A not-so-scary trip to Disney

So here’s something: I went vacation. In October. That’s a rarity for me, because it’s not usually the time of year that I take off, but I’ve been working hard and haven’t had a break since April, so I felt pretty OK with enjoying a vacation for a week.

What happened is that my parents and brothers and all of my nieces and nephews went down to Disney World for a family vacation that’s been in the works for a while. Because of school schedules and my wife’s new job, we couldn’t commit our entire clan to taking off for a week (plus, we had gone earlier this year, so there’s that). However, I successfully lobbied for the idea that I would take my second-youngest down with me for a few days to celebrate his fifth birthday.

My wife and I debated how to handle this, because we knew that “the twins” as we call them (my 7 and 8 year olds) would hit the roof when they found out. It’s that whole “feeling left out, life isn’t fair, he gets it so I should too” thing that happens in any family with more than one kid. We do try to drive home the point that sometimes one of them gets something the others don’t, and that’s just how life is, and we can’t always give everyone the same things. Plus, we did something a little extra for them last week to sooth the sting of being left out.

When we told my five-year-old that he was going to Disney — an hour before we left for the airport — he lit up like a Christmas tree. I don’t know what made him happier, spending three days at Disney or getting his dad’s undivided attention for all of that time.

It was a really great trip. Not relaxing, not in the least, but that’s to be expected when you do Disney World with a time crunch. We took a plane on Saturday, went to the parks Sunday through Tuesday, and caught an early flight home on Wednesday. It was a ton of walking in a ton of heat and humidity, making me once again wonder why anyone would want to move down to that sunny swamp.

Probably the best thing we did was to get my son a Disney badge letting others know it was his birthday. He kept getting stopped by visitors and cast members and — on one special occasion — Snow White during a parade to be wished a happy birthday. Invariably he’d shout back “I’M FIVE!” with pure happiness.

It wasn’t a perfect trip. There were Columbus Day crowds (that’s a… thing? I guess?) and I refused to wait more than 20 minutes for a ride with a squirrely kid, so we did some of the smaller rides more often. I lost my wedding ring. I had to walk many miles on a broken big toe. But there were no meltdowns, no disappearances, no major problems. With only one kid in tow (which is a novelty to me these days), we were able to get to the parks early, be nimble in our plans, and just focus on having fun.

Probably the best part of the whole trip was going to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It was a last-minute impulse purchase on my part, but I feel that it was well spent. It opened up the Magic Kingdom to a smaller crowd on Tuesday night with really cool decorations, trick-or-treating, lots of costumed characters out and about, a spectacular parade, and some wicked fireworks. We strolled around and did all of the rides we couldn’t get in before, and I made sure to visit my favorite — the Haunted Mansion — at least three times. Don’t worry, the boy got to pick most of the rides, and those almost always ended up being (a) It’s A Small World or (b) anything that went “fast.”

It took a lot of effort to make this trip work, even so far as pre-writing a week’s worth of posts for Bio Break here, but I needed the mental break from the routine. Not writing, not gaming, and not working for five days helped reset things in my head, and hopefully creating a lasting memory for my son is what it was all about for me.

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