Thursday, November 8, 2007
Where Dreams Come True
Disney World. Where do I start?
I've kind of been avoiding blogging about Disney because I couldn't decide if it was going to be short and sweet...
"We had fun. Here we are with Mickey."
"Holy crap! It's going to take a whole lot of bandwidth to recount the entire week".
(And I don't even know what bandwidth is).
So, let's just get started. We left on Saturday, September 15th...only 2 short weeks after school started for the kids. Which, right there, made it the best vacation. Ever. We spent the six months prior to leaving researching, planning and generally going overboard in our preparations...determined to make this a vacation of lifetime!
We had stumbled on this fantastic deal earlier this year...and managed to get ourselves on the Disney Dining Plan for FREE...breakfast, lunch and dinner...on the Mouse! The value of this freebie is considerable when you take into account the mind numbing cost of food on the Disney Resort property. I'd have choked on every bite if I were forced to pay the menu price for the five of us.
We arrived to beautiful weather and immediately enjoyed the fruits of all my planning labors as we explored our hotel and some of the "no tickets required" areas of the property. We had park tickets for five days only and didn't want to waste them on our travel days.
Lunch, boat rides, awesome pools, soap with Mickey on it.
What more could we ask for?
We capped off our first perfect day at Chef Mickeys...dinner with all the biggies...Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy...etc.
And yes...it was magical.
The kids were absolutely drunk with the magic.
Their eyes lit up every time a character approached our table. They hugged, they waved, they shook hands and even parted with a kiss or two. During the character guided sing-along, they lost their tiny minds and shrieked with glee.
Glee, I say.
They did not, however, eat. Well, Jack ate. That boy can put away some food. He wore a path from his chair to the buffet tables. The girls...not so much.
"Maggie, Libby...you will eat your free food. Understand?"
We went to bed that night, 60% of us full of free grub, 100% of us full of magic.
It was the perfect way to start the trip. Perfect.
The next day was Sunday. The day we were to cast our mortal eyes upon the House of Mouse. The day that everyone in a 200 mile radius decided to visit the Magic Kingdom. We waited a ridiculously long time for our bus and eventually decided to heed the misguided advice of another idiot tourist who suggested we take the bus to Epcot Center and the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.
An hour and a half later we finally arrived at Cinderella's castle. By this time the girls had leaked all their magic on the monorail and we had to fork over the equivalent of a week's worth of food (not Disney food...I would have shot myself) for a double stroller. Whatever. We were on our way!
And it was hot. Face melting hot. Motherfucking hot. And the people. The thousands of people. The know-it-all locals who couldn't find something better to do on the first official full day of my vacation. Lots of people.
Deep breath. Magic, people, magic.
We quickly took in a show...Mickey, Minnie, blah, blah, blah...sweating like beasts under those costumes. But...it was spectacular and we were duly impressed.
We then managed to get on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride without incident and it was awe inspiring. Those Disney folks are no slouches. Simply amazing. And since Johnny Depp may someday be the kids' stepfather, I made sure they paid close attention.
By now we were more than ready for free food. Again. But this time we waited in line for almost an hour (which is about 2 1/2 weeks in kid time) for hamburgers that tasted like shoe leather.
And it started to rain. Oh good, maybe it will cool down a bit.
Or maybe the nonstop rain will stir up the mother of all saunas and we'll spend the rest of the afternoon slowly fusing with the scorching asphalt, concrete and magic.
And standing in line. For everything.
I kept looking at Steve to see if I could predict the many ways he was planning to kill me.
Why did I have to be so pushy about Disney World? Sweet Jesus, WHY?
Even with the free food, this trip had cost us a pretty penny. It ain't cheap flying five people to the nirvana of all theme parks. And...it ain't cheap outfitting five people in matching t-shirts (which I think may have added an element of torture to my certain death at this point. I did, after all, MAKE him wear it).
BUT...I'm happy to report that after our first disastrous day at the Magic Kingdom, the weather became more tolerable and predictable, the Floridians went back to work picking oranges and we enjoyed what I would easily call the best vacation of our married lives.
We made it to all four major parks and rode the rides without languishing in long lines. We exploited and abused the Dining Plan until we couldn't fit in another crumb. We baked in the Florida sun and took advantage of all the spectacular amenities of our resort. We chased down characters for autographs and made nuisances of ourselves in every gift shop.
And we did our best to expose the Disney secret. There wasn't a cast member (employee to the rest of us outsiders) who failed to impress. Polite, eager to help and hell bent on preserving the magic.
How do they do it?
And the kids. The kids were a joy. It was a true pleasure to experience Disney World through their eyes. They made every penny worth spending. Watching their smiles made every effort worth it's toll.
I couldn't take my eyes off them.
Those seven days at Walt Disney World were the most exhausting of my entire life.
And I can't wait to go back.