We spent several days revisiting our favourite Disney rides from trips past and trying out new ones for the first time. There were moments spent in an exhilarating simulation of flight over breathtaking landscapes, and ones spent laughing and cheering as we attempted to outscore each other in fast-paced games of target skill. We took in clever 3D movie experiences and lively musical theatre productions, nighttime parades and dazzling fireworks. There was thrill-seeking on rollercoasters (well, there was for some of us, anyway -- I do not do rollercoasters and was quite happy to observe others' fun in those moments!) and hilarity in spontaneous dance parties with Disney characters. We even braved a haunted mansion together and loved it!
One day of our vacation, we drove to Cape Canaveral to explore the Kennedy Space Center, a trip we had all very much been looking forward to. The place was full of fascinating stories and indescribably impressive space travel equipment that enthralled us all. I don't think any of us will soon forget the feeling of awe we experienced when we stood next to the space shuttle Atlantis or the Saturn V rocket, all of us practically swallowed up by their enormity. Any reservation I felt about having our kids miss a week of school for our trip vanished as I watched them soak up the wealth of inspiring information the Space Center offered them.
Walt Disney World takes great pride in creating "magic" in its parks, and certainly it is an amazing place full of wonderful experiences to take in. The true magic of the trip for me, though, came alive in the many moments of connection we shared together as a family. There was so much happiness in the simple acts of playing a rousing beach ball game in the pool, in sharing packed lunches together while sitting on a theme park bench in the sunshine, in catching a glimpse of some beautiful dolphins in the water on our drive back from Cape Canaveral, in talking about our favourite parts of each day, and even in the funny little habit we fell into of always guessing which security person (our "buddies") was going to be working the next time we drove into the gated community where we were staying. It was a much appreciated opportunity for us to enjoy each other's company without the pressures of all of our usual responsibilities and obligations, and I'm so glad we took advantage of it.
It was a little sad to leave Florida this past Saturday morning; the sun was shining warmly and we still felt the pull of all of the fun the place had to offer, encouraging us to stay a little while longer. There is a certain magic in coming home after a week away, too, though, and I felt a warm welcome as I walked through our front door and suddenly noticed all of the familiar comforts that a week's absence made me appreciate so much more.
This morning everyone returned to work and to school, and the weather outside is cold and gray, but I think our fond memories of a fantastic, sunny week away together will keep our spirits up for quite some time.