So many of us dream of having some time with our families where every day worries are pushed aside and we can focus on enjoying the company of our loved ones. But in today’s hectic world, those desires seem too out of reach or the thought of planning time away that will please everyone threatens to undermine the whole point of taking that long desired trip in the first place. But what if I told you that such a place exists? A place where everyone from the family nerd to hardcore jock can have the trip of a lifetime and you can get those memories and time away that you crave. Would you believe me?
I swear it’s true. High maintenance fashionistas can shop the world, environmentalists can be immersed in nature as they learn how technology can better their efforts. Daredevils can indulge every thrill, artists can become inspired, sophisticates can learn about culture and see performers from around the globe. Aspiring chefs can sample cuisine from every corner of the earth, pop culture enthusiasts can explore the history and trends of entertainment and even techno-buffs can get their geek on, full tilt.
And yes, even if you’re one of those who feels that a trip built around visiting a theme park is only for people who can’t enjoy the simple pleasures in life or are for the masses who have this incessant need to be entertained rather than educated, let me tell you, you don’t know Florida and you don’t know Disney!
If you truly want memories of a vacation where you aren’t bombarded with, “When are we going home?, Can we go now?, I’m bored., There’s nothing to do here…” and you dream of family pictures where everyone is genuinely smiling and is enjoying hanging out together after all the money you’ve spent, then you must seriously consider this advice.
Let me personalize the case I’m trying to make a little bit. I have 3 boys, all of whom are so different from one another that I’ve actually been asked how I manage to not go crazy raising them. My oldest is an over-achiever. He was on almost every team, captain of them at one time or another, class president and almost a straight A student. He’s what Americans would refer to as an All-American boy even though he’s Canadian. My middle son is a conundrum to say the least. He’s smart as a whip but has spurts of motivation. If you make any suggestions for what he might want to try he will do the exact opposite out of sheer stubbornness, but if something he’s discovered sparks his interest, look out. He becomes obsessed. He’s like my little mad scientist.
My youngest boy can only be described as the class clown with a heart of gold. He seems to live to entertain and please others. And if this need wasn’t so constantly impulsive in him, I’m sure his brothers would not be annoyed by his constant efforts at humor and kindness and would have a deeper appreciation of his intentions.
So how on earth could I ever plan the perfect trip with this trio of contradictions and expect to actually enjoy any time with them while we spent 2 weeks practically glued to one another? The answer was obvious actually, I had 2 choices. Take separate vacations with each of them or find something that catered to each of their interests while still entertaining the others.
As a single mom who saved for a long time to have this kind of trip with them, the individual trip option was out of the question. One wanted to go to Europe, another wanted to see the tropics of Hawaii and the youngest, being the ham that he was, wanted to see Hollywood. So, I did my research and my attention began to zero in on one particular destination.
I found a place where the original explorers that we read of in history books initially discovered. A place where a thirst for adventure and curiosity is quenched at every turn. A place so rich in history that you can actually touch it and walk it; not just learn about it. Yes, this place is so alive with nature that you can’t possibly see it all in one trip, has so much culture that you’ll have wondered why you’ve never visited before and as if all of that wasn’t good enough, it has some of the best weather on the planet. But wait, it gets better; it’s also home to the most magical place on earth that puts all of the above and weaves it into a spectacular place that you can visit in an atmosphere that ALL will enjoy. Disney World offers something for everyone, from sports and outdoor activities, to a chance to see the world in a day. With rides, attractions, shopping, shows, places to explore, fine dining, relaxing resorts and interaction with special effects and magic, it’s impossible not to experience the vacation you’ve always dreamed of, where your pictures and stories are an endless account of all the fun you had…together. So that’s where we went and it was by far the most fun we have had together…ever.
Here’s a list, as compiled by my family, of the highlights of our trip:
25. Swimming at night…outside (This is HUGE if you’re from the north)
24. Amazing and affordable dining ( All produce served is grown in their own greenhouses. See this at “The living Lands” in Epcot)
23. The rides – Disney special effects make it an experience
20. Eco-tours – Up close excursions let you see wildlife that you likely don’t see at home, in their natural environment. Better than any zoo. (Disney offers these types of guided vacations worldwide and Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom is a great introduction for little ones.)
