We got an annual pass for our whole family in 2002. 5 kids ranging from 4 to 14 was perfect timing. We had originally planned a single trip, then my get-a-deal personality woke up and decided we could get an annual pass for not that much more, so why not? It would make great memories. Think of it. A whole year of Disney! We got a family autograph book to see how many autographs we could collect from the characters and were on our way.
In the long run the get-a-deal thing turned south because even thought the tickets were free, the hotels and gas to get there and snacks and food and everything else was not. But we rolled our eyes at the expense and then rolled with the punches and just did it.
We definitely had a Disney style. We sometimes dressed alike (Old Navy flag t-shirts were a favorite). We carried a backpack (or sometimes stroller) of snacks to eat inconspicuously in line. We were never sure what was allowed, but we went for it. Lines were as interesting as the rides. We would talk, notice all the tiny details that made you think you were really on a river safari (even in line) and ate our bagels with strawberry cream cheese or grapes while we waited for our turn.
I loved the music – and often wondered how they monitored how you could walk from one neighborhood to another and suddenly realize you were listening to raiders of the lost ark music instead of pooh bear music, but you never knew when it switched.
I don’t know what the kids loved. I know Nichole was dying to try a turkey leg (and finally did). I know Nichole hated tigger because he was mean to Eeyore and teased him. I know we celebrated Richard’s birthday at the rain forest cafe near disneyland because we were there on his birthday. I’m guessing they didn’t mind missing school (which we often did) for our trips. But I don’t remember anything else specifically from the trips. I don’t know what they each liked and didn’t like. What they remember now.
I liked feeling like an insider – knowing how to get the schedule of when characters would be out. Knowing how fast passes worked and which rides would be crowded so we could maximize our time.
We made plans for the next few rides so we always knew where we were going next. Each kid would pick their favorite ride and we’d make a plan that didn’t include walking in circles.
I liked reliving some of my childhood memories of disneyland. We took a look-alike photo of the one I have of me as a 10 year old in front of It’s a Small World. Love that ride – and I told all of the kids the story of my first time through and how I almost cried because of the last room and the people of all nations all dressed in white and my dismay at the bar dancing ladies in heaven to and I wondered how that could be, but oh well, it’s heaven, so everyone must belong. Not sure if they remember that story either.
We stayed in embassy suites – a bit of a splurge because there are less expensive hotels out there. But a real bargain for us because they allowed 6 in a room (ok, we cheated and had 7 – but hey, kids, you know?). They also had the most amazing breakfasts with cook to order omelets and all sorts of yummy breakfast food. Everyone went away full and started off the day content.
I know the kids had fun and all – I mean smiles and disneyland, what do you expect. But I know I had a blast. I felt like the most awesome parent in the world. Creating these amazing memories. Spending the entire day with kids who laughed, contributed ideas, talked, went with the flow, and I want to say never (but I guess realistically it was rarely) argued or fought about stuff. Kids who knew our routine and were pleasantly surprised when we’d throw in ice cream or some sort of treat. Kids who were a joy to be around.
I don’t know if I had more fun soaking up the Disney magical atmosphere, soaking up family time with awesome family people, or orchestrating the whole thing to run quite smoothly including the go with the flow changes.