Friday, November 9, 2012

Until Our Next Glass..

On our last morning at Walt Disney World, we all woke up in a serious funk, already experiencing the first pangs of Disney withdrawal.  It was hard to believe that only five days earlier, we'd broken the exciting news to the kids, donned our "mouse gear", and set off on our biggest adventure yet.  From princesses to pirates, ponchos to parades, and meltdowns to magic, our trip had been a wonderful success.  We'd made amazing memories that we would never forget (and learned some valuable lessons along the way).  Now, it was time to fly back to reality. 
At the start of our grand adventure

Fortunately, I had one more surprise up my sleeve to (hopefully) dull the pang of our impending departure.  As a way to bid a fond farewell to our Disney friends, I'd made a reservation for the character breakfast at the Cape May Cafe in Disney's Beach Club resort.  What better way to end a Disney trip than chowing down on bacon and waffles with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy?

Tip Time: Attending a character breakfast at a Disney hotel is a wonderful way to end a Disney vacation.  Unlike character meals inside Disney parks, no park ticket is required for meals at hotel restaurants.  Furthermore, since you're not rushing to make "rope drop" at a park, you can completely relax, enjoying your breakfast and the characters at a leisurely pace.  As a bonus, you have an opportunity to check out other Disney properties for your next trip!  When choosing a reservation time, however, keep in mind that if you are taking Disney's Magical Express back to the airport, you need to board the bus three hours prior to your flight's departure time.

At Disney World, you can dine with some combination of the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy) at the following locations: Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, Chef Mickey at Disney's Contemporary Resort, and Cape May Cafe at Disney's Beach Club.  While each of these locations offer something special and unique, I'd chosen the Beach Club for its relaxed atmosphere and greater character-guest ratio.

So, that last morning, we hopped in our rental car and set off for Disney's Beach Club Resort to enjoy one last celebratory meal.  In a previous post, I mentioned that the roads on Disney property can sometimes be confusing, harboring the potential for great frustration and marital strife.  I strongly believe that the single most confusing stretch of road in the entire country is located between Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Beach Club Resort.  Consequently, we arrived about 10 minutes late for our breakfast reservation, slightly frazzled.

A magical ending to our vacation
Fortunately, the waitstaff at Cape May Cafe was able to accommodate us, and we were seated within 15 minutes of our arrival.  Almost immediately, Minnie joined us at our table, followed soon after by Mickey and Donald.  My daughter was thoroughly starstruck.  My son, however, was holding out for his Fab Five hero, Goofy.  Ever since Jack was a toddler in his playpen, the mere sight of Goofy on the show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse would send him into uncontrollable laughing fits.  So when Goofy rounded the corner and started walking toward our table, Jack leaped up from his seat with abandon, a giant grin spreading across his face.  Jack was so thrilled that he didn't even mind it when Goofy accidentally poked him in the eye with one of his whiskers! 

Tip Time: This was our first buffet of the trip, and I was a little concerned about my son's peanut allergies.  I quickly learned that my fears were completely unfounded.  Almost immediately upon our arrival, the chef visited our table and walked me through the buffet, pointing out the items that my son should avoid.  He even offered to make Jack an alternate plate of food prepared with non-contaminated utensils and pans.  Disney dining is extraordinarily accommodating to families with food allergies, bending over backwards to ensure that all guests have a safe, enjoyable dining experience.
It's so hard to say good-bye...

Since we had nowhere to rush off to, we were able to really take our time at this meal; Goofy even visited our table twice, much to my son's delight!  After breakfast, we returned to our hotel and planned out the rest of our short day.  Since our flight did not depart until later in the afternoon, we spent the next few hours swimming and exploring some other nearby resorts.  Before we knew it, however, it was time to head to the airport.  As we walked through the lobby of the Contemporary Resort for the last time, Jack became completely devastated.  Even hugs from the Contemporary's cast members did little to ease his sadness. 

I would be lying if I said that I didn't have a few tears in my eyes as well.  This vacation had exceeded all of my expectations.  All of those countless hours of advance planning had truly paid off.  We'd stayed ahead of the crowds throughout our entire trip, never waiting in line for more than 10 minutes, even during the busiest times of the day.  More importantly, however, we'd had an opportunity to spend four days together as a family, free of real-world obligations, in the most magical place on earth.  By the third day of our vacation, I knew that we would return to Disney World soon.  I also knew, however, that when we did return, the kids would be older and wiser, and the magic would never be exactly the same.  Jack probably wouldn't be quite as excited to see Goofy.  Sadie might be a little less inclined to believe that Cinderella actually lives in that castle at the end of Main Street.  And the lights of the Main Street Electrical Parade would not be reflected in either of their eyes quite as brightly.
On our way home

As soon as we walked in the door of our home, I started dreaming about our next trip to Disney World.  More importantly, I began thinking about how I could help other people have the same magical experience that we did.  So, I helped a few friends plan their Disney vacations.  I received such positive feedback that I began a Disney vacation planning business called The Magic Minus the Mayhem.  Perhaps most significantly, I decided that I was not going to return to my career as an educator, at least not for awhile.  Instead, I chose to follow my passion for travel.  I enrolled in travel school and eventually joined a local full-service travel agency called Ginger's Getaways, where I specialize in booking and planning Disney vacations.  I absolutely love turning people's Disney dreams into reality.

We took our second trip to Disney World last August, less than a year after our first Disney vacation, and we had a fantastic time.  Currently, we're planning a combination Walt Disney World/Disney Cruise trip in May.  Batch after batch, I've never gotten tired of that Disney Kool-Aid, and I doubt I ever will.     

Next Up: Trip Number Two and Grandma's Coming, Too! 

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