Sunday, October 18, 2015

Walt Disney World Family Vacation - Part 1

About a year ago my dad got a crazy idea (or did he go crazy and have an idea?) to take the whole family to Walt Disney World in Florida. I talked to my sister about it and we both were surprised and excited by the prospect of having all 14(!!!) of us meet up for a true Griswold-style family vacation. Well, it didn't end up being some group hallucination, it actually happened!

Day one going from our Boardwalk Resort apartment to the front entrance of Disney World on the Disney Express bus:

I'll admit right up front that Diana and I had embarrassingly little to do to make the trip happen. Our part pretty much consisted of using my dad's credit card to book flights one day and then drinking wine and watching movies at 35,000 feet on another. My sister did everything. And, I mean... E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Can you say "spoiled"?

The whole "Poppy's Pirates" team a couple of minutes after entering the Magic Kingdom:

My sister had meticulously planned the entire week's adventure down to which rides to FastPass, where to eat, and, well, everything. She even ordered us matching shirts with an image of a Pirate Mickey, crossed swords, and the words "Poppy's Pirates". (My nieces and nephews call my dad Poppy.)

Diana practicing her driving skills at the Disney World Tomorrow Land Speedway:

The trip was extra special for me because I don't really get to spend extended time with my six nieces and nephews and this was a multi-day opportunity to do so. Even though we were 14, our group stayed together for most of the time, if you can believe it!

Waiting in line with Poppy and crew for the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster ride:

I made a conscious effort to spend as much time as possible with each of my nieces and nephews. Disney makes it relatively easy to do so as most attractions are whole-family friendly. Actually, looking back, and much to probably everyone's surprise, I can't remember even a single moment where anyone wanted to kill someone else. :) Quite an achievement for such a large group!

Happy campers waiting for a show at Disney World:

We lucked out with our trip timing, which was just after back-to-school time. It meant that there were almost no insane lines and those we did encounter were entirely reasonable. I think it really helped that my sister had FastPassed almost all the big-name rides.

The weather was good too. Still hot and humid but no worse than Barcelona in summer. The difference at Disney, though, is that there's air conditioning everywhere. But, on a downside, they set it at sub-zero temps and you go from sweating to freezing probably 100 times a day.

Hanging with bro-in-law and "the boy" on the Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safari Ride:

Make fun of stuff like the air conditioning all you want but, I've gotta say, Disney's got their sh*t together when it comes to efficiently serving tons of visitors. From FastPass to their endless zig-zagging lines, I know I'm waiting but, inexplicably, I almost don't mind. Not always, but I notice it less than, let's say, with TSA at the airport.

I imagine that there's a team of folks like me looking for continuous-improvement ideas for things like queuing, ordering, paying, and so on. (Hint for the D-folks: hey, I've got the app downloaded... Can I, for example, order lunch for everyone and get a FastPass-style assigned time while I'm zig zagging my way towards Space Mountain rather than having to wait while some family ahead of me debate the health implications of a cheeseburger?)

Enjoying lunch at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in Fantasy Land:

No matter how modern Disney gets, some things never change. The Jungle Cruise and It's A Small World are examples. Usually terrible lines, somewhat cheesy sets, but, really, some of the best parts of being there. And, a plus, loved by all ages!

A not-so-Catalan Spain in It's A Small World:

It was Diana and five of six nieces and nephews' first trip to Disney World. This required us to do pretty much everything so they could have the full experience. Haunted Mansion? Check. Space Mountain? Check. Big Thunder Railway? Check. And, of course, the famed Main Street Electrical Parade!

Oh, and this particular blog post is significant for a technical change. Up to now, all the photos in the 425-plus (!!!) whereisdarrennow stories have been taken with my two mobile phones (Nexus One and Nexus 5) and only one point-and-shoot camera. Although the camera on my Nexus 5 is damn good, I've been wanting a new point-and-shoot with decent zoom and excellent imaging that could still fit in my pocket. For this trip, I researched and researched and finally pulled the trigger.

So, what do you think of the photo quality from my new Canon?

It had been a while since I went to Disney World and it was great to be back, especially with Diana and the whole family. A big thanks to my sister for doing such a great planning job and, of course, to my dad, Poppy, for making it all possible. Truly a trip of a lifetime.


  1. What a beautiful family.
    Kudos to your dad. You must have an amazing sister to be able to handle all of the logistics for your multi-day family trip!

  2. Great choice on the camera. The resolution is pristine and the color saturation is excellent. This camera will take 'Where is Darren Now?' to the next level.
    - Kent

  3. Darren-always love your posts! So glad you had fun.


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