Thursday May 3 2012 1055 pm
We finally did it. We boarded a plane–a couple of planes, actually–and brought our children to the land of Mouse Ears and all things sparkly: Disney World.
My children are now The Happiest Children on Earth. (This buys me good behavior for at least a month, right? Right?) We walked for miles through four theme parks every day for six days, devoting ourselves to their entertainment. To be fair, we grownups had great fun as well, even if I did have to make a nighttime run to the nearby Nike outlet to buy new sneakers because my feet definitely were not feeling the magic. But my kids. Oh. Between rides at various Disney parks and Universal Studios that twisted you upside-down and left you soaking wet, and the artistic imagery of It’s a Small World, both ten-year-old “Jack” and seven-year-old “Emmie” found numerous outlets to fulfill their wishes.
Plus we let them eat absurd amounts of spaghetti, hamburgers and candy all week. Kid heaven.
Naturally, I do have a few less typical observations to share with you. Here are some high–and low–notes from our week in the Most Magical Place on Earth:
- First thing I observed as we pulled up to our hotel: a jock strap sailing off an upper-floor balcony, then drifting to a gentle landing in the hotel’s front courtyard. I spent some time considering whether this was a bad sign for the week to come or, perhaps, a really good one.
- First thing I spied in the Magic Kingdom: a bookstore, less than sixty seconds after passing through the entry gate. Within another minute, I located chocolate croissants. This, people, is talent. Unfortunately, when I returned later to investigate my first find, I discovered that it was false labeling; the store inside sold only the usual Disney paraphernalia. I was perhaps the only person in the Magic Kingdom that day to run through this thought process. I did at least amuse my son.
- Next thing I saw in the Magic Kingdom: one of my neighbors. It’s a small world indeed.
- People who should consider not going to Disney World: people with control issues, or people who don’t like to be positioned like sardines in a tin. For example, I have a thing about people telling me what to do. It was a bit of a rough week for me in that respect.
- Favorite dissonant sight: a trio I passed in the narrow passageway between the Peter Pan and It’s a Small World rides. The man looked like someone who might have lost his way while searching for the local Renaissance Faire: large-boned and beefy, with bushy, straw-colored hair and an impressively long beard that ended in two evenly divided dreadlocks. He accompanied two little girls who’d clearly undergone recent makeovers at the Bippity Bop Boutique: one had been transformed into a sparkly blond Pocahontas, the other a bejeweled, ball gown-wearing Belle, both combed and gelled into perfection and finished with sprays of gold glitter.
- Place to avoid at all costs: Ghiradelli in Downtown Disney at 3:30 p.m. on a 93-degree day. Forget Animal Kingdom; this is where true animal behavior emerges, or, more precisely, where retirees will snatch ice cream out of the hands of children if you let them. I’d been in the entryway of the restaurant less than thirty seconds when I was elbowed out of the way by one retiree–and that is not a figure of speech. Just a few minutes later, I turned to my children to confirm their ice cream selections before ordering and an elderly couple took advantage of my turned head to slip into line ahead of me. I made several comments, but they didn’t even acknowledge me, falling back, I guess, on that hard-of-hearing excuse.
- Thing I said that made a random person laugh: “Hey, there is no magic without coffee.” This was early in the morning while in line at “It’s a Small World,” when my husband lightly suggested we could postpone my search for coffee because we were already in “the most magical place on earth.”
- Thing one of my kids said that a random person found adorable (so I have to share): On our last day, Emmie said she wished we didn’t have to leave. I agreed it was sad, but I noted she had to get back to school. She said, “Because if we don’t go home, then I can’t get more knowledge!”
- Thing that crushed me: The weather was lovely on our flights home, and we secured window seats on the planes for the kids. I sat beside my son. After the first takeoff, he was more interested in playing games on his DS or my iPhone than taking advantage of this rare opportunity to view the earth from the air. After several futile attempts to convince him to look out the window, I finally made him switch seats with me so I could watch the world below. The kid hadn’t flown since he was six, and it saddens me that video games held more appeal than the contours of the earth or the sight of the ocean blending into the sky.
- Place I found the most magical: Hogsmeade at Universal Studios. Why? J.K. Rowling wrote a book, and there I was wandering around Hogsmeade, sipping butterbeer, shopping at Dervish and Banges, Zonko’s and Honeydukes and more. Who says there’s no magic in books? (However, if you’re prone to motion sickness, take seriously that warning about avoiding the ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Holy nausea.)
Finally, in case you’re planning a trip anytime soon, here are our favorite attractions:
- Me: Hogsmeade at Universal, Soarin’ at Epcot
- My husband: Soarin’ at Epcot, the Illuminations Fireworks show at Epcot, Spider Man at Universal
- 10-year-old Jack: Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges at Universal
- 7-year-old Emmie: It’s a Small World at the Magic Kingdom, Soarin’ at Epcot