The Disney Extravaganza

You’ve heard me mention this big ol’ obnoxious trip I’m going on this summer, right?  Surely you have.  And it’s time I talked some more about this trip, seeing as a week from tomorrow (GULP) I leave on it.  And I pretty much will have ZERO internet access the entire week I’m gone. That’s right, folks, get your slackermama fix while you can!

This will be a long post.  And I’m sorry for that, but there’s a lot to say.

I grew up in California, but this doesn’t mean I went to Disneyland with my family a lot.  Or at all, really.  We lived in the Bay Area, which meant there were no casual weekend trips to Southern California.  We also had Great America right there.  And I did go there every year at least, and the summers where I had a season pass, I went almost every week.  But no Disney.

My first trip to Disneyland was in middle school when a friend and her family invited me to come along.  The next time I went, was my senior trip in high school, a mere month away from graduation.  In fact, I went to Disney World before I ever went to Disneyland.  Strange, isn’t it?  I went in February of 1986 with my parents while we were in Florida visiting my grandparents.  My grandmother lived in Sebring, south of Orlando, and we drove up to the park.  One day we went to the Magic Kingdom, the next we went to Epcot.  I have more memories of Epcot than I do of the Magic Kingdom.  Isn’t that strange?  I think there was just more to see and do there.  Things are probably different now, since a lot has changed at Disney World between 1986 and now.  God damn, that was 23 years ago!

My kids have never been.  In fact, we’ve never taken any vacation even remotely like this in all the years we’ve been married.  When Harry was 2 1/2, we flew out to the east coast to stay with my sister and her husband and visited NYC, Maine and Boston.  That was a long time ago.  2002.  And it was only three of us flying.  One child in a car seat.  Easy, comparatively.

This trip is… different.  There will be five of us.  Two in car seats.  Two strollers.  Two sippy cups.  Two in diapers.  Flying, across country.  Airports.  GAH.  This scares the pants off me.  We’re flying Southwest, leaving out of Reno around 9am on the 5th.  Our plane stops in Vegas, but we don’t get off.  Then we fly clear through to Orlando, getting in after 8pm local time.  That’s a lot of time in the air.

We’re renting a car when we get there.  This was the subject of much angst and woe around here for quite a while.  See, our vacation “officially” starts on the 6th, when we can go to the parks and check into our resort and all that groovy stuff.  But flying from the west coast, we would miss out on half the day if we had flown out of Reno on the 6th.  We considered doing a “red eye” flight that night before, getting in early on the 6th.  But then we would all be exhausted and spent and there aren’t many flights out of Reno that qualify for “red eye” status.  So the day before it was!  My parents are flying in several days early and have a time-share condo they’ll be staying at in the meantime very close to the park.  They offered us up some space to crash for the night and even offered to pick us up from the airport since we wouldn’t qualify for the Magical Express.  Bonus!  Saving money is always good, especially when we have to travel on a strict budget like we do!

Well, then there was a change up with my parents rental car.  They didn’t want to pay the extra to rent a minivan, instead choosing to rent a compact car instead.  So that made picking us up at the airport a wee bit more difficult.  There would have to be two trips made.  This was… a hassle.  For us and for my dad to have to come get us.  We looked into a cab.  Cabs are outrageously expensive.  It would have been over $80 to take us from the airport to the condo.  So, we looked into a rental car.  And I found some great deals online.  And it turns out that after taxes and fees, we’ll be able to rent a car for under $60.  This is doubly good because it’ll get us all to the condo (we got the “standard/full” size, which is basically a Dodge Charger) that night and then the next morning it’ll get us all to the resort at Disney World.  We wanted to go early to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and I would have felt bad making my hoof us over there (two trips again!) so early.

Our plan is to go to the resort as early as we can the next morning.  We’re going to be at the Port Orleans: French Quarter resort.  We’ll leave our bags there because they won’t have our room ready for several more hours.  We’ll get our park-hopper tickets and then hit the Magic Kingdom.  Our philosophy is: “go early, return early, go again”.  We’ll come back around lunchtime, cool off, go in the pool, take naps, etc and so forth.  And when things settle down, we’ll go back out.  Maybe after dinner.  Friday, we’re looking to do Epcot.  Saturday, we’ll hit Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.  Saturday, as it happens, is also our 11 year anniversary.  I don’t know if we’ll be able to do anything special, but I imagine being at Disney World will be special enough all by itself.

Sunday morning, we pack back up and get on the bus to head to Port Canaveral.  There, we’ll get on board the Disney Wonder and go cruisin’!  Anyone who has known me for any length of time, knows that I have a thing about cruises.  I have ALWAYS wanted to go on one.  I used to read The Babysitter’s Club books when I was younger and I remember that first “super special” book when they took that amazing Disney World vacation?  They went to the park and then on the cruise (or was it the other way around?).  This was before the Disney Cruise Line but I remember thinking that was an AWESOME idea.  And now?  I get to go.  It’s going to be amazing.

I don’t know what to expect from the cruise.  I have the vaguest of vague ideas.  I expect a lot of sun.  A lot of fun.  A lot of food.  After four days on that, we’ll get dumped back off in Florida and then shuttled back to the airport.  Turns out, we’ll be spending a good chunk of time in the Orlando airport, waiting for our flight.  But that’s alright.  I’m sure we’ll all find something to do to keep us occupied.  I imagine we’ll be tired!  We fly back to Reno fairly late, local time, and will have a stopover in Denver when we have to change planes.  We’ll get into Reno very late.  We’re lucky enough that we know someone who has said they will be willing to take us to and pick us up from the airport so we’ll save on cab fare there too.

The next day, Kile and Harry both have to go back to work and school, respectively.  Ha!  I hope to sleep.  And then maybe sleep some more.  And after that, I might sleep.  And sit in front of the air conditioner.  And sleep.

This trip is huge.  There is no way we could have afforded this trip on our own.  My parents are generously footing the bill for all of us (19 people altogether) and my mom likes to talk about this is the last time we’ll all be together except for a funeral or something.  HAPPY THOUGHT, Mom.  But I know she’s probably right.  We’re all scattered to the four winds, busy with our families… This trip is a way to bring us all together, forge some happy memories.  As nervous as I am, as stressed as I have been… I am beyond excited about it.  I hope I can take about a bazillion pictures.  I hope I can remember every moment.

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