Guess who recently returned from a really cool Disney vacation? If you guessed ME, you'd be right! :) I didn't post much about it here because well, it was such a random, sorta last minute thing. See, my brother-in-law Eli and his wife Melissa both work for the Disney company in California, so they get free tickets (four each!) and discounted accommodations for the parks. They also run marathons and crazy things like that. They came to Orlando to do the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and then to vacation a bit. Adam's family was joining them, along with Melissa's mom. That left one space for me! I just had to pay for my flight and contribute a bit to the room cost, which was VERY VERY reasonable, what they asked. And of course, buy my own food, etc.
The trip was from November 7-15. I had to be with Eli to get let into the park, and then I could do whatever I want the rest of the day. Sometimes I stuck with Adam's family (his mom, dad, sister, and niece), sometimes I hung with Melissa, Eli, and Vicky. Sometimes we were ALL together. A lot of times I went off by myself. I took a lot of selfies! Ha.
The Magic started right away, when I went to check in and the guy at the desk gave me a pile of stickers and coloring books and crayons and buttons! And it just kept continuing, with people doing nice things, my friend Joe getting us into Garden Grill for dinner even though it had been booked for months, big hugs from Mickey Mouse and the gang, and so much more.
Here are the things I've learned the times that I was on my own at Disney World:
1. It's an interesting experience. I loved the freedom of doing what I wanted when I wanted. It was much faster and easier to weasel my way through crowds when I was by myself. I enjoyed just answering to myself. If I wanted to do something, I did it. I didn't have to get approval or wait for people, I could just go for it. And single rider lines for rides are the best. I pretty much walked right on to Test Track more than once. And there are some really warm and open people at Disney World. I talked to one wonderful woman about ten minutes and by the end of the conversation, she was embracing me. Little girls seemed to love me--so many would just stop and smile and/or say "hi" to me or just start talking to me. Little boys, too! And I got a free churro because I was at the Christmas Party by myself. If I wanted to sit and people watch, it was OK for me to do that. I didn't feel like I was putting people out when my tiny bladder made its needs known loudly and often. If people in the group were doing something I wasn't all that into, I liked being able to say "I'm going to do [some other thing] and I'll catch up with you later." I loved that.
2. Eating was so cheap when it was just me! Before I left for Disney, I purchased $150 in Disney gift cards from Target (using my RedCard so I'd save 5%), and I didn't use all of it. Granted, one meal was an expensive one and I paid for that NOT using the gift card, but the rest? Well, I came home with $20 left, and I'd even bought a souvenir with some of the gift card money. This was done with some extra help though: I had granola bars and Pop-Tarts in my room. I bought one bottle of water and kept refilling it, and I also bought a refillable drink mug (with a gift card!) to use when I was at the resort. Seeing as I was there so many nights, it was a good investment, especially on my resort day. I also have a small appetite, so many times, the kid's meal was adequate for me. I also forgot about my gift cards and got a couple of Food & Wine entries with cash. So, truthfully, I probably spent about $180 to feed myself at Disney World for nine days, including a refillable drink mug, a fancy sit down meal, and novelty snacks. I'd say $20 a day isn't bad.
3. During a long trip like this, a day in the middle to do NOTHING is a fantastic idea. I never knew the value of it until last week. I realized that I am absolutely capable of melting down like the toddlers at the end of the night (or morning or whenever) who have had ENOUGH. I was like that Monday night after the Christmas party. I was just DONE. Then I dropped my brand new phone INTO the Murphy bed that I was sleeping on (which was very comfortable by the way). I didn't sleep well. By Tuesday morning, I was a mess. I got on my computer while waiting for maintenance to come and help me get my phone out. I took my medication, and tried to calm down. It worked. Maintenance came and my phone was rescued and unharmed. The meds kicked in. I pulled on my bathing suit and decided to stick around the resort all day. I hung out at the pool and had a drink, and talked to my mom and Aidan on the phone. Then I took a nice, hot bath before heading to the food court for something yummy to eat. (Probably corn dogs, seeing as I can't seem to get enough of the things lately.) It was a nice, relaxing, much-needed day of downtime and self care. I highly recommend a resort/pool day for all long Disney trips.
I got to spend time at Disney with a little kid, which doesn't happen often. I mean, there are kids THERE, but they're not with me, so yeah. Hanging out with Lola was great. To hear that little voice say "I want to sit with RONNI" was soooo fun!
how cute is this?
And I had to admire how they kept her fed and happy with PB&J, fruit, cheese sticks, popcorn, etc. They didn't have to spend a lot of money on her nor worry about feeding her since she can be a picky little eater. And because she was in her stroller, they could just feed her just about anywhere. Chris and I didn't do that with Aidan! Not that he'd have eaten PB&J anyway....
I got to do some new things this trip. I finally got to see Fantasmic! :) I'd been hearing about this fireworks show for years and years but it always seemed like a pain in a butt to get to. You had to line up a million years before to get a good seat or even a seat at all, blah blah blah. But FastPass+ made it possible for Cassidy and me to get front row center seats (now, we'd have normally never wasted a Fast Pass on a show but that's about all they had available by the time we made it to Hollywood Studios that evening), so there it was. And I LOVED it! It lived up to the hype for sure!
I sat at the Pinocchio restaurant and waved to people riding it's a small world. That was fun.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is so much fun! Such a cute coaster!
I saw Finding Nemo: The Musical. I liked it, but The Festival of the Lion King wins. I missed the Jammin' Jungle Parade. So sad it's gone. I heard it is coming back after all the work is done in Animal Kingdom. I hope so.
Animal Kingdom in the dark! That was certainly new! It either closes so early or it stays dark so late that I've never see it at night. It's just as pretty.
And there was Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, where I got to meet these guys:
And see Main Street look like this (complete with fake snow):
The pictures do not do the castle justice, how pretty it is. It's incredible, and now they've incorporated Elsa and Anna and Olaf (from Frozen) into the castle lighting in a very clever way. I approve! :) Here's a video of the very ending, complete with a "wooo" from me.
And oh oh oh, I got to see the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights! It was sooooo cool. Definitely will put you in the holiday spirit, as long as you can handle the crowds!! Here's a snippet!
Honestly, I cannot even begin to put all the stuff I got to see and do. It was just a nice, long, awesome vacation. If you'd like to see more photos, click here! There's lots to see! :)
And I leave you with a photo of Mickey and me. Because yes.
Till next time! :)
(crossposted to my personal blog)