All ears.

March 5th, 2013

Our first ever spring break vacation.

Big news:

We are going to Disney World for the first time in any of our five lives, thanks to my snowbird mom, who seeks annual asylum in Florida from the last, wholly superfluous months of Newfoundland winter, and wants us to join her this year over spring break.

Leaving Disney out of it for a moment (but just for a moment–don’t go away, Disney), I am thrilled that we are going anywhere for spring break, something we have also never done before, not once in any of the eight years we’ve had kids in school.

Don’t get me wrong–it’s not as if we never get to go anywhere exciting. My kids don’t have many classmates who go to Canada for a month at a time every three years. I don’t know any other families who’ve gone dog sledding. I appreciate how lucky we are to be whisked to New York for a weekend of glamor. And hardly a year goes by that I don’t have the incredible good fortune to attend a conference in some fantastic destination or another. Those perks come at the cost of not having jobs with paychecks and other benefits, but I count our blessings often.

But Disney World! Theme parks! Spring Break!

“IT’S ALMOST LIKE WE’RE REGULAR PEOPLE.” I say to Patrick, agog.


We don’t actually know. We’re just guessing. We think regular people weed their lawns, remember to roll the trash bin back and forth on the correct days, understand the magic of compound interest, change the sheets weekly, save for college and retirement,  and go to Disney World on Spring Break.

Middle class convention is my most exotic fetish. A trip to Sam’s Club is my Burning Man. I am not being even a little ironic when I tell you, I am geeking out.

Would you believe I have never been on (or even actually seen) a roller coaster? Is it as much fun as a dog sled? Will I be sick? The Ferris Wheel is as daring as I ever get at the State Fair. I can’t even look at the Tilt-a-Whirl without gagging.

We won’t get to see all the parks this time, because they cost a hundred billion dollars a day, and we don’t even begin to understand the magic of compound interest. But the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are on the itinerary (the Littlest Who says he has to see the Tree of Life), as are the two Universal parks. If we have any extra time and money, we might get to one of the Disney water parks. I would love to send the teen to Typhoon Lagoon surf school. And I know my twelve-year-old will love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal.  Have you been to any of those attractions? What are your must-do/see’s?

I am all ears.

22 Responses to “All ears.”

  1. Patty says:

    I found the book “Disneyworld with Kids” to be invaluable resource! maybe your library has it?
    Pretty much getting a “Fast Pass” at rides helps you plan your day and avoid waiting in lines for 1.5 hours for a 5 minute ride.
    A huge thing for us was carrying a backpack with water, granola bars, sandwiches, etc. because Disney nickels and dimes you to death for every drink, snack, etc. Stopping to eat drained our wallets and our energy at the overcrowded, overpriced restaurants, so a backpack stuffed every morning allowed us to be more relaxed, eat while we waited in line, under a tree for shade, etc. and spend money on the fun stuff. Also, we tried not to do everything and get worn out running around–we researched ahead and focused on the big fun rides instead of every shiny object that crossed our path!! One other tip: go in the early morning and hit the park when it opens, then after lunch retreat to your hotel for a swim or relax for a few hours and then go back in the evening–it’s cooler, less crowded the by the time fireworks start at 9pm you’re not totally catatonic because you’ve built in an afternoon nap, break, swim, or whatever. I couldn’t believe how exhuasted I would be at 1pm even when my olderish kids could walk on their own–so 2-3 hours of a break made the day much more relaxed and I could enjoy all the evening fun with my kids. For me, having healthy food with us at all times and a nap made me enjoy Disneyworld, not just endure it!! Have fun!

  2. lomagirl says:

    I know what you mean about middle class convention- not that I want it entirely, but I want to understand it and sort of belong, sometimes. I got a Costco membership….

  3. Christy says:

    You’ll have such a great time! Go to Wizarding World of Harry Potter if you can. I had just finished reading all the books with my daughter when we went and I seriously almost cried when we stepped into Hogsmeade. I know, I know, I’m goofy. Also, we used an app on our phones called Disney World Lines from It tells you current wait times at all the rides and attractions and suggests touring plans on where to go when. It came in pretty handy.

  4. Christy says:

    Go to Wizarding World of Harry Potter if you can. I had just finished reading all the books with my daughter when we went and I seriously almost cried when we stepped into Hogsmeade. I know, I know, I’m goofy. We also used an app on our phones called Disney World Lines from It tells you current wait times at all the rides and attractions and suggests touring plans on where to go when. It came in pretty handy.

