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Check it off the list. The Clarks have done Disney and I survived. At 42, it was my first time there. (Yes, you can have a happy childhood without going. . . ) We’ve always said that we’ll do it once with our kids and do it big–and then be done. So over Christmas, we broke the news that we were taking them to three parks and on the Disney cruise during Spring break. That’s 72 hours of straight fun(!!) and four more days at sea.
We booked our trip back in the Fall and had planned to drive the trip from Charlotte to Orlando ourselves. Then, out of the blue, Jitterbug Travel reached out to me a few weeks before we were going to surprise our kids. It was a completely new–and awesome–concept to me. Jitterbug is a chauffeured, luxury charter service that picked us up at our house and drove us straight to our Disney resort. There are beds, recliners, a big TV, Wifi and a bathroom! The kids were freaking out. (I posted a video on my Instagram stories today.)
A normal road trip with our family usually means plenty of squabbles, several half-hour bathroom breaks, and a really tired mom and dad by the time we get to our “vacation.” Jitterbug eliminated all of that. No stops (unless we requested them) and my husband and I actually got to rest. The driver picked us up in front of our house around 10pm. I assumed the kids would be too wired to sleep, but they actually all picked a spot and slept for most of the 9-hour drive. We arrived at the resort Friday morning, ready to hit the park.
I knew Jitterbug would make the trip easier on the way there, but I underestimated the luxury of having a driver on the way home. That’s when we were the most worn out and it was amazing to be able to relax on the way back to Charlotte. I napped, read my book, ordered my groceries online and even made a photo book of our trip. The kids watched Netflix and slept part of the way.
Right now, Jitterbug travels within a 12-hour radius of Charlotte. The cost is customized based on the size of your group and your travel dates and usually ranges from $999 to $2900. There are actually two cabins(!) in each Jitterbug. (Our family only needed one of them.) I’m happy to answer any other questions about the experience. Just leave them in the comments.
Making memories while we enjoy $65 worth of slushies.
So, my overall impression of the Disney experience? It may be the smartest company around. They have it all figured out down to the last detail, and that’s impressive. We spent the first day at Magic Kingdom, the second at Hollywood Studios (Tower of Terror was the best ride!), and the last at Animal Kingdom. I went into it really not knowing what to expect, and we almost all agreed that the last park was our favorite. (I loved the Lion King show. Amazing!)
We wouldn’t have made it without the fast passes. (Just ask my husband who did end up standing in line for 2 1/2 hours with the little kids for the new Toy Story ride. He was bribing them with $30 light sabers to leave, but it didn’t work. . ) We also had help from a wonderful Disney planner which made our trip much more efficient once we got there. (Glad to pass along her info if you’re thinking about a trip. . . )
We did the four-day Disney cruise next, and it lived up to the hype. There are few vacations where you can take five kids (ages 6 to 14) and have each one of them be entertained 24/7. My oldest spent his time playing basketball on the ship and eating his weight in steaks and ice cream. We could barely get the twins away from the kids’ camp area. You check them in and out, and they can play all day if they want.
The pool was a little crazy but we found some nice spots to hang out away from the action. (I don’t care if I ever hear Let It Go or the song from Moana ever again.) The food was great (my jeans are feeling tight), and the rooms were really nice. We had two adjoining cabins, each with a queen bed and bunks and split up boys and girls. And, my kids had a taste of fine dining for the first time. They couldn’t understand why it took so long and the twins didn’t know what to do with cloth napkins. (Doesn’t everyone use paper towels?? )
What a typical lunch looked like for me. . . Okay, plus an ice cream cone.
We also loved our day at Disney’s private island, hanging out at the beach while the kids played in clear blue water for the first time. (I hope they don’t get used to it.)
Overall a great time, and I’m so happy we waited until now to go. I felt like all of our kids were at the right ages to enjoy it and were just independent enough. (Bless the souls that take double strollers and babies in diapers. I don’t have it in me.) And it wouldn’t be a magical, eight-day Clark family vacation until we returned home to discover we had locked ourselves out of the house.
Now back to reality and to drudge through the last month of school. . .
The post My First Time at Disney + JitterBug Travel (The Best Way to Get There) appeared first on Emily A. Clark.
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