Disney FOMO is Real – I’ve Been Stricken

Google FOMO and the simple definition displayed says it all.

“noun: FOMO

  1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”

Therein lies my problem.  FOMO clearly afflicts people of all ages…including middle-aged Disney fans who have been obsessively watching all things World of Avatar on the internet.  My April Disney vacation is too soon.  My November Disney vacation is sooooo far away!  Pandora is finally opening in May and I want to see it!!!

Disney FOMO is Real – I’ve Been Stricken

It’s not like Animal Kingdom’s newest land is suddenly showing up after a few months of preparation.  The first announcement of Pandora’s imminent arrival was made in early 2011.  That’s SIX years ago.  Six years of speculation, starts, stops, controversy, rumor, and (for some) excitement.  Construction began in 2014 and, by bits and pieces, we’ve learned the details of exactly how Pandora will make its place in Animal Kingdom.  At long last, the time has arrived – May 27, 2017 – and I won’t be there.  New rides, restaurants, shops, exquisitely themed and amazingly detailed, and I’d already booked April and November before the opening date announcement was made.  The internet is full of ride details and food pictures – constant reminders of what I won’t be seeing anytime soon.

What’s a girl to do?

I have a plan, of course, and a willing cohort.  Megan and I have been talking about a mother/daughter getaway forever, so I filled her in during our usual Sunday visit.  In short order we had vacation schedules verified, 42 vacation club points booked (Saratoga Springs), and a route planned.  Since we have always flown to Disney World, this driving thing will add a different aspect to our trip, but Meg and I are pretty stoked.  We have virtually unlimited packing space for the first time ever and can bring important things like breakfast foods and wine.  As many pairs of shoes as we want!  Once we arrive at Disney World, we’ll have three whole days to explore Pandora before heading home.  Our first summer road trip, just the two of us, and we couldn’t be more excited.  See you in June, World of Avatar!

Have you suffered from Disney FOMO?  What new Disney World attractions are you looking forward to most?

 

 

Disney World Things I Never Expected to Like

With so much to do, see, eat, and experience at Walt Disney World, it’s surprisingly easy to dismiss things you don’t think you’ll like.  Surrounded by the spectacular, it’s easy to pass up what might appear run-of-the-mill.  I was guilty of this for many years, but those days are over! I’ve finally learned that even the seemingly ordinary becomes extraordinary with a bit of Disney magic all around.

Disney World Things I Never Expected to Like

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel – It may be “just a carrousel” to many, but it has a great history, short queue (usually), fantastic location, and is just the ticket for using up a few available minutes between FastPasses.  (I wrote an entire article once about my love for the carrousel as my alter ego, Darlin’ Diva here.)

Citrus Swirl – After the Dole Whip debacle, I was still open to trying a Disney frozen treat.  While I found Dole Whips too sweet and one-dimensional (all pineapple, all the time), I found the combination of sweet soft-serve vanilla ice cream and tart orange slush to be absolute perfection.Disney World Citrus Swirl

Primeval Whirl – I wouldn’t ride it for the longest time.  It looked stupid and I thought the whirl would make me hurl, but once I braved this Dinoland coaster, I was hooked.  Surprisingly, I feel this weird attraction is a must-do at least once on every Animal Kingdom visit.Dinoland's Primeval Whirl - The attraction I never expected to love.

It’s Tough to be a Bug – Megan still doesn’t like it, but the rest of The Fam and I are fans.  It’s cute, clever, and offers 3D edutainment at its best.  Yes, it makes small children cry but I think the location under the Tree of Life, the movie posters, the combination of 3D movie and animatronic figures, Flik hosting the show…well, all of that works well to entertain me.  Plus, on a hot day, it’s a great place to sit down and cool off.

Churro – They don’t look all that exciting and I’d never noticed them before seeing the cart in Frontierland.  For years (and years) I happily passed them by, but curiosity eventually won out after hearing praises for the humble churro from fellow Disney fans.  What the heck, I caved.  One wave of a Magic Band later and I was pleasantly surprised by the cinnamon-sugary deliciousness of this conveniently portable comfort food.

Country Bear Jamboree – Like many of the items on this list, I avoided the bears for years.  I listened to the haters and thought the show would be lame and the bears would be old and mangy and the songs would be horrible.  Au contraire!  I am proud and unashamed to proclaim my adoration for every second of this unique and wonderful show!!!  Love it so much, I can hardly bear it! (Hahahaha…I crack me up!)

