Friday, February 22, 2019

Disney-ing: The Grand Finale

Welcome back to this week's blog series:
The Wonderful World of Disney: A Travel Tale As Old Long As Time
covering all the 'ings from our recent trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth(If you missed it- you can catch up on Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 here) 

Last we go!

Taking: a million(ish) pictures and video. We signed up in advance for Disney's Memory Maker- which allowed us to download any professional photos taken in the parks. (Remember the (super) old days when you'd go to an amusement park and they'd wrangle you for a picture at the front door, and then you'd be able to purchase it as a keepsake viewfinder keychain 8+ hours later? This is basically that...but better in every way). I wasn't totally sure if this was worth the money, but the theme of this trip was more or less "go for it" so we gave it a shot...and it ended up being pretty fun! We got a few great shots of us on the rides (which I always love seeing, but can never rationalize buying) and it was nice to have a few photos of all of us without having to beg a stranger to snap it. We got a ton of character meet and greets- which meant I could just watch (or take video) without having to worry about capturing the moment. They also do "magic shots" which are super cheesy and super fun- adding little characters and special touches to your pictures. My kids are accustomed to my insatiable need for family photos, but that doesn't mean they always cooperate- but I found they were much more willing to pose for the "real" photographers...and the magic shots were an extra motivator because they loved to be surprised by what showed up in their photos. The quality of the photos is a bit hit or miss (cropping can be a little strange, they're not artfully lit/filtered) but there are enough gems in there that it was worth trying.

But of course we didn't just rely on the pros- I snapped a million of my own pics, and I'm hoping to compile the video into a little film of the whole trip (you know...someday...) Before we went, I had no real thought as to how much I would be posting to social media (though I did have requests for lots of Insta stories! Everyone loves living vicariously through other people's vacays!) but once we were there I just didn't really feel the need to share much in real time. I had my phone out plenty, taking pictures and videos, but I was happy to save the editing and posting for later. Each night I posted the highlights to stories, which was a fun way to relive the day without taking away from actually being in the moment.

I was hit with waves of nostalgia throughout our trip, and one thing that really made me laugh was thinking back to what vacation photos were like back in the film days. Can you image being limited to 24 shots per roll?! I must have taken that many of our in-flight snack! There might be 3 good quality snapshots from all of the 1990's of me and my fluorescent biker shorts skipping around Magic Kingdom...meanwhile, my kids will be able to make a feature-length flip book of That Time We Fell Asleep on the Bus from the Airport. So whenever I got bummed at not having the world's most perfect shot of the world's most adorable kids in front of the world's most beautiful castle, I tried to remember that my mom had to settle for whatever the drugstore print processing surprised her with- even if that meant most of them were an eyes-half closed, slightly blurry, at least we're all facing the same direction, and I think that's a palm tree in the background print...with a cameo of my dad's thumb.

Thinking: about the next time we can come back (starting basically from the minute we arrived). I'm leaning towards trying it again in 4 years or so (when everyone is around elementary school age- old enough to do a bit more, but not so old that they're embarrassed to be seen with me). But I wouldn't be shocked if we found a reason to do it sooner. (Ooooh, maybe a Disney cruise!)

For what it's worth, the kids actually haven't begged to go back...Piper was sad about leaving, but Fin actually said that she doesn't want to go back- "too much going. go here, go there, go go go". (She loves to be contrary, so I don't put a lot of stock into her grumblings).

Crying: at Frozen Sing Along. Well, one of us did anyway (turns out Dustin is a bit of a softie!) I actually thought I would be the one getting all emotional about things, but I wasn't as sappy as I thought. I definitely got sentimental about things- remembering trips from my childhood, and wanting to just burn these memories into my brain (they grow up so fast! etc etc) But we all have our moments, and something about the Frozen show made Dustin melt. (To be fair, he didn't actually cry- he might have just gotten a wee bit misty eyed for a minute). I teased him a bit about it, but it really was quite sweet. He said that it was just so much work to get them there, deal with behavior, spend all the money, and on and on, but for just one magical moment the snow starts to fall, and hundreds of kids are singing their hearts out, and that makes it all worth it. 

