Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What I learned on my Disney Vacation... Volume Two

Here's a bit more about being "those people"... Disney is Dan's thing.  Well, now it's Dan and Elizabeth's thing.  Don't get me wrong- I grew up in this Disneyfied Country.  I loved Snow White from an early age.  I sang "A Whole New World" in the car with my high school boyfriend.  I owned Little Mermaid sheets (which E now sleeps on... funny, huh?)  And I vividly remember watching Bambi at a church lock-in one night and losing my poo.

I had only been to Disney World 3 times before this recent rash of WDW trips.  My first time I was about 4, my second was as a tag-along with my brother's Beta Club trip (the joy of having a mom who chaperoned!), and then the summer after 8th grade when my mom, brother and I went.  (Which, btw, I totally had a random flashback to that trip on this one.  While standing in a gift shop I spotted the exact souvenir I bought for someone that I hadn't thought about in YEARS!  Good to know that 21 years (gasp) later, if you need a replacement keychain, Eric, they are still there.)  Disney is definitely part of my heritage, but I don't eat, breathe, and live The Mouse.

And then, I married Dan.

Funny enough, one of my first memories of Dan was when Bryan Broodno (our mutual friend) said to me, "Have you been to that guy Dan's apartment?  He has one whole wall that is nothing but Sleeping Beauty."  What he meant was that Dan collected original Disney animation art and had a wall that had lots of the pictures beautifully displayed.  But what I heard was that Dan was some weird med student with an obsession of all things princess and had painted a mural along his wall... creeper.  Good to know I was wrong.

So, in 2009 when we loaded Miss Elizabeth up and headed south, I was excited... but not over the top.  I was excited because it was vacation... it was a break... it was time with my family... and, it was Disney World.  Who doesn't love that, right?

Here we are... our first day with the Mice!

Even better... our BFFs were at WDW the same time, and we overlapped with them a couple days.  So it was a super trip AND we got to hang out with them some, too.

E riding with the big girls just before leaving

The minute we got back on Highway 4, Dan started planning our next trip.  He had already gone to the Vacation Club schpeal and decided that it wasn't right for us, but he wasn't going to rule it out yet.  And so, in just a matter of months, he was busy at work planning our next trip.

Year two was great, too... although it was a wee bit too long.  My only problem with the second year (besides the length) was I spent a lot of time unintentionally comparing it to the year before.  So either I wanted to redo something we'd done before, or I compared results (ie: that pizza wasn't as good, last year the lines weren't as bad, this walk is much shorter from our hotel, blah blah blah).  It did have it's own set of memories, though, including meeting some Disney VIPs who I hung out with in one night... and this time overlapping with a different set of friends.

Chef Mickey's with Jack!

One of my favorite parts of that trip, though, was on our last full day.  Aunt Allison came to spend the day with us... and if that wasn't magical enough, we were the first guests to arrive at Mickey's House and he gave us a personal tour.

Mickey showing E around his place...
Our little family- plus Aunt Allison- with Mickey and Minnie

So this year, I was pumped and ready to go... mainly because I was ready for some time away.  All in all, this last year was a tough one, and I was ready for a break in a land of warmer temperatures.  Not only did I get that, but I got so much more...

Elizabeth keeps talking about the Tangled meet-and-greet.  This was different than any I'd been to before... in addition to the fact I waited in line an hour (!!!) to reserve our spot, Rapunzel and Flynn came out and danced with the kids.  E loved that Flynn acted like he didn't know where Rapunzel was... she keeps laughing about the shoulder-tap/look of confusion gag.

Clearly, we're no strangers to Snow White.  But I'll tell ya... each one of them kept the dream alive for Elizabeth.  When we first saw her, I quickly "helped" her by saying "Snow White!  We haven't seen you since Elizabeth's birthday party!" and she didn't skip a beat by answering "Oh you're right!!  And how has your... life... been since then?"  When we saw her later in Germany (above), she played with E's hands the whole time (E kept talking with her hands, so Snow played along) and talked to her about being the Princess of the Kingdom of Lewisville.  Well played, Snow.

When we had dinner with Cinderella and all her brood, E told each of them that she liked "their 2nd movie".  (Yes, we watch Cinderella II a LOT in this house.)  Drizella (above) told E not to talk about it too loudly, because her mother had never been too fond of The Baker.  (Her love interest in the sequel, for those of you who don't have to put up with that as often as I do.)  E was completely enraptured: hook-line-and-sinker.

So much so that when The Prince came to our table, E said (quite loudly), "Oh Mommy (sigh), I think he is rather handsome."

These kind of moments are what made this trip perfect for me.  I'm fully aware that my sweet girl is just moments away from not "buying" what the princesses are trying to sell her.  In fact, while we were at WDW, she'd already started putting pieces together.  She would point out for us that the bears at Country Bear Jamboree weren't real, they were just "machines".  Same for Ben Franklin and Mark Twain in the "America" show at Epcot.  But for now, the characters were the REAL DEAL for her... and for that I couldn't be more thankful.  What I learned on my Disney Vacation was that there really is magic for those who believe.

One final story: back at Epcot one night for dinner at Biergarten.  As we were walking there, we spotted Mary Poppins doing a meet-and-greet.  E took her book to be autographed, we took pictures, and were about to walk away when E said "Oh, Mommy!  Tell her about your stepmom!"  I turned to Mary and said "Elizabeth wants me to tell you that my stepmother's name was Mary.  She just passed away."  (I made it through sentence one okay... sentence two got me.)  Without missing a beat Mary turned to Elizabeth and said, "I'm quite certain she was practically perfect in every way."  Then she got down on E's level and said, "I've always been rather partial to Mary's."

Yep.  The Johnston family was a wreck.

Easily, Mary Poppins could have stayed in character and said "Oh, I'm sorry."  But she didn't... she was Mary Poppins as she spoke to my child... as she spoke to us... as she became part of our Disney Story.

It really is magic when you choose to believe.


Michelle Minnich said...

Mary Poppins is my favorite at WDW ... and now even moreso. ♥

Courtney said...

I just completely lost it with the Mary part...still crying...precious.

Anonymous said...

that's not Drizella, that's Anastasia. Anastasia falls in love with the baker.