Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Disney-ing: Part 3

Welcome back to this week's blog series:
The Wonderful World of Disney: 8,000 Words to Describe 4 Days
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, and 2 here)

Hoping: Miller was going to be tall enough to ride everything with us. I know we could work out some ride swaps, and take turns on bigger stuff, but I just really wanted us to get to experience things together. I knew he'd feel left out if he didn't get to do the same things as the girls, and I would have been sad to have to split up. We measured him before we went and he was just a hair shy of the 40" cutoff for some of the bigger we bought him new sneakers (with thicker soles than his current lightweight Nikes), and had him practice standing super-duper straight. It was still really close, with his hair touching the line of their measuring sticks, but he made it, and we got to do all the attractions as a family. (Piper was the only one that met the 44" and 48" height restriction, so we did take turns going on quick runs with just her- she got to do Space Mountain with me, and Tower of Terror with Dustin.)

It's hard to choose a favorite ride, because we all really loved them all...but Slinky Dog had to be just about the top (probably because we hyped it up so much in advance...but it's really a fun one!) I could probably just list everything we went on, but some that were particularly great: Seven Dwarves Mine Train (Fastpass coming in clutch here), Soarin', Frozen Ever After, Splash Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Dustin's favorite was Toy Story Mania, which I'm pretty sure is mostly because he outscored us all in the shooting contest. We all tended to prefer rides with a bit of a thrill factor, but the tamer rides were still big hits, especially The Journey of the Little Mermaid (Miller was pretty scared to see Ursula...but he ended up loving it!), the teacups, the Jungle Cruise, It's a Small World (Piper's favorite) and Pirates of the Carribbean (another one they started out scared of, and then wouldn't stop raving about!)   

Smelling: the scent of the hotel. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, which was beach themed- including the smell of coconuts wafting through the lobby. Honestly I wasn't sure if I was going to love our hotel, because it seemed a bit too nice. I kinda preferred the over-the-top themes of the value resorts (with giant character sculptures everywhere) and thought that the moderate hotels might just feel like any other vacation resort. But there were still Disney touches everywhere, and we got a really great deal, so I can't complain. The kids had fun on our first night exploring the resort- they had movies playing in the lobby, a playground and hammocks, and a campfire to make s'mores. It would have been really great to if it was warmer (theme of the trip...I'll try not to harp on it) so we could take advantage of the giant pirate ship pool. (The kids were begging to get in, despite it being in the low 60's). We were nice and cozy in our room for five, two queen beds, plus a bed that pulled down from the wall- (which Fin of course called dibs on immediately)! We got to see (and smell) a couple other resorts- we had dinner at the Contemporary on our first night there, and on the last day we visited the Art of Animation (mostly to tour the Cars section- Miller was obsessed!) And while I still think we might have had fun at another resort- you really can't go wrong at Disney- they're all marvelous in their own way...which is one of the bajillion ways they convince you to come back.

Wearing: so much Disney apparel. I'm a sucker for themed outfits (bonus for matching!) so this was a perfect excuse for new gear. I scoured the Old Navy and Kohl's clearance racks for a few months before we went, and found a few sets (ok, 6 sets...) of matching items for the kids (though I drew the line at getting shirts for me and Dustin. I know a lot of people are into the whole screenprinted "Disney Mom 2019" thing, but it's just not my scene). I did, however, fully embrace Minnie ears. The girls each had two sets (Some cheapies from Target, and the fun sequined versions from Claire's that we gave them when we announced our trip) and I got a couple pairs for myself on Amazon (because as much as I wanted them, I couldn't rationalize spending $26/pair at the parks for something I was going to wear for a total of 24 hours). Miller even got a pair of Mickey ears...I only pushed them on him one day, which I could feel was probably his limit. I planned the kids' outfits in advance, and packed them all in one 2-gallon ziplock bag per day (undies, socks and all!). This made getting dressed so easy,- each morning I just tossed them the bag, and they got ready while I showered. They liked it too- one more surprise every day! I was a little sad that they had to wear coats most of the time, so they couldn't show off our looks, but I did make them strip down for the occasional picture, so all was not lost!

