One of my favorite hobbies is traveling - and over half the fun comes from planning the trips. We went to Disneyland and Legoland in California two years ago, and I've been to Disneyland a few other times during college and, memorably, for my brother's birthday back in 2000, but neither Carl nor I have been to the Entire World of Disney since we were kids. They didn't even have Epcot back when I went, let alone Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.
In planning this trip, I soon realized that there is far, far too much information out there. So much information that it scares even me - a meticulous travel researcher and planner. Its overwhelming. And yet, I'm thriving on it. Perhaps even obsessing about it. If, you know, I were the type to ever obsess about anything.
First up, I had to determine the perfect guidebook to purchase. Which turned into two guidebooks, since the Austin Public Library stocks my other two top contenders, and I can check them out for up to nine weeks at a time.
Then I researched all of our lodging options, and prepared a proposed budget which I presented to Carl, complete with all the different lodging options. I was all about the Pirates of the Caribbean themed rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort, until I realized we would have only two double beds in the room.
We have a king at home, and I can usually survive with a queen, but a double... I don't think so. Then I settled on the Beach Club, primarily because of its over-the-top swimming pool, its two queen sized beds, and its proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. I have dreams of us escaping the crowds and August heat in the afternoon at the pool, while we regain our energy and enthusiasm for a fun-filled evening at the parks. And then they threw me for a loop by sending me an offer with one of the famous (at least by all the Disney geeks) PINs which offered me a savings of $40 a night to go to the Wilderness Lodge. So currently I have reservations at two hotels, and have until June 24 to decide just how incredible that pool at Beach Club looks. I've already dreamed about the pool, so I'm thinking that the $40 is worth it. Not that Wilderness Lodge's pool isn't quite nice, too, but I'm a big believer in the power of pools. Especially in August.
Now, the kids have not known about this trip. I didn't want to tell them too early, especially since Ryan has a hard time understanding the concept of time. But now that we are officially into the summer, I wanted to get the ball rolling.
I spent hours creating these Disney calenders for the boys for Jun, July and August, telling them what they were doing each week, including the Big Reveal that two weeks of August will be spent in Florida. I created the Countdown Chain, one ring for each 56 days until our trip, made out of Disney scrapbook paper, to be ripped off daily until its time leave. We created "Disney Dollars" which they can earn during the summer for reading (Alex gets one for each chapter book he reads, and Ryan gets one for each Beginner Reader book he reads to us, or for each 20 minutes of sight word time.)
I bought the Disney "Apples to Apples" board game, and had visions of us all playing it and laughing, increasing our Disney knowledge as Ryan and Alex increased their reading and vocabulary skills. Just like on tv.
I could not WAIT to tell them about the trip, and fantasized about their reactions. I'd watched videos of how other parents told their kids, and the screams of "OH MY GOD!!!! WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!!!" brought tears to my eyes as the children would open the pizza box and find a Mickey-shaped pizza inside it. Those kids just KNEW what that meant.
So Saturday night finally came around, and it was time to tell Alex and Ryan what must surely be the best news of their life. I gathered up a Lightening McQueen gift bag for all these goodies, and we presented it to them at dinner on Saturday night.
Alex was more concerned about the "Driving" notations on the calender, and how they took up two days on either side of the trip. Ryan was excited about the "Beach" notations. Carl seemed stunned, and I just wanted to cry.
Things got a bit better after dinner when I popped in the Disney Vacation Planning 2011 DVD the Mouse folks were kind enough to send me. Alex at least had the proper exclamations of "Awesome!... So cool! ... Oh my God, we are SO going on that ride!..." Ryan mostly just played with the cards in the Apples to Apples game. I felt a bit better after watching the DVD with Alex, and I've gone ahead and ordered him his very own Disney guidebook, Guide to the Magic For Kids, so he can start his own planning.
But as a whole, the Big Reveal was highly disappointing. I keep telling myself its probably a good thing it happened this way, so that I can do my best to dial down my enthusiasm for THE BEST FAMILY VACATION EVER and thus not be disappointed on the actual trip when they don't want to wait in line for an hour to have their picture taken with Buzz Lightyear. But I still can't help wishing I had a really cool video to post on youtube like the other Disney-ophiles.
Alex saying Good-Bye to Mickey as we left Disneyland in April 2009. We'll see you soon!