  5. Laurie says:

    Cool – you pine for my midd-class life, and I’ll dream of yours, deal??

    We went to Orlando in 2008 and did a park every day – Universal, Kennedy Space Center (not technically a park…), Busch Gardens in Tampa, and something else I can’t even remember.

    Let me just suggest this: SCHEDULE IN A DOWN DAY! We were up and the crack and down after dark every day and were exhausted by the end of the week.

    My fave is Busch Gardens because it’s got lots of wildlife sprinkled through the park and has LOTS of shade and rest areas. They also have great rides. That said – there’s nothing there that your kids will recognize from a movie or animated series, so you have to decide what’s going to make them love you more and it might be Disney and Universal.

    Have fun!!

    • I hear you on the pacing. It has already been determined, for humane reasons, that we will have my introverted, un-rush-able husband airlifted back home several days ahead of us to give him time to recover. Maybe we could just leave him in a shady spot in Busch Gardens instead 😉

  6. Meg says:

    We went with a 4 yr old and a 7 yr old in April of 2011. Knowing that we would not be back for many years we crammed in 4 parks in 4 days. Although the water park we went to was a slower pace, i would not consider our Disney vacation relaxing by any definition. We were exhausted when we got home. Having said that, we made some great memories and got to experience most of what Disney has to offer for our kids ages. I’m not sure I would have done things any differently…knowing how expensive it was for us to get there (from Az) I don’t think I’d have been content by the pool. One tip: plan to ride the most popular attractions early in the day. The lines get longer as the day progresses.

  7. janewilk says:

    I just went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter a few weeks ago and was amazed to see that we could “do” the whole park in just a couple of hours (and I am a HP SUPERFAN). We went in the evening (4:30 or 5:00) and at that hour the lines for the rides were very short or nonexistent (this may not be the case for y’all since you will be there during spring break). We did not get to see the stage shows (they have a couple, like the TriWizard tournament school students – the Beauxbaton girls and the Durmstrang boys) because they did not perform that late – but again, that could just be because we were there in the off-season. The main fun of that park, IMO, is seeing Diagon Alley (and shopping! Woohoo!) and the 3 rides (two scary-to-me, one not so scary – inside Hogwarts). There will probably be a wait if you want the Ollivander’s wand shop experience (they only take 20 people in at a time). Pumpkin juice recommended.

  8. Sandy McGinnis says:

    Yea for you and your family!!! We too followed this magical middle-class convention last year. I’ll admit, I was scared out of my wits that I would be completely overwhelmed by the kazillion things to do, the crowds and the crazy price tag. Oh, not to mention the fear of losing one of my kids (then 6 and 9). But we all survived, and truly enjoyed ourselves!! I will say, beware of the “We’re at Disney, so we better maximize our days!!” mentality. Nothing — I repeat NOTHING — will wear you exhaust you more than trying to hit every attraction. Read the guide books. Choose wisely. Get fast-passes!

    I will say that f you have a chance to visit Epcot, I HIGHLY encourage it! It was our favorite (Ah, subjective. I know.) It has an area called Innoventions East/West (or close to that.) My kids thoroughly enjoyed all of the awesome hands-on activities there, and it was a welcomed break from the crowds, as it was just not a busy place. You may know this already, but if you’re already staying 3 or 4 days at the park, an extra day will cost you about $3 extra bucks. No joke.

    Enjoy!!!!! We, your faithful readers, will be all ears to hear about your adventures. 🙂

  9. Sandy McGinnis says:

    Oh, I love those Canadian and American Mickey (Disney) pins you have there! That whole Disney pin trading things is SUCH a hoot!!! You should seriously consider it…

    • A friend who is a frequent Disney visitor gave a whole bag of them to the kids. I’d never heard of the pin trading, but there are a couple of websites devoted to the practice, so it must be fun!

  10. erniebufflo says:

    You and me and Ghidotti should geek out over Disney sometime. I’ve been upwards of 15 times. You’re gonna love it! So much amazing people watching.

  11. Deb says:

    Hi! And congratulations on your upcoming trip to Walt Disney World! Your blog popped up on my Google alerts because “All Ears” is actually the name of our site dedicated to helping others plan their Disney vacations. We’re “All Ears”, too! 🙂 Happy planning – you’re going to have a great time!

  12. joan says:

    I have never been, but find a roller coaster. You will love the sensation. Hopefully. 🙂
    My daughter and son-in-law went dog sledding in Vermont a few weeks ago. They loved it, and I loved seeing the photos and videos.

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