Thursday, September 27, 2012

There’s No Crying At Disney

I am going to confess my most grievous fault; I have LIED to my children.  Not only did I assure them that there was a Santa Claus who lived in the North Pole, an Easter Bunny that delivered candy and colored eggs, but I also told them that there was no crying at Disney.
In yesterday’s post I told you about the trip I had won to Orlando.  Today I am going to tell you about the second trip I won to Disney and the circumstances that precipitated my little white lie.
When I prepared for our first trip to Disney I read one of those unofficial guides to Disney World so I could get some tips that would be as hassle free as possible considering I was a single mom with young boys. 
One morning the boys were having a typical morning of boyhood antics and my youngest son came to me crying about how his older brother committed some random act of unfairness.  I took a deep breath to help settle the dispute when suddenly I had an epiphany about the trip.  At that moment I could imagine arguments about which rides they wished to ride, who would sit by the window in the plane, etc., etc.

I called the boys together and asked them if I could update them on the plans for our Disney trip.  Instantly the squabble that had happened only moments ago was forgotten and they sat in rapt attention as I began to go over ride options giving each boy the chance to choose the two most important rides to them so they could be placed on the schedule.
With that accomplished we discussed behavior and expectations.  It was at that moment the words came out of my mouth with little fanfare, “Boys I hope you realize that Disney is the happiest place in the world.  It is for that reason there is NO CRYING at Disney.”  I assured them that guests who didn’t live up to those expectations may be asked to leave the park.

The boys looked at each other and swore that they would be the happiest guest Disney had ever seen and the subject was dropped.  I certainly never expected that they would remember their promises let alone take it seriously. 
During our stay at Disney World, I had the happiest Mouseketeers in the whole world.  There was not one single incident of crying, whining, complaining, or fighting the whole trip.  It was as if my children had been swept away by aliens and replaced by Stepford children.  

This of course was not true for everyone’s children.  While we were there I saw a man wagging his finger and yelling at his two-year old.  The child had saucer size tears rolling down his cheeks as his dad laid into him.  I can still remember him telling his son that he spent a small fortune taking him there so he had better stop whining and have fun. 
My youngest son leaned over to me and said, “Mom that Dad better watch it or they are going to kick them out of the park.”  I couldn’t help but chuckle and we went on to have a magical adventure at Disney World.

Fast forward a number of years and now my children are grown.  My oldest son has three kids whom I love very much and I yearned to be the cool grandma who took the kids to Disney World.  Wouldn’t you know the moment that this thought flashed in my head was the moment that things began to go downhill for us financially. 
My husband was laid off from his job and we couldn’t afford the mortgage on our home let alone a family trip to Disney.   Who knew that sweepstakes would come to the rescue again.

One afternoon I got out of my car after work and noticed a thin Fed-Ex envelope lying on the ground.  I certainly could use some good news. 
Imagine my surprise when to learn that I had WON a family trip to Disney World.  This trip would include airfare, Magic Your Way tickets, a $250 Disney gift card and accommodations on Disney property.  It was better than I could have hoped for.

That year Disney was celebrating their year of a million dreams so when I spoke to the sweepstake’s travel coordinator I took a chance and asked if we could stay at the Grand Floridian.  I told her that I had always dreamed of staying there so she told me she’d see what she could do for us.
To say that this was a dream come true Disney vacation from start to finish really didn’t begin to cover it.  Since I had never stayed on property before, I had never experienced Disney’s Magical Express.  Disney will also handle your luggage making sure it shows up in your room later in the day. What a great convenience and best of all, free to all Disney resort guests, who fly into Orlando International (MCO).

When we arrived at the Grand Floridian I finally knew what it felt like to have a fairy godmother. It was easy to see why the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is considered the Victorian-style crown jewel of the hotels at Walt Disney World Resort.  Our room had a lagoon view facing the castle. At night we could see the castle lit in the various colors as the water parade performed on the lagoon.
The rooms were decorated with all the Victorian touches mixed with a little touch of Disney, including the wallpaper and Mickey lamp. There was nightly turn down service that left candy and a Disney "message" card on your pillow

It was easy to get around Walt Disney World Resort with complimentary transportation like monorails, ferryboats and motor coaches.  Turns out if you are staying on property your Theme Park parking is complimentary as well. 

Since the last time I’d visited Disney they had added Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  This was definitely on my to see list since I love animals and I figured the kids would get a kick out of it too. 
The park Features the plains of Africa, the jungles of Asia, primeval forests and live animals.  We began our adventure at the Harambe Wildlife Preserve, the fictional home of Africa's main attraction,  Kilimanjaro Sararis. We climbed aboard an open-sided safari vehicle for an expedition to see numerous African animals like zebras, hippos and elephants roaming the savannah. 
Next we took a trek to Asia, and the kingdom of Anandapur (which means "Place of many delights").  We took in a live bird show called Flights of Wonder.  Then it was on to the Maharajah Jungle Trek.  This themed wildlife trail attraction leads us through the forests and ruins outside the village, which are home to Komodo Dragon, Malayan Fying Fox, Bengal Tigers and more.  Of course we HAD to experience the Kali River Rapids and the Expedition Everest roller coaster.

