No More ‘Red Eye’ for This Family

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When we were invited to attend Disney’s fifth Social Media Moms Conference in Disneyland this past week (it returns to Disney World in 2015) I wanted to make the most of our time on the west coast. The last day of the conference was Sunday so when I found a ‘red eye’ flight that night (leaving late Sunday and arriving home early Monday morning) I thought that would be the perfect way to get more park time.

The Disney Social Media Mom’s Conference had a spectacular morning planned on the last day of the conference for attendees and their families, even if it meant waking at 5 a.m. With Cars Land closed to the public until after 9 a.m., we were invited to enjoy breakfast on the streets of Route 66. As if that wasn’t a treat enough on its own, attendees and their families had access to Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and the ultimate ride in Radiator Springs.

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My son and I had the chance to checkout the Radiator Springs Racers when Cars Land first opened and at the conference I was surprised to learn that the Disney team didn’t just pull elements from the film to make Cars Land. The team took a 10 day road trip along Route 66 to understand the characters, atmosphere and emotions on the route. This detail is obvious after visitng the park first hand. The early wake-up call was tough but I think my family would agree it was completely worth it. Plus what better way to tire the kids out on the ‘red eye’ than to get them up early and run them around a theme park for the day.

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Having never flown a ‘red eye’ flight with the kids before, I had armed myself with a few tips to ensure an easier ex[eroemce, such as Wandermom’s suggestion to ensure the kids were busy and didn’t nap before the flight. This actually was harder than I thought as the kids kept dosing in the car ride to the airport and even in the airport itself. Thank goodness for the Frozen dolls and Mad comic book to keep my three somewhat awake.

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Like suggested on Mommy Points we ensured the kids knew what to expect on a ‘red eye’ flight, that they could watch something short but then they were expected to sleep for the remainder of the flight. We also made sure the kids were comfortable with clothing layers and neck pillows and even allowed them to take their shoes off. I know the benefits of letting your toes stretch a little on a flight.

As I wanted to maximize sleep time, I followed The Muse and ensured we ate before boarding the plane. We didn’t plan on ordering anything from the airline attendants as they made their rounds and I turned off the in-seat monitors when it was time for us to try sleeping.

In theory this should have all worked and my two oldest and husband did get some sleep. My youngest wasn’t as easy. Of course the problem with keeping tired kids awake is that they pass the zone where they are reasonable. Although my daughter didn’t disturb those around us with crying, she was clearly frustrated with trying to get comfortable enough to sleep. Unlike early trips taken as a family, where empty rows would exist making it possible for kids to stretch out, our flight was totally booked. Both my daughter and myself didn’t really sleep but sat quietly with our eyes closed. Of course some adults on the plane could take a lesson or two in plane etiquette often reserved for kids. The person behind me often used my seat back to get out of his chair, jarring me awake.

The flight sleeping didn’t go as well as I had hoped but the hours after our flight landed were even worse. Everyone was so tired it was hard to think straight. I let the kids have a nap after a quick morning bath at home but no longer than 30-minutes. We all had school or work the next day and I didn’t want to mess up our internal clock. No one was happy and I felt I achieved nothing on this day except getting a load or two of laundry done. I’m not a coffee drinker but I felt the need to dose with caffeine most of the day and that didn’t help. My head was in a morning-after fog and if you’ve ever experienced that after a night out you know it’s very disconcerting.

Although the idea of enjoying a few extra hours of park time is appealing I think the loss of a whole productive day makes it less appealing. Next time I would plan to fly home that night, even if it mean getting in a little later but still having everyone sleep in their beds. Obviously from the full flight ‘red eye’ flights are popular but I don’t think I’ll be including them in my future family travel plans.

Note: Access to the parks and other special features were provided to guests within the conference fee guests had to pay. Transportation was an addional cost.

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