Fall Colors, Tricks and Treats
The end of September and Florida has had it’s first hint of fall weather. Lower humidity, light breezes and temperatures below 90 makes it perfect Disney weather. Unfortunately though, as we found out this weekend, the perfect Florida theme park weather does indeed attract full capacity crowds at the parks.
The fall season is a popular time to go to Disney because it is a couple of degrees cooler making the Florida heat a little more bearable and with the feel of the fall season in the air, everyone wants to see Disney all decked for Halloween because no one decorates quite like Disney. I tried to make a resort reservation but because this was an impromptu last minute decision to take our grandson to see the fall decorations, the only thing that was available were the more expensive deluxe resorts. Since this was going to be only a one night stay and we weren’t going to have the time to make use of all the amenities available at a deluxe resort, we decided it would be a waste and opted not to book a room and to just go for the day. We are a pretty lucky Disney Fanatic Family as it is only about a two hour drive from our driveway to our happy place. Being so close makes it possible to make last minute decisions to go to Disney during peak times but I wouldn’t recommend it to out of town vacationers unless you have an endless bank account. You have a much better chance of spending less cash while still having the time of your life, if you plan your vacation details well in advance.
We go to Disney quite often as we are a Disney Fanatic Family, well, most of us are anyway, but being a mostly Disney fanatic family and going as often as we do, we still made a huge mistake this time around that I would like to share with you so you don’t ever make the same one. You see, my youngest son did not get the fanatic gene and he decided not to purchase an annual pass as he may go with us maybe once or twice a year, not enough to justify the purchase price. But on this trip he decided to join us at the last minute. I am not complaining as I loved spending time with him at my favorite place on earth. I loved reminiscing with him about bringing he and his brother there when they were growing up and talking about what rides where his favorite and the silly and great times we had as a family. But having said that, he did pick one of the busiest times of year to join us and on a weekend day to boot. Since it was a last minute decision for him, he did not have a ticket so he purchased one at the gate and of course since we did not get there right when the gates opened, (mistake #1) it was a little bit of a wait. It wasn’t a terrible wait, maybe 20 minutes or so? But add that 20 minutes to the time it takes to get from your car to the gate and going through security. Well there went an hour of our 1 day trip to Disney. Not to mention that there is construction going on right now and the tram drops you off a little further away from the gate than normal so add to that another 5 minutes of walking time.
Now here is the huge mistake – My youngest son doesn’t have an account set up on the My Disney App and because we were anxious to get inside and start having fun, we didn’t take the time to set one up. Why is that a big mistake you ask? No Fast Passes!!! You can’t link your ticket until after you get your ticket and you can’t set up fast passes until you link your ticket!! Big crowds mean long lines and some of the more popular attractions had wait times over and hour. Now of course we could have set one up at any point throughout the day but we were idiots that is all I can say about that!! Why we did not do it, is a question I can’t answer, again, we could have set it up at any point throughout the day!! I guess we wanted to wait in long lines? For a Disney veteran like myself it was a really stupid mistake!!!
Now let me tell you about a little treat that we might not have had if we did have our fast passes. You see maybe sometimes things do work out for a reason? Because lines were long at all the more popular attractions, we decided to check out a couple of attractions that did not have long lines and that we don’t usually make time for. The first was Tom Sawyer’s Island. There was no wait to get on the raft to take you on the short little hop over to the island and once on the island there was hardly anyone there and we pretty much had it all to ourselves to explore. My 4 year old grandson had the best time running around the fort and we all had a blast trying to scare each other in the dark tunnels/caves attractions on the island. The barrel bridge was quite the hit too as we bounced around while trying to cross, giggling like little children the whole time. I mean, is that not what Disney is all about? Bringing out the inner child in all of us. Another unexpected plus being on the island was the great vantage point for the afternoon parade going on through frontier land. It was the perfect viewing spot away from the crowds!!
The 2nd attraction we went to on this trip that had no wait time and that we don’t usually fit into our schedule was the Country Bear Jamboree. A silly little show that my grandson really enjoyed and the adults enjoyed being off our feet for a little bit.
We spent about 11 hours in the park and because of the long wait times we got around to maybe 1/3 of the attractions!! Of course we did stop and eat at least 3 times and that took a big chunk out of our time but it also helped out by giving us and our feet a break. I can’t imagine trying to have a good time in the park when it is this crowded without taking some breaks, especially with children. Take my advice, when the parks are at capacity, you are going to have some pretty cranky kids and even crankier adults if you don’t sit down, relax and refuel.
Yes, we did not get around to everything but we still had a great time. So which is better, trying to cram it all in and being miserable? or seeing 1/3 of it and having a good time? We chose having a good time. We rode Big Thunder Mountain which my grandson was delighted to ride as he just made the height requirement. I also had a touching memory moment with my youngest son, who is now 30, at his favorite childhood attraction, The Tiki Room. Together he and I sang along with the attraction characters the main song of the Tiki Room. It is this song that he and I sang together often when he was a child.
As we rode the Small World ride it came to mind that we are into my families 3rd generation of Disney Fanatics. I can remember my father and I riding that ride when Disney World first opened and the Small World Song was my father’s favorite. So much so that he bought a 45 record of the song and drove my mother crazy playing that it over and over and over again.
I know Disney World may not be magical for everyone but for me the best part of the magic of each visit is the memories it brings back from all the visits before. The memories of my father and how he and I would follow the progress of the park being constructed. It was quite the achievement back then and nothing else in the world was like it. My father who has been gone now for many years, loved Disney and his love for Disney created some very precious childhood memories for me.
But even better than my own childhood memories are the memories I created with my own children. Every time I visit Disney, I close my eyes and I can almost hear my two now grown sons as children, singing, laughing and calling out to Mickey. Those were some great times and now being a grandmother, I get to do it all again and make even more special Disney memories with my grandchildren. Some de’ja’ vu memories too like being in the haunted mansion with my grandson who shouted out “show yourself you ghost” the exact same words my 34 year old son said some 30 years ago!!
Life after all is about making special memories and the memories we create today become our traditions of tomorrow. It is the only true thing that we can all leave behind. And even with the long lines, huge crowds and the money spent, in my opinion, there is no place in the world better at creating magical memories for families than Disney.
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