Graduation/Family Vacation

“The important thing is the family. If you can keep the family together — and that’s the backbone of our whole business, catering to families — that’s what we hope to do.” ~ Walt Disney

After 10 years of dreaming and two years of planning, I went on a multigenerational family vacation, also known as the Graduation/Family Vacation to Walt Disney World.  The vacation plan originally started as a cruise but was changed to a week in Orlando, FL.  Three generations gathered to celebrate 3 family members graduating from high school: one last year in 2020 and the other two in 2021.  A total of 21 family members (2 sisters, 6 nieces, 1 nephew, 1 cousin, 7 great-nieces, and 4 great-nephews) gathered to honor these graduates.  Our ages ranged from 8 to 64 years old. When you get that many relatives together, it can be confusing with who is who and whether you are an auntie, uncle, or cousin.  But the kids never mistook who their grandmas were! 

It took a lot of planning, communication, and preparation to get ready for the trip. There are many moving parts when planning an event this big; who’s going, what times you are all arriving, where you are staying, the schedule for the week, buying the tickets, and more.  The first step in planning was getting the parents involved. Once the parents were involved and in agreement, a Facebook group was created with all family members on Facebook.  Once we knew who was going another Facebook group was created with those family members.  The information was also put in our monthly family newsletter and emails. Out of all these moving parts, communication and disseminating information are the most important thing.  Things were changing quickly as states started opening back up in 2021, and the information needed to get out to all parties involved.

This blog would be too long if I wrote about the entire trip, so I will divide it up by parks and days off.  First up – Magic Kingdom.

What can be said about Magic Kingdom that has not already been said? It truly is a magical place to be.  As you walk through the tunnel, everything brings you back to small-town America in the early 1900s, from the stores to the horse-drawn trolleys. Cinderella’s Castle looms in the distance, hinting at the wonders that await you. The younger kids and I were especially excited to be there. 

There were too many of us to all stay together and ride the same rides at once.  We would meet up in passing, have lunch together or wait for the next call back time.  The teenagers, kids, and my sister rode Space Mountain, and most went on It’s a Small World, which they all enjoyed very much.  Disney was raising the capacity level at each park, and there were a LOT of people.  The lines at the popular rides were long, some had over a 90-minute wait time!  Disney was not selling their Fastpass tickets, so if you did not reserve a time, you had a long wait.  One drawback to reserving a time is that you’re only allowed to reserve one ride at a time.  The best things about reserving a time are that you don’t have to wait in line, and you can go any time after your reservation time.  This allows you to ride the less popular rides where the lines are not as long.  The costumed characters were not walking around like they used to. I believe this is due to COVID-19, but we still got to see some characters in the parades during the day.  I did get to see Mickey a few times. 

A trip to Disney World in July wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t rain, and it rained a lot on the first day. At first, it was just light sprinkles but gradually worked up to a full-on rainstorm. The longest it rained was about 20 minutes.  We stood under one of the awnings, watching and waiting for the rain to stop. Many people used this opportunity to go stand in line for a ride.  There was also thunder and lightning, which I’m very scared of, that came and went through some of the storms.  So, while you are preparing for your trip, don’t forget an umbrella and poncho.  Always have both with you.

Around sunset, those of us still in the park gathered in front of the castle and took family pictures.  When we first got in line, there was only one family ahead of us.  The photographer commented on how her line suddenly grew. One of my nieces informed her we were all together and she seemed relieved.  We took several pictures all together, I took a few pictures by myself, and then I took a picture with my nieces and nephews.  All the pictures came out great!

On Day 4 of the trip, we went back for a second day at Magic Kingdom, and it was just like the first, except we were on the other side of the park. It was still hot, but it didn’t rain as much.  We started the day by taking pictures in front of the castle with some nieces and nephews.  As we were walking towards a ride, there was a parade I stopped to watch but my family didn’t.  I was often getting left behind because I would leisurely roll through the park, taking in all the scenery, while my family walked ahead of me.  While looking for my family, I managed to find where Belle and Gaston were. I stopped there, took a few pictures, and then moved on. I came across the Little Mermaid ride and had some pictures taken there.  Everywhere I went, I made sure I had my picture taken.  Why?  Because I had purchased the Memory Maker picture package and I wanted to make sure I got my money’s worth of pictures!  While my nieces and nephews rode the rides, they would scan their magic bands to have their pictures taken on the rides.  This package is well worth the money, and I highly recommend it to everyone. 

With me being on my scooter, it was easy to catch up with my family. Scootering around in Magic Kingdom with so many people, trying not to run anyone over, is a ride itself. Oh, how fun that was!  We all ate lunch together at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. After lunch, some of our group rode more rides while those of us who didn’t ride waited.  As always, there was a lot of waiting for the next ride.  As the day grew longer, I decided to go to Epcot Center. I wanted to see all four parks. My family chose to go back to the resort because it was so hot, and I went to Epcot Center. It was a good choice. (More on Epcot Center in a later blog.)

It would not be a trip to Magic Kingdom if you don’t ride It’s a Small World, which is my favorite ride as well as my mom’s.  Another thing you need at Magic Kingdom is Churros.  They have the best! Unfortunately, this time around I was not able to find someone selling churros out of a cart like they used to. If you have never to been to Magic Kingdom, here are some must-do’s: Space Mountain, The Haunted House, It’s A Small World, The Carousel of Progress, and The Pirates of the Caribbean. (Additional rides in a later blog)

I was sad to be leaving Magic Kingdom that day because I enjoy Disney so much. I hope that everyone will be able to experience both parks (Florida and California) sometime in their lives.  This is truly a magical place.

Graduation/Family Vacation…Magic Kingdom

PS. Special thanks to my classmate and friend, Julie Shearer, of Ears of Experience for assisting with so many questions that I had, day after day, the tickets, and everything else.

Next blog:  Universal Studios

Published by nolimittravel2020

I love to write and travel, now I have put the two together. I am very excited about what the future holds and more excited to help you with your travel needs.

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