The Happiest Place on Earth

Morning Rush

I have a confession.

I was apprehensive about Disney World.

Now don’t get me wrong- I was extremely thankful for the opportunity to go to the “happiest place on Earth!”

But…I have the patience and attention span of a hyperactive four-year-old.

Not to mention, the overload of people in this city for the holiday made me want to scream. We had dinner at Taco Bell our first evening- and the line was long enough to assume a roller coaster would be at the end! And we waited 20 minutes for our food. TB was simply a mad house…

Taco Bell Hell.

Anyway, I digress.

I knew I would be stressed out by the long lines, screaming children, over-priced (unhealthy) food, and general problems associated with trying to make a “game plan” for 13 people.

Instead of going into the trip with a negative attitude, I tried to go in with an open mind.

Justin saw me getting ready in the morning and he walked into the bathroom.

He could tell by the look on my face and silence that I was stressed out. 

He wrapped his arms around me and said, “This is the one day I am telling myself that I’m not in control. You need to do the same.”

He was right. I’m not in control.

And that’s an interesting concept.

We didn’t have a timeline.

Or game plan.

No stress? (Unlikely-but again, I was going into the day with an open mind).

We left a half hour late. I didn’t freak out, I promise. Remember my mantra for the morning was: You are not in control.

I was dreading the drive into the park. I imagined we’d be stuck in traffic for an hour- just waiting for a parking spot.

But thankfully I was completely wrong! The drive was smooth and quick. We parked SO close to the ticket gate – we could just walk, which was a blessing in disguise because later it ended up POURING rain.

Justin pretending he is Magic Mike on the monorail. I’m not mad about it.

Within minutes of walking around the park, I quickly realized I was the only person wearing a fanny pack. And I didn’t have one fanny pack to choose from, I had two!! (Thanks Grandma Sieb)!

The winner.

The runner-up (by default).

Spoiler alert: We visited all four parks and I only saw one other fanny pack. I tried to act hipster and not care, but I secretly did. 

Magic Kingdom: Becoming a Child Again

Our first park was Magic Kingdom. Immediately, I feel in love with the characters and “cast members” at the park.

I took a minute to absorb the moment.

The music.

The smiling faces of children around me.

The adults, who walked into a new World that made them feel like children again too!

Everyone was so happy and friendly!

Hap-pay, Hap-pay, Hap-pay!

Our first ride was the Pirates of the Caribbean. I was amazed at the detail and creativity that went into designing the ride. The pirate “robots” looked SO human…everything from blinking eyes to leg hair to the dirt found on their feet. I was truly amazed.

Next (and thankfully) I grabbed a cup of coffee, which ended up being cheaper than Starbucks coffee. At that moment, I realized I just MIGHT have a bad addiction to Starbucks.

With my cup o’ Joe in hand, we went on the following rides:

  • Magic Carpet Rides – A total kid ride, but I had a blast! 
  • Haunted Mansion- I absolutely loved the story behind this ride + the animation was outstanding. My nephew Braxen said this was his favorite ride of the day.
  • It’s a Small World After All- The creepiest ride / experience of my life. Seriously, those small dolls gave me nightmares last night. And that song will probably never escape my mind.
  • Lilo and Stitch- An “interactive, alien experience” – need I say more? (Yes, I screamed and grabbed Justin’s hand the entire time). 

After we finished the above rides, the park was packed. I had false hopes that the park would be slow, especially because it took so long to fill up! Waiting times for rides exceeded an hour and one ride was 2.5 hour wait. With my patience was starting to run out, I was getting very hangry (hungry + angry). A deadly combination….

We all wanted to end the night at Magic Kingdom, so we decided to eat lunch stay for the holiday character parade then head to Animal Kingdom.

In case you’re wondering I ate a grilled chicken sandwich (tried to be as healthy as possible). 

Animal Kingdom: Climbing Mt. Everest

We had to take a bus to Animal Kingdom, which wasn’t as awful as I expected. Most of the “big kids” had the mission of riding one of the newest rides, Expedition Everest.

This was also the first time I had a beer all day.

And that, my friends, was magical.


The group split up and the big kids went to the new roller coaster while the kiddos went to Dinoland.

The wait was long, but not awful (about an hour and a half). It was interesting to learn about the history of Mt. Everest and the mythical creature, The Yati.

Once we got up to the line, everyone paired up – so I was riding solo or with a stranger (neither of which bothered me).

I ended up riding with an adorable little boy.

“Will you be annoyed if I scream?” I asked trying to make conversation.

“It’s okay,” he said. “I have two sisters, so I’m used to it.”

I could tell he was nervous about going up the roller coaster (that part always freaked me out as a kid too). So we made small talk and I tried to make him laugh. 

Finally, we went down the “hill” but it wasn’t a straight shot. We dipped over to the right and saw this:

Broken track!!

You stay in this position for a few seconds, wondering what the heck you’ll do next…and then, you take off backwards!!!!

