My husband and I became Disney World fans after taking our daughters there when they were young. We went with some good friends and their children, and although we had a wonderful time, we learned a lot about what we could do to make our next visit even better. Our friend and I were the trip planners and had studied several Disney guides to make the most of our time. We stayed on Disney property, which was key, but failed in other areas of the planning, such as where to eat.
Several years later, we finally got back to Orlando with the same friends and, once again, we renewed our love of “the happiest place on Earth.” It was on this trip that we discovered the Disney Vacation Club. Buying into it was one of the best decisions for our family we ever made. We have now owned it for almost 17 years, adding additional points to accommodate our needs, and have made a family trip every other year since then.
Our family has grown from our original five to now numbering 15. Recently, all 15 of us made the trip, spending some five, six, days at Disney World. Looking back, a few things in our bi-annual family trip have changed. Originally, we would drive to Savannah, eat at our favorite pizza place, spend the night, and drive to Orlando—stopping just inside the Florida line for free orange juice and/or grapefruit juice before continuing on to Disney World. We would blast several appropriate songs, take pictures of the Disney World sign, and cheer when we heard the gate guard say, “Welcome home,” as we got to our hotel. We added a few cars to the entourage as our numbers grew, but not much else changed.
So, why title this article “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles?” Well, as our numbers have increased, so has our means of transportation. Although, in their younger years, our daughters proclaimed they would never come to Disney World, once they had children, until they were old enough not to need a stroller, our eldest daughter was the only one to actually follow through with that claim. In taking babies and toddlers on a trip, a lot of equipment is needed. Our youngest daughter, having a two-and-a-half-year-old and a five-month-old, decided the best way to travel was for her husband and dad to drive down with the two-and-a-half-year-old, along with all the luggage, pack-and-play, double stroller, and all other necessary items. She and I would fly down with the baby, taking only minimal carry-on bags. Our middle daughter made the decision to take the train, as their three- and six-year-olds adore trains, and this was a perfect opportunity to travel on one. Our eldest carried on the tradition of staying in Savannah, going to our favorite pizza place, and arriving in Orlando the following day.
It has been so much fun watching how, first our daughters, and now their families have embraced this trip and experience with the same joy and excitement as if it were their first time. My husband and I love spending this special time with our grands and seeing their reactions to all the rides, fireworks, shows, and magic that encompass Disney World. Who will ride which ride? Who will muster up the courage to try something new? What will they take away as their favorite from this trip? With there being so many of us, we weren’t able to stay together as a group most days, but we made sure that at least for one meal a day we would all be together. Lots of tales of their days were learned then!
We are a family that loves to travel. I am so happy when I get to experience new places with our grandchildren. No matter how many times I may have been somewhere, when it is the first time for my grandchildren, seeing it through their eyes gives me a feeling as if it were a first for me. With four parks that constitute Disney World, there is something for everyone. I look forward to many more years of this trip and others as well. I find there is a special bond that comes with an insight into my beautiful grandchildren when we travel. No matter how far from home we go, it creates a lovely memory.