So, several months ago, my older sister Leah contacted our entire family and asked if we’d all be interested in meeting at Disney World to help celebrate her and my brother-in-law’s 30th birthdays. We told her we’d think about it and then replied within .87 seconds with a resounding yes. I just got back, and I think I can speak for my family when I say we all had a blast together. I think I slept a cumulative 3.5 hours the whole trip (not really), fell asleep on the bus back to the airport and was catching up on rest for days afterward. Signs of an excellent vacation (for me anyway)!
I have a few thoughts and observations:
1. FastPasses are worth their weight in gold. Not going to lie, it was hard for me not to feel smug walking past a two-hour line to meet Anna and Elsa because my sister had reserved a time in advance. And so forms the Disney Black Market: how much would harried parents pay for an Anna/Elsa FastPass? I can’t pretend and say this thought didn’t cross my mind.
2. The Christmas decorations at Disney World are like already having the most delicious mocha fudge ice cream sundae and topping it with your favorite salted caramel cheesecake. Magic upon magic!
3. Some food highlights:
- The Dole Whip at Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland – creamy and pineapple-y. Definitely refreshing.
- The mushroom pizza at Mama Melrose’s in Hollywood Studios – seriously so good. I tried my mom’s vodka pasta which was also scrumptious.
- The brioche ice cream sandwiches from L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France Pavilion – I mean, come on!
- The dinner buffet at Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge – lots of unique dishes and new culinary experiences. I’m still talking about the curried pasta salad and corn pudding.
- The breakfast buffet at Fort Wilderness’ Trail’s End Restaurant – we got a little turned around trying to get here, so when we finally did, it was like we’d reached the Promised Land. My family did an excellent pillage job on the buffet, which included items like French Toast Bread Pudding with Pecan Praline Syrup and Smoked Brisket Eggs Benedict. What.
4. Disney World takes food allergies very seriously, which frankly, I found embarrassing, but I suppose it’s for the best. I tried to whisper to the waitress at Boma what I was allergic to, and she immediately went and got the chef to come walk me through the buffet. I was mortified, but my family thought it was cool. Again, I suppose it’s for the best. How terrible would it be to have to cause a scene with an EpiPen at Disney World?!
5. OK, what I’m about to say here will sound negative or that I didn’t have a good time, but bear with me. Despite being the most magical place in the world, Disney World can sometimes be a breeding ground for agitation and discord. We saw a guy full out yelling at his wife/girlfriend in the middle of a walkway; my mom saw a lady chew out her wheelchair-bound mother, berating her to not ruin her son’s day. Kids don’t magically behave and not scream their heads off just because they’re at Disney World (for the record, my niece and nephew were champs, and I’m not just saying that). The Monorail is often packed, as are the buses. And sometimes it seemed like the only moment’s peace you could get was in a bathroom stall. So, I say, pack some flexibility and a sense of humor! Find a seat and sit down. Get an ice cream or a coffee (there are fully operating Starbucks in Magic Kingdom and Epcot). Find a water feature and listen to the soothing sound of trickling water. Get plenty of sleep (kind of hard, but do your best!), drink plenty of water and eat snacks. Again, I don’t mean to paint a bleak picture at all. Just trying to keep it real.
6. When traveling, we all want perfect weather, perfect circumstances, perfect schedules, perfect everything. But this obviously never happens. That doesn’t mean “the entire trip is ruined.” Instead, we embraced the conditions as part of our experience. The night we had Extra Magic Hours in the Magic Kingdom, it was rainy and a little chilly, but, not to be deterred from a night of fun, I bought myself a Mickey Mouse hat and walked on basically every ride without a wait. My sister bought one of those emergency ponchos, which opened up the doors for a plethora of jokes at her expense. My dad was in his photography glory as he walked around the park shooting the castle and its reflections on the wet sidewalk. We headed back to the hotel that night with wet pants butts and some great memories.
In conclusion, I think Disney World has become Nostalgia Heaven for my 27-year-old self. Disney puts on some great shows, fireworks displays, rides and parades, and how could we not sing along at the tops of our lungs to some of our favorite songs from childhood. I loved spending time with my favorite people in the world in a place that is pretty universally appealing for all of my family members. Great idea, Leah!! So glad you suggested it.
(If you’re looking for more info, there are about a million other blog posts with very specific tips and tricks on how to navigate the parks, when to visit, what to eat, etc. Just hit up Google!)