Our semi-annual trip to Disney World began the way a lot of trips to Disney begin – with a video:
Although ol’ Walt must have rolled in his grave when Hailey confused Chuck E. Cheese with Mickey Mouse, our Disney surprise video ends well. Both kids were in a happy state of shock, not disappointed or wracked with tears. Watch those videos – the Disney surprise trick can go south pretty quickly…
Having successfully surprised the kids, we loaded the Sienna with a full tank of gas and that dual-screen DVD player and drove eight hours to the condo we rented in Kissimmee, Florida. We had a nice stay at the Liki Tiki Village Resort, despite its less-than-watertight name. There was a shuffleboard court, a few holes of mini-golf, a nice playground, and a super-cool pool with slides and fountains and a bar nearby. After all those hours in the car, the kids wanted to hit the pool as soon as we dropped our bags at the condo, and Jon and I wanted a drink, so we headed down and all got wet before the pool closed for the night. As darkness fell, we stayed poolside and watched other vacationers perform Karaoke. (People really, really, need to stop singing ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ Adele makes it look easy – that doesn’t mean YOU can do it.) A little girl got up and sang ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’, or some such cuteness and Evan decided he wanted to be part of the action, too. So, I’m happy to say that Little E made his stage debut right there by the Liki Tiki pool with a somewhat subdued, if pitch-perfect, rendition of ‘Old MacDonald’.
Neither Jon or I had our phones with us to capture the moment, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that both the song and the dancing clinic that Hailey and Evan put on out there were real crowd-pleasers.
The next day, it was time to go see a man about a Mouse.
As always, I am blown away by the Disney Empire’s ability to take so, so much money from consumers and yet not leave the public feeling robbed. (By ‘consumers’ and ‘the public’, I mean ‘me’.) Jon and I talked about this, trying to quantify what constitutes the ‘Disney Magic’, but we haven’t been able to put our fingers on it. (Speaking of fingers, we had ours scanned at the park entrance – a nice Orwellian touch to the Kingdom, I think.) Is that unique Disney feeling produced by the friendliness of the staff? The unique animatronics? The general, all-over, agreed-upon corniness? The characters? The rides? The parades? Subliminal messaging? I know a healthy portion of that magic we pay big bucks for is contained in the tone of Hailey’s voice when she shouted, ‘There’s Ariel!’, during a parade, or the look on her face when Tinker Bell invited her to visit Pixie Hollow.
Evan got to shoot Zurg with a laser:
and he was in hysterics over the animatronic rhino who had ripped a hole in an explorer’s pants on the Jungle Safari ride.
We spent all day at the Magic Kingdom, enjoyed perfect weather, short lines and the absolute charm of our own kids. On the road down to Florida, I’m not ashamed to admit that Jon and I both burst into tears when we looked back at Hailey in the back seat, watching a video with headphones and looking every inch a teenager. How many more years of magic will we be afforded with our kids? Who knows – but we’re not going to waste any of them.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our vacation chronicles, where we get up close and personal with those gators…