By Trip Styler, on April 4, 2014

With mom, to Walt Disney World

Every Sunday night when I was growing up, my family would gather around the TV to watch The Wonderful World of Disney. This was a big event because we all loved Walt’s creativity and characters, and it was the only night of the week my parents would let us eat dinner in front of the TV. Fast-forward a few years, a few trips to Disney Parks, and many malts on Main Street, U.S.A., and this year my mom and I reconnected with our Sunday night tradition in Orlando, at Walt Disney World.

As a mother-daughter duo, our trip into Disneydom was not an attempt to score photos with Ariel or Alice, FastPass ourselves onto the craziest rides—we’re It’s A Small World kinda gals—or rush around Orlando at the speed of Buzz Lightyear; instead we wanted to rediscover our Disney side, with a dash of Tinker Bell’s magic pixie dust and girlie charm.

Imagineering our trip, our first task was to determine when to visit, factoring into our decision Orlando’s weather, major holidays, and festivals. All considered, we determined an April or May visit would be ideal, and opted to coincide with the 21st Annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (March 5 – May 18, 2014) when all of Epcot was in bloom to the tune of 30 million flowers!


Disney character-themed topiaries

As an avid gardener and member of her Vancouver, B.C.-based garden club, my mom was in a state of blossom bliss the moment she entered Epcot’s gates and uncovered the festival’s flower towers, floating gardens, and 100 life-size topiaries scattered throughout. So in awe of the beauty and scale—it takes a staff of 24,000 to prepare for the event year-round—she snapped every posy in sight and told me she was going to schedule a show-and-tell with her garden club when she returned home.

I haven’t yet discovered my green thumb, so my Disney indulgence was the near 100 garden party bevs and bites, some of which are grown on-site in Epcot’s greenhouse. During our 4-day itinerary I made it my mission to try everything—even missing meals to make room. I settled on these best-in-show selections: Japan’s fruit sushi (aka “frushi”): rolling pineapple, strawberry, and melon in coconut rice and Florida’s watermelon, arugula, sweet onion, and feta salad dressed in a balsamic reduction (which I chased with a sip of vegan wine brought in from California).

After two days of color and cuisine therapy, we opted for another type of therapy, the kind catering to those pining after a youthful glow! While I’m not going to assume every single woman in the world loves the spa as much as my mom and I do, judging from the multiple ladies—namely mother-daughters—we spotted relaxing at Senses – A Disney Spa at the Grand Floridian Resort, I’d conclude pampering is a female first love.

Lounging at Senses – A Disney Spa

In an effort match our flower-power surroundings, we felt it was only natural to have our nails painted in Spring tones with an eco polish. But first, knowing the spa had more accoutrements than treatment rooms, we spent the entire morning preparing for our treatments with cucumbers on our eyes lounging in the spa’s heated chaises, dipping into the jacuzzi, and detoxifying in the steam room.

Viewfinder Tip: Consider Afternoon Tea in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort‘s Garden View Tea Room as an apropos post-spa and garden party pairing.

Like any vacationing ladies of leisure, we purposefully dilly-dallied at the spa. Why rush relaxation (or run the risk of nicking one of your just-done nails)? Emerging into the real world at 3 p.m., we replaced our electrolytes with a DOLE whip near the spa at Disney’s Polynesian Resort before heading back to our hotel, via the still-cool,1971-built monorail.

Just in time for the most relaxing rays of the day, we continued our nurturing with a dip in the pool at our hotel, Disney’s Beach Club Resort. In case you’re wondering if we ended on a wild note, hurling ourselves and our flower-hued nails down the water slide at the resort’s main pool, Stormalong Bay, we refrained. A dip in the Quiet Pool was much more in line with our meandering mother-daughter pace, and proved to be our happy hour before going back to Epcot to try more vegan wine as the setting sun pierced through the palm trees along the horizon.

When you’re vacationing with your parents, where do you like to go and why?