I had great intentions. There was plenty of fodder. After spending nearly a week at Disney’s Orlando Magic Kingdom, plus events before and after our trip, I could’ve written volumes. Instead, I took a break.
Sitting here now, 1/2 day after our return on our good-old comfortable living room couch, our two boys creating a fort with our dining room furniture and sundry blankets and sheets, I could write about how our two other family members–my husband and daughter–are both sick in bed with fever, chills, cough…how the boys both had a horrendous cough during our vacation…how our daughter spiked a 102 degree fever on the plane flight home (and successfully learned how to unplug her painful ears by holding her nose and blowing hard).
I could write about the fatal explosion that rocked our quaint little downtown area the day before our departure, which is still splashing across the local news with grizzly images of store fronts flattened, brick & mortar debris scattered across Main Street.
I could write about how fantastic it was to meet up with my editor from my first book, Ashley Shelby of Book of Moons Literary Services in the Minneapolis airport–a friend through a work venture who I have never met face-to-face before that day.
I could also write about the awesome hotel we stayed in for the majority of our vacation: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge where African animals such as zebras, giraffes, long horned cattle, flamingos, African gazelles, etc. roam the 33 acre reserve-like grounds surrounding the hotel. I could write about the hours our kids gleefully spent in the hotel swimming pool–having been decked out in thick, winter coats and snow boots only days before.
I could write about the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cup Ride, the race car ride (along side of which we saw a small armadillo strolling by, unfazed by the noise and commotion of young children poorly steering 5mph mock race cars), the flying Dumbo ride, Aladdin’s Flying Magic Carpet Ride, and the spectacularly decorated Carousel (which, out of all the attractions our Montana kids were exposed to, and are unlikely to see in their near future, captivated them the most), It’s a Small World, and Snow White’s Scary Adventure (yes, it was scary for our two-, four-, and six-year-old kids)…but I might not have enough energy to do these things justice.
I could also write about Disney’s Animal Kingdom park which we visited on our third day–at which point our kids were fairly exhausted by the (relative) heat & humidity, the (relative) crowds, and the (relative) change to their normal schedules. During our four hours at this park, we rode exactly one ride (the Safari drive which was really quite cool–being driven around in a convincingly designed safari bus through a mock African wild animal reserve (much like the hotel we were staying in) where we saw more fauna to tune of crocodiles, hippos, ostriches, a lion, elephants, etc. Our gayer than gay tour guide lisped of our necessary vigilance in watching for (make believe) poachers during our (mock) two week safari trip, his enthusiasm for the dictates of the ten minute ride fairly contagious.
If I were chronicling our first big family vacation, I could also write about how hard it is to stay in one hotel room with three little kids (nap and bed times get really messed up), how fun it was to watch the Magic Kingdom parades and stage shows with those same three little kids who are in the midst of awestruckdom when it comes to Disney character’s, bright lights, princess castles and the like. I could talk about how our two-year-old boy got his foot caught between the shuttle bus seat and adjacent wall, and how the quick-thinking bus driver pulled a packet of Neosporin from her trusty bus driver’s emergency kit so we could slip his swollen little paw free.
If I really wanted to be long-winded, I could go on to write of the awesome African conservationists who Disney hired to staff our hotel, and one of whom was always available to teach guests about the animals on the grounds, and how those animals live and fare in their native home land. I could talk about how, on the third swimming pool day, our four-year-old son regained his courage in the water and remembered how to swim under water like a fearless fish, and how much of a bummer it was to return to nineteen degrees and snow on the ground after being in a balmy summer environment just twelves hours prior.
If I wanted to finish a post on a sentimental note, I might expound on how proud Andrew and I were to be able to take our young family on such a fun, experiential vacation, despite the fact that after $5,000.00 worth of plane tickets, hotel stays and theme park entrance fees, we rode no more than nine rides, consumed less than two servings of ice cream a piece and collectively returned home sleep deprived and guzzling as much Motrin as we had been prior to departure.
The thing is: traveling with young kids requires patience; it requires reasonable expectations and careful planning. We aimed low, as far as our assumptions for how much we would “see and do” while on vacation and so, from that standpoint, our trip was a success! Even though the kids ate more French fries than they will in the coming twelve months, they all had fun in their own little ways and our first big trip together in no way turned us off from the potential of future vacations together. We will have enough photos to fill a lovely album, a few souvenirs to jog our memories, and the desire to travel together again in the near future.