Extremely Crowded Christmas Week – We’ve been twice recently and once a long time ago.  Yes, it’s ridiculously crowded.  Yes, once those FastPasses are gone, there won’t be any more available.  Careful planning is required, but we don’t care.  We’re thrilled by all the extra seasonal stuff!  The decorations, the lights, the special events, the food booths in World Showcase…Christmas magic is in the air and we love it!

Mickey-shaped pretzel – After being a huge fan of the Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar forever, I should know not to underestimate the appeal of any mouse-shaped snack foods.  Those dang pretzels are no exception.  Sure, as I’d always suspected, they taste just like any other generic soft pretzel, but the fact that they’re shaped like Mickey and that we’ve made getting them in Tomorrowland a family tradition, the love grows with every bite.

Kona Café – Resistance was futile.  We passed Kona on our way to ‘Ohana for many years without temptation.  Yes, Kona’s famous Tonga Toast was very well known to me, but I’m a savory breakfast fan, so no draw there.  When Curt Stone, host of the Geekin’ on WDW Podcast, waxed poetic about Kona dinners, I thought we should give it a shot.  That first visit did not impress. At. All. BUT, the two strike rule meant we’d have to give Kona a second chance before writing it off.  Luckily, subsequent visits were all fantastic and now Kona rates at least one meal on nearly every Disney World visit.

So much love in unexpected places!  The moral of the story is “don’t knock it ’til you try it” – I’ve been converted to an advocate of finding the sweet spot between revisiting old favorites and trying new things on every visit to Walt Disney World.

What’s on your list of Disney things you never expected to like?

 

 

 

 

Don’t Want To Visit Disney Parks? That’s Okay!

Recently I came across this article by a mom explaining why she and her husband wouldn’t be saving up to take their children to Disney World any time soon.  She made the following five points rationalizing that decision:

  1. “We don’t want our children to feel entitled to a Disney World vacation.”
  2. “We don’t want our children to view a trip to Disney World as the pinnacle event of their childhood.”
  3. “We don’t want to succumb to the pressures of a high consumerism culture.”
  4. “We don’t want to “keep up with the Joneses.”
  5. “We want our kids to explore the world more than Disney World.”

Don’t Want To Visit Disney Parks? That’s Okay!Disney Simba Magic Shot

Initially I had two thoughts:  First was (shallow, I know), “Fewer people in the parks, YAY!”.  After that, I had a deeper reaction…Why write the article at all?  If you, like me, took a few minutes to check out the many reader comments, this lady was highly criticized.  People got really ugly!  What made her put herself out there attracting such hateful words in the first place?  Unlike the article’s haters, I can understand how this mom might want other moms in the same boat to know they’re not alone in their desire to maybe not take their children on a Disney vacation now or ever.  If she’s genuinely afraid of inadvertently turning her children into entitled materialistic jerks, she needs to stick to her guns.  She knows her family best.Disney's Castaway Cay Walkway

As I’m safely on the other side of child rearing, I have a different perspective than many of the article’s harsh critics.  I didn’t feel judged by the author and I’m 100% positive a trip to Disney World was not the pinnacle event of our offspring’s childhoods.  They had amazing personal accomplishments that challenged them physically and mentally.  Things that required dedication and hard work that made them (and us) proud and developed strong character.  Things that had nothing to do with family vacations.  Vacations were for de-stressing, reconnecting, and having tons of fun.Disney Cruise Line in Alaska with Teens

Visit Disney Parks (if you want to)!

Now that Megan and Joseph are adults, I can tell you that vacationing at Walt Disney World did not turn them into materialistic victims of a “high consumerism culture”.  Their Disney vacations have made them hungry to keep exploring the world, experiencing new adventures, and facing challenges.  They also learned the value of saving and budgeting for travel.  AND they had fun, their parents had fun, and we have many happy family memories that will last forever.Disney's Hollywood Studios Meeting Muppets

Through the years, I never felt we were trying to “keep up with the Joneses” – most of our friends and neighbors were not Disney travelers.  We were the oddballs (until I found the Disney fan community, you guys are the BEST!).  We live very simply, grow our own veggies, drive the same vehicles for 10 years or more, and value hard work.

