It’s never easy coming home from vacation. For my family, vacation has always been Disney World. Sure, there have been shorter, 3 or 4-day vacations sprinkled in, but most of our trips have always been to Walt Disney World. Of course we’d like to travel elsewhere. Thoughts of traveling to Europe or exploring the United States have often entered our minds, but it’s rare that we can coordinate all of our schedules and Disney has become “home” for us during the holidays.
Growing up, we’d travel to Disney every 2-4 years. We’d head there in the summer and profusely sweat as we went park to park. My parents brought my sister for the 15-year anniversary; We visited for the 25th-year anniversary and we’ve celebrated birthdays, graduations and even a friend’s wedding at Disney. We’ve stayed on-site, off-site and visited in the summer, fall, spring and winter. We’ve driven, flown and even took the train once (never again).
We started to visit Disney for Christmas in 2009. My dad had been battling cancer and once he finally went into remission, we wanted to celebrate. We thought long and hard as to how and where we’d like to celebrate my dad getting healthy. A party, maybe? Finally, my dad spoke up. He had never seen Disney during Christmas, “I bet it’s really something”, he said. I had just returned to college for my junior year when I received the call. “What do you think about spending Christmas in Disney,” my mom asked. I was elated at the idea. We took Amtrak down in 2009, which proved to be the right idea. That was the year that a massive blizzard attacked most of the east coast. It was also the year that a huge cold front overtook most of Florida and Orlando. It was in the 30’s at night! Despite the cold weather, though, we loved every part of it. We returned again in 2010. After graduating in 2011, I was without a job until November and we had a wedding in Disney to attend in April, 2012, so we skipped. I’ll never forget that Christmas. Sure, we had our own fun, but we missed Disney. And so, we returned in 2012… and again in 2013, 2014 and this year – 2015.
We made a lot of mistakes in 2009 and 2010. We didn’t take advantage of the convenience of the meal plan, we didn’t plan or strategize our trip, and we didn’t take in all the holiday decorations or enjoy the entertainment. We went in blindly, but we learned through the years. Family friends joined us in 2014 and couldn’t believe how much we planned and were able to pack into one day. FP+? ADR? EMH? After drowning in acronyms, they let me take the reigns and plan the perfect Christmas vacation.
We had always been driven by efficiency, planning trips that, despite the crowds, allowed us to see and do everything. This year, however, we decided to slow things down a bit. Over the next month or so, I plan on releasing a series of blogs giving a day-by-day of our trip. I’m bringing back Foodie Fridays. For the time being, Foodie Fridays will feature restaurant reviews from this past trip. Stay tuned! Much more coming…