Noticing: the tiny little touches around Disney that make it extra magical. Yes, the shows are awesome, and the characters are so fun, and the rides are brilliant....but there are smaller things everywhere that just take it to another level. The grounds are pristine...just incredibly well maintained. The theming and design of every area is really just perfection- they go all out to make things look authentic, whimsical, and nostalgic (Toy Story land is particularly fantastic...I almost wanted to wait in line, just to get to gawk at all the set design in the queues). The cast members (the name for everyone who works there, because they're all a part of the production, regardless of role) go out of their way to make sure you have a "magical day". When a cast member overheard Fin and Miller saying they didn't want to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, they called them over to a "secret barrel" where they gave them pirate Mickey stickers (and then they happily boarded the boat without another word). After meeting Tinkerbell, one of our girls asked if we thought she was the "real Tinkerbell", and a cast member leaned down to whisper, "Did she give you fairy dust"? She then doled out little bags of sequins to each of our kids with instructions to sprinkle it under their pillows that night and make a wish. It's all little stuff, but it's part of a grand scheme that makes you feel amazed and special at every turn. 

Marvelingat how well Miller managed without a nap for a week straight. (and related- how he can sleep just about anywhere if he needs to). We didn't carve out time for a nap, figuring he could probably manage without it, and could also crash in the stroller if needed, and he did awesome! He was too into the action of all of it to even consider a real nap, but all that go-going did get the best of him most days, and he would sack out on the bus (or in my arms, or in the booth at dinner, crayon still in hand...) At one point he even fell asleep on Piper's shoulder during one of the slower rides. Fin is also notorious for her ability to sleep anywhere, so she conked out a time or two as well. Us big kids survived without naps, but we allllll slept hard at night, for sure.

Needing: a bit more downtime (speaking of naps....) We had four straight days in the parks, which was a bit of a frantic pace. It would have been really nice to have a day off in there to recover and decompress a bit. There were plenty of breaks throughout each day, to eat, wait in line, or otherwise just mosey around, but they were still long days. And because I wanted to take advantage of the early morning hours to pack in some activities before the crowds got too crazy, it meant we had to be thoughtful about not staying out crazy late running ourselves ragged. My kids tend to be a little bit more "home-bodied" than I do, so they would have especially loved an "off day" where I wasn't telling them to get their shoes on and get moving (the endless refrain of their childhood, I'm sure, if you ask them).

Opening: the Disney app one thousand times an hour. I used it for absolutely everything from reservations, to Fastpasses, to bus times, to meal credit tracking....and on and on and on. It seriously does it all. And I cannot exaggerate how into the "Wait times" feature I got. OB-SESSED. I got a thrill whenever I saw wait times way higher than what we experienced. (Dustin semi-politely endured my endless reporting- "Babe! Can you believe it?! 75 minutes! We waited 5!) Yes, I like to feel like I'm winning the imaginary prize for efficiency, but I also 
find the "civil engineering" of it all endlessly fascinating- how they plan the flow of people, and the amount of data they collect and store and optimize off of. It's a nerdy paradise!

Hiding: souvenirs I got in advance to give as surprises throughout the trip. I knew things in the parks can be crazy expensive, so I picked up a bunch of stuff beforehand to hopefully keep the "I want itttttt" fits to a minimum. Between some good sales, some dollar store finds, and some gifts from a fellow stockpiler/mom friend I ended up with quite the stash of little trinkets- stuffed animals, Tsum Tsums, magic wands, notebooks, figurines, glow sticks. Ok- it sounds totally excessive when I see it all written out like that (and yes- I did feel pretty crazy bringing a suitcase stuffed with toys) but it ended up being about one surprise per day. It was fun to spoil them a bit, but they also worked as great bribes (ahem, motivators) for good behavior. Having little toys occupied Miller well during all the waiting and walking, and Fin especially looked forward to a surprise waiting for her at the hotel each night. (Her love language is stuffies.)

Praying: That no one would get sick. I was terrified that one of us would come down with something and it would ruin our trip (basically the only things I can't control- the weather and our health). Fin had a bit of a cold before we left, and it was making its way through me...but I refused to be sick, so I rolled on some essential oils (borrowed in a last minute panic from a friend) and drank an Emergen-C every morning on our way to the parks. Our kids ended up passing a cough between them but thankfully everyone stayed in pretty good shape (and bonus- they didn't even break an arm jumping all over the hotel beds!)

(see you tomorrow for another round of 'ings!)
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