Back when we were kids, we said I do and took a modest trip to the beach and called it a honeymoon. It was good and we loved it. As the years passed we set our eyes on grander plans for that year called "20"' in the anniversary books. Of course, you can talk plans until you're blue in the face, but plans take money and can sometimes be a logistical challenge when you find yourselves the parents of a tiny person all over again.
A few months ago we had no plans and number 20 fast approaching. We decided to make some plans and make them happen no matter what. During our trip to Disney in the March we kept finding ourselves saying "if we ever came to Disney without kids..." quite often. It finally clicked one day that we could go to Disney without kids. We're slow learners. I did some price checking. We circled some dates on the calendar. We arranged a baby-sitter. We arranged a back up baby-sitter. We saved our pennies. Disney without kids!
And then just a little less than a week before our trip, Barry's grandmother passed away. We waited patiently to see the timing of the arrangements. We wanted to be there with the family to honor her. After the services were set we realized that we could still make our trip, in fact, we would even be three hours closer to our destination, there was just one little detail that wasn't working out... babysitting for our girl. We needed to leave two days earlier for the funeral. Leaving her for an extra two days on top of our trip was going to be too much. Going down for the funeral and then backtracking to take her home was going to add an extra day of driving for us.
I e-mailed our travel agent "just to see" how much it would be to add her onto our trip. We had booked a room-only reservation in a resort- no park tickets. We hadn't planned to visit parks on this trip because Disney has so much more to offer than just parks, and we wanted to check some of those things out. We hadn't purchased a meal plan because I knew we could split many meals and come out much cheaper by eating on our own. We were driving, so we didn't need a plane ticket for her either. When the e-mail came back from out travel agent I could not believe my eyes when I read "there's no charge to add her to your room!" That pretty much sealed the deal! Since our girl hadn't planned to go with us anyway, we decided not to tell her and let it be a surprise.
In the meantime, I did some checking and learned that Disney has a fun option for kids called "Lilo's Playhouse." It's a childcare facility located at the Polynesian Resort. The kids "check-in" at 4:30 p.m. and can stay until mid-night. It gives parents a chance to go to dinner and enjoy Disney kid-free for a few hours. There's a flat rate for the night that includes their time there, crafts and their dinner which you help your child select from a menu at check-in. We went ahead a booked Kendra a spot for two nights before we left home so that we could still have some time alone on our trip. This was a great option. She LOVED being at Lilo's Playhouse. They had a cooking class, played games, made crafts, had a science show with a mad scientist, and Captain Hook came to visit on her second night there. We picked her up around 10:30 each night and both nights she wanted to stay longer, but we were tired! We will definitely use this option again.
Another thing that worked itself out was our lodging. Our reservations were for Port Orleans Riverside which already had 2 queen beds, so no need to change that. Just a few days before we left for the funeral I realized that I should check on our Priceline reservation. I had booked a room for one night on our trip down to break up the driving. The original plan had me working a half day and then getting little sister off to the sitter before we actually departed ourselves. I found a room in Georgia for a reasonable price and had booked it a few months prior. I called the hotel to make sure that our room would have two beds and it did not. Since I had booked on Priceline I had to cancel the reservation with Priceline and then rebook it with a room with two beds. I went ahead and cancelled but just before I rebooked I realized that we probably didn't need this room after all. The original purpose was to break up our trip, but since we were heading to the funeral first we would be three hours closer and we could likely leave earlier than we had originally planned. I decided to talk that out with Barry before I rebooked. He agreed that we didn't need that room, but we definitely needed a place to stay that night.
I e-mailed our travel agent again and asked how much it would be to add one more night to our stay. We had booked under a really, really good sale but when the price came back to add an extra night it was more than I wanted to spend. My goal was to be even with the price of the room we had cancelled. Eventually it hit me that we could stay one night in a value resort and still be very close in price. In the end, we paid $5.00 more for the room and we had a full evening and a full morning the next day to enjoy the All-Star Movies Resort before we went to Port Orleans Riverside. It was worth every penny! We had previously stayed at this same resort after Kendra's adoption. She was only two years old then and has very little memory of it, but she loves looking at the pictures. She has mentioned wanting to go back there before. One night there was the perfect amount of time.
So, our trip didn't go exactly as we had planned but it was so much fun! We spent so much time enjoying our resort, eating, eating, eating and just having a good time together. We didn't miss being at the parks at all (it was literally 100 degrees each day) and we still got to watch the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. We stayed within our budget, even with little sister along. We managed to keep the trip a secret from her all the way up to the Disney gate. She had no idea. She had been listening to my i-pod and looking at books on the drive down. She never even realized we were not headed home. I had to ask her to look up to see the gate! She kept kept giggling and saying "you tricked me again!"
Looking forward to twenty more years with this fella. God is so sweet to us.
P.S.- I'll be back soon to share how God made this trip possible with a pretty short notice and a small budget. Are you still making your vacation envelopes? I'm working on a new set this morning for a little road trip little sister and I are planning a few months down the road. We're so excited to be spending a few days with her big sister! See ya soon!