Thursday, April 14, 2011

You've Just Gone to Work and Had Lunch, What Are You Going to Do Next??

We're going to Disney World*!!!!
That's right.  We are heading to Orlando.  In just over two weeks.  And I am reeling with excitement!  Last time we went to Disneyland (which was, after all, six whole months ago), I told The Wife, "I think our next Disney trip just might have to be to Orlando."  She wasn't against the idea, but we both weren't sure if it would end up happening for whatever reason.  Most of you probably know that I spent a semester living and working there for the College Program, and those who knew me then will recall that I had a hard time adjusting to some of the living conditions and the amoral habits of my assigned roommates...  But I made friends with the kids at the local church branch, and I really did love working at the parks and having free access to visit them whenever I felt like it.  I even grew to love working in my take-it-or-leave-it assignment in Outdoor Foods, where I maintain to this day that I made the BEST popcorn at what was then called Disney-MGM Studios, and where I made a few friends that I'm still in touch with.  But that was almost ten years ago, and Julie has never even been (after all, her first visit to Disneyland was only a few years ago, though of course she has been there several times since).  A lot has changed at the parks in a decade, but I know so much of it will be just as I remember it.  (For example, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to sign up for the American Idol Experience they have there now...)  I know there are also a lot of renovations on their way to the Florida Disney parks, but by the time they come around, it will be a lot more crowded there, and besides, I want to experience it again as close to how it was when I was last there as possible.
Time for a little stroll down Memory Lane...  I did sell a little ice cream too, but it wasn't as much fun, and it was a pain to push those carts around at open and close.  Eventually I was "promoted" to a Stocker, so I was able to spend a lot more time walking around the park and interacting with guests.
The popcorn wagons were better to work in because they were indoor and air-conditioned, and it was more interesting to make popcorn and serve fountain drinks.  I don't know why, but Disney popcorn seems to taste better than popcorn from anywhere else, and at the Studios, it's better even than at any of the other parks.  I passed the time by drawing Disney characters on napkins and handing them out to young guests, much to their parents' delight at a free and unique souvenir.  It was my attempt at being discovered.
And yes, I made good friends with Jasmine (of course), as the parade route went right past our backstage office every day.
Graduation!  It was bittersweet.
So a few months ago I became a little more active about checking out deals and prices and the best times to go.  I wanted Julie's first experience there to be with as small of crowds and as pleasant in climate (and as reasonable in price) as possible.  As it turns out, most sources indicate that the best times of year to go are mid-April to mid-May, and then in September, and then, surprisingly, the few down weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I thought we should go sooner than later, so April sounded perfect.  A little more research indicated that the weeks surrounding Easter weekend are among the busiest times of year, and Easter is unusually late this year, so mid-April, which would have been great (and which would have been now) was out.  But all was not lost, as my sources showed that considering crowds, weather and prices, the first week of May was one of the best weeks to go.  I saved a couple of tentative bookings, then decided to look into travel agencies, one in particular that I know of as a sponsor for one of the Disney-related podcasts I listen to weekly.  I was very surprised to discover that most Disney travel agencies don't charge clients anything additional for their services, so I thought there was no harm in requesting a package price quote.  The ones I received were very reasonable, and even a little better than the ones I found directly from Disney (and which included a few perks, like a free giftcard just for booking through them).  There was even a great resort deal for the week we were trying to book, as long as we booked it soon.  Still, our plans were sort of on hold--we were waiting for some work-related scheduling to clear up, to make sure we would even be around that week.  We put whatever booking we could on hold, and held off on the rest until we could be sure.  Just a few days ago, that week cleared right up, and we made our final bookings.  :D

So we're going!  It falls almost exactly in between our birthdays, so we'll take advantage of that celebration, and heck, our anniversary is coming up too, why not throw that in the celebration mix?  I couldn't possibly let an entire decade pass in between visits, and I'm so excited to expand Julie's experience with Disney theme parks.  She was initially a little hesitant that anything could possibly top Disneyland, but I have explained that Walt Disney World doesn't have to replace the original park, it just enhances it, and helps you appreciate the great and unique things about both coasts even more.  It'll take her a minute to get her bearings in the wider pathways of the Magic Kingdom and in front of the much bigger castle (and "WHERE," she will demand, "is the Matterhorn??"), but she'll get the hang of it in no time.  I think she's going to adore Animal Kingdom with all its many creatures, and we'll surely stop by the UK in Epcot for some fish & chips.

Another amazing coincidence is that we will be there when Cami and her family swing by on their way to their exciting Disney cruise, so we can meet up in the Magic Kingdom!   I'm going to have to start putting together a tentative itinerary and look into dining and park schedules and hours.

...Is it 30 April yet?

*  I know the official name is Walt Disney World (the training of proper terminology was drilled in us pretty hard), but that's the traditional saying, so I went with it.


  1. Ah! so fun. you'll have to come again when we live down there!

  2. Definitely, Suzy! It will be great to have a family contact so close. :D I'm a little jealous you're living down there (or at least I will be until the summer--yikes!).

  3. So envious! I haven't been to Disneyland in WAY too long, I think it's been nearly 7 years. Can't wait to take the kids though, Mariah would go nuts to meet "Apunzel".

  4. This is so great! We are eternally jealous, but who knows, maybe since we are so close, we will just hop down there. :) Those pictures were fun to see, it took me way back to agonizing days of waiting to talk to you on the phone after your shifts, and hear all the crazy stories about your insane roommates or tales of delicious popcorn. I have the pic of you and Mushu on my bookshelf, next to the Chronicles of Narnia. Takes lots of pictures, win at American Idol!

  5. And don't forget about the DINOSAURS.

  6. Disney World, huh!?

    "Wait a minute... I love that idea."

  7. Jealous! You guys will have the time of your lives and so lucky that Cami is going to be there too!