Doing Disney

Our kids are five and seven years old. They think Disney World is The Best! My husband is 46 years old and he also thinks Disney is The Best. Not to be a party pooper, but Disney is both awesome and infuriating. How do more people not lose their shit there?!

We are a bit Griswold-ish when doing Disney. This is not new to me. I remember doing Disney as a kid with my family and we Jacksons were also very Griswoldish or else my dad was just very Clark-ish. I remember laying down in bed one night thinking, “whoa! We woke up at 6:00am and I’m going to bed at midnight. That is an eighteen hour day!” I was probably about ten years old at the time and was totally stoked to get up at six to get the Disney day started. I’m sure I jumped for joy as we approached each ride. I’m sure I whined when my feet were tired from walking and I ached to rest my legs during the China or O-Canada film where sitting is forbidden and we kids were too small to rest on the “lean rails.”

Since our kids are still little enough to fit in strollers, we stroll them at a very brisk, but not quite running pace to the first ride of the day. (You know, after waiting for an hour at the rope for the gates to open. Does anyone remember that Upton’s commercial where the mob of people smooshed their faces against the glass doors and waved their hands while chanting, “Open! Open! Open!” Same concept at Disney except you either chit chat merrily with the group next to you about where they are from, how many days in the park, favorite Disney strategies or else you are standing stock still and quiet much like at a concert ready to shove your elbow in someone’s ribs if they infringe on your personal line-holding territory.

Being four (consectutive)-year veterans of Disney with kids, we’ve learned a little each time. This year we stayed at a Disney property called Beach Club which is in walking distance to Epcot. How cool was it to stand waiting for the ropes to drop in a line a fraction of the size of the main entrance? Then we came in from the World Showcase and headed to Norway for the Frozen ride. We were the first ones there and even had two seconds to snap a photo in front of the ride before the mob came gaining on us seconds later. Of course we only learned this from my friend, Amy, but we were glad we went with her suggestion!

Of our last four trips, three were in December and one was in October. My husband said October was too hot and he’d “never do that again.” Meanwhile, I maintain that December is super busy with fun festivities every single weekend and I hate to be out of town when all of that is going on. But I guess I gave in. However, one caveat to my refusal was met, which was that we had our Christmas tree up before we left town so that upon return we could immediately enjoy our tree without having to dread putting it up and decorating it. Is it any wonder my mom bought me the Grumpy Dwarf shirt that says, “Is this jolly enough?!”

I proudly wore that Grumpy shirt at Disney because there is plenty to be jolly about at Disney. I may not jump up and down in excitement for the ride I’m about to go on, but while I dread the group of a dozen ten year old boys making chaos behind me in line, I can appreciate their excitement of anticipation for the next ride – even the Little Mermaid. I also love seeing how my girls’ bravery changes each year. Last year they held hands and walked up to the Animal Kingdom Safari ride talking to each other about being brave. OMG Disney is SO REAL to them! Did they think we really beamed ourselves to Africa? Last year at ages four and six, they also both went on the Dwarf Mine Train and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coasters. They were pretty scared. But dang, were they proud of themselves after they did it! So this year, one year older, we tackled those coasters again. The funny part was that after doing Mine Train we headed to the kiddy coaster, Goofy Barnstormer where my seven year old started crying in line. I can so slightly remember being a kid or a teenager and having that creeping feeling of fear and anticipation before hopping on a roller coaster. I told Sammy, “This part is the hardest. You hear the clanking of the track and wonder how fast the ride will be. But once you get on, it’s just fun!”

But back to Grumpy Dwarf, I have to admit that standing in line to see princesses is not my cup of tea. I was not a girly girl, nor a princess loving kid. So I’m kinda shocked how “into” princesses my girls are. I will say though, that princesses are pretty damn cool in this 21st century! I got choked up the first seven times I heard Elsa sing “Let it Go.” She was totally finding herself! How empowering! But we sucked it up and let them meet some princesses and they loved it. Oh, and they had to have the autograph books to get all the autographs. Yay, one more thing to lug around and keep track of. But since I’m trying not to be a total buzzkill, let me tell you one of my favorite parts: meeting Joy and Sadness from Inside Out. We met them at Epcot and I swear, I felt like I was in the movie. The characters are so completely in character they truly bring all the movies and all the pretend to life. Sadness was killing me. My girls gave excited hugs to Joy which made Sadness mope and hang her head. Joy was a hoot too; she couldn’t stand still and acted so excited to see herself on Sammy’s T-shirt. Loved, loved, loved watching those two characters ham it up. It was worth the thirty-five minute wait.

Yes, I married a Clark, but all in all, we had a fun vacation, or, “family retreat” as Elena of Avalor says. We will probably go back next year, but I’m telling Clark that I’m not stepping foot in pretend Germany unless I’ve had a return trip to real Germany first.

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