Throwback Thursday: The Happiest Place on Earth

Carved Pumpkin 2016. © Carol Labuzzetta.

Just about this time of year, when our school district used to grant us a two day break along about the third weekend in October, we went to Florida. It was perfect timing for many reasons. Having a a Thursday and Friday off meant two less days of school that would be missed was one of the biggest reasons we had for going on a trip at that time.

If you’re a young parent, excluding this year, you’ll find that the longer your child is in school the harder it is to take them out to go on a family vacation. A lot gets missed. Work, in the upper grades, usually needs to be completed before you go. Any tests missed have to be made up upon return. It can add stress to what should be a relaxing experience – a vacation. So, eventually, we stopped going south at this time of year.

But, when we could, we headed to the location in Orlando known as “the happiest place on Earth.” I’ve never felt that way about Disney World, but for a young child, it definitely is a magical place. And, going during October added some halloween fun into the mix, as well!

For years, I made our sons’ costumes. And, for the years we went to Disney for during October, I made them for all five of us! One year, we were the crew from the Wizard of Oz. Another time, we were characters from Peter Pan. The first year we went, we trick or treated in the food court and my oldest son (our only child at the time) was a Dalmatian! 101 Dalmatians was being remade at the time (1996) with Glenn Close as Cruella da Vil. And, trick or treating in the food court at the Caribbean Beach Hotel on the Disney property was just enough for a two year old!

The following year, we went back with my parents and had bought tickets to Mickey’s Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom. That year we were Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Captain Hook. My parents were not dressing up. But, there was a tornado in Orlando the night for which we had tickets to the party! We thought maybe they’d cancel the party, after the sheriff had issued a warning not to go out to trick or treat. Disney did not cancel Mickey’s Halloween Party. But, we decided to play it safe and not go. We dressed up anyway and ate snacks in the room.

Eventually, we made it to Mickey’s Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom but were greatly disappointed in it. Lines were long, not all the attractions were open, and they seemed to be very stingy with the candy, exemplified by the one tootsie roll per person that as dolled out by Disney staff. It was also the year that two of the three of the boys had croup and that certainly put a damper on the festivities. We were definitely not in the happiest place on earth that night!

But, the weather in Florida is fabulous in October. We found crowds to be few (with the exception of the night of the Halloween party). And, it always served as a refreshing break from school.

As a family, we haven’t been back to Disney World in a long time. But, the memories are always there waiting to bring a smile to our face as we think about the October trips to Florida.

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