We did it. We took our kids to Disney World.
Full disclaimer: if you’re looking for tips and tricks on how to plan the ultimate Disney World trip, please stop reading. This isn’t that. This is more my mere recollection of my 96 whirlwind hours at the happiest place on Earth.
As a child of the 90s, I grew up on Disney. I’ve argued before that the early 90s were the pinnacle of Disney movies. I’m not sure if that’s a hot Millennial take or fairly valid, but I’ll save that discussion for another blog. Regardless I’m a Disney fan, but had never been to Disney World (neither had my wife).
Our trip was our kids’ Christmas presents. One of our family values is Experiences Over Possessions, so this gift fit this mantra.
I can’t stress this enough: my wife absolutely crushed planning our trip. Countless hours spent. Solicitation of help from not one, but two Disney-specific travel agents (yes, these are actually a thing, and I don’t know how you’d survive the trip without the careful guidance of one). She did everything. She’s a rockstar all the time. I was worthless leading up to our voyage.
We got into town mid-day, so we spent day one at the resort, settling in and swimming at the biggest pool I’ve ever seen. After the Ohio winter, a twilight dip was welcomed by us all. We booked the Art of Animation resort, which we all thoroughly enjoyed and can vouch for.
Day two was completely dedicated to the Magic Kingdom. I was a bit shell shocked upon arrival. The crowds were huge, but I’m not necessarily anti-big crowds. What took me back was the pace. Everyone is frenzied, panicked and relentlessly checking the Disney mobile application on their smartphone while sprinting to their next attraction, trying to beat line wait times. The efficiency the Disney app provides with real-time updates and scheduling is amazing and convenient, but I found it jarring to see so many people’s attention consumed by their screen while simultaneously trying to enjoy a very immersive, real-life experience.
I also underestimated the Disney fanatics. Again, I’m a fan, but not a super fan. But if you don’t have a Disney shirt in Disney World, did you really even go to Disney World? It seems the real pros design their own t-shirts. A few dads adorned prints addressing the costs of a Disney vacation. One with Mickey’s silhouette and just the word “broke” was equally hilarious, accurate and sad. This one was my favorite:
And speaking of, and this is hardly a spoiler alert, but Disney World is the most expensive place I’ve ever been. I was slapped across the face by this fact on night one when I ordered a 18-ounce beer and a small seltzer for the wife at the resort, and the total was $31.
If I do have one pro tip, it would be in the beverage and hydration department though: first aid locations across the parks have cold, filtered water available for refillable water bottles. We packed ours and stayed well-hydrated throughout our visit.
We also packed our double jogging stroller, as this was a common recommendation, even for kids our ages. Of course, on day two we got a flat front tire that could not be repaired. Kudos to the engineering prowess of BOB Gear, as this posed a minor challenge and inconvenience, but we were able to power through.
In late March, the temperatures were consistently in the 80s, which isn’t terribly hot, but enough to wear you down after cooking all day. As my wife stealthily documented, sweaty back is real, especially pushing a broken double stroller. I can’t imagine the central Florida heat and humidity (and resulting sweaty back) in the summer months.
Not surprisingly, highlights from most of my trips are the meals. Two dining options I recommend:
It was important to refuel (i.e., overindulge) given we walked 28 miles in three days spent across Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. Covid protocols across the parks were basically nonexistent, aside from not being able to touch or come into close proximity with the mascots. I found it interesting that the one job in the parks that required a huge mask was not allowed to be near the guests, but someone smarter than me can explain that one. [UPDATE: literally the same day this published, we read in one of our favorite mommy blogs that Mickey will hug again!]
All of the rides were terrific, but not surprisingly, Space Mountain was a family favorite and lived up to the hype. I highly recommend the new Star Wars section for any Star Wars enthusiast. My mind was blown by the Kilimanjaro Safari and the proximity to a variety of animals. A few others were memorable: Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Slinky Dog Dash, Avatar Flight of Passage, and the Winnie the Pooh ride (but I might be biased, since I’m a Pooh guy).