19. Monorail – Very exciting way to enter the park
18. The parking lot tram – This may sound silly but we love the excitement of boarding the tram in the massive parking lot and making our way to the gates.
17. The Parades – No one does them like Disney. No one. Period.
16. Character interactions – Who doesn’t love meeting their favorite Disney character and getting pictures with those genuine smiles?
14. World Showcase at Epcot – My kids loved this. One minute we were in Italy taking our picture at Trevi Fountain and soon we were on a foot bridge over a Koi pond in a Japan.
13. Lizards and Egrets and frogs, oh my! – Animals that we don’t normally see in Canada were either seen or heard everywhere.
12. Our conversations – As the trip went on, my boys actually spoke to one another eagerly about what we had seen or done and what was coming next. They finally had something in common!
11. The sheer excitement of all things new – From the first plane ride, to the palm trees and the shows, excursions, attractions and beaches in between there was always something to look forward to.
10. The fireworks – There is nothing like seeing these with the Castle as their centerpiece or see them set to music with lasers at Epcot.
9. Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom – This deserves it’s own shout out as it was collectively our favorite and always had us laughing together when one of us was in the seat that got a thorough drenching.
8. Family pictures – By far these are my favorite family pictures that I have. The smiles aren’t forced, outfits aren’t perfect, but its us and we’re sincerely happy.
7. No arguing at bedtime – Not once did I have to insist, bargain, plead or threaten anyone at bedtime. The entire trip was so full of things to do that we fell into bed every night delightfully exhausted.
6. The appreciation – My boys all have vivid memories of this trip that was almost 6 years ago now (for the youngest, half a lifetime ago). This tells me that this trip impacted them deeply and provided an appreciation for a fun time spent together as a family. Goal achieved.
5. Variety – With everything from thrilling rides to quiet moments of rest in the shade and days stolen at the beach sprinkled with entertaining and intriguing lessons of history and culture, this was definitely not a vacation where we simply went skiing.
4. Atmosphere – No one enhances it like Disney. Pools are transformed from mere bodies of water to a place that gets you into the spirit of things. Be it at the tropical oasis poolside at The Polynesian Resort or in the simpler piano shaped pool at All Star Music Resort while you swim along to some great tunes emitting from the giant boom box. With every hotel and park themed from top to bottom, no detail is left to chance and you are transported into a world unlike any other.
3. Inter active touches – From a giant golden camel that spits as you walk by or a talking trash can that actually converses with you, to a personal visit from a Disney character as you enjoy a perfect meal, there’s so many unexpected surprises that add a special touch to your family time together.
2. Being transported into imaginative worlds – These are things you can only experience at Disney. You can travel through time, visit classic stories, live the movies,and have a harrowing adventure all without your kids complaining that they have to hang out with you. Absolute perfection.
1. No fighting – This is obviously a parental favorite as children will not appreciate that they even refrained from doing the one thing that drives parents crazy. But it is honestly the only vacation I’ve ever had with them where they didn’t argue, fight or pester one another for the entire 17 days we were travelling. Paradise.
So, if your priority for a family vacation is for your kids to actually want to spend time with you and not whine about how they could be hanging out with their friends or, if you desperately long for time away where you actually connect and interact with your kids; then I’m telling you, Florida is where you need to be. Disney World, and it’s central location, ensure that every quirky member of your family will find something that speaks to them and makes it a cherished memory of time they spent with you.
And, if you’re still wary of theme parks, your time at Disney can be balanced with day trips to either coast that are full of a variety of options in themselves. I guarantee a vacation of this sort will leave everyone in your family with fond memories and hopes of going back.
Tips: Browse our search function to get advice on everything from saving money to what to pack. Also read reviews of resorts, restaurants, rides and shows. Or feel free to ask any of the Divas or Devos questions; we love to share our knowledge. We even have our own travel agent, Patricia, that can assist you with specific travel arrangements.