(My apologies for the creepy no-face pics!!!)
There are lots of things I’m NOT good at.
Throwing a football, for example. I’m awful at that. Really AWFUL at that. I’m so bad that even though my son can be desperate for someone to throw with, he knows to ask me is futile. It’s not that I’m not willing, but I’m just not able. Did I say how awful I am?
I’m not good at being organized, either. I’m much too laid back to fret over the details of things, and although I usually do a good job fooling people into THINKING I’m organized, I’m not.
But here’s one thing I AM good at. And that's taking TONS of pictures and video of my husband and kids, and our life together, and preserving them in a way that we can enjoy forever.
We aren’t a “take-the-pics-and-video-but-then-put-them-away-in-a-drawer-forever” kind of family.
We LOVE to watch videos and look at pictures of the past, and I am so thankful that of all the things I’m NOT good at, I have been organized and good about that. Of all my earthly possessions, I think my photo and video memories are the most precious.
What does that have to do with my trip report?
It actually has everything to do with it.
Because this morning in Disney World, the second day of our trip, the NMs were headed to Magic Kindgom. And the main goal for the morning was to take our last family pictures in Mickey and Minnie’s houses, and on the Goofy Barnstormer. Our main goal was to say goodbye to Toon Town.
Without me having a melt down in the process.
See, the Disney World roots don’t run deep for the NMs. I never went as a kid, and although my husband went once or twice in his childhood, we weren't in a rush to get back with our own children. In fact, when my in laws took us on our first trip to Disney, because they wanted their grandkids to see the Mouse, (ALL EXPENSES PAID IN A MAGIC KINGDOM VIEW ROOM AT THE CONTEMPORARY!!), we still weren’t all that impressed. I remember not really enjoying the trip, but just tolerating it.
I know. I’m astounded at my past ignorance, too. I might just call my mother-in-law right now and apologize AGAIN for not fully appreciating their generosity.
But what did come out of that trip was the desire to plan another Disney trip with just my family of four.
And on the next trip that I planned, that first trip to Disney with just my husband and our two small children, we spent LOTS of time in Toon Town. The kids were 7 and 4 then, and my daughter loved the kitchen in Minnie’s house. My son – a HUGE airplane fanatic – thought he was really taking flight on Goofy’s Barnstormer. So many of my precious early Disney memories are pictures and videos of my kids in Toon Town.
Though I don’t share a memory with the folks who miss Horizons, and I don’t have a nostalgic sweet spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade, I understand where those feelings come from. Because I’m saddest ever about losing Toon Town.
There’s a saying that goes, “the only thing you can count on is change.” That’s so true. And I don’t fault Disney for changing. For growing, expanding, and staying relevant in the tough economic times. I’m not mad that Toon Town will not be a part of the Fantasyland expansion.
But I am sad about it. And on that hot, June summer morning, my only order of business was to say goodbye.
As ridiculous as I realize that sounds, I wanted, I guess you can call it, closure. I wanted pictures of my kids – at ages 11 and 8 – in the same places I had those precious pictures of them at ages 7 and 4. I wanted to put the two pictures beside each other and look at the differences. I wanted to notice how they had grown, how their chubby little faces had become slim and more grown up. I wanted to see how my daughter’s legs now touched the ground when she sat in the chair in Minnie’s house. They didn’t used to do that. They used to stick out straight because she was so small. I wanted to see the kids sit in the same row in Goofy’s Barnstormer. Even though it wasn’t a comfortable fit like it used to be.
And I wanted to do all of this without allowing the big, snotty cry I felt coming on.
It was odd, how I felt. I’m used to being on the verge of a big cry at bittersweet events at home. They are a part of parenting. But not in my happy place. Not in Disney World.
I had that same feeling I had last spring when my daughter graduated from Elementary school, and was headed to Middle School - and only seven years away from going off to college. The same feeling I had when my son went to first grade last year and I knew the days of having a lunch buddy were over. The bittersweet mixture of happiness for the gifts you’ve been given, and the fun stages you are entering, but lots of sadness for how fast time is going. And a little bit of mourning for the time you'll never get back. The feeling of wanting to dwell on that for a minute, but knowing that if you do, the emotions might just overwhelm you. And not in a pretty way.
So I didn’t let on to anyone in my family that this was the only Disney experience I’d ever had that was making me want to curl up in a ball and cry for a little while.
I put on my Disney happy face and lightheartedly said that we were going to visit Mickey and Minnie’s house, and ride the Goofy Barnstormer since it would probably be our last chance. The kids were a little bit sad that Toon Town would close, but like most kids, they didn’t share the sentimental emotions their Mama was hiding.
We walked over to Toon Town and Roger offered to take a picture of me and the kids in front of the soon-to-be-defunct Toon Town sign. We then made our way to the colorful homes of the Main Mouse and his Main Squeeze. The detail in those places is fantastic. We walked through like we always do, taking the same pictures we always take. I had my daughter sit in Minnie’s chair, and I had her pose in front of the oven in Minnie’s kitchen. We used to love watching that cake bake. We exited the Mouse residences and walked over to the Barnstormer, which was a walk-on. I had the kids get in the car behind me so I could train the camera on them for this closing ride in Toon Town.
They screamed and hollered, albeit without the excitement they used to feel. Who can blame them? Expedition Everest and Space Mountain make the Barnstormer seem tame. It's a perfect ride for a 7 and 4 year old. Notsomuch a preteen and her big-in-his-mind little brother. So because the Barnstormer is practically over before it starts, just like that, our time in Toon Town was done.
I’d done what I’d come to do.
We got off of the Barnstormer and wound our way down the ramp onto the main drag in Toon Town. We had fastpasses to use on Space Mountain, and the little NMs were pumped and ready to get over to Tomorrowland. They had no idea that this exit was both literal and metaphorical.
As we walked away from Toon Town, my camera full of pictures and videos of our final hoorah there, my eyes filled with tears under my sunglasses. My lips quivered a little and I scolded myself for letting it get that far.
But the emotions were strong.
My kids are growing up. Life is changing. Disney is changing. There’s not a single thing I can do to stop it.
But I can preserve it in pictures, and I can preserve it on video. And no matter how big my kids get, or how much Disney World changes, I can curl up on the couch and watch our history any time I want.
And if I’m gonna be good at something, I reckon I’m happy to be good at that.