Sunday, June 10, 2012

Disney, Part I

The Big Disney Vacation of 2012 has been in the planning stages for over a year. Now that it's over, I hardly even know where to begin by way of summary. But I do want to try, so the kids can have a record to look back on. I'll start by describing how the trip went for us, likely in stages/over multiple posts, and hopefully I'll have enough energy at the end to wrap it up with a "Planning and Tips" type post. Though if you have been reading here for any length of time, you should know to take all of these grand plans with a very large grain of salt.

We decided, several months ago, to drive to Disney (and when I say Disney, you should be aware that I mean Disney World, in Orlando, FL, the one true, real, best, awesomest Disney there is. Which I can say quite confidently, despite never having been to Disneyland). This was not a decision I came to lightly (M. was much more comfortable with it). I am used to flying places. The thought of a 14+ hour car ride with the kids was more than a little intimidating. But I was won over by cost factors. Four tickets to Disney (FYI, a 5-day pass to Disney for 2 kids and 2 adults is over $1000, even without any of the special "Park Hopper" or "No Expiration"options) PLUS 4 airplane tickets (likely another $1000 plus) PLUS a rental car (since we stayed "off property") was more than M. and I really wanted to pay for a family vacation. So we drove, which allowed us to pack our car up with many more conveniences than we would have brought otherwise - two umbrella strollers (Disney is big, even 5 year olds get tired), a cooler of food, lots of toys, swim gear, books, clothes - you name it, we packed it.

On the way down, we planned to drive from our place to my sister's house in Charlotte, NC, a decent midway point. This wasn't just an "M. Family" vacation, this was a vacation with most of my immediate family - my mom and dad, my two sisters, their husbands, and their kids. So on Friday morning, May 25th, we planned to leave Maryland at the crack of dawn and head for Charlotte. M. and I were up before the alarm (so hard to sleep well before a trip), which was set to go off at 4:30 a.m. Ridiculously early? Not really, when the alternative is battling D.C. beltway traffic. We knew that Charlotte was only about 7-ish hours away, but that could easily increase to 9 hours in the wrong kind of traffic.

We ran into our first snafu while throwing some last minute items into the car. The majority of our crap had been packed the night before, but things like toiletries, the cooler, and the kids' (ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY) DVD player still needed to be loaded in. M. was having some difficulty getting the sound for the DVD system hooked in to the car's sound system. I went out to assist, and immediately felt some stinging bite-like sensations on my flip-flop clad feet. I ran for the house, and discovered several teeny ants chewing on me. M. was apparently getting similarly chewed, though he had more stamina than I to carry on. Henceforth, every trip out to the car was done as quickly as possible, including loading the kids (immediately wide awake when I roused them at around 10 to 5) into their car seats. These carnivorous ants were a killer - they attacked immediately! For the rest of our trip down to Florida, M. and I kept finding random ants crawling in the front seat of the car, those that were able to hitch a ride on our tender flesh before we hopped in, turned on the engine, and set the GPS.

We left about 20 minutes later than I had wanted to, mostly due to the DVD player set up issues (never did get it jacked in to the car's sound system) and not the ants - though they certainly didn't help! We made good time, stopping for breakfast at around 8:00 a.m. after we were well past D.C. The kids watched movie after movie, which was a theme of each leg of the car trips on this vacation. All the toys, coloring books, and activity books that we packed? Pfft. They held the kids' interest for maybe 5 minutes total. We spent our time listening to MANY movies, and, as each one ended, MANY whining entreties to load up a new movie. Gone are the days of the old-fashioned road trip, where one actually LOOKS OUT THE WINDOW OF THE CAR for entertainment, I guess...

Road trips are fairly boring to describe when nothing dramatic happens (as, fortunately, was the case here), so I'll cut to the chase and let you know that we arrived in Charlotte at around 1:30 p.m., far earlier than we needed to. But the kids got a chance to stretch their legs, and had some extra play time with their cousin Cameron (just one month older than Lucy). Stacey and Jeremy treated us to a grilled dinner, which the kids ate half-nude, like the savages they are.



Finn, right after writing on himself

Cameron. This child ALWAYS takes a good picture. She LOVES the camera. My children could learn a thing or two from her!

The kids went to bed in the same bedroom (and EVENTUALLY actually fell asleep). The grown-ups played cards, and piled ourselves into bed by 10 p.m. Planning to leave even earlier for the second leg of our trip (more miles, Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend), alarms were set for 4:00 a.m.

Lucy had an accident at 3:00 a.m.

And we didn't have extra clothes for her.

I cleaned her and the air mattress up, and M. had to run out to the car and root around for more underwear for her.

Good times.

M. and I never really got back to sleep after that, which was awesome.

But we were up and on the road by 4:30, as planned! And in Orlando before 2 pm. Vacation? Was officially ON.

We took the kids swimming in the hotel pool while we waited for our rooms to be ready. We stayed at the Marriott Grande Vista resort, a time share property that my parents bought into many years ago. It was wonderful - our little family had its own 2-bedroom condo, and between the 14 of us we had 3 condos and 8 bedrooms. Plenty of space, and all the full kitchens made it really easy to have many meals in - most of our dinners and breakfasts were consumed at the hotel, to save on money and hassle (mostly hassle, as little kids are a-holes at restaurants when they are overexcited/overtired).

We got into our rooms, cooked up some frozen pizzas, and hit the hay to prepare for Day 1 at the parks - Magic Kingdom!

And... there you'll have to wait, until my next post. I know, I know, I haven't even gotten to any of the parts about our actual time in Disney World. But I'm tired, so I'll have to keep you in suspense a bit longer. M. is in Kuwait (wha? I know, right?), I'm on solo parent duty, and tomorrow is a work day, so my bed is calling :-).


  1. Can't wait for the next installment! Love, Mimi

  2. Oh my gosh! I knew Disney was expensive but this helps me put it in perspective!!