Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pirate Peril, Part One

I cannot believe that this is our last full day at Disney World, I thought to myself as I poured milk into my daughter's cereal bowl. As I joined the rest of my family at our table in the lounge, the poignancy of the moment swept over me.  I glanced around at the most important people in my life and realized what a wonderful experience this vacation had been.  It hadn't been perfect; we'd had our share of meltdowns, childhood angst, and irritation.  Our kids had whined, complained, and fought with each other at times.  We'd occasionally gotten on each others' nerves.  And we were all beginning to fatigue.  But we'd created memories that we will be able to share for the rest of our lives, and my children got to spend an entire week with their the most magical place on earth.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Tip Time: When we invited my mother to accompany us on this trip, we realized that we were going to need a little extra space, so we opted to book a larger room on the Club Level at Disney's Beach Club Resort.  When you book a room at Club (or Concierge) Level, you have access to a private lounge that offers a daily continental breakfast, afternoon snacks, and an evening cocktail service.  Although it was a fun experience, I would probably not stay on the Club Level again.  Unless you plan to be at your hotel to take advantage of the afternoon/evening offerings every day, I don't think that it's worth the extra cost.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a "Breaking News" bulletin flashing across the television screen in the corner of the lounge.  The bulletin was followed by a gigantic radar image of Hurricane Isaac, barreling on a trajectory that was now certain to graze the east coast of Florida.  Although Orlando would not sustain a direct hit from Isaac, forecasters were warning that the storm would bring sustained, torrential downpours to the area, beginning the next day...the very day that we were planning to depart Disney World and drive east to Vero Beach for two days of relaxation before heading home.  Nevertheless, I'd made a commitment several days earlier to enjoy every day of this vacation, hurricane or no hurricane.  I will admit that it is against my very nature to "go with the flow", but I knew that, in this case, I was going to have to adapt to whatever came our way.

Sadie and Rapunzel
So, we soldiered on, arriving early to begin our second day of fun at the Magic Kingdom!  The day dawned with promise; the skies were gloomy, but they were dry.  And we had SUCH an amazing day ahead of us.  The plan was to split up for most of the morning.  The boys would tackle some of Magic Kingdom's "thrill rides" like Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Meanwhile, the girls would head to the Town Square Theater to meet Sadie's favorite princesses.  After reuniting briefly to visit with Peter Pan, the boys would head off on their own again while the girls would take a trip to the Pirates' League, where Sadie would be transformed into a pirate empress! 

Tip Time: Although the fundamental purpose of a family vacation is to spend time with family, do not be afraid to split up occasionally at the theme parks, especially if you have children of different ages and genders.  Parting ways for a few hours allows all family members to enjoy favorite attractions that may not appeal to others in the group.  It also provides a wonderful opportunity for each parent to spend quality time with one or two children.

Our first visit to the Pirate's League; note the happy expression
On our first trip to Disney World, we'd visited the Pirates' League with both children (I wrote about it in a previous blog post). Although both kids had enjoyed the experience at the time, Jack decided that he'd rather spend his time riding attractions.  Sadie, on the other hand, could not WAIT to be a pirate empress again.  The name-picking ceremony, the nail polish, the sparkly tattoo...she loved all of it.  She even saved her money to pay for half of the makeover.

Tip Time: It's easy to get caught up in the moment and overspend at Disney World, so set clear expectations for what you will and will not pay for...before you even leave home.  We give our kids $20 each to spend how they wish on vacation; if they want to purchase a more expensive souvenir or book a pricy "experience", they must save their own money (weekly allowance, birthday money, etc.) to pay for it.

Our second visit; note the change of attitude
As our Pirates' League appointment drew nearer, Sadie could barely contain her excitement.  By the time we walked up to the check-in desk, she was literally vibrating.  Thirty minutes later, this positive attitude had completely disintegrated, as Sadie morphed into a barely-recognizable version of her previously happy-go-lucky self.  And we'd all learned a very important lesson.

Next Up: Pirate Peril, Part Two   

Meredith McCutcheon
Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways
Personalized Disney Itineraries and Daily Touring Plans
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