed out ideas about how maybe we should surprise them with a last minute Birthday getaway (Their birthdays are both in October- two weeks apart!) but it just wasn’t feasible.
Ultimately we schemed and planned and decided to give them a Disney Vacation for Christmas. We were so excited. I called my friend Tiffany (who is our Travel Agent Extraordinaire!) and we happily planned our getaway!
As soon as everything was booked- I started buying things that the girls would need for the trip. These items would be Christmas gifts for them- I wanted to make sure that they majority of everything they received that year were things they would be able to use for their special trip.
- Bottles of Sunscreen and Wet Wipes
- The latest ‘Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World Guide/Autograph book for Kids’ (I HIGHLY recommend this guide book for parents taking their kids to Disney for the first time)
- Mints and mini make up clutches for their small odds and ends that could be placed in their backpacks
- Packs of Travel Kleneex
- Travel Toothbrushes
- Disney T-Shirts
- I bought them a large Mickey and Minnie Mouse
- A calendar which I highlighted the week in February that we were going.
I then went to work creating a large ‘Disney Display’ -which was essentially a Poster Board featuring Cinderella’s Castle that said ‘YOU ARE GOING TO WALT DISNEY WORLD…….’ (Fun Fact- I accidentally spilled glitter on the board and couldn’t clean it off- so thanks to the advice of a friend- I went out and got a birthday card with Tinkerbell- cut her out- glued her to the board after adding more glitter- then I blamed her for the mess……..)
It was an exciting secret task.
I almost blew it a few times- catching myself before I spilled the beans about where we were going -but I managed to keep it a secret.
Christmas morning came and my kids were given instructions that they had to open their gifts by their numbers. It was a bit of a scavenger hunt of odd Gifts….. they saw the large gift but were told it was to be opened dead last.
They were SO confused as they opened the random ‘travel necessity’ presents- “ummmmm kleenex mom?” (though my youngest was oddly excited about the sunscreen…..) The last small ‘hint’ present that they opened was the calendar with the dates highlighted….
They FINALLY opened the larger gift ! The big Disney Display I had created was at last revealed! This is where they found the stuffed toys, the shirts, the guide books etc…. ALL the Disney paraphernalia I had purchased with the words “YOU ARE GOING TO WDW!!!”
It took a few moments for it to sink in- but when it did they were so happy. My youngest actually crawled INTO the Disney display and wouldn’t get out! (I wonder if she thought it was a magic portal?)
The trip was planned for February- However, a few days before our trip I suddenly took ill. It took a few days for confirmation but as it turned out that I was right and I needed to go into emergency to have a surgical procedure. We knew from my past that I would need nurses for at least a couple of weeks and my recovery time was unknown.
Our trip needed to be cancelled.
I was beyond devastated. I took it harder then then my husband and as it turned out-I took it much harder then the kids. I had completely ruined my kids present. I felt awful for them- it took me a long time to remind myself that these things some times can’t be helped. I knew that we would go again- but I was worried that we were going to lose all our money and it would be a long time before we could really afford to go again. In that time period- it really showed how tough and sweet my children are. While I was heartbroken about them-They were more concerned about me then they were about Disney. When I briefly suggested that perhaps my husband just take the children without me- none of them would do it. They wanted me better and they wouldn’t go without me.
With the help of our travel agent- we were able to get the majority of our trip refunded. We knew that we would re-book as soon as we were able to go. The airline was a bit more of a hassle.
Take heed when you are traveling by any airline- even when you have a legitimate medical problem/emergency- and they request doctors notes (Which I provided several!!)- they will do ANYTHING to keep their money. Read the policies before you fly.
After a lengthy battle- one where I even went after this discounted airline on Twitter- threatening to involve the media- my husband achieved our goal and the airline finally agreed to give us a credit to fly with them- but it was a limited credit. We only had a few months to use it up. It was better then nothing- so we took the deal.
Six weeks later, my surgeon gave me the ‘All Clear”- we immediately re-booked our trip for April- again with the help of Tiffany- aka- Worlds Greatest Travel Agent we ended up with a kick ass plan- had our hotel, dining reservations etc….. We even used that travel credit provided by the airline and managed to get a flight.
There is a reason that I am not naming the airline in this blog- because when we got to the airport and actually read the tickets- we discovered that the credit they gave us and the seats they provided -made us priority passengers. We got to bypass the larger line up and immediately checked into the airline! Our seats? Those cozy roomy ones right at the front of the plane. I may not have forgot the battle that we had- but for extra leg room and not having to wait in line- I shall forgive them…..this time……
We were SO excited.
Random Tip: We may be Canadian- but we had personalized Magic Bands (They sent them to our US P/O box address- as they were not available to be shipped to our home in Canada) We had these in our possession from our failed vacation attempt-so we took these with us to Disney and because they were still usable- we were able to have them re-programmed for our new stay at the Resort!
April 9th we finally arrived.
I can’t even tell you how emotional and wonderful it was to be at WDW as our complete family of four!
We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort this time and had a Pirate Room with a beach view! SO freakin’ cool!
It was such an amazing week for so many reasons!
My youngest was in awe the whole time. When we first arrived to check in at the resort- she was presented with her own ‘First Visit’ badge, stickers AND her very own magic wand!! She happily met her favorite princesses and characters- rode the rides (discovering her love of roller coasters- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of her favorite rides!!) She discovered the Haunted Mansion wasn’t SO scary after all. To this day she still talks about how much she wants to go back to Epcot and ride Test Track again. When at our Princess Dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot Norwegian Pavilion) – She was so proud that Cinderella came to our table and asked her to help carry her flower basket in the Princess Parade! Meeting Elsa and Anna at the Magic Kingdom? Even though she had met them before- this was DISNEY’S Anna and Elsa- inside this beautiful room and attraction- my little girl was overcome with emotion- she almost cried she was so happy.
She is a dancer- and I have footage of her dancing as we watched The Guess Who as they performed at Epcot’s Garden Festival! (SO COOL to see them in real life by the way!) and to a street band at Magic Kingdom where she performed a ballet to one of the songs from Frozen!
My oldest daughter of course was also excited to have returned. This was her second trip to Disney and she was able to ride things she wasn’t old enough to ride before. She and I hit up Expedition Everest for the first time (LOVE that ride!!) and the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train?? That was an exciting new ride for our whole family!
A great thing that kept happening was that we kept running into friends of ours from where we had just moved from!! We had known that we would be at Disney at the same time- so we kept a look out for each other- some of our Park Days overlapped- so we always stopped to chat- have a hug and take a couple of selfies before heading off. It was a piece of our former home -which was extra special since this trip came about to cheer the girls up about the move.
It was so sad to finally leave Disney (though lets face it- one week of nonstop fun is absolutely exhausting!) but we know that we will go back one day!
I know it has just been a year- but truth be told, I really could go back tomorrow if I could.
As most of my readers know, I am currently going through a process of corrective surgeries to try to stop my problem from recurring, one of the things on my mind that I have mentioned before is that ‘If this works…….I wouldn’t mind celebrating at Walt Disney World……..’
The kids like that idea and after our drama with our trip last year- if I can be permanently healed- then a celebration at WDW seems fitting!
Trying to sell my husband on that idea? Yeah…… he still hasn’t recovered from our last Disney Trip. It may take him a few more years before we can convince him.
But convince him we will.
Even if I have to borrow some Pixie Dust from Tinkerbell.
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