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Claire’s American Adventures - Hakuna Matata

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I am a little bit of a ‘Disney geek’, OK maybe more of a big geek – OK, OK I confess, I love everything Disney, from the Mouse to the Princesses, I can’t help it! I may even be listening to a Disney soundtrack as I type this…

For the thirteen years we’ve been together I have been pestering Matt to go on a Disney vacation, so when we decided to relocate to the USA I saw my chance! I made it a condition of the big move that we must pay a visit to the Mouse in Orlando, and yes, ladies and gentlemen, it finally happened, the Pritchard’s went to Disney! We had such an amazing time, I start to get tears in my eyes just typing about it now… Get a grip Claire!

It’s not my intent to portray this as a flawless vacation; we have a 2-year-old, so I can’t pretend that it was all magic and roses because it wasn’t! Vacationing at Disney with a toddler is hard work, ANY vacation with a toddler is hard. Sometimes just getting through the day without feeling like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards can be a challenge! But, despite the over-excitement and the over-tiredness, going on vacation was 100% worth it. Watching Elijah’s face as characters he recognized paraded through the Magic Kingdom was priceless… and that toddler-tantrum he had moments before the start because he didn’t want to sit still, almost forgotten!

As our Disney vacation drew near the, albeit self-inflicted, pressure to get the most out of our Disney experience creeped in. I started to read blog after blog on ‘top tips’ for a perfect Disney vacation with your toddler. However, nothing is ever perfect, and I found the stress of trying to plan every detail was just unnecessary and self-destructive. So, I banished the blogs and adopted a ‘go with the flow’ attitude instead and it worked out great. There’s no way you can fit everything Disney has to offer in just one week, but if we got to go on a ride, see a parade and meet Mickey Mouse, I would be more than happy. We got to do all those things and so much more.

I’m not going to go through what we did each day, this isn’t ‘Dear Diary…’ and besides, a lot of you reading this will probably have been yourselves, or been subjected to friends or relatives rattling on about their amazing Disney vacation at some point! However, I will say that before going I was convinced that Magic Kingdom would be my absolute favorite park, and although it was awesome, on reflection I think Epcot was my favorite. Part of it was because it was a lot quieter than Magic Kingdom so we were free to roam and take everything at our own pace. Also, I found that Epcot offered a lot of toddler friendly rides too. Elijah adored exploring the seas with Finding Nemo. The second time we hopped on the ride he was shouting with excitement every time that little computer animated orange fish popped up in front of him - that’s what Disney magic is all about. And of course, a trip to Epcot was not complete with a visit to England. There are some foods you can’t help but miss, and English fish and chips is one of those so thankfully Epcot came to my rescue and my craving has been satisfied for a while!

We were at the parks each day from morning till close, and I think the evening shows might be my most cherished memory. As I clutched Elijah tight, with my hands cupped over his little ears and we watched Cinderella’s Castle glow with a backdrop of fireworks, I knew this family vacation was everything I dreamed of, and more. Taking Elijah to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse brought back all the warm memories from my childhood when my parents took me to Florida. I am just so grateful we were able to have this experience and although Elijah may not remember it when he grows up, for myself, and for Matt, it will be unforgettable – as will that feeling of leaving the luscious warm Floridan heat and arriving back to a freezing cold Minneapolis. Oh, hello winter… can’t say I’ve missed you!

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