Best. Trip. Ever.


Okay, this is gonna get a little personal. Our family has had a few years of real struggle. Times when we honestly asked “why us” and questioned a lot of things near and dear to our heart. Now, you might think that this is an odd way to start a Disney trip report, but that’s just it… I don’t. After those ugly years, we were enabled to take an amazing trip… one that will be in our memories for years to come.

As I begin this report, I’m sitting on a plane returning from Walt Disney World, and it seemed only too apropos to spend a little time to reflect on the time we spent forging new memories into our collective family life.

If at first you don’t succeed…

It began with a dream, three years ago, as we started to plan our next visit to our favorite place on earth. As life would have it, we just couldn’t make it happen.  Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the first time we’d start and stop the process. I guess that’s what made this trip all the more amazing. After probably three years of turbulence, a nice juicy freelance project came along at just the right time. You see, we pay for our Disney trips outside of our family budget, it’s the only way we can make it happen.

Now, in our family, I’m the Disney planner. I usually take on the responsibility of making the touring plans, getting the flights set… you know, all the bits & pieces. Along the way, I’m asking everyone what’s on their must-do list… just to cover the bases.

This time around, we decided to not include the kids on the planning. We booked our flights, corresponded with the travel agent, and generally laid our plans in secret. We even planned on packing in the basement, in order to do everything in a “covert” mode.

As the time came closer, we concocted a cover story that we were panning a trip to see a family member… only, they were actually meeting us in Orlando! In the weeks leading up to the trip, the boys began speaking more and more about what we’d be doing in Dallas… from where we’d be staying, do what we’d be doing, you know, the sort of questions that naturally come up.

It quickly became too much for us to handle, and with one week to go we decided to let the kids in on the awesomeness that was about to happen. They almost didn’t believe us (I’m naturally pulling their legs about all sorts of stuff, so for me to be “kidding” about this wouldn’t be out of the question). After showing them the airline confirmation, they finally bought in. We were going back to Disney!

Time to fly.

Fast forward one week, we’re on the plane to Orlando. After touching down, and sitting on the tarmac for an hour, we retrieved our bags, and headed to Disney’s Magical Express. Off we went. Arriving at the Poly was a dream come true. Not only is it Liam’s favorite place, but it’s certainly held a special place in my heart. In fact, the whole family looks forward to seeing the lush foliage, friendly “cousins” and Captain Cook’s.

Rain, rain, and more rain.


We checked in, dropped our bags in the room and headed over to the Magic Kingdom. On the Monorail, it became clear that the skies were going to make it a wet evening. Making memories already!

Walking down the ramp from the Monorail station it really sank in… “we’re actually here.” As we passed through the security and the turnstile, and walked onto Main Street, there it was… The Castle. After a stroke, two heart attacks and some hefty financial crud, *this* was a magical moment for me, and I won’t soon forget it. (I get teary just thinking about it. For real.)

Let it sink in. This is what I’d been waiting for… rain or shine, this a beautiful site. The first thing we did was get a PhotoPass card… this year, Dad’s gonna be in the pictures!

First up was Space Mountain. Thanks to the rain, there wasn’t much of a crowd, so the wait times were in our favor. For the first time, Owen was tall enough to join us on all of the attractions… it was amazing.


Done with Space, we headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean. No wait, straight on to our boat. After having recently watching all three Pirates movies (Four wasn’t yet released), it was fun to experience the attraction with fresh memories. It’s amazing, after having visited several times, I never really took a liking to this attraction until this trip. Maybe it was the overall glow of being there, maybe it was having just watched all three films recently, but whatever it was, this was really enjoyable this time. (The Davey Jones fog portrait was especially cool.)

We then headed over to Haunted Mansion. By this point, the rain was in full downpour. Though Amy might have you believe that it was miserable, I’d say that after the recent three years’ worth of drama, being wet in the Magic Kingdom was better than anything else in the world.

The younger guys wanted to head back over to Tomorrowland and do the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. As we walked toward the attraction, the rain came down even harder. It was almost comical… by the time we got there, we were all quite literally waterlogged. Memaw Texas, being the ever patient one, I think was probably reconsidering joining us for the week.

Once we got inside, Amy and I were looking around and noticed a young couple who seemed to be dry… “how did they stay dry?” Amy asked me… didn’t seem fair.

I’m that guy.

We took our seats on the end of a row, the the show began… and within minutes, it was clear this was going to be a unique trip: I’d been selected as “that guy” (the one they keep cutting back to during the show and picking on). The things we put up with for our kids. All three boys seemed to get a kick our of Dad being on screen and being poked fun of… and, to tell you the truth… I loved it.

Next up: Buzz Lightyear! Now, we love us some Pixar goodness… and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is always on our list of attractions to hit at Magic Kingdom, though we’d not yet been to Toy Story Midway Mania yet. (Oh, we’ll cover that in a bit.) Since we had six guests, we took three ride vehicles, and off we went> I still swear my blaster wasn’t working right!

After Buzz jumped on the People Mover, one of the kids’ favorites. Riding through Space Mountain, and around various Tomorrowland attractions, getting an alternative perspective (no matter how old it actually is) always brings a smile to our faces. Eventually made our way to Main Street. Last stop for the day: the Candy store. Jelly beans for all. $50 worth to be exact.

All in all, a wonderful beginning to what’s going to be an epic trip. How we love Disney World.

Day One of the Best Trip Ever.