So…we’re going to Disney World next month (thanks again to everyone who weighed in with Disney advice, btw). I pulled the trigger and exchanged our cancelled trip tickets from November and felt pretty good about myself for redeeming those doomed airplane tickets before it was too late. At the time of that advice seeking post, the whole Disney experience was overwhelming to the point where I just didn’t know where to start. I knew nothing about Disney except for a few fuzzy memories from my 14 year old self, namely the time we all rode Space Mountain and my mom turned white as a sheet and couldn’t move afterwards (I seriously thought she was going to die from that ride). But thanks to those stupid cookies that browsers place on everything you look at on the internet, those Disney ads started following me around the web, reminding me of my ineptitude and procrastination in planning this trip. So I dove in one weekend and started researching hotels and resorts. I started learning the lay of the land, the location of the resorts relative to the parks and found myself pondering the meaning of terms like “extra magic hours” and “magical express” and debating on whether or not we needed all that magic on our trip.
Lordy. There is a whole lot of Disney analysis out there on crowd levels and wait times and strategic planning of which parks to avoid on which days based on historical data. I’d never planned a vacation like this, ever. And because of the anal retentive nature that I have (as much as I’d like to think that part of my personality doesn’t exist), I got sucked into statistics and spent days plotting the 4 days that we’d be there, trying to get insights from the dozens of websites and blogs that exist solely to help you strategize on how to beat the crowds. Some of these sites go as far as planning your itinerary by the minute, guaranteeing that by sticking to The Plan, you’d minimize wait times dramatically (and you can’t veer from The Plan because if you veer, you lose!).
Oh, and then there is the food. It’s a whole other category of confusion and choices. Should we do the Dining Plan or not? Or should we try and strategize (there’s that word again) by filling one suitcase with cereal, granola bars, bread and fruit and attempt to get away with eating only 2 meals out a day? When I learned that you have to make reservations at restaurants far in advance and that I might already be too late booking restaurants for February I was all, “but…it’s Disney, not Per Se! You mean it’s hard to get reservations?” Lo and behold, after doing some research on restaurants that I thought might interest us, those sites were right – I did get shut out at some places. Damn. But the competitive side of me didn’t want to give up, so I went back to my makeshift little spreadsheet of mapping out which park to which days, rearranged a few things and checked the reservations again until I made it work.
In other words, I got sucked into the crazy, despite my prior ambivalence to the whole Disney vacation (remember, it’s my mom’s whole “it’s part of the American experience!” spiel that finally pushed me over). I’m easily overwhelmed by crowded amusement park settings and I have visions of a long recovery after a vacation of standing in lines for too long which is the absolute worst thing for my sciatica. This is the reason why my mom, who suffers from the same afflictions and who previously envisioned herself taking her grandchildren on a Disney World vacation, decided that she would duck out and let us have “The American Experience!” all to ourselves.
But I have to be honest with you. We are getting excited. It’s unlike any vacation we’ve ever taken since all of our vacations usually center around visiting family. I really can’t imagine what a surreal, alternate reality this trip is going to be. Probably the furthest thing from relaxing, but we are up to the challenge. And I’ll admit, I’m more than a little relieved that the girls have no interest in seeing characters or princesses come to life. They were a bit appalled by the idea of “character dining” where Disney characters and princesses walk around the restaurant and stop by your table while you eat. I guess my girls are my girls because while I can suspend my disbelief and get sucked into the fantasy surrealism of most everything, a guy in a furry suit watching you eat is exactly that – a guy in a furry suit watching you eat.