The mere idea of a Disney World vacation was far from appealing or even in our line of sight; all those on-the-edge roller coasters feverishly described by Zach’s friends and parents. All those lines and elbow-to-elbow crowds -- so not our bag. But guess what? We just got back and we had ball! And not on the coasters.
Zach is not the stereotypical boy -- never has been. He’s not a couch- or tree-climber, and he is cautious in his approach to most new things. He’s just much more subdued. This makes him, for our family, the perfect fit. My husband and I are not thrill-seekers. On our down-time, we aim to relax, so we honestly don’t get it when others enthusiastically offer up daring stories detailing their own families’ near-miss catastrophes while vacationing together: “My 7-year-old son barreled into a tree on our ski trip to Utah. Whizzed down the peak of a black-trail precipice, smacked into a tree and cracked that helmet like an eggshell. After a quickie trip to the walk-in medical center, he was right back on the slopes. Brave little bugger.“
Meanwhile, our idea of a blissfully bonding family respite is hiking to the top of a mountain, cobalt-blue sky above, only us and possibly a shy bird or two breathing in the cool fresh air washing across whispering pines. That’s why the mere idea of a Disney World vacation was far from appealing or even in our line of sight; all those on-the-edge roller coasters feverishly described by Zach’s friends and parents. All those lines and elbow-to-elbow crowds -- so not our bag. But guess what? We just got back and we had ball! And not on the coasters.
Instead our trip was highlighted by amazing learning and sensory experiences that only Disney can offer. Zach was enthralled, especially with the technical prowess animatronics can convey; talking, vibrant robots providing history, geography and science lessons. As home-schoolers, this was the wow factor for us. In fact, inside the big silver iconic Epcot ball, we took a journey into the future on an attraction that highlights the way people have shaped its path. As we turned a corner in our slow-moving vehicle, Zach pointed and beamed at authentic figures toiling away at achievements he’d recently studied in history lessons; ancient civilizations making their mark on our world. His reaction reminded me of the first time he watched Winnie the Pooh on television. After repeatedly hearing story-books read aloud, at about 2 years old, to actually see Pooh and all the other colorful characters come to life on screen, actually talking and moving, utterly stunned him. So many of our experiences at Disney mirrored that, and not just for Zach. Walt Disney aimed to entertain the whole family, and he far exceeds expectations. That goes for all of it; the parades, rides, fireworks and those catchy tunes.
Before our trip, a fellow home-school mom shared that she, too, had reservations about her family’s Disney World trip. “It just sets the entertainment bar at record high,” she said. I now wholeheartedly agree. But I think there’s room, even for the less untamed family to take away some of that contagious and exuberant Disney magic.
Deb Adamson, who lives in Connecticut, is a home-school mom who writes about the joys, trials and adventures of days teaching and learning with her 8-year-old son. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.