The kid and I were both screaming and laughing.

“I can’t breathe, but this is so much fun,” the kid said.

He was the cutest and made me excited to share moments like that with our kiddos one day!

After the ride, we turned the corner toward the safari ride and I nearly had a panic attack.

The walkways of Animal Kingdom looked like crowded China.

China aka Animal Kingdom on Friday, December 28.

I think the park exceeded it’s maximum capacity. By a thousand or three thousand. 

People were barely moving.

Eager moms and dads were running into people with their strollers.

And clumsy people like me were tripping over small children and strollers.

I was (obviously) walking too fast for everyone, so we kept getting separated. 

“Okkkkk,” I said. “It’s time to get out of here. I’m losing my mind.”

“I’ll be right back,” Justin said.

“Only come back if you have food and a bottle of wine,” I shouted.

Justin, my lovely husband, showed back up with another beer and a bag of chips.

A few minutes later, we made plans to split up again. Big Justin aka my husband aka Uncle J-Dog, Devin, Cierra, Justin Jr. and myself all decided we wanted to ride the Hollywood Tower of Terror in Holllywood Studios + grab a drink in Epcot. Everyone else decided to head back to Magic Kingdom.

On to another bus ride…

Hollywood Studios: The Best Elevator Ride Ever

Once we arrived at Hollywood Studios, I grabbed a cup of coffee to wake myself up. We walked back to the Rock N’ Roll ride + Tower of Terror (they are right next to each other). 

The Rock N’ Roll (Aerosmith ride) was a three hour wait!


Will I ever.

Wait 3 hours for a ride….

Well, unless they serve free drinks and healthy snacks while I’m waiting.

The Hollywood Tower of Terror was only a 90 minute wait, so we hopped in line.

The wait was worth it! The Hollywood Tower of Terror was my favorite ride of the day!

I was terrified the majority of the time…and little children in Magic Kingdom could probably hear me screaming from the top of the tower, but I loved every second of the ride. 

Epcot: Drinking in the Rain

As we waited for the bus to Epcot, our fourth and final park of the day, I had a margarita on my mind.

Unfortunately, it started raining and the air was cold.

I was freeeezzzinnngggg. Not to mention, I looked like a wet muskrat.

As we ran toward the park (with the majority of people looking at us like we were crazy as they were leaving the park), I came across a janitor.

I asked him him I could have a trash bag.

“Can I see your ID?” he asked.

I was confused, so I just laughed and said, “Oh no ID! I just want to use a trash bag!”

He looked confused and just ripped one off for me.

I put the bag over my head and tore out of hole the size of my face near the top. I made my very own poncho!

Brilliant, Ashley.

Just brilliant.

We rushed over to Mexico so I could get a Mango margarita.

Class act.

A stranger who was leaving the park gave us three fast track tickets to do an interactive spaceship ride.

Big Justin and Cierra went to Germany and I took the other boys to the spaceship ride. I chugged my margarita on the way over, which was a bad life choice.

The spaceship ride was a stimulator. And I kept reading signs that said you shouldn’t on the ride if you are prone to motion sickness or don’t like tight spaces.

They really should add another sign that says: If you just chugged a margarita, do not board this ride.

But I suppose that’s common sense. 

The ride began with a video, explaining your role in helping the space ship land on Mars. Every person on the ride had a role. I remember feeling so much pressure…like I would actually die on Mars if I didn’t press my buttons at the right now.

Thankfully, we survived the ride and I pressed my buttons at the right time. Maybe I missed my secret calling as an astronaut? Get real, you know I’d never do that…I’m too afraid of aliens, darkness, the unknown, and well dying in space in general.

I left the group to eat a Caesar salad while the others went on another ride. Once I was done shoveling the salad in my face (at least I tried to eat healthy!!), everyone was soaking wet and tired…. so we made plans to leave the park.

It was about 10:45 pm, so I would say we had a successful day at the park!

The Final Countdown: Heading Home

The rain continued as we walked to the van. We were getting ready to cross the street when a Disney safety guard said, “It’ll probably be safer if you walk around the other way.”

We all looked the other direction.

The sidewalk was probably only another 500 feet away, but at that point…everything hurt, we were tired, and just wanted to go home.

Big Justin looked at her and said, “Safer or required?”

She smiled, but didn’t respond.

And that was all we needed…we glanced at each other and all took off running the “unsafe” way.

Just as we reached the other side of the road, Justin Jr. hit a part of the sidewalk that was painted and he lost his balance on the wet and slick ground. His feet slipped up over him and he landed on his butt.

We all lost it and everyone was holding onto the wall crossing their legs, trying not to pee themselves.

The cross guard was probably smiling and thinking karma…it’ll get ya!

As we walked to the car, still laughing at Little Justin’s fall…I told everyone we needed a theme song to end the day.

Big Justin wasted no time and started singing, “The Final Countdown.”

So I joined in.

And they all rode in the 15-passenger van home and lived happily ever after.

Much love,

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