I hadn't been since I was seven years old [and probably won't go again for another 20 years so that my legs can be fully recovered], and I didn't really know what to expect. I'd say I embraced it: Cinderella's castle gave me chills, and I felt no shame talking to animatronic characters. And expected a response. I also may have teared up a little during Enchanted Tales with Belle. I mean...it's Belle.
Even though three of us ended up at the Disney ready clinic throughout the week [praise Jesus for steroid shots and z-packs], we'll remember the amazing fireworks and parades, Audrey completely warming up to characters [it was a Christmas miracle], our bonding moment with the Seven Dwarfs, and a week's worth of memorable family dinners in a 50's kitchen, a Norwegian castle, an African marketplace, a beautiful greenhouse, a Victorian hotel, and the main table in the ballroom at the Beast's castle [right next to the Christmas tree].
With all that research, we've got a wealth of now useless tips to share [in .pdf form], but the one I'd say is the most important is to have ridiculously adorable matching t-shirts. We are not a matching t-shirt family. We don't participate. But at Disney, the happiest place on earth, you are practically worshipped for a good family tee. We originally planned to wear them on a shorter day with less photo ops and ended up washing and wearing them two more times. The McDisneys were a hit.
The one thing that I didn't realize I would love so much is how Disney World is a creative-minded person's dream. There is nothing not designed with purpose: trashcans, drinking straws, light posts, everything. Walt was a dreamer. And those that continue his legacy are too. They encourage details and quality and creativity. Sometimes my head wanted to explode.
It was a wonderful, hilarious, exhausting, memorable trip. Maybe we'll do it again in another fifteen years. Boudin said we're never leaving for that long again.