It is almost embarrassing to look at the date of my last post. I should at least take some solace from the fact that there is no counter tracking the number of times I’ve said aloud,” I really need to post to the Mouse.”
The explanation is simple. My world has radically changed in the intervening months. I have finally set foot in the corporate world as a full time employee. This has been a major shift in my family’s world and we are still settling in. Suffice to say that I am very happy, often surprisingly so.
So I have suddenly become a very busy bee. There was really no adjustment period, one day the world was as it was and the next it was if we’d been shot out of the barrel of one of Barbossa’s cannons. It was insane. There was almost no time for anything other than work and family.
It dawned on me at some point, early in the process, that the monumental amount of planning and attention to detail that we were desperately trying to apply to this new life was a strangely similar approach to that of our annual escape to the Happiest Place on Earth.
As Vacation Club members we book our room eleven months in advance (No, seriously folks…eleven months). This is followed by weeks of tinkering with our dining itinerary (I still think this is the most important piece of the puzzle), coordinating with the various friends and family that have started joining us, and detailing the logistics of transporting a family of five from the Midwest to Bay Lake. There are spreadsheets, emails, and phone calls. Packing lists must be put together and finances must be checked and double checked. Throughout all of this, an exhaustive amount of research goes into what is new in The World as well as what is still there that we’ve never done (yes, there is actually a good bit of that, too). The sum total of these plans is then picked through over and over again, fine-tuning here and replacing there, until the day finally comes to lock the doors and pile the family in the car.
Of course, being Mellow Mice one and all most of this is instantly forgotten as we roll under that magical “Welcome to Walt Disney World” sign. Upon reflection, it seems downright silly to invest so much time planning the minutia of such an undertaking, only to have it slip out the window before we’ve checked in.
Then it hit me. It all serves a purpose, albeit not always the most obvious ones.
For many years the planning of our trip was done simply to remind us that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and not the type I remember so vividly from Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. In those days we were both working jobs that in one way or another made us miserable, the Mouse (and all his friends) was the antidote. We would pore over the slightest detail, carefully choose our flight and lodgings and make every single reservation the instant we could. The genesis of what I have come to refer to as my “Disney Dining Architecture” was born in this time and still brings me joy when I get to mentally plot our gastronomic pleasures. I would often find myself stealing a few moments at work to call and “confirm” our dining reservations. The lucky cast members almost always got a laugh when I told them the real reason for my call, that I just wanted someone to remind me that I was all set for the time of my life.
Even then, young and child-free as we were, once our feet were firmly grounded and our lungs were filled with that first breath of Orlando air, those carefully crafted plans immediately fell by the wayside. Sure, we had planned to hit the Studios on Day Three, but the Epcot bus that just pulled up was far too seductive. Even our dining schedule, so lovingly assembled, became fluid.
Having planned a handful of trips with some good friends of ours I realized that many people make their plans and the stick to it, with only the smallest of variance and then only when absolutely necessary. I can attest to the quality of their trips, as they certainly do love them as much as we do ours. I also understand that a great number of visitors to Main Street are doing so for the first, and possibly only, time in their lives. Certainly, seeing and doing as much in the time allotted is critical in these cases.
I am, however, returned to the very catalyst for this blog: we don’t travel the way most people appear to. We move slowly. We sleep in. We are rarely entering a park at opening. We typically leave the parks long before closing. We spend hours at the pool, watch movies, or head into a park only to take the kids to a playground. Lately, we’ve taken to hopping on the monorail or a resort launch and taking a trip all the way back around to our resort. We have always enjoyed people watching at the resorts or Downtown Disney.
Which brings me to offer this:
If you truly want to feel like you’re on a vacation, grab a snack and a drink and sit down somewhere busy to watch the chaos swirl past you. That’s how I got here, how the Mellow Mouse was born. Somewhere, very early on, we sat down with an ice cream on a crowded afternoon and let the madness roil around us. All I could think was, “Why is everyone in such a hurry when there are Mickey Head bars everywhere?”