It always happens this time of year.
No, not that.
The other thing.
With Christmas behind us and the new year (not to mention our first prolonged bout of cold weather) in full swing, our thoughts always seem to turn toward vacation.
Warm, sunny, happy Disney vacations. To be precise.
For some reason it hits me right about this time each year and I find myself longing for a getaway. Longing to dig in and plan a getaway. But even though it’s a new year, we are still the same ole LaLas and DH has declared (again) WITHOUT A DOUBT that we will be taking a break from Disney this year. Not like a Ross and Rachel break, a real one. As he has done for the last five or so years. So as of this date, there is no trip to plan. No little getaway of which to dream. No possibility of a warm, sunny happy Disney vacation for 2011.
I haven’t pulled out my little bag of tricks yet either though, so …..you know. There’s always hope. I’ll keep you updated on that.
Well, kind of.
Because I can’t tell you EVERYTHING that goes on in our home.
So for now, reminiscing and recalling will have to take the place of planning and dreaming. And as I recall one particular day in June (when last I left you), we had experienced a pretty cool time trying out our GAD Fastpasses and were ready to wind things down for the afternoon.
After spending a full day in the parks and getting cleaned up in our room (at THE YACHT CLUB, baby!), we headed out front to hop in our ride and move it on over to Chef Mickey’s for dinner.
We made the short trek over to the Contemporary and valet parked the ole van.
As Mr. LaLa handed over the valet key (because nothing says, ‘I don‘t trust you as far as I can throw you, Mr. Valet Man!‘ like handing over the valet key instead of the real one), I could’ve sworn I heard someone yell behind (and in front of) our backs, “HEY! THOSE ARE THE PORTA-POTTY PEOPLE…. REMEMBER?!”
Maybe they didn’t.
But I could tell….they were thinking it.
Despite the hushed whispers and stolen looks of recognition, we made like Jay Z and brushed our shoulders off and then busted on up in the joint. Laughing, sharing, bonding, looking forward to our meal and just having a good ole time.
Until we saw THIS line…..
…and came to a SCREECHING halt. Mid laugh.
In all the years that we’ve been going to Disney and eating at Chef Mickey’s, I have never, ever seen a line that long there. I’ve never seen a line that long at any of the restaurants. Keep in mind this is just the line to CHECK IN at the podium. Not the line to wait for a table. That was a completely different matter. From the looks of it by the time it was our turn to get our hands on the Buzzer of Love, Brett Favre would actually be retired (this time) and ZZUB’s ducks would’ve already stopped rolling.
So I did what any Mama with hungry children and an impatient husband would do: I pushed my way to the front of the line, stepping on babies and kicking over the weak, meek and the elderly in the process and then flashed my GAD Fastpass Exchange Card and a smile.
That got me exactly nowhere.
Well, it wouldn’t have. If I’d actually done it. It took place more in my mind than…you know, anywhere else. Like reality.
I was tempted though. Because I’d already witnessed the power of the GAD Fastpass at work, and I was NOT afraid to use that puppy. But for some insane reason, there is no actual Fastpass line in Disney’s restaurants. Yet. Chili’s and Outback, yes. Only it’s known as “Call Ahead Seating” and it brings me almost as much joy to pass up 20 suckers trying to share one long upholstered bench as it does to pass up a line of suckers waiting in the Stand By line at any one of our favorite Disney rides.
But there was no Call Ahead Seating and no Fastpass for this line. I don’t remember how long we actually waited, but it was a pretty significant amount of time. Long enough for all of us to be starving by the time we were finally seated. We hit the buffet and loaded up in record time and just as we did, the characters started their parade.
Before we left on our trip, I got a wild hair one night and decided to completely geek out this trip with the Mickey tie dyed t-shirts. I’d never made them before and was dealing with dye that doesn’t camouflage mistakes very well, so there was a slight learning curve. But the kids and I had a heckuvalot of fun making them and I thought they turned out pretty cute. Despite us being first timers.
We didn’t wear them around at the parks though, we carried them around. In the over packed backpack. You see, the shirts were to be the new autograph books, which have been done to death in our house. I was looking for a new idea and tie dyed shirts in lieu of books seemed to fit the bill just fine.
So as we juggled plates of food and the over packed bag and the camera and the camcorder with the characters starting their rounds, I scrambled to pull the Mickey tie dyed shirts out and position them on the table so the characters could sign them (with fabric markers) as they came around. It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, you had to position them just so and kind of pull the fabric tight so it wouldn’t bunch up under the marker as they were signing.
But the reaction from the characters was priceless.
Mickey flat out LOVED seeing his likeness in the middle of the tee and made a big fat honkin’ deal over it to the kids, drawing the famous shape of his head in mid air and fake laughing. And poking fun at the other characters who had already signed it. Behind their backs. Donald was jealous of Mickey's head being the centerpiece and took the saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all' to a whole new level. Minnie made sure to sign beside Mickey and to let us know how dreamy she thought he was. With her body language.
Well, either that or she was feeling gassy from the Parmesan Mashed Potatoes.
Either way, the kids loved the show the characters put on and the effort put forth to make the shirts was completely worth it once we’d gotten them signed.
