Monday, April 18, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

Heigh-ho, Heigh- ho, its on (and on and on) with the A-Z blog challenge we go...

O is for Orlando

More specifically, Walt Disney World, but I'm attempting to meet the challenge requirements here so you're going to need to work with me. What would 26 travel posts thru the alphabet be without including Walt in at least one? And that picture up above is from Disneyland Paris but stay with me...

The problem with a post on WDW is this-what can I say about WDW that has not been said in the literally hundreds, if not thousands, maybe even millions, of posts already out there in the land of the internet? Probably not a lot, so I'm just going to record a few memories for my blog. Technically our last trip to Disney was Disneyland Paris and not Orlando but I'm including that here because its my blog and I can.

O is also for outside the USA.

Like I said, use your is Disney after all.

I've made five trips to Disney however I will not be discussing visit number 4 when I helped chaperon a group of middle school show choir students on a trip I can still barely talk about. And yes, it has been ten years but let me just say that trip put me off Disney for a while. It wasn't Disney's fault that just the idea of going back to the park made my insides churn. 

Some day I might write about that week but not today. Suffice it to say when my co-chaperon and I landed in the Baltimore airport and saw our husbands waiting for us we both burst into tears. Keeping tabs on middle schoolers who are not your own can be a fun and rewarding endeavor. It can also be something else altogether.

My first trip to Disney was in 1993. The daughters were 5 and 3 years old and my dad had passed away the year before so we invited my mom to come along too. I was looking thru my pics from that trip and I think I was so caught up in the magic myself that I really didn't take many...mostly I just soaked up the experience sans camera. These three photos pretty much sum up the whole week-

I could eat their little blonde headed pony tailed selves up with a spoon.

I know some people say they want to wait until their kids are older to go to Disney but there is nothing quite like the pure joy and abandon with which a just turned three year old will fling herself at every familiar character she sees.

Here's the third picture-

This child exhausted every single solitary ounce of energy she possessed (which was a lot by the way) and left the park every night passed out cold. She woke up every morning crying because she'd missed the monorail and we'd have to explain that she snoozed thru the ride home. The monorail was almost as exciting as the park rides.

And yes, my just turned three year old had her paci on that trip.She's almost 21 years old now and extremely well adjusted so please no haters.She might not be so well adjusted had I removed that paci at age 2. This child needed her paci.

So did this child's mother.

We returned to Disney in 1997. The daughters were now ages 7 and 9 which are fabulous ages for the park. This trip we made with friends who also have two girls and we had an absolute ball. We took a bajillion pictures but I've chosen just a few-

At the Hunchback of Notre Dame show they chose a child from the audience to be the announcer. Daughter2 was frantically waving her arms and legs hoping to be picked but the emcee didn't think she could read all the big words. Ha. Not a problem! She received a certificate which was very exciting stuff for a seven year old.

We ate lunch at the Sci-Fi diner one day. You sit in a car and watch sci-fi flicks as if you're at a drive in movie theater. Do you think hubs knew this was shades of things to come?
Speaking of shades of things to come... we are in 'England'. Well the Epcot version anyway. Oh the things we don't know that we don't know.

In every country in Epcot the girls posed in hats~

Epcot also gave out passports to be stamped and there was a craft in every country...painting in France was a favorite~

My future art student who one day, in the not so distant future, really would get to France.

We returned to Disney in 1999.Hubs had a meeting in Orlando so we met him there as did our friends from the prior trip. The daughters were now 9 and 11. Animal Kingdom had recently opened so that was something new to see and Epcot gave out yardsticks that year with each country adding something to the stick.

Making your own mask was a big hit.

Disney (and the rest of the world) was getting ready to welcome a new millennium in a couple of months and they had a giant 2000 over the Epcot ball. We needed to squeeze in as much fun as we could before Y2k hit. That was pretty much a non event but do you know what did happen?

My girls got older. They were into fast cars on Disney's brand new test track, the Rock n' Roller coaster (not me!) which was also new, stunt shows and more big kid stuff.

Flash forward 8 years. September, 2007 and the daughters are seventeen and nineteen. It was hubs birthday weekend and that next week Daughter1 would be leaving the UK to return to the US for her second year of uni. Daughter2 had just started her senior year of high school.

Where did those little girl years go, anyway?

I told them we were going to do something Daddy wanted to do for his birthday and that was 'see a castle'. We had them convinced we would be spending the day at Leeds Castle which is lovely but does not exactly scream FUN when you're almost twenty.

