It’s all fun and games until you have to leave for Walt Disney World.
We’ve been vacationing annually to Walt Disney World Resort with our kiddos for as long as I can remember. (Sadly they can’t remember every trip, although their depleting college fund surely can.) Although they are by no means “grown” (they are 12 and 8) they are decidedly easier to travel with than when they were younger and required more gear. (Let’s not rehash the horrid “Pull Ups” trip, I still break out in a cold sweat at just the sight of a Pull Ups TV ad.) Travel worries and preparation is less, or is at least different for me now. Still, THIS week is our trip week. We are leaving in just five short days, and I’m starting to feel the Disney travel anxiousness creeping in. What is the state of mind the week before a trip for an uber planner who also happens to be an Olympic gold medal worthy worrier? Let me lay across my little therapy couch and lay it all out for you…
I am in full packing mode right now as our little countdown paper chain calendar is now so short my “Tiny” does a variety of acrobatic moves to cut off each link. Packing for me is ozone depleting and makes my husband (quietly) insane. Each day of the trip, each family member’s outfit is placed in individual, gallon sized Ziploc bags. Not only do clothes stay fresh (my husband’s favorite punchline) but it makes getting ready each morning for the parks a breeze. Kids take their bag du jour and have everything they need down to their character coordinated headbands. I’m also annoying crafty lady so every day the family has matching homemade Disney shirts, so each bag is also labeled with the coordinating day of the week. (Crazy, I know.) We have been enough times to know that the gift shops are adequately stocked with anything we can think of that I may forget to pack. However, I will check these suitcases, their little freezer bags a dozen times and say a little prayer, “Please do not let me forget underwear…again.”
We are also getting out and about even more than usual. We are a pretty active family, but have been doing this long enough to know that Disney days are not your typical days. There is an amount of walking that is just unheard of in your regular day to day life. Since the girls are out of school we are ramping up our “Disney training.” The dog is getting more walks than ever. We are walking to our local neighborhood coffee shop and whenever it’s possible to do an errand on foot. My poor Fitbit is in for a real workout in just a few days.
Part of this week is the last minute trip shopping. Do we have enough batteries for our mega misting fan? Does everyone have enough underwear? (See, it’s a recurring nightmare!) What snacks should I bring that won’t melt but yet won’t be overly healthy and granola-y that no one will ever eat them? I make lists every day, then make lists on top of those lists. I feel like if I at least write down these things, these items will magically appear in my suitcase and I won’t have to make a dozen trips to the store. There are also those very grown-up things that we need to do before trips now that as I kid I never had to be bothered with. It’s frustrating to be heading off to the one place where I don’t actually feel like an adult but leading up to this trip have to be so very adult- like. Does the neighbor still have our spare key? Did I stop the mail? Did I alert the bank that we will be traveling out of state? Will someone take out our trash and pick up our newspaper? If someone robs us will they leave the cable box so we don’t lose all of our DVR’d shows?
Then, of course there’s our furbaby, the precious family member that I had no idea I would love and worry about as much as I do. (Even chronic worriers can be surprised when they worry, who knew!) Will he be alright while we are gone? Will he eat? Will he barf on my friends’ carpet? (Seriously, he has a dud pancreas and acid reflux, he’s a bundle of laughs this guy.) Will he hold a grudge and not talk to us when we get back? How do you prepare your furry children and yourself for being apart for a week? What kind of awesome souvenir can I bring him back so that all will be forgiven? How quickly could we get him listed as a “Service dog?” Can I swing that in these last five days?
When I lay in bed at night and that the lights are out, everyone is asleep and I can’t make any other lists and it would be to noisy to pack up more Ziplocs I start thinking…the Disney mind never stops. Will the “Celebration Cake” I ordered come out, be a total surprise and everyone cheer, “Mom rules!!” Orrrr, will that order be lost and I have to blow the surprise by asking our server if it’s ever coming? Do we break down and do the stroller for our youngest, she’s 8, but dang, her legs are short? Will there be a sneak attack hurricane that breaks into the forecast the day before we fly out? Will the Halloween party be all that we hoped it would be? Will our flights work out okay? (And then of course there are the downward spiraling of plane worries that I won’t even put out into the universe, I’m superstitious AND anxious.) I also have recurring pre-trip irrational fears, every year, and they are completely unsubstantiated. I worry that someone will get sick on our trip. (Vomit is my kryptonite.) To me, I can think of nothing worse than a sickness happening and being so far from home. I try to busy my mind with other worries so that I can’t zero in on my Defcon Nine worry, barf.
One of the highlights of my planning week is calling up the good folks at Disney Visa and having our “reward dollars” transferred to our Disney Redemption Card. In the moment it feels like found money and I immediately start daydreaming of all the fun souvenirs I’ll buy with this bonus cash. I also love gathering the treasure trove of items I’ve collected for the kids over the course of the year to give to them in their plane treat bag or while we are at Disney later this week. I look all year round for small, fun Disney themed items to give them when we are on our way and once we are at the parks. My ultimate Mom trick is to buy what I like to call, “The Nighttime Spectaculars.” I look all year for a variety of light up/glowing toys to give the girls at night. It helps beat the “Ooooos” and “Ahhhs” at those impulse, light up cart stands that you see all over the parks at night and it makes me kind of a hero.
In my heart of hearts, I know the worry is unnecessary and slightly neurotic. Year after year, we have the best time at Walt Disney World. We keep coming back because it is the one place where I can literally feel every stressor melt away as soon as we arrive. Pixie Dust must be filtered through the air ducts beginning on the Magical Express and never ending the entire time we are there. I will drive more poor husband crazy, I will yell at my family incessantly this week for wearing “good trip clothes” instead of “unwashables.” However, all will be forgiven in a few short, sleep deprived, coffee fueled days. Walt Disney World is, and forever will be my happy place, it is worth all the lists, sleepless nights and worry that even I can dream up. Okay, help me out Disness family, I can’t be the only one who irrational stresses out the week before you head off to WDW. What kinds of things do you worry about before your Disney vacation?