When I was younger, I always thought I would run off to some tropical island for my honeymoon. I’ve always had a thing for palm trees. But it wasn’t until I had been to Disney World through most of my high school years when it crossed my mind that the parks might be my destination of choice instead. I had practically grown up there and I couldn’t imagine not sharing a bit of my own milestone where I had celebrated so many others. But of course, the most difficult part in that equation was finding a guy who wanted to go to Disney World in the first place.
I won the jackpot.
You see, when I first met James, I didn’t think much of him. In fact, after knowing him for a good month, I pretty much decided I didn’t like him at all (long story). So if someone ever predicted James would be the guy I would share my first romantical Disney vacation with, five years after meeting him, I probably would have thought you were more disillusioned than Scuttle on a good day. But hey, when I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong. (Dirty Dancing reference!)
While James was never over-the-moon crazy for Disney like my family, he did have an appreciation for the movies (one of our first dates was to see Chicken Little) and had solid memories of visiting the parks as a kid. I wasn’t greedy enough to hope to fall in love with a fanatic; I was just happy to have someone who could enjoy Disney with me. So when my Disney Store co-worker decided to get married down there (coincidentally, at the same time as our three-year anniversary), I was totally psyched. After years of drooling over couples strolling hand-in-hand in the parks (and secretly hating them), I would finally BE this person. (Okay, it’s totally corny but welcome to my brain.)
The trip was only a few days, and between attending all the wedding festivities and hitting all the new attractions since James’ last visit, we hardly had time to relax. But it was, by far, one of the most fun trips I’ve ever had to WDW. I loved playing tour guide. James quit smoking cold turkey down there. Goofy messed up his hair when they met at breakfast. The photographers made us take pictures kissing in front of Spaceship Earth! I’m certain this is where James caught the Disney bug and we had a lot of trouble going anywhere else on vacation after that (in fact, Disney is the only place we’ve gone since then).
So duh, of course, before we even set our date for the wedding, we knew we wanted to spend part of our honeymoon in Disney but with a twist. We HAD to make it special somehow. Plus as much as I love running around the parks, I’m never really rested. We wanted to make sure we planned some real downtime. So I proposed the idea of going on the Disney Cruise. I had done it twice before when I was in high school (during the “awkward” teenage years) and remembered having an amazing time. Perhaps, two of my favorite family trips ever. And James had never been on a cruise and always wanted to experience one.
At first we considered the Mediterranean itinerary, but once we saw you had to fly to Barcelona first and knowing our wallets were already pretty limited, we decided to do the 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise with stops in St. Thomas, St. Martin, and Castaway Cay. I had already been on the Western Caribbean cruise so it all worked out!
We did want to spend a few days in the parks (how could we not) and we seriously considered going back to work after the wedding weekend (were we nuts?!) and doing Disney from Wednesday-Friday and jumping on the cruise the Saturday of that week (so our one-week anniversary). After much deliberation and my parent’s offer to use their DVC points for our accommodations, we sort of said: what the hell? We will only honeymoon once; let’s do it all!
You know, the wedding planning process was so intensive I sometimes completely forget we would be “rewarded” with a honeymoon when it was all over. I did think of it more and more as the date got closer, and I’m glad I did because even the thought of it got us through some of the rougher planning patches. I literally imagined myself kissing the ground when I hit Orlando.
Even while the wedding was going on, I remember dancing with James and saying “oh my god, we are going to be in Florida in 2 days”. It all felt so surreal, so surreal that neither of us found the time to pack beforehand. Even though we set out our suitcases a full week in advance with promises to do it before the big day. The day after, both of us were in this overwhelming post-wedding fog that did not subside AT ALL. I don’t know about James but I could hardly talk… I was totally pooped.
This did not help the packing situation. Especially not with a 6 a.m. flight, and 4 a.m. pick up time.
Instead of getting “sleep” on Sunday night, we took a 2-hour nap because we couldn’t perfect the art of packing for the parks and the cruise. I must have really lost my mind because I let James be in charge of packing sunscreen, and for two weeks, he packed half a spray can. (Never, never again.)
But hey, we made our flight; I managed a little cat nap, and we arrived to… gray skies and chilly weather. Honestly, it could’ve been snowing and we couldn’t have been happier.
And so the trip begins!
So where did the Magical Express drop us off?
That’s right – for 5 glorious nights we basked in our theme park view, in a hotel neither of us had stayed in before. This was huge for me – in my fourteen years of Disney vacationing, I had never stayed in a Magic Kingdom resort before.
On Saturday morning, we would head off for the Disney Magic (ironically, the only Disney ship I’ve sailed on).
After a week of sun, food, and Captain Mickey, we would spend our final night at the Boardwalk in a one bedroom villa with a Jacuzzi! (This was also the location of our engagement pictures we took last year, so in a way, we were going to go full circle.)
So now that you know the general details, let’s start honeymoonin’!
Full disclosure: Cost was really important to us when it came to planning our honeymoon especially after paying for a substantial amount of our wedding. We were lucky enough to take this trip based on the generosity of a lot of people. Thanks to my parents, we stayed on DVC property for 5 nights before the cruise, and 1 night after the cruise; they also gifted us our flights. James’ parents were generous enough to gift us our cruise (which included our shuttle passes to and from Port Canaveral and tips for the staff paid ahead). James and I also used the Disney Honeymoon registry and because of our awesome friends and family, a majority of our meals were paid for, as well as the excursions we booked on the cruise. In the end, we paid for souvenirs, our final day of meals, alcohol and the Wild Africa Trek (a last minute itinerary addition).
Engagement photos taken by the wonderful Ashley McCormick.