Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Creating Disney Magic

Betty and I took the family to Disney World last week. It was not only us, but also my parents as well as Betty's parents. We had a blast! It was a combination vacation, plus birthday presents for my mom, Betty's mom and Betty (who had her birthday in Disney), and lastly it was a celebration of my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Whew, that's a lot of celebrating!

We were fortunate enough to have not one but two sets of grandparents with us. Well, we did have two sets of grandparents, until Betty's dad Pops got eaten by Bruce, the shark from Finding Nemo.

[Picture: Bruce finds a tasty snack]

We all stayed at the Art of Animation resort on Disney grounds, which is one of the newest resorts and has four hotel themes: Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, Cars and Lion King. We stayed with Betty's parents in a Finding Nemo suite while my parents' original room was in the Little Mermaid section. (They ended up moving to the Lion King section.) Each area had its own decor both inside and out.

For example, the Lion King area had large statues of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa, Rafiki, Scar, the hyenas... it even had an elephant graveyard. These all had "No Climbing" signs next to them, which were ignored by every child in the resort as well as most of the parents. Movies were screened outside at night for anyone to enjoy. We really liked walking through the Lion King section, although Annie always fussed at me because I'd start singing Circle of Life every time we walked through there. (OK, I was dancing as well. So sue me!)

[Picture: Rafiki with the Golden Child!]

We were located in the Finding Nemo area, which had a large pool with a spray park. Surrounding the pool were statues of fish, anemones and jellyfish, as well as large statues of some of our favorite characters like Crush (the totally radical sea turtle) and Ray (Nemo's teacher).

[Picture: The entourage!]

The pool looked really nice, but we only attempted to go into it twice because the temperature was usually in the upper-60's or low-70's the whole week. I kept thinking of the Seinfeld episode where George yells, "I was in the pool!"

[Picture: Shrinkage!]

Since it was a little on the cold side while we were there, our kids preferred to scale the large coral reef play area right outside our door. This immediately made me think that there should be a theme park just for adults to do kid-like stuff, like climb Coral Reef play areas, because I would definitely go there.

[Picture: Daddy was a nervous wreck]

The Little Mermaid section was the furthest from everything else, being what seemed about a mile from the main cafeteria / shopping area / bus stop. It ended up being too far for both us to walk to see my parents, and also too far for my parents to walk to see us. That bummed everyone out, so my parents complained and got an upgrade into the Lion King suites. But the Little Mermaid area was really beautiful...

[Picture: Look at this stuff, isn't it neat!]

And just look at all this treasure we found! It was almost enough to pay for one day at Disney!

[Picture: Treasure!]

So like I said before, we were celebrating a lot of birthdays and anniversaries. If it's your birthday in Disney, you get a big pin that says, "Happy birthday!" with your name on it. My mom, Betty's mom and Betty all got a pin, and my parents got pins that said, "Happy Anniversary! 40 Y'ears!" Any time we passed by a Disney "cast member" they would great us with "Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Oh my, look how many birthdays!"

[Picture: Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary!]

[Picture: Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Oh my!]

Even during the parades (which were fantastic), the characters would bow to our parents or blow them kisses. I think my mom especially loved the attention.

OK, let's do a lightning round of highlights from our trip:

We went to the new Fantasyland area in Magic Kingdom and got to meet the real Ariel. My daughter Annie was so excited, but when Ariel asked my son Peter if he liked the Little Mermaid too, he said, "No, I like Cars." It was rather matter-of-factly, and he nodded after he said it as if he were confirming it to himself. It was pretty hilarious! Ariel handled it well, but we laughed about it all week.

[Picture: Ariel!]

We ended up getting a free meal plan while we were there, so we ate everything in sight and never paid a dime (except for tips). We had a meal with the characters every day, but the first day's character meal was at dinner, and Annie was so tired by that point that she passed out and missed Eeyore.

[Picture: Zzzzzz...]

If I had to caption this next picture, it would be something like, "Good evening to you, if it is a good evening, which I doubt. Thanks for staying up to see me... oh wait, nevermind. Figures." Gloomy old Eeyore!

[Picture: Good evening... if it is a good evening, which I doubt.]

We ended up leaving before Tigger got to our table, which was good because he would have probably remembered the time when I was four and he snuck up on me from behind and scared me, and I turned around and punched him in the balls. I've already apologized to him, but you just never know with Tigger.

The kids got face tattoos at Animal Kingdom. Annie originally wanted Tinkerbell but made a last minute decision to get a Princess Kitty...

[Picture: Princess Kitty!]

While my son wanted a snake, of all things. I do have to admit that it was pretty awesome, if a little terrifying.

[Picture: Snake!]

While in Epcot we saw Push the Talking Trashcan, who was hilarious as always. He remembered Annie the second time we saw him, pointed out her Hello Kitty socks, and chased birds with her after she got momentarily distracted and ran off after some pigeons. The looks on Annie and Peter's faces were priceless! My favorite line from Push was, "Burp! Excuse me... must have been that baby diaper I ate earlier."

[Picture: Push the Talking Trashcan!]

Here's the last highlight that I'll mention for now. Snow White loved Annie, but she was taken with Peter. After a few minutes of Peter telling her that he loved Cars, monsters, Darth Vader and fire, she took his head in both of her hands, turned his head softly, and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. We left the big red kiss on his cheek for the rest of the day.

[Picture: Snow White and two dwarves!]

[Picture: Lady-killah!]

Thanks to my parents and Betty's parents for coming to Disney with us and for helping out so much with the kids. I don't know how my parents were able to take me and my two siblings when we were kids, with no help! And thanks to Betty for planning our trip, organizing our character meals, and making sure that everybody got to do their favorite things in Disney. She really helped make a magical place even more magical!

I'll be ready to go back to Disney in about three years, which is when I'll finally be recuperated from this trip.

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