My dream as a child was to go to Disney. All my friends went. We would watch The Magical World of Disney every Sunday night, and I would dream of the day that I would walk under that magical castle.
When I was very young, we didn’t have the money. Then, when I was older, my baby sister was too young. Then, when she was old enough, we were too busy. Then, when we were no longer busy, no one else wanted to go…
In 2004, my family decided to visit my grandpa at his condo in Tampa Bay. My parents decided that we would take a few days out of the two-week trip to drive up to Orlando. They wanted to go to Universal Studios. After 22.5 years, my parents were taking me within miles of my dream but not setting foot in it.
I pulled the most stubborn move of my life: I decided I wasn’t going. I would forgo a free trip to Florida over being tortured by my dream flitting further out of grasp. It just wasn’t fair.
A few weeks later, my parents changed their mind and decided that Disney World would be more fun. I let them think it was their idea
We arrived at the park just as the gates opened for the day. We barely stood in line for any ride. My then-16 year old sister smiled the whole day – a feat for any sullen teenager! The weather was perfect as we sought out characters to sign our autograph books. the souvenirs were cheaper than expected, and our money kept stretching.
The best part, though, was that it was Tuesday: the day that wraps up with the lights parade that was on every single Sunday night Magical World of Disney. The floating snails and floats and princesses…all of it was mesmerizing. At the end of the parade, as night fell, my family stood on Main Street, USA and watched the fireworks explode over the park.
I sobbed as my 23-year-old dream finally came true. It was a perfect day in every way.
From the moment the shock of our twin ultrasound wore off, my husband and I have known one thing:
When our girls turn 6, we will take them to Disney. We wouldn’t wait; we would save and plan, and we would take them before all the excuses piled up and they were suddenly 20-somethings.
But life happened. Unpaid maternity leave happened. No overtime happened. Failed careers happened. Debt happened. We spent 4 years picking through the wreckage until we got to this point: this place where we are happy, safe, and comfortable.
Today, I set out to start planning our trip of a lifetime. I had a $15K budget in mind. We’d decided against a Disney park trip, as the thought of days of rides wasn’t appealing to us as parents…and especially knowing our kids!! We knew one thing though: it had to be a wake-them-up-take-them-to-the-airport kind of surprise. No knowing, no hints, no help.
But when we chose a cruise, it became harder. The flight to port was difficult to coordinate. And then, a lightbulb:
We fly to Orlando. Spend the next day at Disney world! Drive to Port Canaveral the following day to catch our cruise in the morning. Spend 4 nights on the ship. Fly home.
It was perfect!! A day of Disney, with two nights at a crazy Disney resort hotel, followed by a Disney cruise! All the memories we could possibly want, without any waiting! Fly, BAM: Disney! Drive, BAM: Disney! No layovers, waiting in an airport hotel for the fun to begin.
The best part? Splitting it up like that (instead of a 5- or 6-night cruise) means cutting my $15K budget in half! All priced out (for 2013, not 2014), it came in at just under $6000 including taxes. Add in 2 travel days of food, and Disney park food, an spending money, and we might spend $7500 total. Not the savings gouge I expected! And with only a year to save, I was worried. It was possible, but tight.
This? This is a dream come true. We will be surprising our bugz, going to Disney World, boarding a cruise ship on their 6th birthday, visiting places we’ve never been, and creating amazing memories.
It’s going to be hard to make it through the next 18 months!
This post is a part of the Summer Blog Challenge (and yes, I know I missed yesterday!!). Join the rest of us: