Planning Our First Disney Adventure -
This image features a promotional banner for a family blog titled "Us Along the Way to DISNEY WORLD". The background is a deep purple with decorative orange Mickey Mouse ear silhouettes and dotted patterns. On the right side, there's a young girl smiling joyfully, dressed as Princess Tiana from Disney's "The Princess and the Frog", complete with a tiara and a full, sparkling green gown. The text and the girl's costume pop against the background, conveying excitement for an upcoming trip to Disney World.

boy in a Mandalorian costume around Halloween time

Hello, fellow adventurers and dreamers! We are Us Along the Way, a family of 4 – Thomas, Tiana, our 11-year-old son Griffin (Griff), and 7-year-old daughter Adair. For years, our travels have taken us across the United States in our trusty van, juggling the joy of exploration with the reality of work commitments. But this year, we’ve decided to embark on a different kind of journey, one that’s been on our minds but never quite made it to our itinerary – a magical trip to Disney!

Initial Feelings and Decision

For the longest time, we considered ourselves as “Never Disney” people. Our travel appetite craved international excursions, adventures in uncharted territories, experiences that felt raw and real. Yet, the world of Disney quietly wove its magic into our lives through our kids. Griff and Adair, like so many children, found a world of wonder in Star Wars, sang along with the Descendants, journeyed across the oceans with Moana, and danced in the snow with Frozen. These weren’t just movies; they were the backdrops to our family’s most cherished memories.

The decision to plan our first big family vacation to Disney wasn’t made on a whim. It was a realization that struck us – Disney is not just a theme park; it’s an experience steeped in joy, magic, and love. And what better time to experience this than when our kids are at that perfect age – independent enough to explore, yet young enough to be swept away by the enchantment of it all?

As we started toying with the idea, our “Never Disney” mindset began to shift. It was time to give our family the gift of an experience that was different from our usual escapades, yet equally, if not more, magical.

Family Dynamics

Our little troupe, setting out on this Disney journey, is a blend of diverse experiences and shared excitement. There’s me, Tiana, with distant yet fond memories of Disney – fleeting moments from childhood that feel more like dreams than memories. Then there’s Thomas, stepping into the Disney realm for the first time, bringing his trademark enthusiasm that has always been the heartbeat of our travels. And of course, there are the stars of our adventure, Griffin and Adair. At 11 and 7, they’re at that magical age where fantasy and reality blur into one delightful experience.

Griff, our thoughtful and inquisitive son, has always been fascinated by the lore of Star Wars. His anticipation to explore Galaxy’s Edge is matched only by his excitement to build his own lightsaber. Adair, with her vibrant and imaginative spirit, is looking forward to meeting her favorite princesses and diving into the world she’s only seen on screen. For them, this trip isn’t just a holiday; it’s a passage into a world they’ve dreamt of. Our hope is to see Disney through their eyes – the wonder, the awe, and the joy.

Boy in a blue star wars shirt

The Decision-Making Process

Our Disney vacation wasn’t just marked on the calendar; it was carefully planned to ensure the best possible experience. We wanted to avoid extreme weather and the discomfort of overcrowded parks. Our travel mantra has always been about comfort and enjoyment, and this trip was no different. After several conversations with our friends at Magical Keys Vacations, we had a clearer picture of what to expect. They guided us through the maze of options, helping us find the perfect balance between our desires and what Disney had to offer.

The dates we eventually chose were a product of careful consideration. They promised us the joy of good weather and the ease of manageable crowd sizes – crucial factors for a family venturing into Disney for the first time. This decision-making process wasn’t just about picking dates; it was about crafting an experience. An experience where each day at Disney would be not just bearable, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Research and Planning

Our approach to planning this trip was meticulous and thorough, akin to preparing for a grand expedition. We engaged in numerous planning sessions with our travel agents, ensuring no detail was overlooked. Our evenings were often spent huddled around the computer, exploring blogs that offered a wealth of information, from ride reviews to the best dining spots in Disney. We joined Facebook groups, where fellow Disney enthusiasts shared their tips and stories, adding to our growing excitement and anticipation.

YouTube videos became a window into the world we were about to step into. We watched vlogs of families enjoying the parks, educational videos detailing the do’s and don’ts, and virtual walk-throughs of the areas we planned to visit. Each video added a layer of understanding and preparedness to our plan. This wasn’t just research; it was a way to involve the whole family in the build-up to our trip, turning anticipation into a shared family activity.

Small girl standing in front of Frozen 2 movie sign in Elsa dress

Booking and Planning with a Travel Agent

The role of Magical Keys Vacations in our planning process cannot be overstated. From the onset, they proved to be invaluable allies. Their knowledge of Disney’s intricacies made what could have been an overwhelming process feel like a breeze. They were our guides in this unfamiliar territory, always ready with advice, always patient with our queries. When it came to bookings, their expertise shone brightest. They knew exactly when to book dining experiences, how to get the best deals on tickets, and which hotels would suit our family’s needs.

Their assistance extended beyond mere bookings. They were our problem-solvers, our safety net. Whenever doubts crept in or decisions seemed daunting, a quick conversation with our agents would put our minds at ease. They were more than just travel agents; they were part of our Disney team, integral to the creation of this experience.

Personal Touches and Anticipations

The magic of Disney is already casting its spell over our household as we count down the days to our adventure. It’s not just the anticipation of the trip itself, but the joy found in the small, personal preparations that are making this experience truly special for us. Both Griff and Adair share a deep excitement for the Star Wars universe. The thought of building their own lightsabers and droids at Galaxy’s Edge is a dream come true for them – a chance to step into a world they’ve only imagined in their play.

Their enthusiasm for Star Wars is matched by their love for Disney’s iconic music and princess tales. Many a night in our home is filled with the sound of Disney tunes, with Griff and Adair often leading the family in sing-alongs. From belting out Elsa’s powerful ballads to humming along with Moana’s adventures, these melodies are a part of our family’s soundtrack. We can hardly wait to see their faces light up as these stories come to life in the parks, offering them a chance to see their favorite characters in a whole new world.

As we pack our bags, we’re also packing these shared passions – the excitement for Star Wars, the love for Disney songs, and the fascination with princess stories. This trip is more than just a vacation; it’s a celebration of the joys that have brought us together as a family. Whether it’s watching Adair twirl in her Moana dress or seeing Griff’s face as he wields his new lightsaber, these moments are set to be the heartbeats of our Disney adventure.

woman wearing red Star Wars shirt with peace sign

Your Tips and Tricks?

As we prepare for this journey, we’re not just packing our bags; we’re also gathering a list of must-dos and hidden gems. This is where we need your help! To our fellow Disney aficionados, what are your secret tips for a magical Disney experience? Are there any off-the-beaten-path attractions or experiences that you found enchanting? We’d love to hear your suggestions and incorporate them into our adventure.

To those who are also planning their first Disney trip, what questions do you have? What aspects of Disney are you most curious about? Let’s embark on this planning journey together – share your thoughts, and we’ll explore answers in our upcoming blogs. Your insights and inquiries are invaluable, and we can’t wait to connect with you through our shared love for Disney.

Closing Thoughts and Future Sharing

Our expectations for this trip are simple yet profound. We’re stepping into this experience with hearts open to the joy, magic, and love that Disney promises. Sure, we’re excited about the rides and the shows, but more than that, we’re eager to soak in every moment – whether it’s our first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle or the laughter shared over a Mickey ice cream. Our aim is to make memories that will be cherished and stories that will be told for years to come.

And we’re not just going to keep these memories to ourselves. We’ll be capturing every moment – the big, the small, the magical – and sharing them with you. Follow our journey on our social accounts @usalongtheway on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. Expect lots of photos, videos, and live updates. Once we’re back, get ready for a series of blogs breaking down our experiences, the lessons we learned, and the magic we discovered.

Conclusion

As we stand on the brink of our first Disney adventure, we’re filled with a sense of excitement and wonder. This isn’t just a trip; it’s a milestone for our family. It’s about stepping out of our comfort zone, embracing a new type of adventure, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. We can’t wait to share this journey with you and hope that our stories will inspire your own Disney adventures.

Stay tuned, and let the magic begin!

By Tiana

Tiana Kubik has a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from the Erikson Institute, in Chicago. After teaching Pre-K-Kindergarten for almost ten years, Tiana moved on to run a Chicago-based photography company with her husband, with kids in tow for the last eleven years. Since 2021, Tiana has also began freelancing as Content Creator for Small Business.

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