We picked Daughter2 up early from school and they tried to put on their best happy faces so Daddy would not feel bad for dragging them 'somewhere educational' and headed on down the motorway. As we zipped past the exit for Leeds Castle they wondered if we knew we'd missed the turn. Strains of Disney songs began to fill the car and we finally let them know the castle we'd actually be seeing belonged to Cinderella.

Disneyland Paris.

You can get excited about a weekend at Disney even when you're seventeen and nineteen. And forty-seven. Even if it's all in French.

Disney's magic is pretty universal.
And of course nothing says welcome like armed guards.

Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore, so to speak.

When we saw Main Street USA we all felt a teeny tiny twinge of homesickness.It was that whole taste of home in a foreign country I think I've mentioned a time or ten.

Disneyland Paris was celebrating its 15th birthday in 2007~

Hubs had a pretty good birthday himself.

He was way older than fifteen but here's the thing about Disney....

You're never too young...

or too old....

to feel the magic.


  1. Awww, that's so sweet! We have many good memories of the Mouse House ourselves!

    As for that paci business, no condemnation from me. Our son kept his longer than he should have, and our second daughter was a thumbsucker, as was HER mother! That was WAY harder to break!

  2. What a great post about a great place. So glad you got to go so many times.

  3. I never knew there was a Disneyland in Paris...with armed guards, no less!!! That photo is a bit disturbing. LOL

    I enjoyed this post, it was fun watching your girls grow up at Disneyworld!

  4. Joyce, I love your post! You have to know I would. And you know I totally agree, you are never too young or too old to feel the Disney "Magic".

  5. Disney! I love living only a half-hour from WDW...even still we don't go nearly as often as I'd like. My daughter's 15th b-day was the end of Feb, and we ate at the Sci-fi dine in theater to celebrate...good times!

  6. Nope, you are never to old to feel the magic--but if only they didn't have those long lines!

  7. Ah, thank you for the peace you offered so many of us mothers who were late removing the paci. Nice to know they grow up okay anyhew.

    Oooo...I taught Jr. Hi for one year....and all I can say is, "You poor, poor dear!" I'm glad you are finally able to talk about a it a little bit.

  8. Aw, I love Disney! I've been to Orlando three times, starting from when I was five to seventeen. I enjoyed each trip!

  9. Finally! A place I've been. We've gone to DW twice and I agree - there's nothing like seeing a preschooler who really believes enjoy themselves.

    As for the paci - good for you. I took Reagan's away when she was 2 and it was one of my worst parenting decisions EVER.

  10. Every age is so different at Disney! We loved to see the sheer joy and amazement on their super young faces and then the thrill and boldness of their tween faces and then waited for their smiling (suspicious) young adult faces to come back to the hotel. That's why Disney is so successful. You can't go just once!

  11. I soaked up every word of this post and breathed a 'mommy-sigh' for you seeing how much your beautiful girls have grown. Our girls are unaware, but we are hoping to bring them to DW this year for the first time! *giddy*

    If only my D#2 would have taken a paci. Oh how I prayed she would. ;)

  12. We love living so close to Disney and have spent many many hours there with the kiddos. I'm not sure if the kids like it more or if I do. It truly is the Happiest Place on Earth. Love seeing pictures of your girls at different ages there.

  13. Awesome post! Of course, I LOVE Disney!

  14. Oh my gosh! Take me back there right now! Let's go when Daughter 1 is 23 and Daughter 2 is 21, pretty please!

    Also I would love to see you turn the infamous middle school Disney trip into a witty and amusing post. When you're ready, of course! I understand if you need another year or two.

  15. Love the photos! We have yet to take our boys - we are behind in the family vacation department. You've got a lot of good memories there!

  16. Disney is definitely the place where MEMORIES are made...and never forgotten. How special that you made so many with your girls! Love the pics. and being able to see how they've grown over the years.

  17. What fun pictures, thanks for sharing them. I have been to Disney World a few times. We live about 40 minutes away Disneyland and we hope to go in May. Since the kids are adults now we actually have a blast!

  18. Great pictures and post! So much fun to see all ages enjoying the magic! Makes me wish (just a little) that we had gone more than once with our group. Maybe we'll do it with the grandkids.

  19. I love Disney. And I totes need to hear about this horrific middle school trip!

  20. I am really enjoying your challenge posts. I feel like I've traveled to all of these places now. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Shhhh, don't tell the kids-- we're going in May ;)