At long last, it’s finally going to happen.
We’re going to Disney World.
The family is gearing up for turkey legs and Dole Whips, Space Mountain and It’s a Small World.
For my wife, Marci, Disney truly is the Most Magical Place on Earth. She and her parents have been going to the House of Mouse since she was a child. They know all of the tastiest snack stands, the shops with the best souvenirs, shortcuts to get through the traffic.
Marci still cries when she sees Cinderella’s Castle, and has a collection of Mickey ears for every day of the week.
If there’s a parade scheduled, they know where to stand for maximum character viewing that’s also somewhat in the shade. They know which bus, monorail or boat to snag to get exactly where they want on the sprawling campus. They’re Disney all-stars.
So ever since Marci and I have been a couple, I’ve been brought into the mix as well.
I have to admit, the first trip they brought me along on was a shock. My family had taken us to Disney once when I was a kid, and it was a ton of fun.
But as an adult, my idea of a vacation involves a beach, a book, a cold beverage and a whole lotta nothing. This … wasn’t that.
They had a term for their approach: “run and gun.” The only way to wring the most out of their trip was to move as quickly through the parks to hit as much as possible. From the moment the parks open to the time the last ride or firework goes off, we took complete advantage.
And it makes sense — you want to do everything you can in the short time you’re there. I just hadn’t adequately prepared; it may have been the first vacation I left more exhausted than when I arrived.
We’ve been back multiple times since that first trip, and each time I’ve better adapted to the pace. We’ve made some great memories there over the years.
This trip is going to be unlike anything that came before, though. For us, this vacation is all about Anthony.
Not that this is his first time to Disney. We brought him along shortly after his first birthday. For five days, we were that group trying to navigate the crowds with a stroller, doing whatever we could to keep our red-faced infant happy (and hydrated.)
Still, he doesn’t remember that trip at all. Now, it’s a chance to experience the magic of the place through his eyes.
Thanks to his mom, Anthony is a massive Disney fan. From the “Cars” movies to “Toy Story” to Mickey Mouse cartoons, he loves it all. Now that the Marvel universe and Star Wars is folded into the mix, he’s increasingly familiar with all of the different characters he’s about to encounter during our trip.
Given the chance to pick out a special pair of ears to wear in the park, he went with Baby Yoda. He’s ready.
It’s going to be sticky and swampy slogging our way through the mid-summer Orlando weather. The crowds are going to be, well, Disney crowds. There will be lines and waits and overpriced everything.
But it will be all worth it to see Anthony’s face the first time he steps into the park, bites into a mouse-shaped ice cream bar or comes face-to-face with Mickey.
Those are the moments we’ll remember for years.