I’m going old-school and recounting our Disney trip with recap after monstrous recap. You can read about the start of our trip here, as well as Day 1 and Day 3. Our photos from the trip can be found on my flickr page.
After collapsing into bed close to 1 a.m, we were off to an early start on Tuesday. The plan? To take a day away from Disney World and split up. Eli and I were to drop Mike and Elena off at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where they planned to take in something they’ve looked forward to since the day it opened: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Eli and I would spend the day together at Legoland.
And that’s how the day started. We dropped Mike and Elena off and started the one-hour trek to Legoland. Eli had been so excited for this day, ever since he begged me to clip out a coupon for a free child’s ticket to Legoland from a box of Life cereal six months ago. Honestly, I clipped it out just to indulge his wish. But when Mike started making plans for Universal, I saw a golden opportunity to enjoy a special day with Eli. It was a win-win: I could live without Universal, Eli couldn’t ride most of the rides anyways, we’d save a big chunk of money, and Mike and Elena would be bored to tears after an hour at Legoland.
About halfway there, all while listening to Eli chatter on and on excitedly about what we might see at Legoland, I saw a sign for Dunkin’ Donuts. I was subsisting on instant coffee made in the hotel bathroom, so the car practically guided itself to the beacon of fresh, hot, real coffee. I was ready to get our doughnuts hit the road, but Eli decided he wanted to eat there. FORESHADOWING: Praise God for Eli’s inability to resist tables with bar stools. As we’re sitting there, I thought I’d pull up Legoland on my phone so Eli and I could scope out all its awesomeness.
And then I nearly burst into tears in a Dunkin’ Donuts in Davenport, Florida. Guess what? Legoland is closed on select Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the off-season. Yes, the same mom who planned everything down to where we’d eat lunch at Epcot at 12:33 p.m on Wednesday neglected to check the Legoland operating hours.
And this is when I gave thanks to God for giving Eli one of the sweetest, most laid-back dispositions I’ve ever seen in a kid. I broke the news to him, and though his entire face crumpled in disappointment and his bottom lip began to quiver, he took a deep breath and said, “Oh, that’s bad.” And then he took a bite of doughnut to force the tears away.
I promised we’d figure out something fun to do that day, and that we’d make every effort to come back to Legoland when it was actually open. Thankfully, with some quick juggling of the schedule, we made it work. After a quick consult with Mike, we decided that Eli and I would go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which we’d planned to do as a family on Friday, instead. On Friday I’d take him to Legoland FOR REAL and Mike and Elena would go to Hollywood Studios.
Though we ended up with a late start at Hollywood Studios, we made the most of the day and had a blast. For the most part I threw the Touring Plan aside and just did whatever made Eli happy. Stand in line for 45 minutes to meet Wreck-It Ralph? You betcha!
Ride Star Tours over and over again? Whatever you say, pal!
Buy you whatever you want in the Star Wars gift shop that will fit in the suitcase? Of course!
As if all of that weren’t enough, getting the world’s biggest hug from Ferb erased every last disappointment of the morning.
Over on the other side of Orlando, Mike and Elena had an amazing day at Universal. We’d heard horror stories about the lines for Harry Potter, but they picked a perfect day. The longest they had to wait was to buy Elena her very own magic wand. It was everything they’d hoped it would be and more, right down to the Butterbeer.
Beside loving this picture on its own, is it not the best photobomb ever?
Thinking about it right now makes me want to cry. I just love that they have this special bond together through Harry Potter. Mike read every word aloud to her, beginning at age 5. They watched every movie together, right down to seeing the final movie at it’s very first showing. And now, to top off five years of sharing Harry Potter together, just the two of them, they got to spend an entire day together seeing it all come alive.
What started out as a horrible day ended up being a blessing in disguise. Eli and I had so many magical moments together, and we were able to enjoy things at his pace. At the same time, Mike and Elena made their own special memories, all at the breakneck pace they love that Eli and I abhor. It reminded me of something I preached about only a short time before on The Risky Kids: the value of letting go of expectations and doing what actually works best. For us, with the age range and varying interests of our kids, it meant letting go of the expectation of spending and enjoying every minute together. Instead we embraced our kids’ (and our own) differences and spent a couple of days apart. It was wonderful, even if it meant I did have to melt down in a crowded Dunkin’ Donuts first.
Coming up next: Day 3 at Epcot, in which I have another mini melt down. Apparently I turn into a toddler at Disney World.