There were probably hundreds of moments like this throughout the trip- when their eyes opened wide in wonder, when they gasped at seeing a princess, when they couldn't contain their giggles. I tried really hard to step outside of the busyness of it all whenever I could, and just really enjoy the simple thrill of experiencing things with them. Miller in particular was a prime age for being absolutely astounded by it all, and I don't take it for granted that they all wanted to sit on my lap, hold my hand, skip down the paths together...I can't even count the number of times I heard "Look, mama, look!" (or Miller's signature phrase: "Mom- you've GOT to try/see/feel this!")- they were so eager to take it all in, and share that joy with us which was just the absolute best.

Embracing: the unexpected. As much as I love planning, I also know that some of the best parts of any trip are the moments you didn't anticipate. Some fun surprises: dancing with the Incredibles (they had an informal little song/dance show going throughout the day that people could join in. Miller especially loves those characters so he was on cloud 9 to get to hang with Mr. Incredible himself!), finding ourselves front row for the mid-day show at Cinderella's castle (I hadn't kept up with the schedule enough to know when the shows were, but we were wandering near the castle when we heard fireworks...we made our way down to the stage and got an up-close view of all of the fun!), and meeting Cinderella's step-sisters (they weren't listed as an available character meet and greet on the app, which I was bummed about because I had heard they were super funny. But we found ourselves with a few minutes to kill before our next Fastpass time opened up and we spotted them nearby. It ended up being one of my favorite character interactions!)

Surprising: myself with how much I've gotten into all of this. I joked before I went that I was going to become a "Disney person" (first come the Minnie ears on my head, then it's a slippery slope to stick figure Mickeys on the back of my car! Fear not- that has not actually happened.) It made sense to embrace all things Disney as we prepped for the trip, but even after we came home, a lot of that fairy dust seemed to stick. Weeks later and we're still watching the movies, listening to the songs, reading our book of characters, and playing with our souvenir toys. I had actual Disney dreams every night for two weeks after we came home (and not the stressful "I forgot to pack the ponchos!" kind). I'm sure some of that post-Disney high will fade, but for now it's fun to keep a bit of that magical spirit with us. (Heaven knows February and its miserable weather can use all the happy thoughts it can get).

Ignoring: the outside world. Our day-to-day life tends to be jam packed with things...lots of super good things, but still lots of things: work, volunteering, chores, social media, friends, date nights, family, super-boring grown up stuff...But for 4+ days none of that existed. It was still jam packed, but in a totally different way. There was nothing else beckoning for our attention, nothing else we had to get done. It was just the five of us, having fun, together.

Forgetting: all the bad parts. One day Piper was complaining about something (one guess? Probably the rain. Can't blame her one bit!) And I agreed- there are some parts of Disney that are just not fun. But I also told her the absolute truth- that I went to Disney multiple times as a kid, and while I'm sure there must have been rough times in there, I honestly only remember the good stuff. Actually...I remember it all...but I remember it all being good stuff. Somehow things transform when viewed through the looking glass of time. And the stuff that wasn't so awesome actually seems to stick in our memories the most...but with a new aura around it; the mishaps become funny, and the struggles are recalled as adventures. And I know that will happen with this trip. In some ways I'm thankful for the less-than-perfect bits, so that someday we can giggle that much more about the "remember when..." tales.
 Remember when Daddy found out the difference between a rain jacket and a windbreaker is that only one of those things actually keeps you dry? Remember when the wheel kept falling off of our stroller when we tried to carry it on the bus? Remember when it took Mama three days to figure out you could choose what design you wanted from the penny machines instead of just accepting it at random? Remember when we couldn't figure out how to get out of baggage claim and we had to try every floor off of the elevator? Remember when Miller nearly gave himself a black eye because he was so oblivious on the playground slide? Remember when Crush kept calling Fin "Tinley"?   Remember when Mama made us all ride Splash Mountain and she ended up the driest one? Remember when Daddy had to babysit the dryer because our wet shoes kept banging the door open? Remember when had to split up on Slinky Dog and Mama got to ride with an adorable little Hispanic grandma? Remember when Piper's popsicle broke but Mama caught it, so Piper had to eat the rest of it out of her (freezing cold) hand? Remember when we took the wrong monorail at the airport and ended up having to go back and around again to get to our terminal? 
Yep. I remember. And it was awesome.

Feeling: full (of carbs), overwhelmed (by sensory and happiness overload), exhausted ( tired), and really really thankful.

Knowing: my kids may not remember much, or any of this...but being totally ok with it, because I've stored away enough magical memories for all of us.

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