A blur. A blink. A wink of an eye. And now I find myself back in Stoneham after surviving eight days in the Magic Kingdom. My family and I left Logan Airport heading south to Orlando just as Hurricane Ian left Florida and began heading north. The Disney compound was spared from any perceptible damage. (Or maybe Disney is just extremely good at covering things up.)
The days were long. The pace was brutal. I didn’t have time to set my step counter but I know I walked a week’s worth in my twelve-hour days at the park. I like to thank my daughter-in-law Ashley for being my travel agent and tour guide. After this week, I think she has a better future as an athletic trainer. I’ve been home for over a week and I still haven’t caught my breath (unless this is the new RSV ailment that’s going around).
Here’s an encapsulated timeline of my family vacation:
Day 1: Up at 3:30 a.m. to ensure I am ready for my ride to the airport. I’m all packed and ready to go although I didn’t sleep much. Logan Airport at 5:00 a.m. is a busy place. Met up with my son and his family who were very excited to be going to Disney World. After some inevitable confusion with TSA, I made it through airport security. Who knew cell phones and wallets counted as items in your pockets? I found out the hard way. Twice. The flight was thankfully on-time and uneventful. I got to see the new Spiderman movie on the tiny airplane screen. By 10:30 a.m. we were already in sunny Florida. No time lost with luggage retrieval or Uber connection. Check-in went smoothly at the Disney’s Caribbean resort. Dinner was at Disney Springs (picture the world’s largest Disney-themed shopping mall). We had reservation for dinner at T-REX ( like The Rainforest Cafe on steroids – with dinosaurs). The grandchildren were thrilled.
Day 2: Arrived at The Magic Kingdom as the amusement park opened. Luckily there was a Starbucks right on Main Street (What? No Dunkin’?). We rode Teacups and Dumbos and visited A Small World twice. The grandchildren got Disney Prince and Princess make-overs. As the crowds increased, so did the temperatures. 89 degrees and sunny. All day. Every day. For some reason, Disney does not believe in benches for their guests. I did a lot of leaning on trees and fence posts.
Day 3: On to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. From Mickey Mouse animations to Star Wars recreations, this was one of the most fun days. Mickey’s Wild Ride was just about my speed. The Build-A-Robot workshop was worth the wait. The Tower of Terror was closed. I wasn’t going on that one anyway. I prefer my floors not to drop out from under my feet.
Day 4: A rare day off from the parks! Vacation mode set in as we lounged by the pool for the day (and night). My wife’s pesky head-cold was worsening. A special thank you to the little rugrat who sneezed on her on the Disney bus on Monday. “Good elbow sneeze, Timmy!” his mother said as I held my breath watching germs fly in every direction.
Day 5: On to Animal Kingdom! My wife was going to sit this one out while she attempted to recover from her head cold (now chest cold). I met my family at the park after I made sure my wife would be okay staying back at the hotel by herself. I saw lots of animals on the Disney Safari Ride. And an amazing Silverback Gorilla’s annual physical exam live in the Disney Operating Theater. My granddaughter was mesmerized sitting in the front row at the glass window as a the live gorilla was examined by doctors.
Day 6: Epcot Center here we come! The food! The crowds! More crowds! The park was at triple capacity. It was fun seeing representations of countries from all over the world. I had a beer with my son at the Irish Pub. Our group had dinner at Teppan Edo, a teppanyaki-style, Japanese steakhouse, where the chef entertains while he cooks your food at the table on the hibachi grill. I was happy we had dinner was after (and not before) going on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride. Unbeknownst to me, the ride was a roller-coaster. In the dark. The only roller-coaster that does a vertical drop backwards. Had I only known any of this beforehand, I would have been leaning on a wall in the shade while the family went on without me. But no, I was being whipped around, defying gravity and screaming my head off. And I thought I was dizzy after the Tea Cup ride.
Day 7: We returned to the Magic Kingdom Park, because one day just isn’t enough when you have small children in your group. We couldn’t get enough of It’s A Small World and The Pirates of the Caribbean. At this point, everyone was beyond tired. My back hurt, my legs were numb, but I had a Disney t-shirt on and I was smiling.
Day 8: Our schedule allowed a day to hang out at the hotel, regroup, unwind, pack our bags and say a leisurely good-bye to Mickey, Minnie and all things Disney. My alarm was set for 3:15 a.m. to make sure I was ready for the shuttle to the airport.
Living in the Disney bubble for a week was a rare memory-making opportunity that probably won’t be repeated in my lifetime. My wife and I did our best to keep up with the grandchildren. It may not have been all sunshine and roses, but looking back, we had a great time. And we’ve got the pictures to prove it!
(Side note: In an ironic twist, the Frozen ride froze while my family was riding on it. We were in a boat floating through a simulated winter wonderland when it abruptly stopped moving. The lights turned on. The larger-than-life animatronic Elsa stopped singing. The figure stared at us with unseeing eyes. Disney workers asked us to remain in the boat while the water was drained from the canals. The children were terrified. We were escorted through a secret passage that took us through a tunnel exposing the machinery that makes the magic. We had to promise never to reveal what was behind the curtain. I’ve said too much already…)