More than a few of you have berated me for dropping the Disney report in the middle. Even Rick complained that if I didn’t write more soon, he’d have to do it for me. Oh, really? Really?? Fine, then. Today we’re interviewing my man on his perspectives of our latest and greatest family vacation.
Me: “Rick, you’ve been obsessed of late. Our digital picture frame (which you specifically requested for your birthday) is on a constant loop of Disney photos. You’ve talked about our trip to co-workers, family members, church friends, strangers on the train and the neighbor’s dog. What’s all the fuss about?”
Rick: “I didn’t realize that the perfect age for Disney was 35. It really was a vacation! Everything was taken care of for us … spending all day having fun and not having to worry about food or be distracted by household chores or work or anything else allowed me to truly enjoy being with my family. On top of that it was a lot of fun.”
Me: “So, what was your favorite park?”
Rick: “I think my favorite park was Animal Kingdom. It was the first we visited and it never seemed crowded. I REALLY enjoyed The Lion King and Finding Nemo.”
Me: “So are you a Broadway and show tunes kind of guy? And if so, how could you fall asleep before intermission at Les Mis??”
Rick: (completely ignoring my previous question, he continued contemplating the first question.) “I loved seeing … I mean … It’s hard to say! I loved eating at EPCOT. I loved seeing our kids faces.”
Me: “What was your favorite ride or attraction?”
Rick: “Midway Mania in Hollywood Studios. I also really liked Soarin’ at EPCOT. There was a lot of hype surrounding both of these rides and they lived up to it.”
Me: “Favorite restaurant?”
Rick: “Together as a family was Ohana. As just a couple, The Yachtsman’s Steakhouse.”
(Note this is exactly the same answer I gave last week. See … there is a reason we’re married! We both love good food.)
Me: “Tell me about one of your significant memories.”
Rick: “Our arrival. Having a direct flight to Orlando and not having to worry about anything. They took care of our bags and everything. We took a short bus ride and were almost immediately there. Then entering a lobby that … well, I had underestimated the impact and power of a great lobby. It took only a few minutes to get to the park … We went on a couple rides and then walked past the Castle while they did a show in front. Seeing my kids’ expressions — and my wife’s! Having dinner then taking the ferry back to our resort where we watched fireworks from the beach and then found our bags safe and settled into our rooms … It was perfect.”
Me: “Customer service was a big deal to you. It eliminated your stress and allowed you to enjoy your visit.”
Rick: “Without a doubt.”
Me: “How do you feel about the length of stay?”
Rick: “Too short. I could have stayed there for a year. Although, I don’t know that we could have gone beyond a week due to school and work. And we got to see everything we wanted to see.”
Me: “What would you do differently if you return?”
Rick: “I don’t know. Maybe bring snacks from home? I can’t really think of anything except … This was our first time, so I was naturally uptight about some of the details. Next time I would make greater efforts to just relax, trusting that everything was under control.”
Me: “To what do you credit the success of this trip?”
Rick: “Blessing and preparation.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Rick: “There were certain factors we couldn’t control. The weather was perfect all week. There were no hiccups in our travel, no bags lost or anything like that. No major injuries. Those are all thanks to the prayer support of friends and family and God’s grace on us and our trip.
“The other part was planning. At the time, we felt this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We did a ton of research: reading books, testimonies, talking with friends and co-workers. We created an itinerary and made a plan for each day. I feel that allowed us to have confidence that we saw and did the things we most wanted. We could leave at the end of the day without feeling like we had wasted time or missed opportunities. Every attraction is appealing from the outside, so it was valuable and comforting to know that we had done our research and could confidently determine which things were appropriate for our family and which were not.
“Having such a detailed plan sounds uptight, but it was liberating. It was rewarding and offered us greater freedom from anxiety.”
Me: “In all your research, what was the most valuable tip you found?”
Rick: “Go early. This was huge! For at least the first hour and half, there were no lines. It allowed us to do the most popular attractions before the crowds filled the parks. In the book, one reader suggested “‘You keep saying ‘go early; go early.’ What if other people read the book and everyone goes early? Answer: They won’t.’ She was right.”
Me: “Is there any advice you would give to others that you did not find in your research?”
Rick: “Yeah … well, this was in the book, but I didn’t believe them. Take advantage of the resort kids’ clubs. We were reluctant, but the kids were thrilled to go and we were thrilled to have a night out with just the two of us. Also, like all theme parks, Disney is filled with gift shops and junk kids want to buy. We told our kids at the start of the trip that they could each pick one souvenir (and only one) on the last day. That worked well for us.”
Me: “Do you feel like we missed anything?”
Rick: “I don’t. Though I hope to be surprised that we did. I want to go back.”
Me: “Last question: what’s your favorite photo of the week?”
Rick: “Oh, that’s a tough one.
This was our first full day there. We’re standing in front of The Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom.
I loved all the Nemo stuff … both the stage show in Animal Kingdom and the “Turtle Talk with Crush” at EPCOT. This is me and Zach being eaten by Bruce.
And this is a favorite, too. If we had gone at another time, like July or August instead of February, we probably wouldn’t have even seen these open-air Checkers tables. But the crowds were light and we were relaxed. It was great. Sitting, playing a game with a soda and some Dibs, waiting for a parade. This photo encapsulates everything great about our trip.
Me: “Well, thank you, sir, for sharing your time and thoughts with us!
I promise to post some of my favorite memorable moments of the week.