When my husband, Chris, and I told my parents we would visit them in February, we discouraged them from making plans to visit Disney World. It isn’t that we don’t like “the happiest place on Earth.” (Well, my husband isn’t a fan but he doesn’t like any theme park because he hates crowds.) I just feared that we would be limited due to my pregnancy.
After I did some research and found that my pregnancy would not limit me at the Magic Kingdom, we gave our consent to make plans for a trip to Disney World. My sister and her family joined in on the planning. The final plans were for all of us to meet up at a house we would rent for all 10 of us on Friday night. On Saturday, we would spend a full day at the park and each of us would head to our respective homes on Sunday.
Chris and I didn’t say one word to Ginny or Grace. Being three and two, I figured they would not fully understand what we were talking about and/or get overly excited and pester us every moment of every day until we went. At home, a commercial came on for Disney World that captivated Ginny. When the commercial ended, she looked at me and said, “I want to go there! I’ve never been there before.” I took this as a good sign and responded with, “Someday we will.”
As Friday neared during our time in Jacksonville, the adults felt eager to spill the news to my little ones. Finally, after lunch on Friday, we told Ginny and Grace that we were going to see Mickey Mouse at Disney World. Grace just smiled her normal happy smile. What we said had no meaning to her. Ginny asked, “Why?” No enthusiasm or excitement. She just wanted to know why we would go there. We tried to explain but to no avail. (The next time we go, when she is at least a year older, we think we’ll get more of a response.) Thirty minutes later, we got in our minivans and headed south.*
Once we arrived at the rental home, our girls were thrilled to see their aunt and cousins, Kendall (9) and Carson (7). They quickly disappeared to play with their cousins. I was amazed and pleased at the patience my niece and nephew showed my little ones. After spending a little time playing and then eating some pizza, it was time to tuck our girls into bed with promises of meeting Minnie Mouse and Goofy in the morning.
The next morning, we were all up by 6:30 and left the house, after eating breakfast, at 8:15. We arrived at the park 15 minutes later, parked, and rode the tram to the Magic Kingdom.
You would think that we would have made it to our first ride by 9 a.m. because we were moving so efficiently. Nope. Not meant to be. Who knew there were so many distractions going into the park and at the entry? After taking the ferry to the entrance, we lined up to have bags checked and tickets scanned (very high-tech). Then, as my family watched our girls, my husband and I went to rent a wheelchair for me.
I have the luck of being 1 in 3 pregnant women whose asthma worsens. My asthma has been so bad during this pregnancy, I often times have problems just standing for long periods; a point emphasized as we waited to get into the park and I used my inhaler twice before 9 a.m. So, after researching the cost, we decided to rent a wheelchair instead of an electric cart. My husband is my hero. Not only did he walk throughout the park, he pushed me the whole time too (with a few breaks as I pushed myself or my mom helped push me).
Once the chair was acquired, we went into the park and immediately had to make two stops; one for “My First Time” buttons for the girls and the other at a hat store so their aunt, my sister, could buy them a Disney hat or headband. Then, we all gathered together and started moving toward the rides only to stop one more time. We had to get a family picture with Cinderella’s castle in the background. That done, we eventually made it to Fantasyland around 10 a.m. Yes, it took us an hour to get that far.
The first ride we came upon was the carousel. My oldest, Ginny, loves carousels. I do not. They make me ill. Luckily, my dad was more than willing to take his granddaughter on the ride as my husband took our youngest. The wait was short, and Ginny looked thrilled to be riding her horse! (Grace sat on a bench because she’s not a fan of the horses and I couldn’t really see her.)
From there we moved on to “It’s a Small World.” As we went through, I couldn’t stop watching my daughters’ faces. They were lit up, especially Ginny’s face. She seemed disappointed when the ride came to an end. It was too short for her.
By this time, it was 11:30. We thought about doing the Peter Pan ride, but there was a 70 minute wait. We decided to get an early lunch to beat the crowds, then reassess and figure out where we would go next.
After lunch, the kids ate ice cream, and we decided to head back to find Minnie Mouse so that our girls could meet her. My niece Kendall and her dad went to Space Mountain as we got in line to meet Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Next we found the Big Top where some of my girls’ favorite Disney characters were and lined up to meet them.
My husband and I knew that our natural extrovert Ginny would have no issues meeting Daisy Duck, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck (and we were right). However, we worried that our shy little Grace would be overwhelmed and not go near them. We were wrong! As we approached each character, I went up with Grace so she would feel more comfortable. The awestruck look in her eyes as she met each one brought a smile to my face. She loved meeting them. At first she wasn’t sure about hugging them, something her sister had no problems doing, and would just lean in a bit. As we left Goofy, he blew her a kiss and she blew him multiple kisses. Then, as we left our last character, Donald Duck, she gave him a full-on hug. My heart sang!
The girls enjoyed meeting the characters, but Ginny had one thing she wanted to do as we left the Big Top. She wanted to ride the Dumbo ride. So, we got in line (only 25 minutes) and did that with Grace and her cousin Carson. Grace ended up loving it so much that she was upset when we got off the ride. She wanted to do it again.
From there, Ginny got to experience her first roller coaster ride with her cousin Kendall and Aunt Amy. Knowing how fearless my daughter can be, I had no doubt she would love it. She did, and expressed disappointment that the ride ended too soon. She wanted more.
We then took the train to Adventureland so Carson could ride his favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean. The line took an hour to get through. During the ride, there is a quick drop that scared Grace, resulting in tears. She calmed down though and finished the ride like a champ. Her sister declared after the ride, “Mommy, I don’t like pirates.” I guess that tells me what she thought of it.
After a full day, we headed out of the park. It took us over an hour to make it to our cars. We had to stop and shop after all, then look at pictures that were taken while there. By 6:00 p.m., we arrived at the rental house and got ready for dinner.
We had a wonderful day! The girls loved their time at Disney World. Ginny still loves talking about it and wants to wear Mickey Mouse clothing every day.
Now, much discussion has arisen from our family time there. My parents started the conversation about wanting to do it again for more than just a day, hopefully next year. I’m not sure about next year. Going to Disney is expensive and we plan to buy a new home in the next several months. However, I do love the idea of spending more time there and with my family. The joy on my girls face made it worth it, even for my husband who doesn’t like theme parks.
*Now, our drive down was interesting, but I won’t discuss that here or how I’m more convinced than ever that I prefer a physical map in hand over GPS. However, if you’d like to read an account of the drive down, feel free to visit my dad’s blog for that adventure.