Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's a World of Laughter, a World of Tears

The Magical Parts

I think everyone's trip to Disney has some magical moments. There are the ones I will remember most:

  • Watching the girls meet all their favorite characters. We scheduled a few character meals, and I am so glad that we did, because otherwise we would have spent much of our park time waiting in line to meet the characters that randomly appear in the parks. Instead, with four meals, we saw (and took pictures with) Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Stepmother and stepsisters, Belle, Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eyore. While in the parks, we tracked down or stumbled upon Tinkerbell, Fawn, Terrance, Jasmine and Aladdin, Tiani, Alice, Daisy Duck, and the Fairy Godmother. The girls were THRILLED to hug and meet and talk to each one.
  • Watching Jemma's face express awe, joy, and wonder at so many sights.
  • Seeing the girls' faces in the mirror when their fairy godmothers turned them around after their princess makeovers at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Jason and I both felt a little . . . pageant-parenty about the whole scam they had going there, but it was literally a dream come true for the girls.
  • Riding It's a Small World and remembering all my favorite characters from my own childhood.
  • Riding Soarin' at Epcot with Annie and truly, truly feeling like we were flying. So fun!
  • Watching the sun rise over the lake on our first morning as we took the boat over to breakfast at The Contemporary.
  • Riding on the back of our golf cart through Fort Wilderness, the breeze blowing through the tall pine trees and a little girl beside me, holding my hand.
  • Jemma falling asleep on me during the Fantasmic show and being super-cuddly for a whole hour in my lap.
  • Watching Annie summon her courage to finally dare to go down a water slide at the pool. (She stood at the top for a fair amount of time, letting 4 or 5 other kids go in front of her, and I thought she was going to chicken out and come back down the steps, but she finally went for it and loved it. Later, I asked her what was going through her brain when she was up at the top that first time, and she said she thought, "I'm just going to try this FOR MYSELF!")
  • Splurging on Cirque La Nouba at Downtown Disney for our last night. That show is mind-blowing, breath-taking, amazing, unbelievable, and beautiful, and I am so glad that we went.
  • Having baths in the hot tub one night at dusk.
  • Sitting in a rocking chair on the porch at Fort Wilderness, drinking a beer while the girls played on the playground.
  • The way the girls woke up giggling every single morning. (At 5:30. Ahem.)

The Not-So-Magical Parts

In the interest of honesty, it was not all magic and pixie dust. I knew going in that seven days in a row of crowds, lines, constant noise, and overtired kids was going to be a challenge for me, but what I did not anticipate was what a challenge it would be for Annie. Apparently she and I are both delicate flowers who don't cope well with abrupt change, even when that change is Disney World, THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE ON EARTH. So, I won't lie, there were some rough moments:

  • As I mentioned earlier, the girls woke up around 5:30 every morning. 'Nuf said.
  • The weather was unseasonably cold. While I am grateful that it didn't rain, which would have made things much worse, we were a little bummed out by how freezing it was in the mornings and sometimes for much of the day. When the average high for Orlando in February is 72, you expect it to be 72, give or take ten degrees either way, right? Instead, there was frost on the docks in the morning, and we wore several layers every day, including hats and mittens and fleece jackets.
  • All the times that Annie acted . . . . like a turd. There. I said it. There were fits, meltdowns, and sassy words; there was fighting in the stroller and fighting in the bedroom; there were several times when Jason or I pulled her aside and tried to think of ANYTHING to say to make it stop; there was the night I went running at 9:00 p.m. (by myself, in the dark, yes I got slightly lost) not because I wanted to exercise but because I was trying to clear my mind and get some patience for the next day. There were tears (hers). There were tears (mine). We love you, Annie, but we may or may not be looking for a local farm where we can arrange for you to do some manual labor to hardy you up and make you see how good you have it.
  • The airport snafu when we wanted desperately to get home on Saturday. Our flight was scheduled for 11:50. Disney's Magic Transport picked us up at our cabin at 8:15. We arrived at the airport with PLENTY of time, waited around at our gate, and waited, and waited, and got nervous when, at 11:30, our plane wasn't boarding. Suddenly the board said 12:40, and we were finally taxiing toward the runway a little after that when the pilot came on to tell us that a light had come on that meant we needed to return to the gate. We sat there for a few minutes, and the pilot came on again to tell us to de-plane while they waited for a mechanic to come and fix the plane. At 2:30, I had the girls camped out on the airport floor coloring while I stood in line to see what the agents proposed we do if our plane couldn't be fixed. Two other moms of small children and I were up at the desk at the same time when they informed us that there were no more flights to Michigan that day, and it was looking like our option was going to be to spend the night in a hotel and try to fly out again at the same time on Sunday. The other moms and I, all fresh off a full week of Disney with the kids, looked at one another and groaned, "We've all had plenty of time in a hotel with our kids!" Luckily, the computer was fixed, and we did get home on Saturday, albeit about 3 hours later than we should have.

What I think, ultimately, is that as time passes, the not-so-magical memories will fade away, and nostalgia will take over and rose-tint the memories that remain, and we will know that our family will never experience Disney World just this way again, with 3- and 5-year-old girls who truly believe that they have met, hugged, and posed with the REAL princesses. We will remember that it was a lot of work, but also a lot of joy.

Pictures to follow.

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