Friday, April 24, 2009

Summer Camping at Disney Turns Out to Be Cool



Last July when a friend asked if it was hot enough for me, I blurted out “No, I think I’ll go to Florida and camp at Disney World for two weeks”. Most people in the Washington DC area couldn’t believe we were even contemplating such a trip in the summer swelter. Since I would never take my kids out of school and we couldn’t afford a hotel vacation, this was our only option.

Our friends’ doubts about our sanity were very much on my mind as we drove over the Florida border and I spied a road crew working on the side of the highway. Before I could stop myself, I thought they were crazy to be outside in Florida’s summer heat. Soon I realized the ridiculousness of the thought. Life goes on in Florida just like everywhere else in the summer.

When we pulled into the Disney campground, Fort Wilderness, the only thing we had was a printout of our campsite reservation. Since so many people had discouraged the trip, we had only booked the campground two weeks earlier and didn’t have tickets or restaurant reservations. Everyone plans these trips a year in advance and we arrived for our dream vacation with nothing but the sweltering heat. Parental fears of failure were strong as we walked up to the check-in cabin. As our two boys watched Disney shows on an old-fashioned TV, a staff member arranged our tickets and meal reservations. In short time, we were making our way to the campsite in our Class B RV. With trees creating a full canopy, we found the campground shaded, clean, and comfortable.

Early mornings were cool and relaxing as we ate at our picnic table. We decided to forgo the bike and golf cart rentals and depended on the regular bus, boat, and monorail lines to get around Disney World. Our loop was situated between two bus routes so we would pay attention to the buses during breakfast and head to the road where the next one was expected. The air conditioning on the buses was consistently near freezing. Most of our trips were spent shivering rather than sweating.

In ten days we visited all of the Disney theme and water parks. Each morning we arrived for the park openings with a plan to get wet on a particular ride and see the air-conditioned shows during the hottest part of the afternoon. However, in our drenched clothing, the air-conditioning was almost always too cold.

We religiously followed a schedule from touringplans.com. The subscription for this service was cheaper than the tour books. We choose “Tween Boys” and our days were efficiently planned for us. We knew exactly where to go, when to get a FastPast, and when to wait in line. As we breezed past others and experienced everything by mid-afternoon, I found myself joking that I would send them more money when we arrived home. Following the tour plan and avoiding lines, kept us out of the heat.

Months later as I think about our summer camping trip at Disney World, I don’t remember feeling hot. If anything, I remember dreading the cold bus rides and freezing theaters. Since most afternoons brought quick thunder showers, we spent our time trying to stay warm and dry.

Summer’s a great time to visit Disney World, and you can even camp outside with an RV.

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