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Magical or Miserable? 5 Recommendations for a Blended Family Vacation

img_5336For eight months my husband and I planned a Walt Disney World Vacation to celebrate 5 years of blending

Not blending margaritas, but our family. We even made matching t-shirts that said, “5 for 5” (5 of us 5 years married). So, with our magic bands and matching t-shirts, we were off to Florida for our much anticipated once in a lifetime, thank goodness the kids are old enough to go off on their own, family vacation.

On our first day in the Magic Kingdom, we didn’t waste any time letting the 2 teenagers go off on their own while the adults went on Thunder Mountain. I must say, one of the benefits of vacationing with your family in 2018 is the ability to get in touch with your teens at any time. Now, instead of just worrying about where your teens are, you now can also panic about what horrible thing has happened to them because they aren’t answering your text message. But, the teens were actually fine while they explored shops and used their snack credits on their magic bands, while my husband, my son Christian, and I went on what used to be called “E-ticket” rides.

During our 5 day trip, we visited all 4 parks and created memories that I hope we will all reminisce about for years to come. Some of our best times were spent bonding in the pouring rain under umbrellas and exchanging ponchos while we waiting in line for rides.

We even managed not to kill each other in the hotel room all 5 of us shared! But, we are sort of experienced at this since we all shared a room a few years back at the Grand Californian at Disneyland, and a room in San Diego during an extended family vacation. Each time we go somewhere though, poor Christian ( the 21-year-old) always gets the sofa bed. So, we’ve had some practice! I think we were either too excited or too exhausted to get on each other’s nerves in the hotel room, plus we weren’t in there very much, to begin with.

If you are going to venture out on a Blended Family vacation, I highly recommend splitting up into groups. That way your not all stuck side by side forcing family bonding every second. Besides, each age group has different expectations for the day and wants different experiences. For example, my daughter and I enjoy the Princesses so we broke off from the guys in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to catch a Beauty and the Beast stage show. It’s not necessary, nor advisable to spend every waking second together.

I also recommend some couple time. One of my very favorite memories from the trip was when my hunky hubby in his dapper Disney poncho and I spent an evening alone exploring the World’s Showcase in the national pavilions at Epcot. We trotted the globe visiting the countries of Japan, France, Italy, England, and Canada…all in one evening. We stopped in the French pavilion at the Palais du Cinéma to watch the Impressions de France movie that showcased the beauty and charm of France in a 200-degree widescreen theatre and followed it up with coffee and a Christmas Yule Log called a Buche de Noel. Btw, that was our second dessert of the night! But that is how you roll at WDW. By the end of the evening though, the rain had stopped and my husband and I had a romantic evening in what turned out to be my favorite park. We took beautiful photos and had fun meeting people from around the world.

The next day we all went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios which was decorated like we stepped into a 1950’s classic Christmas movie set. Throughout the day, I annoyed my family by commenting on everything saying “that’s so vintage”.

For lunch, we had reservations at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe and enjoyed crazy-good fried chicken while watching reruns of The Mickey Mouse Club on tiny TVs in a 50’s style kitchen.

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As a side note, my 21-year-old son tried a couple of time to see if it was too late to get out of going on this trip because I think he was worried the teenagers would annoy him.  Fortunately for him, the trip was already paid for and he had no choice but to be tortured like the rest of us! But as you can see from the photo above, he doesn’t look tortured and actually ended up having a great time and now I can remind him of our trip with cute annoying little sayings like “Stay Magical”. What was so nice about this trip is we had bonding moments with each person whether it was sharing laughs on a ride or taking goofy photos or enjoying a special treat.

Our final day was spent in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. To be honest, I was exhausted by then and glad the park was small. My feet were in terrible shape but at least the weather was warm and sunny which made walking around a lot more tolerable. Disney’s Animal Kingdom was my son Christian’s favorite park and where we ended the trip with a stomach-churning ride on Expedition Everest. Just when we get right up to the front of the line for the ride, my son asks to sit next to me in the VERY front row. I thought for a split second “do it, this is a bonding experience with your son and it’s the last ride of the trip…go out with a bang”. So I did and it was worth every second! My husband, Chris who’s a good sport got stuck sitting with the strange guy in the explorers’ hat behind us. Afterward, it felt like my intestines twisted into a pretzel, but the memory was well worth it.

Recommendations for a Magical Blended Family Vacation:

  1. It’s ok to split up-don’t feel like if you don’t spend every second together, you’ll miss out on precious blending opportunities.  Don’t build up too many expectations and be relaxed; the good times will flow if your calm and open-minded. Make time to create memories as a couple by going off on your own for a little adventure.
  2. Make time to create memories as a couple by going off on your own for a little adventure. If your kids are older, say 13 and up, let them explore on their own. Just set a check-in time and a meetup place for later in the day. The kids will enjoy the independence and you’ll get a much-needed sanity break. Then you’ll all be fresh minded and ready to spend some quality blending time together later on.
  3. Discuss ahead of time what you’re going to do that day-discussing favorite rides and attractions ahead of time will help you plan out your itinerary for the day. This way everyone gets a chance to voice what they want to do and plans can be made around it. In our case, we had Fast Passes already scheduled 60 days in advance, so we worked the other rides in around those. If someone really wanted to go on a particular ride, we worked that into our schedule and compromised.
  4. Find something that bonds you together. Food is always a good choice- blending may be smoother for some members of the family and more strenuous for others. If that’s the case, try and find something that you can bond over. Treats like popcorn, pretzels, or beignets are a good way to find commonality and create memories. My bonus son, Austin and I enjoy bonding over eating enormous amounts of beignets at Disneyland and now WDW.
  5. Be flexible and patient- traveling with a large group of people usually takes patience and a certain amount of flexibility. When traveling with a blended family, flexibility and patience are golden beignets from God. You just can’t have enough! Be open-minded and willing to try new things. Most of all bring your sense of humor…it will get you through some stressful times.

What I wished we did but didn’t have time for…. more down time to just chill by the pool.

Thanks to Lynette Katz of Wish Upon A Star for making this trip run as smooth as butter! Because of her planning and hard work, our trip was organized and hassle-free. She coordinated our whole trip ahead of time including dinner and lunch reservations and fast passes to the best rides. Also, her inside knowledge of the parks was invaluable. Thanks, Lynette….Stay Magical!

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