Part of the carrot for our timing of our trip, was that the high school marching band that my brother-in-law is the director for was marching in the parade. It's always awesome to see his amazing band, but Disney parades are beyond any other I've seen before.
When we’d get back to the resort at night, the kids would ask if we could go swimming. As tired as I was, this trip was once in a lifetime, so I happily obliged. I certainly have no regret ending every long day with a pool session and to hear their laughs a little while longer before passing out.
Disney World is hot, crowded and expensive, but man, you can’t beat the memories created and the wonder in your children’s eyes as they experience this mecca for family entertainment and amusement. We’ve been home a week, and my kids are still asking for and cracking up at my amateur Mickey, Goofy and Donald impressions.
I don’t know if and when a return trip might be, but I’m truly grateful we had this time as a family at the happiest place on Earth.
-Steve Michalovich, contributor, CBUS Dads
Matt Lofy, The Dadass: this podcast we started two years ago has been a wild ride thus far. We’ve published over 80 episodes and special recordings so far, and we were super psyched and humbled to be awarded “podcast of the year" at the 2021 Columbus Podcast Awards last August.
Coming into 2022, Shaun (aka The Dude) and I started asking ourselves what’s next? How can we both grow our platform and challenge ourselves to do good in our community? How can we advocate for causes near to our hearts?
Steve Michalovich, founder, CBUS Dads: Earlier this year, Matt looped me into the conversations Shaun and him were having, and I was incredibly excited and motivated to find even small ways to drive change and make impacts in our community with our combined platform.
Matt: One major conversation we wanted to address was changing tables in men’s and gender-neutral restrooms. This idea came out of frustration on my son's second birthday at one of our favorite local places. I was out in the pouring rain changing his diaper in the back of my SUV. Kids or no kids, we've all been there where our decisions of what local business to support depends on if they're kid-friendly or not.
Steve: I’ve of course experienced this same situation countless times, as this is not an uncommon gap many restaurants and other destinations have. In fact, I was stunned to learn that only 15 states have baby changing station accommodations legislation. So we started reaching out to our networks to see what organizations around town might be interested in trying to drive dialogue on this topic and collaborate on a campaign to help get more diaper changing tables into some of our favorite spots around town.
Matt: Our outreach led us to the amazing, proudly female founders and operators of Pluie, a startup with the mission to modernize the outdated public restroom changing table experience and ensure all parents and caregivers on-the-go have access to a clean, safe and comfortable place to change their baby’s diaper.
Steve: We were immediately blown away by their technology that is revolutionizing and disrupting a dated product. Pluie offers the world’s first and only self-sanitizing diaper changing table for public restrooms, powered by a patented UV-C light system, which is known to kill 99.9 percent of germs including influenza, e. Coli and, especially relevant today, coronavirus.
Matt: Addie, Pulie’s founder, had a similar experience to mine involving a diaper blowout that inspired her to design and patent a better changing table. Through this kinship, we hit it off immediately!
Steve: Since we started talking to the Pluie team, they’ve appeared on Good Morning America, and coincidentally, Columbus was a market they were looking to expand to. I’m super pumped for their trajectory and getting the opportunity to collaborate with them on this campaign.
Matt: We had recently recorded with North High Brewing founder Tim Ward, and to say that I’m a fan of theirs would be an understatement. We approached Tim to see if we could install a Pluie in any of their local locations and host an event there. Him and the team of course obliged, so we will be celebrating the first Pluie installed in Columbus on Saturday, May 14 from 2-5 p.m. at their Dublin location.
Steve: As if beer and celebrating this milestone which will hopefully be a catalyst for more changing tables across central Ohio isn’t enough, we will be collecting diapers and monetary donations to benefit Bottoms Up Diaper Bank during the event. We hope to see you there, and please consider making a donation to this incredible local institution!
Matt: We envision this campaign as just the start for our Dadvocate platform, which we see representing our community impact arm of what we have created with The Dadass Podcast. Stay tuned for more ways we hope to #DadvocateForChange!
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.