I never wanted to go to Disney World during any sort of holiday. In fact, as we planned our second vacation to Orlando, we specifically wanted to go late in March when the spring breaks dried up and the summer heat had yet to set in. And yet, when my sister suggested we all go to Florida to celebrate Thanksgiving together, my wife and I jumped at the chance.
We moved to Colorado from Chicago just a couple of years earlier. Before we established our sometimes-legendary, giant Thanksgiving dinners, we longed to reconnect with our Midwestern family. A Disney trip was just the thing.
My wife and I were already accustomed to Magical Express and meal plans, so it was a surprising new hurdle to us having to rent a car and learn about parking. Paying once per day was interesting, as we learned. Start your day at the Magic Kingdom and end at Epcot, but only pay one parking fee. Not bad.
I remember the temperature being abnormally cold for Florida. We often went back to our off-property rental for our coats before the sun set. Evening fireworks were an exercise in endurance as the temps dropped from Florida-humid-and-warm to chilly. Not Chicago’s bone-shaking cold, but not the sort of environment in which you want to be caught in short sleeves.
Our trip to Disney World that year was one of many firsts. My niece was the first child we had ever taken to the parks and it was great fun passing custody of her around the family. It was my first time seeing Cinderella Castle in its holiday finery. I will never forget my mom tearing up and gasping when she first saw it. It was also the first time our family had ever undertaken such a monumental task as a Thanksgiving dinner away from home.
After all was prayed over and eaten, we were left with a lot. A lot of leftovers we couldn’t possibly eat in the next few days. A lot of sheets to wash before we left the property. And a lot of memories of one of the most incredible holidays my family ever experienced.
Sure, the parks were busy at this time of year. We had a great time anyway, navigating this fresh world with a new generation along for the ride. We spent a lot of time hanging around our rented home for the week, chatting on the porch and drinking Yuengling. I think we all learned a lot more about each other as my parents, siblings, and I had our first long conversations about our adult jobs and lives.
Yes, some say the Parks are a little too busy during the holidays. For my family, we had an amazing trip once upon a time. We will carry the memories from this trip with us forever as we keep telling stories of late-night trips to Publix and early-morning adventures to find coffee in the Parks.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from your friends at ConciEARS! We wish you all the best as you spend time with family and friends this year and for years to come.