Each spring the Traveling Mom network travels to Walt Disney World in Orlando.  We do it to connect, learn, and grow as a network.  And, every year we can bring our families along.  As you might imagine, a great deal of planning goes into the set-up of our events – and also our visits to the Disney parks with our families.  Well, everyone else plans the family visits. Me? I just show up.

Disney Magic

Gray Magic Bands are the fate of the grandkids. Photo by Terri Marshall, Globetrotting TravelingGrandmom

Some Moms and Grandmoms Are Amazing Planners – Me, Not So Much

Getting together as a group at Disney is something all the Traveling Moms look forward to each year – and some of the Traveling Dads too. And bringing our families along makes the time extra special. As soon as the dates are set for our event, the organized moms and grandmoms of the group begin working on their Disney itineraries.  They consider all the burning questions that need to be addressed in order to have a magical experience.  Which parks do they want to focus on?  How many Fast Passes will be available each day and what are the optimum times for scheduling Fast Pass attractions? What about those extra special magical things like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Pirates League makeovers that open for scheduling 180 days in advance – is there any hope of getting an appointment?  And, the Magic Bands – well some amazing Moms and Grandmoms have their bands customized.  These women are impressive. Sadly, I must confess…I cannot compete. I can globetrot with the best of them, but I am not a Disney organizer.

When you’re Unorganized, the First Step to Creating Disney Magic is Confession

My planning consists of getting a plane ticket – usually barely two weeks before the date I’m set to fly out of New York.  At least I don’t have to worry about setting up travel plans for the family because my kids and grandkids live in the Orlando area.  My grandkids wear the basic gray Magic Bands. I have no clue about scheduling Fast Passes and I actually showed up at the Pirates League makeover on my way to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean and asked if my grandsons could participate in the next 30 minutes.  I had no clue these things are fully booked months in advance.  If you are anything like me, don’t despair. Miraculously, I still manage to create enough magic to send my three grandkids home with happy smiles on their faces. Here’s how I manage – despite a total lack of organizational planning.

Disney Magic

Time for a pirate transformation. Photo by Terri Marshall, Globetrotting TravelingGrandmom

Camouflage Your Lack of Planning With a Stop at the Gift Shop

After learning that my last minute request to have the boys with a pirate makeover was impossible, I surprised the kids by saying they could choose something special at the gift shop adjacent to the Pirates of the Caribbean. My granddaughter chose the princess pirate costume and my grandsons chose a skeletal pirate costume complete with a hat with attached dreadlocks.  Their faces weren’t painted, but Benjamin already had a black eye from running into a wall at full speed so he looked pretty authentic. And, after an afternoon of sword fighting between the newly inducted swashbuckling pirates, Marshall ended up with a cut to his cheek. Who needs a makeover?

HOW TO CREATE DISNEY MAGIC EVEN IF YOU ARE UNORGANIZED

Become Part of the Park Entertainment

For an unorganized Grandmom, my timing is actually pretty good.  We got the kids into their costumes just in time to catch the rowdy pirate performance of Jack Sparrow. Benjamin and Marshall wiggled their way to the front of the group and immediately began heckling Jack Sparrow until he was forced to bring them on stage. Katherine eventually followed them and they became part of the show. That was certainly a magical moment. I made full use of the time by taking photos of the kids with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 we had been given to try out in the parks. The camera’s 4k burst mode allows you to take a video and then capture the photo you like best from the series of photos in the video. It’s perfect for capturing a performance with Jack Sparrow.

Disney Magic

Taking the stage with Jack Sparrow. Photo by Terri Marshall, Globetrotting TravelingGrandmom

Let Make-Believe Reign for the Day

Make-believe is a big part of the magic of Disney.  It’s everywhere in the characters, the shows, the parades, and in the faces of the little ones. Once my little ones were transformed into pirates on the outside a bit of transformation happened on the inside. Other Disney guests commented on their cool costumes as they walked through the park. This was a conversation I overheard as they chatted with each other, “They don’t know we’re kids,” said Benjamin.

“I know, they think we are real pirates,” Marshall replied.

As we boarded the ferry to ride back to the parking lot trams, the boat captain came over the loud speaker and shouted, “There are pirates boarding my ship. You aren’t going to try to take over the ship, are you?”  That’s what I love about Disney – even the grown-ups know how to keep make-believe alive. And that is truly magical.

Disney Magic

All’s well that ends well! Photo by Jennifer Acocella

All’s Well that Ends Well – Even When You Don’t Plan Ahead

The extra magical experiences Disney offers are amazing if you’re organized enough to plan ahead.  But if you are a bit unorganized like me, don’t despair. The Disney parks create enough magic even for us.