Our family is a military family of 6. We have 4 boys, ages 9, 7,5 and 3. Daddy is a soldier in the U.S. Army and we are living and stationed at Fort Bragg, NC and have been for the past 2 years. We are many states away from any extended family after many years of being a day’s drive away from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
We were planning our trip to Disney World as a fun (possibly) once-in-a-lifetime trip for our family during a time that we could save a little bit of money while doing it. We would have saved on airfare (large expense) as we could drive about 12 hours to arrive in Orlando from where we currently live. We also saw it as a great family vacation to take prior to an upcoming deployment that my husband will be leaving on within the next year.
All of us were very excited. Once a week prior to the closing of Disney we had solidified the rides we would reserve for our “Fun passes” which meant lots of time spent watching videos together and reading about the rides in order to decide ones where our “must ride” rides and activities. This type of planning must be done months in advance due to how Disney has operated prior to their closing. Our (almost) 3 year old would see the Disney Castle on movies during the opening of the movie and say “We are going to see that!”.
We were mostly looking forward to making memories together. As the parents, we knew we would be exhausted after the vacation, but we saw the memories and adventure as worth it!
I came up with the idea to have a Disney Staycation in the month before what would have been our actual trip. It came in pieces. First, I saw that Disney was offering special viewings of fireworks, parades, and other Disney themed offerings for free to help provide activities for families who were “stuck/safe-at-home” and thought some of them looked like they could be fun. I wondered if doing the activities may cause my boys to become more disappointed that they are unable to go so I hesitated to do many of the activities at first. As it got closer to the time we would have been on our vacation I decided to take a chance and help my boys have a unique and fun week of Disney-themed events and meals within our home or community.
Many of the ideas I used (especially for the meals) were found on a Disney Family Blog. We do have some food sensitivities in our family and I also try to limit certain types of foods in our family so I did need to “tweak” some of the recipes to work for our specific family. I was still able use some of the concepts and general ideas to make themed lunches, snacks, breakfasts and some dinners. I will admit that after only 3 days of making all of the “fun” food art, I was ready to take a break from my kitchen! The boys did help with a few of the meals but I felt that I wanted them to have the experience of seeing the fun food for the first time like you would have if they were in a Disney Restaurant.
Besides providing fun food art meals for the kids, we exercised Disney style each morning, watched/pretended to ride Disney rides, watched a special Disney movie each day (which is a big treat for a family who usually watches one movie a week on family movie night), we listened to Disney music throughout the day, wore Disney Headbands, and had fun discussing some of our favorite movies and characters.
The favorites for my kiddos were definitely all of the “treats” they received as a part of our Disney Staycation. They got lots of sugar!!! Much more than I care to admit or than they would usually have in a week or possibly a month. I even was able to order custom -made Star Wars decorated cookies from a local In-Home bakery which were yummy and one-of-a-kind! Still, as parents we do find excuses to “spoil” our most precious gifts when the timing is right. Missing a Disney vacation because of a novel virus fits the bill, right? They did also love watching extra movies. A bonus for me was that it was actually a more dreary week with rain almost everyday so being inside to do these planned activities was a bonus!