I have “done Disney” solo. I have “done Disney” with the family. I have “done Disney” with my hubby and even celebrated birthdays and an anniversary there. What I have yet to accomplish on my Disney bucket list is an individual trip with each of my three Disney-loving princes. This had just been a dream until last year when I was able to experience Walt Disney World with one of our three boys That trip hooked me and I could not wait to start planning trips with the other two.
There is nothing like seeing Walt Disney World through the eyes of a child and when you have more than one, you have to take turns staring at that sparkle when you travel as a family, which means something special could be missed in any pair of those eyes. I have read so many of my friends’ blogs who have shared their experiences with doing a trip with one child at a time and it just amplified my desire to do the same. So – it made its way onto my Disney bucket list! My goal with each trip would be to simply bask in the glowing smile on their faces when they get to rule the kingdom on their own. I want to cut out all the fighting, bickering and compromising (they really don’t do that as much as it sounds) and let them just go on whatever attraction they want, see whatever show they want and eat whatever they want (within reason ~ I have to have SOME boundaries).
The Oldest Child
Last May, I was able to put the first of three “checks” next to this bucket list item. My oldest had the opportunity to attend a National Speech competition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I had the wonderful privilege of going with him. I know, right? The pains we go through as parents. Fort Lauderdale was gorgeous and we had the greatest time together; however, being the Disney-freak that I am, I could not be that close and not go say hi to Mickey. To remedy that, I orchestrated our plane tickets to fly into Fort Lauderdale and out of Orlando. We rented a car for our trip as soon as we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and, the day before our departure from the Sunshine State, we drove up to the most magical place on earth to spend one full day together.
The only choice I made for this first trip was the resort because I wanted to make sure we were cutting costs, but not sacrificing our comfort. We stayed at Pop Century, where we had the expense of a value resort, but the convenience of individualized transportation. I highly recommend this resort for just that reason! We arrived very early, having left at 4 AM on very little sleep thanks to the partying teenagers next door. We turned in the rental car and got started on our adventure near immediately.
SAVINGS TIP: Weigh the benefits of an annual pass or ownership in the Disney Vacation Club, as this provides discounts on many purchases. The Chase Disney Visa Card also provides Disney rewards dollars, which add up quickly! Always be sure to check for coveted resort discounts and free dining offers that spring up throughout the year and it doesn’t hurt to plan your meals wisely! If military, check what may be available to you through Walt Disney World Resort Reservations or at your local MWR.
We knocked out three parks in that 24 hours! Braedon is one who has to keep going, so keeping him entertained is sometimes a challenge. He has been that way since birth – no joke! He formulated a plan on how to accomplish everything we wanted to in a timely fashion, making sure we were as efficient as possible. We rode all the attractions he loved (minus Mission Space or Star Tours – The Adventures Continue– Mom just can’t do those rides), ate at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, rode boats, monorails and walked from Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios and even took a walk by the new bungalows at the Polynesian. I think the fitness app on my phone was having a heart attack tracking all those steps! We explored things that we as a family had not yet explored and I enjoyed watching him savor his very first Dole Whip. It was an amazing time spent with him and I will cherish that trip forever and ever and then some. By staying in a Walt Disney World Resort, we also took advantage of Disney transportation to the airport (infamously named the the Tragical Express when heading TO the airport…a wonderful ride, but very depressing at the same time).
The Middle Child
Now, I’m about to embark upon a similar adventure with my middle son. Aaryn turned 13 this year and his wish was to visit Walt Disney World with me! What a kid, right! He and I have the same passion for Disney and he enjoys writing all about our magical adventures for the blog. For Aaryn’s birthday (and mine), my husband gave us a four to five day stay in our favorite vacation destination. We will be staying in the same resort I did with Braedon and we have our entire trip mapped out, though we are more open to simply taking in the sights, sounds and magic. We are excited to visit Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival and see the progress of Pandora in Animal Kingdom. Aaryn cannot wait to eat at his favorite restaurant (Tusker House) and he has graciously allowed me to schedule breakfast inside Cinderella Castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table! I simply cannot get enough of this kid! We will catch fireworks, eat tons of amazing food, find Hidden Mickeys …and I will love every second of the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eyes. Stay tuned – there will be many posts that come as a result of this trip!
NOTE: If you would like to follow us on our trip, like us on Facebook (Footprints in Pixie Dust) or follow us on Twitter (@tmsb73)
The Youngest Child
What will be the most difficult for me – and conversely perhaps the most magical – will be finding a way to spend time with just Logan at Walt Disney World. It’s not the time at the Resort that makes it a challenge. We vacation at Walt Disney World because of how well they take care of those who struggle daily with food allergies. It’s more about the transportation to and from Florida. With Logan’s severe food allergies, I have not yet gained enough peace or confidence in airlines to take him on a three hour flight thousands of miles above the earth where emergency treatment is limited. Yes, we have friends who have done it successfully and, sadly, just as many who have not. Yes, they carry epinephrine on many flights now. Yes, Logan carries epinephrine and an antihistamine with him everywhere he goes. Yes, we make sure we pack enough food for him so that we don’t have to worry about potential reactions en route. However, we are still not yet comfortable with the confinement of an airplane and worry about the potential for reaction even before we even start our vacation. Though we drive down as a family when we take our annual trip, making a 24 hour trip solo with a ten year old just doesn’t seem like it would be that much fun, nor healthy for mom’s mental stability. Know what I mean? Nonetheless, my mommy brain is working hard on figuring out how to do this. Nothing would make my heart more full than to experience Logan’s excitement in such a magical place without the control of big brothers hovering over him. As I look forward to the hope of that trip, I envision it as being just as magical as my time with his brothers. Being the youngest, I wonder if the sparkle will glisten maybe just a little bit brighter.
I consider myself blessed to have had such opportunities to experience, by myself, the Magic that is Disney. I absolutely love our family vacations down there and I relish in the time I get to spend with my Disney-loving soulmate when we venture there by ourselves. These individual trips I have and hope to take are like dreams to me. They are bucket list items that, when accomplished, will provide me with memories that will never tarnish, never fade. When I close my eyes and the memories come back to life, time will freeze in a way for me as the boys just continue to grow up faster and faster – too fast even! For one son, I’ll remember that it was all about the thrills and the adventure. For another, it will be all about the research and soaking it all in – and the food. I cannot forget the food! For the third, it will be all about the laughter, the smiles and the pure innocence of being young.
Have you taken a trip with your children individually? If so, I would LOVE to hear about your experience! Feel free to share in the comment section below.
Until next time ~ T