With the lyrics of “It’s a Small World After All” permanently cemented in my brain since childhood, I am pleased to report that my family is about to head out on a weeklong vacation to Walt Disney World. It might come as a surprise to those who know me that I am just as excited about this trip as my 6 and 9 year old boys. I also don’t believe going to Disney World is a rite of passage for all good children and their parents. It’s not for everyone. I am going purely because I want to share some incredible memories with my husband and two boys that will last a lifetime- just like the ones my parents made with me (yes, Space Mountain did exist even back then!). I am going because I can’t think of a single person who has had a bad time at Disney, even if they wanted to. I am going because I truly hope that Disney World is the happiest place on earth.
One might think, based on my line of work, planning my own family’s trip to Disney World would be easy. But although our trip has been in the incubator for a year- making decisions about where to stay, what to include, and how long to go did weigh on my mind for weeks before I made the final booking. My husband kept asking how I could possibly get it ‘wrong’ and I was just sure I could.
The problem with having such high expectations for any trip is that it’s nearly impossible to make decisions for fear of making the ‘wrong’ ones. I now fully understand why so many parents come to me confused and concerned after attempting the daunting task of booking a Disney vacation online. Though it shouldn’t, a trip to Disney does seem to have an added layer of emotional weight attached to it (perhaps from a childhood memory or non-memory) that some other trips do not carry. Plus, it seems that everyone who’s been to Disney, and everyone who hasn’t, has a very strong opinion about where you should stay, when you should go, and how exactly you should spend your time and money.
I found it easiest to figure out how to plan my trip by doing what I do when planning for my clients. I first decided whether it was important to stay on property, and for us it was. Then I set an overall budget that I was comfortable with, backed out the activities that I knew I wanted from that (like the Park Hopper + water parks pass and the Disney’s Not So Very Scary Halloween Party) and then picked a hotel that was within my budget, closest to the parks I will visit the most, and that met at least a few of my kid’s expectations for pools, food, and fun.
Now all that’s left is to look forward to that dark, fast ride through Space Mountain. – Julie, October 3, 2013