Thursday, February 21, 2019

Disney-ing: Part 4

Welcome back to this week's blog series:
The Wonderful World of Disney: An Extensive Recap for Those Who are Always “Curiouser and curiouser!”
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 and 3 here) 

Gigglingat the Monster's Inc and Turtle Talk with Crush shows. These shows have animated characters interact in real time with the audience, and it's hysterical (and frankly astounding...even though I technically understand how it works, it still feels pretty magical). They throw in a bit of (kid-safe) adult humor, poking fun at different people and saying some stuff that goes over the kids' heads, so Dustin and I got an extra chuckle in there (we're all actually still repeating some of the jokes!) Piper and Fin were each chosen to be a part of one of the shows which made it even more special.

Watching: every Disney movie we could possibly get our hands on. (through Netflix, YouTube TV, the library, some dark corners of the internet...) Yes- I made my kids cram for Disney. It was maybe a little silly, but I loved building the anticipation and it was fun to show them movies I loved as a kid (not sure why we haven't watched them sooner). I expected there to be some duds in there, but they honestly loved all of them- even the ones that upon a fresh viewing I found a little boring (not naming names but it might rhyme with Schnow Schwight) or scary (what is going on in Pinocchio?!) We found a few flicks we universally adored (Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast...) discovered Miller was surprisingly brave (didn't bat an eye at Maleficent turning into a dragon), and saw Fin's softer side (she cries at some point during every movie, without fail). As is becoming the theme with this whole trip, all of this studying-up was probably overkill...I'm lucky their brains didn't turn into mush after near nightly mandated viewings. But, as is also the theme, it all paid off. Like most things, Disney is best when you go all in, and it was fun to go in deep for a bit. Having a frame of reference helped them to enjoy things so much more...and it showed every time they recognized a character, or sang along with a song.

Pretending: I caught magical gems in the PhilharMagic 3D movie. Wait what? Let me back up a bit...A few years ago, our friends were prepping for a trip to Disney, and she mentioned that she had to go buy red gems from the craft store for their trip. Wait what? She explained, that at Magic Kingdom, there is a 3D movie in which Ariel appears to throw gems into the audience. Her plan (that was suggested to her by other moms who have traveled this road before) was to wait for that part, and then toss the gems into her girls' laps, convincing them they had really caught a piece of the show. At the time I couldn't roll my eyes hard enough...I mean, I love her, but seriously? All this effort to enhance the already incredible magic of Fantasyland? Shouldn't taking these kids to the happiest place be sufficient? Do we really have to manufacture wonders on top of it all? (With all the stuff-buying, and surprise-packing I had been doing, I know my attitude sounds a little hypocritical....I have no idea why this is where I draw a dramatic line of principles.) Welllllll, fast forward to our trip- we're standing waiting for PhilharMagic to start, and a woman leans over to Dustin and tucks 4 red gemstones in his hand, whispering "I believe these will come in handy during the show..." He passed them, and the message, on to me and I about died laughing. Of all the people in the crowd for her to find...and for all of my this point I had to just embrace it. So when we found ourselves in the fourth row of the auditorium with Arial tossing out 3D treasure images I encouraged the kids to try to grab them- eventually revealing that I had caught some for each of them. And they were utterly amazed. Piper must have asked me four times if I had really caught them (because she tried but couldn't grab any!)...she still talks about it (with a mix of awe and suspicion). It was fun little memory, and a reminder for me that you don't have to do anything special to make Disney magical, but it can be extra fun to let yourself get swept up in the wonder of it all. 