Then it was on to Dinoland USA.  There we took a trip through time on the Dinosaur ride to the Late Cretaceous Period.  
That evening we dined under thatched roofs of Bama’s, a buffet-style restaurant.  There we were able to take a culinary adventure that featured African food inspired by more than 50 countries.

The next day began early since Extra Magic Hours is one of the benefits of staying on Disney Property.  We headed over to the Magic Kingdom ready to believe in make-believe.

The Magic Kingdom has six themed "lands" that are laid out like a wheel with the hub in front of Cinderella Castle.  We headed down the early-20th century small-town America of Main Street USA and headed straight for Adventureland.   There we visited Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki room and rode the Pirates of the Carribean and the Jungle Cruise rides.

Next stop was Frontier Land where our little buckaroos were able to relive the American Old West. We absolutely had to rides Splash Mountain but I also got the kids to ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and take in the Country Bear Jamboree.
Next we traveled back in time to an Amercan Revolutionary colonial town. I had never seen the Halls of Presidents and unfortunately I was unable to convince anyone to see it this time either.  We did take a ride aboard the Liberty Belle riverboat. We also visited the Haunted Mansion.
Of course we had to visit a land dedicated to the young at heart and to those who believe that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.  With that said, we were off to Fantasyland.  There we took to the skies on Peter Pan's Flight and saw that It's a Small World after all.  I was able to talk my granddaughter into accompanying me on the beautiful 90-horse carousel with hand painted scenes from Disney's Cinderella can be seen on the ride.
Tomorrowland is themed to be an intergalactic city; a concept of the future as seen from around the 1950s: rockets, UFOs and robots, etc.  It was there that we took on Space Mountain, experienced Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, and steered specially designed cars through the Tomorrowland Speedway.
As if our day hadn’t been filled with magic we had a chance encounter with the “Million Dreams” cast members and we were each given our very own commemorative mouse ears.  I honestly didn’t know who was having more fun, me or the grandkids.
For dinner we head over to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Whispering at the Canyon Café.  While we were there a young child at a near-by table was getting cranky.  Who could blame the poor kid, he’d probably been on the go all day and missed his nap and now he was in full cry mode as his father yelled at him to eat telling him he’d go hungry if he didn’t.  I felt so sorry for the kid but a tug at my arm caught my attention.
My granddaughter motioned to me that she was going to share a secret with me so I leaned in closer. “Grandma,” she whispered, “That little boy better stop crying.  Doesn’t he know that there’s no crying at Disney?”
It seems my oldest son decided to perpetrate the lie I had told to he and his brother on their trip to Disney and probably explained why the kids seemed like perfect angels all day every day.  Oh how they lies come back to haunt you.

The next day was our last full day at Disney and so we had to put it to good use.  We began the day at Epcot Center.  When I put my teacher hat on this is one of my favorite parks. The park is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement. 
The park consists of two sections; Future World and World Showcase, laid out in an hourglass shape.  Future World consists of a variety of pavilions that explore innovative aspects and applications of technology.  World Showcase contains pavilions representing eleven countries. 
I enjoyed strolling through the various country pavilions but I knew the kids would be more interested in rides.
We made sure to ride the Viking ships of the Mælstrom.  The ride is a mix between a log chute and a traditional film attraction located in the Norway pavilion of the World Showcase.  We also rode the indoor log flume Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros which is housed within the pyramid-shaped Mexico pavilion.

Then we decided to head over to Disney’s MGM Studios.  (Back then it was called that but now it is called Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)  Disney's Hollywood Studios does not have a defined layout like the other parks.  It is more a mass of streets and buildings that blend into each other, much like a real motion picture studio. 
Top on my husband’s list of to-do’s at this park was the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!  It is a scheduled 30-minute live show that recreates many of the memorable scenes from the Indiana Jones movie series—and reveals the secrets behind the stunts and special effects.
My husband and my grandsons also voted the stunt car show.  During that show we learned how Hollywood stuntmen choreograph and film complex vehicle stunts with amazing split-second precision.
In addition to the shows we attended we rode the “fright elevator” at the Twighlight Zone Tower of Terror.  While I screamed and clutched my husband during the ride glad to arrive safely at the other end, the grandkids were already begging to go back on the ride. 
I hated for the day to end because I knew that we would be leaving the magical kingdom and heading back home.

Our final day began with a character breakfast at the 1900 Park Fare restaurant which is located at our hotel, the Grand Floridian.  Since I had never been to a character dinner I didn’t know what to expect but it was really something special.  Not only was the food delicious but we were treated to visits from various Disney characters.  We met Mary Poppins, Alice, Mad Hatter, Pooh and Tigger too.
Did I mention yet how wonderful the food was?  There was custom made omelets, corned beef hash, fresh fruit, strawberry soup, and so much more.  My favorite was the Mickey shaped waffles! 
After breakfast it was time to say good-bye to our dream vacation.  I honestly believed that this may well be the last time I ever saw Disney World but little did I know……..

Disclaimer: In keeping with the FTC rules I would like to inform you that I received no financial compensation for this post. I will receive an entry in a sweepstakes to WIN a trip for 4 to Disney World (hotel and airfare included)! 

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