This was, COMPLETELY unexpected!
(This is long, but I'm excited, so bear with me.....Disney fans, you get it!)
Last year, after a long time of thinking that Disney trips were out of the realm of possibility for us, I was inspired to start saving up and planning for one down the road. A friend of mine was planning a trip for last spring, and she introduced me to a Disney travel agent so I could ask her questions, get some quotes, and find out what to really plan for. I hadn't been to Disney since I was 17 (in 2001), and not only has a lot changed - I wasn't the one making the plans last time.
But of course, in my quest to do research, I decided that a trip was totally happening.
We plotted out a week+ trip with 3-4 park days and rest/pool days between them. We were going to book a cabin in Fort Wilderness, next door to my BFF and her family, possibly bring my Mom along, and potentially meet up with my Dad for a day. We plotted out spreadsheets to track the restaurants we wanted to visit, made lists of the things we had to do and see, talked about crafts and things we'd do with the kids before the trip - it was pretty detailed and intense.
And of course, life happened. We were hit with a bunch of medical bills and some other life uncertainties, and we decided to table the trip for a year. Not gonna lie - when the time of our "would have been" trip arrived at the start of February, I couldn't stop saying things like, "We'd be at the Magic Kingdom right now....sniff sniff." But a year didn't seem like that far away.
The biggest problem was - Matt wasn't sold. He would have done it (kind of begrudgingly), but he thought it was a heck of a lot of money to spend on a single week, and that sort of investment would be better when the kids were old enough to remember more of the trip. As it stood, Luke would likely be the only one to retain anything. He was right, but I also wanted to see the joy on their faces when they were little and sweet enough to get excited about things. Age makes them jaded - Luke is already saying things like, "The boys in my class say Frozen is only for girls, so I pretend not to like it when I'm at school." It's only a matter of time when they're all huffy and puffy about meeting characters and feigning interest over the cutesy attractions. I knew that the trip would be more for ME and my memories than for them right now, but I desperately wanted those memories. Henry has a particularly love of Mickey Mouse (Luke was never very interested), and I really didn't want him to outgrow that excitement, either. There are plenty of Disney characters that they all love and appreciate - but MICKEY? I mean come on - the mouse is everywhere - it would be the best week of Henry's life!
Through the course of my research, I'd learned that around 2018, Disney World will be adding in their own Cars Land like Disneyland has (Luke has been asking to go to Cars Land since he was 2), and they're also creating a Star Wars addition. My kids would LOVE those things....I would hate for them to miss those things by two years by tapping out our vacation reserves too soon.
Also, my sister and her family are saving up for a trip in 3-5 years from now....which could potentially be perfect timing for our little band of cousins to meet up.
So slowly, I joined the camp of a 2018 or 2019 trip. The boys will be 9/6/4 or 10/7/5 - and by then, they'll all have a shot of remembering things. All the missing pieces they'd get excited about would be there. We'd have time to save up and do the trip RIGHT - with all the upgrades and extras.
But what if.........we planned a mini "teaser" trip for now?
The other day, Luke was asking me questions about what Disney is like. He knows I've been, and he likes to pick my brain about it. Some of the kids in his class have been this school year and come back to talk about it, and it was driving him crazy. Hearing his excitement gave me that old, "Ohh man we better do this while he still wants to!" feeling. So I brought up the idea of a 3-4 day quick trip that we could tie in to a visit with Matt's parents (they live a few hours away from Orlando from Oct - May). I looked at a chart for the slower/more affordable times to visit, and Matt told me to get some quotes from my "Disney lady" so we could see what it would cost.
She worked so fast - I had quotes 20 minutes later.
We started talking about the details, and for the first half of the conversation, Matt was under the impression that these quotes were just examples of what to expect for next year. But the more info we collected, and the more we saw the numbers add up, we realized that we could plan a trip for this year that would cost us HALF of what our original trip idea would. It helped that Jake would be free both for the parks and for the airlines (until October, when he turns 2), and that Luke had a voucher for a certain airline from a trip that didn't pan out for him. That meant we only had to purchase 3 plane tickets. Then we figured out that Matt's Mom would only be available for one of the weeks we were looking at, and we focused on that. And suddenly........we had a trip planned.
I don't know how I got Matt to say yes. He called his mom to talk about her availability, and I think it was her approval of the trip that convinced him that investing in this trip for the memories would be worthwhile that helped convince him. And maybe also the surprise at how affordable the whole thing was turning out to be after planning such an elaborate trip originally. I saw the excitement on his face - there are a lot of things he won't like about this trip (like crowds, keeping track of the kids in public, things like that)...but something was motivating him. Maybe it's the slow days we'll have at his Mom's house, or he's able to picture the excitement on these kids' faces through this whole experience...but something convinced him!
I can't even believe this is HAPPENING!!!!
And it's going to be awesome. We are planning 2 days in Magic Kingdom, and 1 day in Epcot. We're staying in probably the COOLEST resort ever - a Cars Suite at Art of Animation! How cool is this place!
You know what I think the best part is? I get to surprise Luke. Henry is not really at the point of abstract thinking just yet, so surprising him has its limits. I'll do what I can, but I can say, "We're going to Disney World!" to Henry, and he'll say, "Okay!" not knowing if I mean this minute or in ten years, and have equal excitement about either. Luke, though? Oh my gosh - I am SO excited!
I've told the kids that we are going to Disney, and that it's going to be THIS year. I also gave them the hint that it won't be in winter. But that's IT! If I give Luke a date, or even a month, he will ask me about it CONSTANTLY, and there will be so many sleepless nights of excitement. He is not good with anticipation. I will have some preparing fun with him, still, but he won't see it coming.
Our plane leaves on a Friday afternoon, and I'll need to pick Luke up from school a little early. So my plan is to finish up packing after Matt drops him off at school that day (keeping suitcases and packing efforts hidden during the week by doing them during school hours and hiding everything). I'm not going to tell him that I'm picking him up early, let alone WHY, and at some point surprise him with it. I still can't decide if I should tell him while we're still in the school, or if we should tell him in the van...or even just say "We're going to see Grandma," and then drive to the airport and tell him then when he's confused why we're not at Grandma's house here in Buffalo. I think this requires some more Googling for ideas ;)
I know there's nothing I could say about Disney that another blogger or Disney guru hasn't already said, but I'm still going to document our process of preparing, and all the fun of our trip! I don't want to forget a thing - not only for life memories, but for lessons learned for our big trip down the road. I would love it if you'd share your Disney tips with me!