Well, we are back. And I think the photo below says it all.
This is pure happiness for a child. A giant lollipop, mouse ears and the parade down Main Street. What could be better?
No matter how you may feel about the mass marketing machine that is the Disney corporation--and I know this is a complicated subject in and of itself--it is such a joy to give a child these moments of fantasy and bliss. We completely immersed ourselves in the magic of Disneyworld on this trip and have no regrets.
Jay was very busy 180 days prior to our trip. He learned on our last trip that all the best activities and meal opportunities book up 6 months to the day, sometimes to the hour, ahead of time, as this is when reservations open. Although I am somewhat embarassed to admit the extent to which we joined in this craziness, I am also proud of Jay for learning and working the system so our kids had a truly magical experience. We had to eat anyway, so why not at the hard-to-reserve character breakfasts?! At least this is how I am justifying all this.
Because of his diligence, the boys went on a Pirate Cruise and searched for treasure in the lagoon outside of the Magic Kingdom, while the girls had tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter.
And just so you know that I showed some restraint, our girls did NOT visit the Bippety Bobbedy Salon for princess hairdos before the tea, as did many of the other participants. We just went au natural, considering just being there to be enough. And you know what? It was!
The whole family enjoyed dining at Chef Mickey, as evidenced below. Our kids waved their autograph books (yes, we even did THAT) and the characters came right to the table to sign them. This was really a gift for mom and dad who did not have to stand in line to meet the characters in the park.
The real show stopper was breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Castle. Did you know there is a small restaurant upstairs in the the Fantasyland Castle? I never did, but it's there! Jay got up at 3am West Coast time one day to secure this reservation, as it fills up within minutes of opening. At the time I thought he was nuts, but we had so much fun. The castle is beautiful inside, the breakfast was wonderful and well-served, and we got into the park before it opened, a benefit we reaped even after breakfast was over. Everyone was so nice, especially to Julia who was a little shy of seeing her favorite princesses in the flesh. Jasmine took the time to sit down with her when Julia was too shy to get up to greet her.
Throughout the trip, our encounters with Disney "cast members" was nothing short of exceptional. They all went above and beyond to make sure our kids had a wonderful experience. When we entered the Pirates of the Carribean, our boys were still clutching the swords they received at Cinderella's Breakfast (they were young knights, of course!) and the man telling us what boat to get into whipped out his own sword and engaged them in a sword fight right there. A completely unexpected joy for young boys, I assure you.
The stunt men in the Indiana Jones show and the Car Stunt Driving Show at the Disney/MGM park both stayed after and chatted with the kids, giving them a really good time.
Jay and I especially enjoyed our dinners at Epcot, the only place on earth I know of where you can have an authentic, ethnic meal in a good restaurant with kids in tow! My favorite was Japan, where they cook on the table in front of you, and Jay's was France, as we rarely get French food (for five obvious reasons!).
Yes, it was a magical, fantastic, indulgent week for us all. How lucky we are to have this silver lining to Jay's travel. It is fitting that we use all the points he earns while away from us to bond us all back together again.
And just in the nick of time--Jay left this morning for South Africa for 8 long days. It is the farthest and longest he has been gone from us. But, we thank God for his job and for the recent vacation memories we have to sustain us. And I'll just think of all those airline miles and hotel points reaccumulating for our next magical vacation.