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We made it to Disney World!

If anyone knows me at all, they know that I have a thing for lists and calendars. I love to keep track of things I need and want to do to make sure I’m not forgetting anything and I’m now to the point where crossing something off is as satisfying as doing the task. Sometimes I think of my yearly goals as a sort of bucket list because the things on there are a bit outrageous and might be a once in a lifetime opportunity if and when there ever is an opportunity to do them. Taking the kids to Disney World was one of those lofty goals and rather unexpectedly in early in December, just that happened.


This time of year, Jack seems to have a lot of trips lined up. Some are to fairly forgettable places where he visits military bases or presents at conferences in the frozen tundra of a small-town that doesn’t sound like that much fun to visit, but once in a while, he goes places that make me want to go with him. When he said he had an upcoming trip to Orlando and asked if we wanted to come, mentioning that it might be the opportunity to take the kids to Disney World, I flippantly answered it would be fun. A few weeks later, with a car full of very excited children, we were on the road to Florida.

The first ride: taking a train to get to Disney.

Though we got to Disney World a good half an hour before the park technically opened, it was a madhouse to get in. First was the parking, followed by a long line of security. The ticket counter was next, followed by a long wait to ride a train or boat into Disney. By the time we crowded onto the train, I was wondering if I’d made a horrible mistake. 😂 Crowds aren’t really my thing but seeing the anticipation of our kids made it worth it.

Jack leading the way.

Once we finally made it to the actual park, Jack wasted no time getting us to the rides. After all, that’s what the kids like best–screaming and laughing while on the thrill rides, then recounting it together after they get off. Jack told them he was going to take them to the scariest ride first…

Jack and Peter were horrified as we started…

 When we got on It’s a Small World, Evelyn was biting her nails and the kids were bouncing in their seats, anticipating the exciting ride ahead of them. We climbed into the boat together and entered the strange world, and all the kids were confused. It wasn’t scary at all, just…odd. They all laughed, realizing Jack was referring to the psychological strangeness of It’s a Small World, which is definitely an otherworldly experience. The best part of the ride was being able to go all together. Usually, we have to divide and conquer at theme parks, but props to Disney for letting us enjoy it as a family with a baby on board.

Peter loved being able to ride most of the rides with us.

The whole morning, we rushed around the park and tried to squeeze onto as many rides as we could. Though the park was busy, it definitely wasn’t as crowded as it could have been. Going between Thanksgiving and Christmas meant we hit one of the less busy times and though the weather was definitely cooler the week we went, it was perfect for us coming from Indiana where it was snowing. Couldn’t complain about sunshine and low 70’s!

Taking off on Aladdin’s magic carpet ride.

By mid-morning, Peter was already all tuckered out. He screamed his way through The Haunted Mansion, thinking I was trying to get him to take a nap. Ironically, when we got out and walked to the next ride, he couldn’t fight it anymore and fell asleep in Jack’s arms.


The wait for the safari boat ride was longer than anticipated and by the time we got on the boat, the kids were full-on whimpering and whining about the wait. They have no idea how bad a wait at Disney can really be. The most amusing part of the ride were the whispers from fellow patrons who kept whispering to each other about how many kids we had. Let’s just say large families are definitely an oddity in Disney. I almost wanted to open up our own little sideshow attraction entitled, “Yes, those kids are all mine.”


While waiting for the Pirates of the Carribean ride to open (which sadly, it never did), we visited Ariel’s grotto (which was an awful lot like It’s a Small World and The Haunted Mansion) to the same effect–quiet observation, interrupted with questions about where the thrill rides were.


Tomorrowland had a bit more of the adventure the kids were looking for–the rocketship ride was on the roof of a building and went fast enough that there were some g-forces as we spun around. Jack and I were surprised they let us take Peter with us and wondered if he would be overwhelmed by the ride, but he just woke up from his second nap of the day and looked around like nothing was out of the ordinary.


When we were crossing the park to go to another ride, we were stopped by one of the hourly performances at the main castle. We were going to bypass it, especially since it looked like almost everyone at the park was in attendance, which meant the ride lines would be shorter but Zoey caught a glimpse of Elsa and Anna dancing and singing on stage and was so excited to see them in real life that she screamed and cried for us to watch. We indulged her for a couple of songs, even though everyone else was ready to go. Seeing her smile, I figured out why people enjoy taking their children to Disney World so much.


Not all the rides at Disney are low-key, but that meant a lot of other people were also wanting their turn on them. Splash Mountain was one that we couldn’t all go on, so Peter, Zoey, and I took a little break, had a snack, and waited for everyone else to come back.


After I had my turn with the kids on one of the park’s roller coasters, Jack and I traded the kids again and he took the older ones back to Tomorrowland. Instead of sitting and people watching, Zoey, Peter and I decided to go meet a princess or two. Choosing Cinderella and Eleana since their wait was the shortest, we almost got out of line a couple of times as we wondered if the wait was going to be worth it.


Disney World has its own culture–about sixty percent of all girls and women in the park were wearing decorative Minnie Mouse ears, and the other forty percent (minus me and the girls) were decked out in their best princess dresses. While in line for the princesses, Zoey and I felt grossly underdressed and when it was finally our turn to go in, Zoey was clinging to my leg like Velcro. She was the last of the group and was certain she didn’t want to talk to the strangers, even though they were dressed like real-life royalty.


I have to say, Cinderella and Eleana were some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. When Zoey had their full attention, they drew her out of her shell and she couldn’t stop talking. Her smile and happy laugh was so endearing and it was the highlight of my day seeing her so elated to talk to them.

Telling Cinderella all about her family.
So, long story short, yes, it was definitely worth it to stay and meet the princesses.

All that excitement led to a crash immediately afterward, so with Peter asleep in the stroller and Zoey slumped over on my shoulder, we met up with the rest of the family.


The day we decided to go to Disney, the park was only open until six in the evening, which was probably just as well. I’m not sure we could have handled partying until midnight, especially without the adrenaline of thrill rides keeping everyone alert. For one final time, we split up so everyone could go on the last ride. Henry specifically requested the carousel, so we went.


Jack and I agreed to meet in front of the castle. Not necessarily the smartest idea on my part…there was one final performance and in the darkening night sky, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep track of everyone and find the other half of our family. I made everyone hold onto the stroller and we camped out in a very specific spot and refused to move until Jack and the older girls found us.


The last performance at the castle was rather magical. They turned the lights way down, Elsa, Anna, and Olaf danced and sang some more, and at the very end, the entire castle was lit up by lights. And just like that, our time at Disney World was over.


The whole day was jam-packed, we got more comments and whispers behind our backs about the size of our family than anywhere else we’ve ever been, the kids were less-than-impressed with the mellow rides, we were newbies to the culture of the park, we were so hungry that we stopped at a buffet on the way back to the hotel and ate our weight in food, and though the kids concluded they’d rather go to Holiday World, we still had an amazing time crashing Disney World. We got to cross it off our list, and of all the things I loved the most, their smiles and our time together was the best.


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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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