We had a plan and then I fine tuned that plan after our day at Epcot. We were ready to take on the Magic Kingdom. I had studied the maps, planned out routes. Had rides and attractions chosen for the time between our Fast Pass rides and since we paid to rent a stroller for the rest of our park days the day before, we had wheels. Life was good and we were at the Happiest Place in the World!
Renting a stroller had its downsides. This is what stroller parking looks like at Disney. It is intense. Thankfully everyone seemed to operate on the honor system. People would leave all their stuff (we didn’t) in their bag in their strollers. I never once heard anyone complain about something that had gone missing. The only thing we ever left in our strollers was water bottles. We followed the plans and the day was awesome. We knocked out Pirates of the Caribbean, Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride and the Jungle Cruise in less than 2.5 hours. The day was going so awesome that while waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise, the boys allowed me to take this photo. See how happy they are? That is how Disney World is supposed to look. What I learned after a hot sweaty day of back tracking our way across Animal Kingdom was invaluable…. make a plan and follow the plan. Then you get kids that smile like this. Also, rent a stroller and husband will be happier. Elise still got to cuddle with her Daddy but it wasn’t all day long and when they did cuddle it was on awesome Jungle Cruises and waving at the dog in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (because our three-year old girl remembers the dog on the pirate ride not the – you know – pirates!). The boys LOVED Pirates of the Caribbean. I shared the photos of them playing pirates after the ride in an earlier post. After the ride Tim whispered to me, do you think they could watch the movies yet? No Tim they are still to young to see Johnny Depp play a pirate. Soon, but when they do I know they will remember this ride and how much fun it was to search for Captain Jack Sparrow.
The Jungle Cruise is one of the classic Disney rides and it was so much fun. Our tour guide was sarcastic and witty and made the boat ride so much fun. The only time we had to wait that morning, beyond what my kiddos could handle in a polite and controlled way, was for our lunch reservation. The restaurant was running behind and the kids’ blood sugar was dropping. Michael had to tap into his tools he learned from his OTs to help make waiting easier. Of course the other two followed big brother’s lead and then we became the family in front of the ice scream shop doing yoga poses and taking deep cleansing breaths. Of course yoga poses only take so much time. This is what waiting with Michael is like. One extreme to another. In the end the kids all got some awesome ice cream complete with Mickey ears so any wait before lunch was soon forgotten. In everything we did, the kids had fun. Even taking the train from one area of the park to another was an adventure for the kids.
Our first, and only roller coaster as a family was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and it was SO MUCH FUN! Elise did great even though it was fast and way more exciting than any other ride she has ever been on. It probably helped that she was sandwiched between Tim and me the entire ride.
The next stop we hit was a total and completely unsuspecting surprise. Tom Sawyer Island was a kid’s dreamland. There were caves that were so dark even Tim and I were lost and couldn’t see. There were awesome tree houses and log bridges that floated on the water on top of barrels. It was the Dinosaur Excavation site of Magic Kingdom for our family. It wasn’t very crowded so the kids were able to roam, not bump into people, run off some steam and just play. It was perfect.
Did I mention that you had to take a river raft across murky water to get there? Oh, well you do, and if that didn’t up the AWESOME factor 10 points in the boys’ book, I don’t know what else could.
Of course the tree house with the captains wheel was a favorite, especially since just a few hours earlier they were on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Notice the bell? The kids sure did and it was just out of reach for the kids so Tim and I took turns hoisting the her up so they could ring the bell over and over.
Here is Patrick on his tippiest of tip toes trying to reach the bell. I think he got it to ding a bit but to make it RING he needed a boost. I love that my kids still need a boost every now and then. The boys have grown up so much in the past year. They have become so independent in so many ways that when things like this happen, I am more than happy to step in and give them a boost. It won’t be much longer before they can reach everything they need, so for now, I will soak up my boys being just a bit to short to reach the bell and will cherish the memory… until they throw a fit then I will recalculate how many years it is until they leave for college!
The treehouse was fun but it was the barrel log bridge that was a blast. The boys ran across that thing countless times. Who knew crossing a bridge could be so fun! Their shoes sloshed by the time we made them head back to the dock to wait for the river raft. They didn’t care and neither did Tim or I.
