I remember our first family vacation to Walt Disney World and like many of you, I had just as much fun planning out all the details as I did during the actual vacation. It didn’t start out that way, though. At the time, we had only ever been to Disneyland and there wasn’t a whole ton of planning done prior to those trips. When I first visited the Walt Disney World website, I almost ran away because of how overwhelmed I was with four theme parks, two water parks, so many places to stay, and [what seemed like] half-a-million restaurants - plus, Advance Dining Reservations needed to be made 180-days in advance or you may not get what you want.
It took me a bit to actually dig in and get started, but once I made the jump, there was no slowing down. I had spreadsheets with all the things we couldn’t miss along with schedules and locations for each of them. There were lists with restaurants that we just HAD to go to because the kids were little and absolutely loved character dining. Plus, their autograph books were started at Disneyland, but we were missing lots and I just knew we could fill them in with all the characters at Walt Disney World. I even put together a binder with pages that I’d printed out from various places on the internet that had reviews of certain things and why you couldn’t miss them. I was bound and determined to accomplish everything there was to offer during our 9-night vacation.
Back in 2008, there was no My Disney Experience to plan out all of your FastPass+ and add notes to your daily schedule, so I just put all of those details on the spreadsheet that I tucked safely inside sheet protectors and put into the front of the binder. I even had notes on who would run around with all of our park tickets to get FastPasses. I was confident that we would accomplish pretty much everything there was to do at Walt Disney World during that first trip because who knew when we’d be back again and have another chance to do what we missed.
As I share this with you, it makes me laugh that I actually thought we’d be able to do it all in one trip, but I really did. I had no idea of the actual size and scale of the parks, and although I’d read that we needed to allow up to 90-minutes of travel time when using Disney transportation, I couldn’t imagine that it would actually take that long despite what I’d read.
Fast forward to our actual vacation that took place in April of 2008 - the week after Easter. The parks were crazy-busy and it was humid as all get out. There were eight of us and we opted to stay in a two-bedroom villa at Disney’s Old Key West Resort which, as many of you know, is a huge place and it takes a while just to get on the road to whichever park you’re heading to.
Telling you that we were all completely exhausted by the third day of this vacation seems like a major understatement now, but there really isn’t another way to describe it. See, it’s very tempting to add days to your theme park tickets at Walt Disney World because “the more you play, the less you pay per day” and we just couldn’t resist it. I mean, for only a few dollars more per person, we could have another entire day in the magic!
The thing is, the weather in central Florida is exhausting for those who didn’t grow up there and don’t have a clue what heat combined with high humidity can do to a person. It can suck the life right out if you if you’re not prepared for it, which, on that first trip, we were not. We had blisters on our feet because we didn’t wear the right socks and they were sweating inside shoes that didn’t breathe. And we were all CRANKY AS ALL GET OUT. Sorry for screaming, but for the love of everything, please do not do this to yourselves.
Now, we bring coconut water, not because we like the taste, but because it hydrates you at lightning speed and you don’t need to drink nearly as much of it as you do water. I don’t know about you, but when I drink a quart of water then walk around really fast for miles in a theme park, it makes me sick to my stomach. We've also all figured out which shoes and/or sandals work best for us so we don't end up fighting the ugly pain of blisters.
The main reason I’m sharing all of this with you today is that that first family vacation was the last time we didn’t plan a pool day into our itinerary. Every third day of our family vacations following that first time, the only daily plans we've made was one Table Service dining reservation. That’s it. We all slept in. Whoever woke up first threw our beloved French Toast Casserole into the oven – the beauty of having a full-size kitchen in your room – and we ate breakfast once everyone was awake. We took a leisurely stroll to the pool and every couple of hours, we hopped into the pool to cool off and then reapplied our sunscreen. We would visit, laugh, and just relax with no agenda whatsoever except a dinner reservation somewhere.
Most of us who have been to Walt Disney World more than a couple of times know that we cannot possibly see or do everything there is to do in one trip. This is why we keep going back year after year! So, take a pool day right in the middle of your next Walt Disney World vacation – you’ll be really glad you did.