Christmas vacation was lovely...just the way I like it, family dinner at Bon Ton Cafe on the 23rd, light week at work, Christmas cookies and carols and decorations, Christmas Eve dinner at GGs with the entire family (well, everyone who could be in NOLA for the holiday), grillades and grits, Christmas morning at mom's drinking Ojens in honor of Pop, afternoon runs with Loki just because I can, and plenty of little surprises here and there that were completely unexpected.
In 2010, however, the big deal was our much anticipated trip to Disney World thanks to Nana and Papa-T. The trip was in the works for quite a few months and the whole Disney experience is something...there are people who vacation in Disney annually, there are books dedicated to Disney 'secrets' and 'tips', there are travel agents who do nothing but arrange Disney vacations. I am not kidding. I am not a total novice either, I had been to Disney in the past, twice in fact, but my memory had faded for the most part and I had a tendency to laugh a little when I would hear stories about these Disney people. The recent trip was totally enlightening. I now have an appreciation for the books and the agents and the Disney lifestyle.
Aside from planning a few key events (some dinner reservations and an afternoon at the Bibbity Bobbity Bootique at Cinderella's castle) most of the time we spent there was flexible and it sort of had to be that way because we moved in a big group that included an almost 2 year old. It worked out perfectly. I felt very little pressure to get everything done, believe that Luz and James both had a complete Disney experience, have a better grasp on how to approach the parks if we ever return, and even managed the time well enough so that Christian could ride a few roller coasters with Papa-T. It was a lovely escape from reality and I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed the experience that I am contemplating a trip when James and Luz are both old enough to ride all of the rides.
As for the timing, well, apparently Orlando can get cold in December. And there is no question that it is an incredibly crowded time of year, but if you are a sucker for Christmas and enjoy nice decorations, Disney in December is not to be missed. Crowd management is an issue (on one of the days we were there the Magic Kingdom reached max capacity) but the Disney folks do a great job of making it not feel totally claustrophobic. Or maybe we were just lucky. At any rate, it is a trip that none of us will ever forget (even if James' only memories are from the pictures).
I am going to put together a list of my tips, pros and cons over the next few days and will be posting them soon on the off chance that anyone is interested.
Here's the entire family at the Polynesian hotel on the way to the luau celebrating our last night in Disney World: