I’ll be the first to admit that to some – I have what would look like a problem. Maybe an obsession. We book our vacation 11 months ahead of time, our restaurant reservations 6 months ahead of time and any specialty dinner reservations even further ahead of time (re: dinner shows, etc.). I have a packing list so detailed you would think I was organizing a small military operation. (honestly, I have all of these wonderfully useless skills!) I make personalized identification signs for my kids’ stroller. I am sure to bring lots of pennies and a roll of quarters just for the pressed penny machines. Oh, and did I mention that for the past 5 years we have traveled to Disney with a baby and twice with a young infant. I have also traveled to the World pregnant – 3 times actually. Needless to say, I’m a planner. I make a spreadsheet with the park hours, parade times, times and places of additional recreational activities (petting zoo or carriage rides anyone?). I plan out our family’s daily schedule including naptimes for the kids, “pool days” away from the parks and non-reservation meals. Is this a “mellow” way to do Disney? I’m not sure, but I will tell you that it works for me and here is why…
I don’t actually use much of my planning “busy-ness” and it helps me to relax once I arrive.
You see, by making a personalized sign for the stroller I can then relax about whether or not my stroller will disappear. (incidentally, most strollers are not stolen – even high-end models. If a stroller is taken it most often can be blamed on looking nearly identical to the other 75-100 strollers that may be parked together at any given stroller parking area.) Its not that I have warned off would-be thieves, its that I feel like I have done all I can to relax and then I let it go. Here is what my sign usually says:
<Insert Baby Name>
Please don’t take my stroller, I’m only <insert age> old.
I then decorate the sign with cute bright pictures of favorite characters and mount the sign on colored construction paper. I laminate it to protect it from those oh-so-common Florida rain showers, punch holes in the top and secure it to the stroller handle bar with ribbon or d-rings.
Next, the pressed-pennies. If I bring a roll of quarters and pennies for pressing – I don’t ever have to go searching for coins when I happen upon those enticing little machines. Seriously I have no idea what it is exactly that is so nifty about squashing a penny and collecting them in a little book – but it is quite fun and if you haven’t tried it you should. So after I’m prepared – I can really kind of pack it and forget about it.
The spreadsheet might seem a bit over-the-top, but it really just helps me get an idea of how I would like our days to fall when we arrive. In truth, it all comes together in a much more “0rganic” way, as G would put it. We usually decide what park (if any) to go to in the morning over breakfast. When the kids get tired, we go back to the resort. We eat when we’re hungry, although we do make a valid attempt to make our dining reservations if we have any. After all, it would be a shame to miss out on so much good dining – but that is another post. It also helps to have some additional activities in mind for the kids. For us as well I suppose. The World can definitely be over-stimulating at times. So an evening of playing video games, going to a bonfire on the beach, a movie night by the pool or a sing-along with Chip and Dale are sometimes a welcome diversion. The key is to just leave all of the spreadsheets, lists and time tables at home and just “go with the flow” when you arrive. This is of course not to say you should miss your favorite attractions because you were lounging by the pool….. but really, would it be so bad if you only caught your top 5+ attractions, but were able to relax the entire time you were at the World? I think not. As you stand in line for Ellen’s Energy Adventure, eating your Premium Mickey Ice Cream on a stick – you can reflect on your afternoon at the pool, your leisurely breakfast or your saunter through the Animal Kingdom and wonder if those around you are enjoying their vacation as much as you are.