"It's a small world after all. And a happy one."
That's the last line of that springy little song that played on the slow boat ride through the dancing dolls of the world at Disney World.
The family visit was great. My aunt, uncle and cousins moved down to Florida a few years ago. We spent nearly every Sunday together for years and years, so it was marvelous to be together again. Our kids played together. My uncle made Indian food, and my aunt made baked ziti. It was like old times.
Then we drove up North to Disney World. I never planned on going to Disney World. Dancing dolls and fake France and people dressed up as Cinderella just isn't my cup of tea. But I got talked into going and really had a blast.
Thanks to all for the tips on dealing with Disney. I copied down all the advice and followed much of it. We made dinner reservations ahead of time and stayed at one of the Disney hotels. We had a general plan of action before hand. The place is so big that it helps to have some semblance of a game plan before you get there. (And planning a vacation makes us happy, too.)
We had a rough start. Orlando was unusually cold and windy. We got off to a late start, because I was having a hard time leaving my cousin, Jennifer. When we got there, somebody's coat wasn't absolutely correct
and somebody was ticked off that we took the ferry instead of
the monorail. Then the place was extremely crowded with 70 minute waits for the rides. I sent out some grumbling tweets from the line for the railroad roller coaster.
One of the reasons that Disney is fantastic is that they offer a special pass for families with kids with special needs. With this pass, we were able to jump to the head of every line. At first I didn't want to get the card, because Ian isn't in a wheel chair or anything; he was far more patient than I was on the lines. But one 70 minute wait for a roller coaster helped cure me of my Catholic guilt. The Golden Ticket improved the trip greatly.
Another reason that Disney is great is that the whole place is set up for families. You can eat a halfway decent meal with spices and vegetables at a Moroccan or New Orleans themed restaurant, and the kids can eat mini-pizzas with carrot sticks and apple slices. The Moroccan restaurant has music and a belly dancer who pulls the kids onto the floor to teach them moves. While you're checking into the hotel, the kids sit on little chairs and watch old Mickey Mouse silent films in the corner. You can rent strollers everywhere that are big enough for weary seven year olds, who aren't used to walking for ten hours straight. The food isn't completely authentic and it weird to go out to a nice restaurant in sneakers and jeans, but Disney makes it just so damn easy.
You have to marvel at the operations of the place. They must have a huge staff that does everything from put on stage productions, runs rides, takes tickets, creates t-shirts, builds sets, removes trash, makes food, puts on parades, and transports people about. And it all runs smoothly. The staff was incredibly efficient. You got the impression that they were very satisfied with their jobs. What if Disney ran city government?
The sets were amazing. One section of Epcot is devoted to world cultures. It's like the Small World ride blown up. They have clusters of buildings and streets devoted to Norway, Morocco, Italy, England, China, and Japan. It's a very sanitized, cartoony version of these cultures, but it's fun just the same. Steve was amused that Russia wasn't represented, because Epcot was built during the Cold War. India was also missing. If you live in New York City, you have access to all the food and products that they had at Epcot, so we didn't buy anything, but it was fun just browsing.
The rides were lots of fun. The kids loved Space Mountain and a Buzz Lightyear ride. Steve and I were amused at some of the old holdovers from our childhood trips to Disney. They still have The Hall of the Presidents.
Both Epcot and Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom have rides and displays with a futuristic theme. But it's a 70s version of the future with lots of shiny metal and space travel. There's nothing about the Internet or energy conservation or green living. "In the future, we'll all have portable communication devices." It's wonderfully campy.
And it's just so much fun to see your kids having fun.
We didn't get to do everything we wanted. Jonah is disappointed that we didn't get to go on the motorway, and Ian wants to do the Buzz Lightyear ride again. So, we're already planning next year's trip.