Magical Memories – When Expedition Everest Opened

Sometimes we need the kind of getaway that only a Disney vacation can provide.  While I treasure the memories from all our family vacations, one trip in particular stands out in my mind as being especially cherished for several reasons.

When Expedition Everest Opened

Spring Break, 2006.  This vacation was unusually important to our family.  In December, 2005, we’d been terrified by a potentially serious health scare.  After a series of tests followed by a lymph node biopsy and a seemingly interminable wait for lab results, we found out that Raymond did not have cancer and was, in fact, perfectly fine.  Weeks of worry through the holiday season had taken a toll on all of us.  By mid-January, I knew we needed a Disney vacation as soon as possible.  The Disney Bubble beckoned.  As a family, we needed to regroup, recharge, and regain our equilibrium.  December had been incredibly stressful and we badly needed to shake off the lingering aftereffects.  The fastest I could manage to get us to Disney World was by Spring Break.

Megan was 15, Joseph 10 and they got along exceptionally well (and still do). While he’s a thrill ride junkie and she’s in love with all of Disney’s live shows, they compromised well enough that year for each to do and see everything they wanted.  We were completely blown away by Animal Kingdom and could not believe our good fortune when we found out that Expedition Everest was in soft-opening status.  We snagged FastPasses and also used the standby line which seemed to us an Imagineering marvel – such detail!  So incredibly entertaining and is still today my favorite queue at Disney World.  I remember when we boarded the tea train for the first time how tiny all the plants were on that first segment of the ride.  All in neat rows, we could tell they’d just been planted.

As we climbed the Forbidden Mountain and took in the view, we had no idea what to expect.  When we came to the broken tracks, flew backwards, saw the Yeti’s shadow and heard the Yeti’s “voice”, we were completely and utterly amazed by the perfect combination of thrilling ride and amazing details.  Then we saw the actual Yeti in all its glory!  Huge, entirely covered with brown dreadlocks and with an enormous simian arm that reached right out and took a swipe at us…we were in awe!  The experience was unforgettable – we’d found the YETI and we wanted to get back up that mountain immediately to see it all again!Expedition Everest Queue Yeti Museum Expedition Everest Train Platform Gear Animal Kingdom's Expedition Everest

We rode multiple times that day and again later in the week.  Thanks to some kind strangers who gave us four FastPasses for Everest on their way out of the park, Megan and Joseph used all four to ride twice more.  They ended up riding this newest, most wonderful ride a total of seven times before we went home.

Disney magic has always worked wonders for our family, but Spring Break, 2006 is a particularly remarkable example.  Never had we needed a vacation more and our favorite vacation destination did not let us down.  As the week ended, we found ourselves soothed and tired (in a good way).  We were ready to get back on track with our busy lives when we got home.

Is Disney World your happy place?  What Disney vacation stands out most in your memory?


Disney Vacation Emotions

Waiting for Toy Story Midway ManiaThis post is for true blue Disney fans.  If you don’t like Disney vacations or If you don’t understand the thrill and allure of Disney parks and resorts, feel free to click away now.  You won’t understand this post and it will most certainly not be of interest or assistance to you in any way.  Come back another time and perhaps you’ll see something more suitable for your reading pleasure.

Still here?  Excellent!  Let’s talk Disney Vacation Emotions!

As you read this, I’ll be on my way to Walt Disney World as I’ve done many times since my first visit in 1990.  I love a Disney vacation!  It’s not all fun and games and great food and experiences though.  I’m emotionally involved from the time I leave home until the time I return.  After all this time, I’ve come to realize that my emotional ebbs and flows are pretty consistent on each Walt Disney World visit and they follow a general pattern that looks like this…THE Disney EarHat for ME!

Day One:  Worry and excitement in equal measures.  I worry that I didn’t pack all the right necessities while at the same time I’m overflowing with child-like excitement about all the wonderful and beloved sights, sounds, smells, and details I’m about to experience.  Disney's-Magical-Express-ViewThe Magical Express trip from the airport is too slow, but builds anticipation at the same time.  When I walk down Main Street USA and see Cinderella Castle, I’m going to get choked up.  Don’t talk to me.RM-Cinderella-Castle

Days Two Through the Second-to-Last-Day.  BOOM BABY!  I’m in the zone.  I’m feeling ecstatic and proud!  I’m a seasoned Disney veteran (as are the other members of my family) and we know what we’re about.  FastPasses, dining reservations, thrills, new experiences and family favorites…singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, waiting for our stretch limo, boarding a service elevator, meeting Belle, cruising in a Doom Buggy or Clam Mobile, asking Crush a question…it’s all so wonderful and evokes such joy!STUDIO_ROCKNRCOASTERRIDE_7071496091

The Day Before the Last Day (aka: Second-to-Last-Day):  Panic sets in.  Oh, NO!  It’s almost over!  Stay in the moment…pay attention.  Squeeze all the joy out of these last two days.  What were we thinking? We should have planned to stay longer!  Where has the time gone?  I don’t want to leave.  I can sense the real world creeping back in, but manage to push it away.In line at Disney

The Last Day:  I know I have to go home, but one more day means making the most of every opportunity.  I’m not going to waste a minute!  My grandmother used to say, “Quit while you still want more” and those are excellent words to remember on this day.  I’ll admit it…I’m tired.  My feet hurt.  I miss Junior (the Wonder Dog) and know he misses me.  By lunch, I’m resigned to packing up and saying so long, but will squeeze in all the fun I can until the last possible minute.Magical-Express-Bus

Going Home:  I’m exhausted and sad.  I looked forward to this for so long and now it’s over.  How could so many months of anticipation end up like this…as if time sped up and POOF!  It’s in the past.  Oh, but the memories!  Those will sustain me until…hmmmm…I’m feeling another Disney vacation coming on!  Let’s pick some dates and start planning!

Any of this sound familiar?  What are your Disney vacation emotions?