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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How Did You Get Started with Disney Travel?

The husband celebrating his 40th on the Disney Wonder.

We’ve been asked about how we first got started, and eventually hooked, on Disney vacations.  It actually started with a Disney cruise. . .

Let’s turn back time about 9 years or so to when the boy was little.  He would get his nightly bottle and rock to sleep in our living room with the Travel Channel telling us about all the places in the world to visit.  The deep, lulling voice on the TV would help put the boy to sleep.  So much so that we videotaped several hours worth to take with us on a trip when he was 18 months old just in case where we were headed didn’t have the Travel Channel or we were in desperate need of helping him get to sleep in a new location.

We spent many hours watching exciting vacation destinations flash before us and dreamed of someday visiting ourselves.  This included many shows about Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line.  You know the one, where they interview kids and parents, show the pools, entertainment areas, even the engine room.  Yep, I still have it DVR’d and watched a bit of it just the other day!

Now, let’s add on the fact that the boy’s first flight was at three weeks old.  We traveled to Houston to see family for Thanksgiving.  We learned a lot that trip about traveling with a child.  We continued to fly to Houston when the boy was an infant, toddler, and preschooler.  He had lots of frequent flier miles by the time he was 3 and was a great traveler.  And, we were pretty seasoned travelers, too.

The husband was about to be 40 in March of 2007.  So, in June of 2006, I phoned, what is now our favorite travel agent, and inquired about a Disney Cruise for March of 2007—during Spring Break.  She set us up with a reasonably priced 4 night cruise on board the Disney Wonder.  We were very excited!  We got our Passports, booked our flights, etc.  We spent hours pouring over the Disney Cruise Line vacation planning CD.

Then, a sort of sinking feeling came over us.  Would a Disney cruise be as magical as we had hoped when we hadn’t yet visited the parks?  Would the boy understand the characters and have a sense of Disney when we had not been to Walt Disney World?  Hmm. . . This was a dilemma.

We eventually solved the dilemma by giving in to our questions and planning a trip to Walt Disney World for November of 2006!  The boy had just turned 4.  Traveling with him was much easier at this point as he could use the bathroom (I think we were still using Pull-ups at night at this point), use a fork, and sleep in a regular bed. 

We fell in love with Walt Disney World and our visit added that much more excitement to our Disney cruise coming in the months ahead.

We enjoyed visits to Walt Disney World in September of 2007, September 2008, March 2009, November 2009, March 2010, November 2010, and July 2011.

We regretted two things from our first Disney cruise:  Not purchasing pictures, and not rebooking on board.  We spent the next few months upon our return, dreaming of another Disney cruise.  That’s when I made a call to our travel agent.  Could we swing a Disney cruise in July of 2008, for our anniversary? 

Yes, we could.  A 7 night aboard the Disney Magic sailing its Mexican Riviera itinerary out of San Pedro, California—our 2nd Disney cruise!  There were no regrets from this trip.  We purchased a photo package and rebooked our next cruise on board.

Our 3rd sailing was 18 months later on board the Disney Magic for New Years in December of 2009.  What a relaxing voyage!  Again, we rebooked on board for 19 months later, or our most recent cruise, a 5 night voyage on the Disney Dream this past July.  The boy will be 10 for our next cruise scheduled for December of 2012.

We were bitten by the Disney bug and wanted to expand our travel opportunities with Disney.  I had been aware of Adventures by Disney for a while and would phone our travel agent often with two questions when various ABD tours popped up:  1) How much?  And 2) What’s the minimum age? The answers we needed converged for our first Adventures by Disney tour to the Southwest in July of 2009.  We took an off road jeep tour in Sedona, Arizona, flew over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter when staying on the South Rim, hiked Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, and rafted down the Colorado River.  It was amazing!  Again, another magical vacation! 

We discovered that all of the 40 guests on our Adventures by Disney tour had also cruised with Disney.  That was interesting.  Seems that once people travel with Disney they want to continue traveling with Disney but not just to the parks and resorts.  Disney has capitalized on this and is now offering their guests, literally, the world with various Adventures by Disney tours as well as Disney cruises.

We are smitten with Disney travel.  And, it all began while watching the Travel Channel when rocking our sweet boy to sleep each night.  We are only limited by time and money.  We are able to visit the World more often, as this is the least expensive travel option.  A cruise is the next expensive option.  (Note:  This is due to the times we can travel—school vacations and holidays.  There are less expensive itineraries other times of the year.)  Adventures by Disney, which is more personalized and limited to 40 guests per tour, is the most expensive for us a family.  We will keep saving our pennies!

And, while it is important to remember that it all started with a mouse, for us, it all started with the dream of a Disney Cruise!

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