When the kids were growing up, we did without things like video games, a trampoline, a backyard pool, etc. in favor of saving money for travel.  Collectibles like Pokémon cards and Beanie Babies were sadly a firm “no” in our household.  Disney travel was our absolute favorite, so we let Disney show us the world via cultural experiences in Walt Disney World and on Disney Cruise Line visiting countries like Spain, France, Italy, Denmark, and Norway.  Also, we had enormous amounts of fun.Segway tour of CopenhagenDisney Magic South of France

I am completely excited for the article’s writer who will be spending her savings on a trip to Costa Rica with her family.  I admire their commitment to serving the less fortunate and know first hand the value of teaching children about other cultures and languages.  One thing that struck me about the article was the point the author makes about how going to Disney World may indicate someone would do so to “conform to societal pressure”.  Character meal with Genie

Is it true?  Do you guys take Disney vacations because of guilt?  Does the pressure (if it exists) make you think your kids will be maladjusted if you don’t take them to Disney World?  Will they have unresolved childhood issues?  Feel deprived and unloved?  I fell in love with Walt Disney World as a newlywed having never had the chance to visit as a child.  I turned out pretty well and never felt slighted by parents who chose to take me to Sea World (among other places) instead.  We started taking our children to Disney World simply because we ourselves love it there.Expedition Everest

If you think about it, societal pressure on Disney fans is often exceptionally strong.  We frequent Disney vacationers take a lot of flack from coworkers, family, and friends that do not understand what the draw is…How could we possibly want to return to Disney World or Disneyland?  Raise your hand if you’ve gotten the eye-roll accompanied by, “What? AGAIN?” on more than one occasion.Memory Maker Photo in Disney's Hollywood Studios

One last comment (because I can’t help myself) – The article’s author believes, “This culture is one that demands we spend money on this toy and that gadget and this “magical” trip. We don’t want to give into that pressure.”  I say, part of healthy childhood play should include plenty of time to pretend, play make-believe, and dream about being a veterinarian, a hero, a princess, a circus performer, a builder, a policeman, a dancer, a teacher, a banker, or even an Imagineer.  Indulging in these playtime fantasies in no way supports a materialistic, consumerism culture.  If you want to buy or make toys and costumes that support healthy play, don’t over think it.  You’ll be fine and so will your kids.

Now it’s your turn!  What say you?  Do you find Disney vacations detrimental to healthy childhood development?  Do you favor certain other types of travel?  If you’ve taken your children on a Disney vacation, was it the highlight of their entire childhood?  Did it make them feel entitled?  Are they spoiled or materialistic because of Disney travel?  Less apt to give to their community?  I’m biased and I’d really like to hear your side.

Disney Dining – Trattoria al Forno

Honestly, the newest Italian eatery at Disney’s Boardwalk, Trattoria al Forno, was never on our radar.  We love the Boardwalk to be sure, but we usually visit for dinner at Flying Fish or as I’m running down the actual boardwalk during a runDisney event.  Even when the Trattoria was Kouzzina, it never occurred to us to eat there.  Too many dining choices, too little time!

All of that changed when I was making plans for our most recent visit to Disney World (last December).  I wanted to see the Candlelight Processional and I didn’t want to wait in a long, LONG line only to find out that all the seats were taken.  We needed a dining package!  I was surprised to find that Trattoria al Forno was a choice for the dining package and that breakfast was an option.  SCORE!  We could sleep in, head to the Boardwalk, try out this previously unnoticed restaurant, spend most of the day in Disney Springs and arrive in Epcot just ahead of the Candlelight Processional.  To me, breakfast wasn’t a risk and not a substantial investment to get preferred seating for the Processional during Christmas week.

We were very pleased with the entire experience!  The atmosphere and décor are fantastic.  The breakfast menu is unique and the service was fine.  Shorthanded on the morning we were there, the restaurant’s manager jumped in to serve coffee and chat up the patrons.  Clearly out of his element, we appreciated his willingness to pitch in.  We were in no hurry and didn’t mind sipping Mimosas (I ate the orange slice before I took a picture…oops) while we waited for our food.  This ended up being a welcome respite from rushing around, dealing with Christmas crowds.  Raymond had the Breakfast Calzones, I had the Poached Eggs (with sausage over polenta) and Joseph had the Scrambled Eggs (with sausage and potatoes) we shared a  big bowl of fresh fruit.  We were all satisfied and thought the Italian-inspired menu items combined with traditional picky-eater-pleasing choices meant there was something for everyone.  We would definitely return again!

In early February, Disney World announced that a Trattoria al Forno character dining experience will soon be available!  This sounds like a wonderful option and excellent alternative to Akershus in Norway (a popular Disney Princess meal).  This new offering will allow guests to meet their favorite Disney couples!  Different from other character dining options and convenient to Epcot, this new experience will definitely put Trattoria al Forno on many people’s to-try lists.  If it has fixed pricing and takes only one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, all the better – this should be a big success!

Rumor Alert!  I heard that today (February 23, 2017) is the first day to make ADRs for this experience, so if you’re headed to Walt Disney World this summer and are interested in dining with beloved Disney couples (Like Rapunzel and Flynn & Ariel and Eric), you might want to get busy on the reservations.  If you are able to book this new Character Dining Experience, please let me know the details!