Buying: one main souvenir for everyone. We told the kids they could each pick one thing to buy, so they kept their eyes out all week. Lucky for them, just about every ride drops you off right into a gift shop, so there was no shortage of browsing opportunities. Fin wanted basically everything (I eventually started taking her picture with things for her to "remember her wish list"- in an attempt to dull the pain of not purchasing every adorable stuffie we saw.) Piper was overwhelmed by options. And Miller waffled between a Beast stuffie and some Toy Story figurines. On the last day, they were overjoyed to finally pick something out. Piper and Fin each got a stuffed animal (baby versions of Disney characters that come in a little stork blanket. Disney knows what little girls like) and Miller went with Toy Story (what kid can pass up the chance to have his very own Zurg!) 
I wasn't sure if I would get a souvenir for myself or not...We had already been spending money hand over fist for this trip, so I didn't think I really needed one more expense. But when I saw a key-chain in the shape of a Mickey pretzel I knew it had to come home with me. (and of course- I've got a plan to turn it into an ornament!)  

Meeting: all of our favorite characters! I've gone on and on (and on and on) about this, but it's just one of the most unique parts of Disney, and even though we weren't all Disney-obsessed (or even particularly Disney-familiar) before we went, it was still a huge highlight of the trip. All three kids loved the meet and greets- eagerly waiting their turn, excitedly shrieking when they saw a particular fav, and shyly smiling while they hugged and posed for pictures. Fin went into the trip wanting to meet Daisy, Minnie and Aurora, and thankfully we got to see them all. Miller was particularly pumped about Baymax and Wreck it Ralph, Piper likes everything, so it's a little hard to determine her favorite and I was legitimately enamored by Gaston (there's no one as burly and brawny!) We got to meet nearly everyone we dreamed of (Rapunzel and Cinderella's Fairy Godmother are on my list for next time) ncluding most of the princesses who were all stunning, if a little overly-polite (I tend to like the spunk of the villians). Mulan was our only minor let down- the girls told her they loved her panda, and she had no clue what they were talking about. (Lessons for Princesses- 1: you need to know your own back story, and 2: if a kid says something to you...just play along!) Fin and Miller were especially funny with their interactions, reporting "they were SO soft" about everyone they met ("I touched Daisy's tail!!", "I felt Ariel's hair!!") I just rewatched the video of Fin meeting Goofy, and saw that she was trying to covertly stroke his ear while he signed our book. I think maybe my kids were the real characters...

Struggling: with all the walking. I didn't track it, but I've heard it can be around 10 miles a day (and with the inefficient meandering routes we tended to travel, I'm sure we made it to that number or more). We rented a double stroller, and brought our own single stroller just in case. (Piper could probably physically handle all the walking, but handling the jealousy of siblings who get to ride all day is another matter altogether). We went with the double only on the first day (which helped us be slightly more nimble getting in and out of the rain) but we brought the single along for Epcot which was beyond helpful in keeping everyone happy visiting country after country. I judge a lot of parenting choices in regular environments, but at Disney- I support whatever makes someone's trip easier/happier. So even if it might have been slightly unnecessary, I had no issue with pushing an "extra" stroller some of the time. And frankly it was nice to have a "bag on wheels", saving me from lugging waterbottles (and snacks, and extra shoes, and jackets) all over tarnation.

Collecting: pressed pennies. Some things on this trip were more for me than anyone else, and this was one of them. I packed $10 worth of quarters (stacked and ready in an M&M Mini's container), which was enough to get 20 pressed pennies. We found machines all over the parks, and the kids loved picking different designs and turning the crank. There were probably hundreds of options, so I tried to get ones that would serve as mementos from specific things on our trip- we have them from big rides we went on, the resort we stayed at, and characters we especially loved. What am I going to do with my pile of smashed coins now? No idea! But it was fun finding them all anyway! (and in extra-crazy fashion, I may have asked a friend to pick up a few that I missed when she went to the parks last week...A splash mountain memento is a need not a want!)

Sayingyes. To nearly everything. Cotton candy before lunch (and dinner). Carrying them when they're tired (/lazy). Popcorn. More popcorn. Dancing in the streets. Pushing the stroller so fast it makes their hair blow. A lollipop the size of Fin's head. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. This is not sustainable parenting. This is not character shaping diligence. This is an epic family vacation, which is founded on an excess of yes. 

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