Merry Christmas, Dad, wherever you are! A Pre-Trip Report

So I hope most folks are enjoying time with loved ones today. I’m taking a brief (and much needed!) respite from the chaos of Christmas with a 4 year old and a 1 year old to write up a quick pre-trip report.

DH, DD4, DS1, and I leave in t-minus 17 days. I took DD to the World last year when I found out I was pregnant because mom-guilt. But I’ve never been with DH (though we both went many times as a kid/teen). DD remembers some things from last year (she’s crazy smart but also we have a photo album!) but this will feel new to her now that she’s big enough to do most of the rides and we’re spending a whole week (last trip was a short two days).

DH enjoys Disney but isn’t fanatic. He’s a type B personality who rolls his eyes at my planning but generally goes with the flow (and will, I’m sure, appreciate the lower wait times). So why Disney again now while the kids are crazy challenging? (I’m sure most of you are thinking, “why not now?!”)

I turned 40 last January, two months after DS was born. At the dinner table that night, with one kid screaming, another crying, and the dog begging for food, I looked across at my husband and said, ”For your 40th, we were in Paris…” and so we started planning a trip.

Originally we were thinking Montreal. We live in eastern PA, so would’ve been about a six-seven hour drive and easy enough to bring the kids along. I should note here that we are sorely lacking a “village” in raising our kids. While I get jealous watching colleagues and friends whisk away to Europe or some Caribbean resort for a long weekend while their nannies or parents take the kids, we just don’t have that. We were older first time parents, which means our parents are much older and can’t really handle the needs of two kids this young. And we don’t have the resources for a nanny. Throw in an 80 pound dog that likes to protect his baby sister and brother by humping anyone who walks in our door and we don’t even really have good babysitting options. So the kids come with us.

And I was planning this great trip. But then, I realized I was planning these activities to keep the kids entertained while we were there and it just wasn’t exciting to me. I wanted to go antiquing and eat refined meals and enjoy the spas. That wasn’t gonna happen.

And then my dad had heart surgery. And then complications from heart surgery kept him in the icu for nearly three weeks before we said a final goodbye. We had lost my mother-in-law just six months prior, which was hard enough. But those of you who have lost a parent - particularly one you’re very close to - know that the grief that hits you is inconceivable until you actually experience it.

So I said, “Eff it! Let’s go to Disney World.” And so we’ll be celebrating my last week of 40 at the most magical place on earth. Because 41 really needs to be better than this year was.

We’re staying offsite at the Sheraton Vistana Villages. Doing dinner at Homecomin’ when we arrive on Saturday, MK with BOG PPO on Sunday, Epcot on Monday, AK with Tiffins Tier 2 dinner on Tuesday, HS on Wednesday - with a babysitter coming to our hotel to watch the kids that afternoon so DH and I can build droids, have a drink at Oga’s, and hopefully ride RotR. Thursday we have EMM hours at MK and the Tony’s parade package lunch. Friday we’ll start with Trattoria al Forno breakfast and then let the kiddos decide which park they want to repeat. And then Saturday we have brunch at Raglan Road before heading back to reality. I’ve bought outfits and ears and lord knows what else (it’s all tucked away until after Christmas - but I was for sure grief shopping up a storm for awhile). And I’ve got my FPPs and touring plans done. All that’s left to do is pack and get on the plane.

Anyway, that’s the background on our upcoming adventure. One of the things that has helped me these last few months is reading all of your reports and questions and seeing this bizarre community of people come together over a mutual love for this one magical place. So I wanted to share my story with you. I hope to be able to bring you all along in some way through my own trip reports. But who knows if/when I’ll get to them with the littles (who seem to hate sleeping in a way I just can’t understand, btw…).

And for those still reading along, please know that I am doing well. Missing my MiL and dad for sure on this holiday morning (a day they both LOVED). But my kiddos keep me focused and energized and grounded in all the good in this world.

I will leave you with this one last thing - a picture of me and dad celebrating my 30th in WDW nearly 11 years ago now. He loved the World too and I know he’ll be with me on this trip in some way. Miss you, Dad, and Merry Christmas wherever you are.

And happy holidays to all of you here!


Happy holidays! What a great picture with your dad! Your plans sound amazing!

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Merry Christmas! I love the photo with your dad and can’t wait to read your trip report because we’ll be taking a 4 and 1 year old next Nov!

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Merry Christmas, comfort comes from all angles sometimes. Enjoy the trip, relish in the memories and thank you for sharing.

Have a grwat trip and enjoy the rest of your Christmas with your family.

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Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing the planning for your adventure.

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I lost my Dad this year as well so I know the mix of emotions. Thank you for sharing. Happy holidays and happy travels!

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Merry Christmas!! Thanks for sharing your life with us and I look forward to a trip report.

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Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas. That is a lovely picture of you and your dad. At age 42 myself with a 4 year old and 2.5 year old (who are thankfully napping at the moment), we’ll be at BOG PPO that Sunday as well and will be sure to say hello if I see you. I find the liners forum to be a kind of oasis on the internet, just positive and helpful and informative…and Disney is like a balm for my soul.


Great post and wonderful decision! !

I wanted a big celebration for my 60th birthday but I’m the planner. Finally realized where I could have a really great birthday.

Your plans sound wonderful - I’m sure you’ll wind up with good memories.


What a lovely post. Wishing you a wonderful trip, a happy birthday, and a much better year ahead.

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Dang pixie dust got in my eye. Merry Christmas @eeeevah! Your plan looks awesome. I so look forward to your trip report. You are going to dominate #41.


What a sweet picture of you and your dad!!! I hope this trip helps a rough year end on a high note. I can’t wait to read your trip report!


Our trips (and apparently our lives, lol) overlap! We are there Jan 12th - 16th. It’ll be me, my DH, our two daughters (almost 5 and just barely 1) and my mom. I don’t think our planned park days overlap much (with the exception of Wed in HS and we are not planning to do SWGA this trip. Have a great trip!

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On the other side of being an “older” parent of young kids and a Disney fanatic. Had my daughter at 35 and son at 41. Disney was the place that I could go and also have a vacation myself (yep kids always with us). Turned 60 this year and was at Disney with my son 18, daughter 24 and her boyfriend. All “adults” and it was still wonderful, albeit different, than all the intervening trips over the years! The time and sheer bone deep tiredness of those early years was all so worth it and payed back thousands of fold in the happy times. Disney was a touchstone of time for us to be a family that remembered that we were in it together and to celebrated where we were at each time. Here’s hoping your vacation, and 41st year, are filled with planned, and unplanned moments of happiness. Protip- (I had my 50th at Disney- Best Birthday Ever!)- Get a tiara that is sparkly and comfy and the big “It’s my Birthday Button” and wear them! Nothing beats being told Happy Birthday Princess by dozens of strangers that are happy for you!


I’m with you. I had my youngest nearly 2 weeks after I turned 40. While my friends were visiting Europe or the Caribbean to celebrate their 40th birthdays with older kids at home with grandparents (or even tagging along), I was 40+ weeks pregnant for mine (awesome in its own way but vacation envy is a real thing to me :rofl:)

I hope you feel your dad’s spirit along with you on this magical trip. Look forward to hearing the details