Disney 2023

We spent a week at Disney with the Huber family. It was the first time we had been in eight years, which felt like a good amount of time, really. We’re not really theme park people (but as theme parks go, Disney is the best), and having that long of a gap meant that everything felt new, and the kids were at a new level for a whole different set of experiences.

I never want to go to Disney without JC’s parents. They are amazing at knowing how to work the system. They know which rides to get the special passes for, how to work the app, how to time everything for the shortest wait times, how to make sure everyone gets to do the particular things they most want to do, and also some surprises.

JC’s parents rented a gorgeous house not far from the parks. Konni, Jamie, and their kids were with us as well. The house had a pool, which all the cousins enjoyed tremendously, and our first “hidden” Mickey.

It also was our niece Lizzie’s birthday, while we were there. She got to wear a special badge and have every cast member wish her a happy birthday, which she loved.

We spent one day at Hollywood Studios, but I didn’t get any pictures. All I remember is it’s the one everyone enjoyed the least…We all could have skipped that one.

We loved the Animal Kingdom, but somehow I didn’t take any pictures there either. I think we could have done another day there, because it’s basically a zoo with rides, and we do love zoos. As cynical as I can be about the Disney experience, I had my own Very Magic moment—we saw a macaw show, which sounded like it would be fine, but was actually amazing. The macaws at Disney are free to go where ever they want. They know that they’ll get treats when they hear the music for this show, so they like to come over for it, but they do have a choice. I was expecting … a few to several macaws. Maybe. Instead what happened was a whole flock of them came winging in. Maybe fifty? It was absolutely breathtaking. It reminded me of the scene in How to Train Your Dragon 3 (or 4?) where a whole flock of dragons soars over the protagonists who stand awed below.

Animal Kingdom is also where we had our favorite ride experience, with the Avatar Flights of Passage ride. It’s an incredible use of the technology to make the world seem so real. I will say, I’m partial to the rides that rely more on craft than tech (think Haunted Mansion). But if you’re going to do a tech, this is the way to do it.

The next day, we went to the Magic Kingdom. It was more little-kid-ish, but Petra and Silas still enjoyed it. We revisited the rides that they made us go on a dozen times the last time we were there (Dumbo and the Barnstormer). They played in the splash pad with their cousins. Silas and his older cousin Olivia were able to adventure on their own a bit.

Midweek, we took a break from the intensity of the Disney parks to go to our favorite Florida experience, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. This year, we managed to convince everyone else to go with us. We saw The Little Mermaid, went on a river boat ride, and met some wild animals. One of Petra’s few memories from our last Florida trip is that she got to pet a baby alligator, so she was disappointed that the animal show is no longer a hands-on experience. We were able to get up close and personal with a peacock, though!

Our last day was at Epcot. One funny thing that happened was that I had been completely avoiding any character meet-and-greet experiences because I find them socially awkward. My excuse was that they never have my favorite characters. “You never get a photo op with like…Vanellope von Schweetz or Beymax!” Imagine my surprise when we came off of the Figment ride and…there was Vanellope!

Epcot was also where Petra had her favorite experience—getting to watch a manatee eat a head of lettuce.

On the way in, Clayton told the kids that EPCOT stands for “Every Person Comes Out Tired.” That turned out to be true.

But we had a good time! Our week at the House of Mouse could not possibly have gone better. It’s kind of mind-bending how much harder it was when they were 2 and 4…(Curious about that trip?


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