Longing – an underused noun meaning desire and yearning. That’s what I have for travel. What about you? When asked whether I miss the rushing down endless airport terminals, the crowds of novice flyers, schlepping my suitcase up and down, up and down (and, up and down)? I’d have to say no. And, yes – Any adventure would be new after a year of quarantining.
This time last year, we re-scheduled our 2020 Hawaii trip for Spring Break 2021. Thanks to some amazing frequent traveler perks, we were going to Waikiki for $44. Yeah – airfare & hotel included….for 2….. Alas, though as we discovered on-line, the restaurant, bar and shopping options we’ve come to love were largely still shuttered. In the end, we decided that sitting on an exquisite beach just didn’t justify 7+ hours of transit each way; it was a tougher call for my husband, but it would’ve left me stir-crazy. After much deliberation, we spent exponentially more in order to visit the ersatz world: Disney World. As adults. Without children.
How on earth did we arrive at this? It wasn’t without a little “You’ve got to be kidding me”(on his part) and “Look at this drink menu!” from me. To say he was dubious would be an understatement. Nonetheless, I got the agent on the phone and we embarked on a journey to a world that was persevering through and around COVID and really doubling-down on their protocols in order to reassure those of us (who were willing to pay) a little normalcy. At this point, that seemed a more than fair exchange. But, serious – Disney World? Just stick with me here.
It’s a theme park – why use a travel agent?
Because vacation should be play, not work. Walt Disney World’s running at 37% capacity across the entire resort right now – parks, restaurants, hotels. And, this makes navigating a space I know very well uniquely challenging. I’d already decided to engage an agent who’d helped me 4 or 5 times prior. Deannise booked my hotel, my parks (yes, you have to book park reservations right now) and all of my dining. She handled deposits and the final payments. I did the fun stuff! I did all the tweaking when and if I felt like it. All in all, if you’re heading out to the parks any time soon and you don’t have at least 1 set of finalized plans, you’ll be paying a fortune to hang around your pool eating takeaway. If that’s what you want – cool. No judgment.
Is there really anything for adults to do at Disney? ….Honestly?
Hm…they have creative and unique cocktails everywhere. And, authentic regional cuisine – think delectable poutines…which is like impossible to get in Texas. And, the best part? You simply walk away from whining, exhausted children because they’re not yours and you have no obligation to endure them. When you want a quiet meal, try booking a $150/person meal – you’ll see fewer children there. Roll up on a pub along the water; very few kids there. Surprisingly, they have adult pool offerings at many resorts. We took long walks along manicured gardens and waterways. Seriously – there was no shortage of adult-oriented diversions. Across the week, we also really came to appreciate that mask compliance was managed tightly. And, with daily temperature monitoring of all guests and staff, we knew that the folks at the next table were at least asymptomatic. I have to say – that helped me settle in and relax.
They sell half-bottles of vodka in the gift shop & I have a balcony with a water view. I love this place!A mom at our resort explaining how she’s able to unwind amid 3 exhausted kids every night.
But, really – was it worth it?
In a year like 2020, and following the Texas snowpocalypse of 2021, I needed a little escapism. And, in my opinion, Disney World is unmatched in this capacity. Initially, we considered some favorites like Las Vegas where we could luxuriate around a posh pool, conduct some extravagant shopping, and tap some great dining. But, while we’re both pending inoculation, the risk seemed too high. Hawaii, as I said previously, isn’t yet open for business. And, I’m not ready to sit elbow-to-elbow with potentially contagious patrons at their few open establishments. Say what you will about COVID and any associated precautions: The efficacy of ignoring it is pretty poor. So, we headed for where they’re leaning in (and, no doubt cashing in) on safety and peace of mind.
So, I’m happy to report we had a REAL vacation! We balanced park time with rest time, and we ate and drank WELL. I should clarify that we also walked a total of 60 miles in 6 days – it wasn’t all just a matter of bellying up to the bar and strapping on a feed bag. Oh, and I also bought an entire sushi serving set from Mitsukoshi (Japan’s largest and oldest department store). Yeah, we found shopping – shocking, I know. This trip has reassured me that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Whether we achieve ‘herd immunity’ and can move about freely, or we have to endure some shared compliance and consideration. I believe that real travel is on its way – the ETA is TBD, but it’s coming. Trust.