They turned out really cute with all the signatures on them and unlike the autograph books, it’s something they can actually get some use out of.
Well, the girl can at least. She wears her shirt a good bit. The boy’s too cool to be bothered by things of that nature. In the real world. So not cool. But in Disney, he was totally digging it. Funny how the preteen ‘too cool for that’ mindset completely disappears when they step foot on Disney property. It’s the darndest thing. You know how Pal Mickey responds to high tech sensors placed at different locations around the parks? I swear, I think Pal Mickey was Disney’s lab rat. Pardon the pun. I think they’ve taken that technology one step further and figured out a way to place sensors on property which turn off all the negative stuff going around in our heads while we’re there.
Well, not ALL of it. Have you met my friends the Brazilians? But the majority of it. At least as it relates to what our kids deem cool or lame in their everyday lives.
Off property, it’s “I’m 12, I’m a prenager….as if I would EVER wear a shirt with Mickey Mouse on it, My little sister stinks it up, I know you weren’t actually trying to HOLD MY HAND were you Mom?! I do have a reputation, you know…d‘you ever think about that?“
On property, it’s “Remember when I was five and we rode this together for the first time? That was the best day ever, Hey, where’s MY tie dyed Mickey shirt?!, I love my little sister so much, I love you Mom and Dad, Thank yall for being such great parents and bringing us here, I love my family, My life ROCKS!”
And that’s just my husband. The effect it has on the kids, well, that’s truly a thing of beauty.
But I digress.
After another great meal at CM’s, we hopped on the monorail and shimmied on over to the Magic Kingdom to give our GAD Fastpass cards another quick workout (I actually BEAT MY SMACK TALKING HUSBAND AT BUZZ LIGHTYEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!) and to check out the “new” old parade.
For months leading up to the trip, I’d read how Disney was bringing back the Main Street Electrical Parade. Had I had any sentimental attachment to the parade, I suppose I would’ve been pumped about it. I can see people being really excited about that, if it was a part of their Disney memories from once upon a time.
But we started going to Disney regularly after that parade had been retired so to us, Spectromagic is the be all and end all of nighttime parades. Everything about it: the music, the floats, the characters and their choreography, all bring back a flood of memories for me and my husband. And our children. King Triton passes by and I see our little girl, five years old at the time, taking a break from her desert and blowing him sticky kisses from our perch on the porch at Tony’s Town Square. I hear her call out the names of each of the characters at the top of her lungs as they pass by and I feel that ‘arrival night in Disney’ excitement as I hear the opening lines to the parade music. It is THIS parade that my babies have grown up watching. It is THIS parade that so many of our Disney memories are tied to, and I admit I was a little disappointed that it was being replaced by one that we were not at all familiar with.
But on the flip side, it was something new and different. And new and different can sometimes be great. So after grabbing a couple of rides with no wait whatsoever (and beating my husband at Buzz Lightyear for the first time ever….did I mention that already?), we grabbed some snacks and some curb and gave it a go.
Hello weird little boy. Whatcha doin' sittin' up there on that dragon?
It was interesting, and surprisingly, I liked the music. Kind of. Only because it was different. And catchy. But the whole time, I was half expecting Herbie Hancock to come along and break out “Rock It”.
Dude. So old school synthesizer.
The girl liked the “new” parade, but only because of the bald eagle. According to her exit interview. The boy thought it “pretty much stunk“, comparatively. And my husband counted down the minutes until it was all over and he and his little family were all tucked safely into the most comfortable beds ever.
At the Yacht Club.
I thought it was just okay. Of course, if I’m being fair I have to say that those impressions of the parade were completely separate from how we felt about the END of the parade.
When we saw this little sweetheart coming down the way, we started hoopin’ and hollerin’ like the Rednecks that we are.
We are patriots to the core and both my husband and I think our military men and women should be honored for their sacrifices much more than they are. And once we saw that float, we couldn’t help but love it. Couldn’t help but forgive them for the slightly creepy Pete the Dragon float and spiel. Because we LaLas love us a military salute. Especially in our favorite place in the world, and especially when it involves roughly 3 million Christmas lights and a moving vehicle. That’s just coolness personified, whether you’re on property and feeling the effect of the Disney ‘everything is great’ sensors or not.
After the parade was over, we stumbled upon a ‘new to us’ snack stand and my husband discovered and fell in love with a ‘new to him’ raspberry lemonade slush. The kids also enjoyed their orange slushes. Not to be confused with orange lushes.
We finished off the night with a proper dose of Wishes….
…and then made our way back to our resort to discover the Chocolate Fairy had come along and placed little chocolates on our pillows.
Nothing says ‘vacation’ like coming in to a cold, darkened room to find your covers turned back and little bitty gold wrapped chocolates set out neatly for your culinary pleasure. There is no better way to end a full day. And even though that night is far removed from us now and exists only in our memories, by reliving it here, it’s exactly how THIS night is ending as well.
Only….there will be Goobers on our pillows tonight, instead of them fancy Yacht Club chocolates.
Because sometimes, you just gotta work whatcha got.