Monday, April 17, 2017

Disney 2017: Day One

Friday, April 7, 2017

Disney, round two! I never imagined we’d be annual Disney visitors, but it seems like that’s the path we’re on. Last week, we flew to Orlando and spent a magical (yes! magical!) weekend at the Waldorf Astoria, with two days in the Magic Kingdom. Lucia and Greta were excited, and so was I. As anyone who’s been to Disney World knows, a visit requires a vast amount of planning, but when the planning pays off it’s all worth it. I planned the heck out of our two days and we were well rewarded.

Though we got to Orlando late Thursday night on April 6, we got up early the next morning to make our 8:25am breakfast reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. We had a little time to spare, so we rode Prince Charming’s Carousel, an easy, no-line ride that’s probably Greta’s favorite thing to do at Disney World. (There’s a sad little story that goes along with this later. Stay tuned.) Next, since I was determined to maximize our Memory Maker Photo Pass package, I had the girls’ pictures taken in the Bibbidibobbidi Boutique. These are easily the worst pictures that have ever been taken of the girls. The lighting was terrible, and the poses are everything that’s awful about little girls dressed like princesses. Ah well.

Then it was time for our breakfast in the castle. This is the breakfast where princesses come to each table for autographs and pictures. We did it last year, and it was thrilling. It was still fun, especially getting to go into the castle, but perhaps a bit less thrilling this time. Twice is probably enough for this (insanely) expensive character meal.

Since we were in the park fairly early, we picked up Sorcerer’s Cards back on Main Street and then went to see if there was a line for Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. There was no line. We walked right on, and when the girls clamored to ride again, we walked right on once more. Andrew and I were convinced something terrible had happened in the world and we were the clueless people still riding rides at Disney. But no; when I asked a ‘cast member’ if something terrible had happened, she said we were just there at a good time.

Next up was my favorite ride: It’s a Small World. I love it. Everyone does, which is why we had a FastPass for it. At the end of our ride, as our boat approached the exit, a sign bid goodbye to me, Lucia, and Greta—no Andrew. We wondered if Andrew wasn’t supposed to make it out of the ride. Then we (well, Andrew and the girls) rode the spinning teacups at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, also a FastPass. But there was hardly any line so they just went right back on for a second ride. Disney magic! No lines!

Thanks to the remarkable Disney app, I saw that there was only a tiny line for meeting Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck at Pete’s Silly Sideshow, so we went there next. Conveniently, we exited into a gift shop, so we let the girls buy their souvenir of the day. Greta picked a Minnie like Lucia’s that she’s coveted since our last trip. Lucia chose a Marie (the white cat from Aristocats), which Greta of course immediately coveted.

The low point of the day was our lunch at the Skipper Canteen. The girls’ food was terrible and Lucia refused to eat. Alas.

Then the day got back on track with a ride on Peter Pan’s Flight—a favorite of all of us.

After that it was around 3:00—time for a swim break at the hotel. It had to be a rather short break, though, because we had reservations for the Dessert Buffet at Tomorrowland Terrace and Plaza Garden fireworks viewing. Back in the park, we rode Dumbo the Flying Elephant, which is just an ordinary amusement-park-like ride but which the girls loved—it’s on the top of their list to do again next year (!). Then we had a quick dinner of hot dogs at Casey’s, a place we wholly dislike because it’s teeming with far too many people; but it was fast, and we got to see some of a dance parade, and Lucia was overcome with dancing along with the characters.

Finally it was time for dessert and fireworks. This experience was a splurge, one of those Disney price tags you can’t think too much about, but I have to say I’d do it again. The desserts were, as you might imagine, lovely—all kinds of little pastries and cakes, plus coffee and juices, crackers and cheese, and ice cream. L&G were thrilled. We were led to our reserved spot on the lawn around 8:30pm, and I gave the girls a bunch of glow sticks and wands I’d gotten at the Dollar Tree. They made a campfire out of the small ones and roasted glow-bracelet marshmallows. But all that—the entire day, in fact—paled in comparison to the Wishes fireworks show. It was pure Disney: Tinkerbell flying from a window at the top of Cinderella’s Castle; shooting-star fireworks; songs about wishing and magic. Oh my goodness. Lucia and Greta were so overcome that they kept throwing their arms around each other in pure happiness. And as you watch your children’s faces aglow in the fireworks, their eyes wide with the magic of it all, and your own eyes fill with tears as “When you wish upon a star…” wails out from the speakers…there’s only one possible response: Damn you, Disney. DAMN YOU. The emotional manipulation is shameless and constant. No one can escape it.

The girls didn’t get to bed till 10:30pm.

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