Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Saturday, January 24: Let the Magic Begin!

If I could write a rulebook (again, not a guidebook, but a rulebook that parents had to obey) for Disney visitors, the second rule would be "Chill. Out. It's their vacation, too."
Our first full day at Disney World generally begins at the Magic Kingdom. I don't feel like I am really "there" until I've seen that castle. Sometimes, however, my castle view is delayed by crowds. Arriving at the Magic Kingdom at the same time as a monorail, a ferry, and two resort launches makes for a busy entry, generally accompanied by frantic parents pushing their strollers to be first, first, first in any line that crops up, sometimes disgruntled by the need for backpack searches, and occasionally and for no obvious reason removing the heads of the small people who's World this really is. It's a Magic buzz-kill, for sure, to see a mother dragging her 4 year old as he drags his feet and says he's tired and wants to stop, while she insists he's GOING to have FUN, since she's brought him ALL THIS WAY and spent ALL THIS MONEY. "Lady", I wish to say, "he doesn't actually appreciate the value of a dollar. All he knows is that he's tired, it's hot, and you're cranky. AND you obviously like his sister in her baby pink stroller and $80 princess get-up better. You're on different pages. He's not sharing your agenda. He's, um, a kid." One certainly expects to see temper tantrums and horrible behavior at a child-geared theme park. One just prefers it if the children are the ones behaving badly. When things like this happen we hop on the Walt Disney World Railroad and get the hell out of the way. Those familiar with Mr. Disney will be aware that he had a penchant for trains.It's one I share. I've always been fascinated rail and boat travel. This means that attractions like ferries, launches, trains and such amuse me no end. We hopped on the train on Main Street and hopped off in Mickey's Toontown Fair. Once there, we entered the home of a good friend of ours. His DIY projects look a lot like my own...and although we share a penchant for overalls, his are from a different vendor (Mousekosh) than my own.His garden looks better than mine. Of course it is colder in New England than Florida. But I never have been able to get such delightful shapes to my tomatoes.Maybe this year.
I dragged Gene - I mean I encouraged Gene to get on the most important ride in the Magic Kingdom. The one that rots your brain and has you singing a certain tune over and over and over for the remainder of the day.Any guesses? It is a small world,after all...This is a required family tradition. Individuals who fail to get on this ride during each visit, unless it's closed, will be removed from the family Bible.
We wandered around Fantasyland, but didn't go on much. There were lines, and we don't "do" lines as a rule. Spoiled, aren't we? This was an early opening day, and a weekend. The parks are much more crowded on weekends than weekdays, so most of our weekend days are spent wandering and people watching.
Like these people. In Adventureland we found Jasmine and Aladdin signing and posing.I am always amazed by how much characters seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs. I must say, "suited rodent hugging small children" has always appealed to me as a job description. I mean, you can BE that character for the duration of that shift. How can that not be happy? Take this dude.So he's confronted with a mother who really wants a picture of her three kids with him. One kid is all into it. The twins in the stroller, not so much. They're freaked out by dude in green tights with a feather in his hat. They're not budging. About ten seconds after this was taken, he had them out of the stroller, smiling, giving high 5's, and posing for pictures as if they were not late for their nap.
Also in Adventureland is the infamous Dole Whip.Not a taste sensation I can personally recommend or embrace. Something about dairy and pineapple together that freaks me out. So I opted for something different and for me, new.My very first Mickey ice cream bar! As we stood in front of the castle, Gene with his mutilated pineapple and me with my perfectly rational chocolate covered ice cream, I saw a park guest make her way into the middle of the path, and begin a leisurely stroll toward Frontierland.Everyone is welcome at Disney, even ducks...after a few minutes of searching and finding nothing, she returned to her hiding place behind the ice cream cart. Quite cute.
The other thing we do at Disney is nap, or at least take a break of some kind in the early afternoon. This is a result of late nights and a general desire to be at peace with the universe. I find it easier to be at peace if I am not tired and cranky and running on creepy Nestle liquid espresso goo.We headed for the front of the park via Main Street USA,and wandered into a shop just in time for a performance by these guys. I am a big fan of a cappella musical performances, and also love harmonies. An old landlord was in a barbershop quartet and I used to help him practice.
After our exodus and rest/pool time we headed into Epcot for the evening. The first thing I discovered shook me to my core, and I hope isn't a sign of impending Epcot doom. Bad enough that they turned Fountainview Espresso bar into Fountainview Stupid Ice Cream Stop with No Coffee or Pastry for Gene. But...THERE'S NO FOUNTAIN TO VIEW!?!?!? I hope this is temporary. I hope it just means they're cleaning the jets, or changing the music, or something. But please, oh, PLEASE Mickey, do NOT kill off that fountain!!
We had dinner reservations for Teppan Edo, in the Japan pavillion.Chefs prepare your dinner on a high-top hibachi grill. If you are a party smaller than 8, you will be asked to share your table. We were seated with a family of 4 from Chicago, originally from Wisconsin, and a couple from Georgia, where the Masters' is held (that's Augusta for the non-golfers). Gluten free peoples get their food cooked first, and I was given a special jar of soy sauce. No other sauces were provided, as I'd heard others received. Little sad, but I lived. The food is very simple - very Japanese. White rice is available, and I ordered a sake sampler. A sake sampler that was more than sufficient to keep me in a happy glow, so I pawned a bunch off on Gene. Sake, she packs a punch...I had edamame as well. Once my food was cooked up and served, the chef began preparing everyone else's dinner. Each diner was given a sauce dish containing 3 different sauces; one for seafood, one for chicken and one for beef. Soy sauce was also available. I can't tell you how the sauces were as they were not on the "safe" list. Our dining companions were a delight, although one of them crashed pretty hard on his mom's arm before dinner ended. He seemed to have enjoyed himself! The chefs are engaging and funny, building cool things with your food while preparing it, with an accompanying running monologue. If you're on the dining plan, dessert is included with your meal, but you may not have room! We were not on the dining plan, but found ourselves quite stuffed. I had chicken and shrimp; all meals are served with onion and zucchini squash. Wheat eaters also receive a generous pile of yakatori noodle, stir-fried with sesame and soy.
After dinner we headed out to watch Illuminations at World Showcase. I love the music that accompanies this show.Someday I would love to do a romantic fireworks cruise here, maybe with champagne and flowers...(hint, hint...I know you're reading this, darling...no pressure, honey, but...) Actually maybe I don't want to. I just read some reviews here. Maybe just a "preferred viewing location" then!
I have no idea what we did next. I think there was walking, and riding of some Disney transportation, and then maybe more walking, and then eventually there was bedtime. I blame the sake. But there's more tomorrow, and that I remember!


marcy said...

thanks, guess where i am going saturday. pray for me!!! and the four little ones!!!!

tina said...

I'm still digging the travelogue, thanks!

You know, my kids grew up at Disney, 1x a week for years. They are still spoiled.

I'm so glad that you had such a wonderful trip (so far) you deserve it and more!

Yarnhog said...

Fun, fun, fun!

We live driving distance from Disneyland. Not as big, but it has a certain nostalgia value. We take the kids a couple of times a year, but only during the off season and mid-week. I don't do crowds well at all. We're considering a Disney cruise to celebrate my (gulp!) 40th birthday later this year, but the economy could nip that plan in the bud.