We took the train again over to Fantasyland. In fantasy land we did the must-do classic rides like Dumbo and the tea cups. Dumbo now has an indoor play area for the kids to play in while you wait for your turn to get back in line. You get a buzzer like you would at any chain-sit-down-restaurant and the kids go and play while the adults sit and pray that their kids behave because they are too exhausted to get up and parent their kids. It is genius. Pure genius.
It was at this point in the day that I had my first vacation melt down. I lost my temper big time and handed all my parenting responsibilities over to Tim until I could calm down. It took a while… a good long while and with the help of some over sweetened ice tea and a break from the kids I was able to get myself back in control.
What happened? Well it was my daughter.
Elise decided while at the resort for the AGM that she no longer liked public toilets. She is potty trained. She has been for about a year but she is 3.5 and accidents happen. I can’t just tell her to hold it, and neither can I trust her to tell me that she has to go if she is having a good time, especially when she is over stimulated and tired. This was day five of vacation and day five of asking kindly, bribing, pleading, begging and eventually forcing her to sit on public toilets every few hours. She had developed a fear of the toilet flushing on her while she was sitting on the toilet (I CURSE whoever invented the automatic flushing toilet!) and there was nothing I could do to get her to sit on one short of pulling down her pants and forcing her on the toilet. It sounds cruel. I felt horrible doing it, but the alternative was her peeing her pants, developing a bladder infection or going back to our hotel room every few hours so she could pee.
She was finally coming around and while in the play area for the Dumbo ride, I took her to the bathroom. She was finally trusting me that if I put my hand over the sensor the toilet wouldn’t flush. She sat on the toilet without being placed on the toilet for the first time in 5 days. I was so proud. I was praising her. I was praising God. And while I was doing all that praising my hand shifted just enough on the sensor to set it off. The girl didn’t even stop the flow. Mid stream she jumped off the seat, started screaming and crying and clinging to me. There is not a lot of room for that in a bathroom stall. I thought we had made progress but the slip of my hand set our fate for the rest of the trip. EVERYTIME she had to pee the rest of the trip it was a battle. I knew it would be a battle and I felt defeated and angry and overwhelmed.
If there was ever a story that was a metaphor for labor this would be it. Looking back, and as I write this out I think, it wasn’t really that bad. If that was the most challenging part of the trip, we had it easy. Nope. Labor sucks while you are in it and so does forcing your kid to pee in bathrooms stalls when they are scared that the horrible auto flush will activate and kill you. I want Elise to read this someday and know that I love her so much that not only did I give birth to her, but I sat her ass on a potty every two and a half hours while she screamed bloody murder and other mother’s looked at me like I was a monster.
We got back and it was time to ride the Dumbo ride.
We hit the tea party Mad Hatter ride after the kids ate some cotton candy and rehydrated and after I guzzled some too sweet tea (Why don’t places just sell regular iced tea anymore?!) and let the caffeine and sugar lift my spirits. Photos from our tea-cup ride are coming soon. Those photos, along with some fun ones from a rapids ride at Animal Kingdom and many more, are still on my little blue camera. Here are a couple of instagram photos from tea cups and Its a Small World.
Besides Elise and my bathroom meltdown, the day was going great. We hit SO many rides and were checking everything off our itinerary. It was still mid afternoon when we hit everything we wanted to hit for the day and the boys were still doing great so we decided to head over to Future Land and let the boys and Tim do Spaceship Mountain while I stayed with Elise who had hit a wall and was exhausted.
I think this was the one and only time Michael was on Tim’s shoulders. Tim and I couldn’t have been more proud of Michael. He walked everyday, all day and in every park. He was a champ. He didn’t complain about walking. He didn’t complain about being tired. After the rapids ride in Animal Kingdom his shoes were wet and he gave himself a blister walking around in wet shoes (I packed crocs the rest of the trip in our survival backpack we carried everywhere in case we had any other wet rides/shoes to deal with) and he didn’t complain once. He was such a trooper. He is the one who, in theory, we should have had the most trouble with. I can’t think of a place with more sensory obstacles for a kid than Disney (you know, besides having to sit in a classroom all day every day). Just thinking about all that he has overcome and how well he did on this trip make me well up with tears of pride. Every time I asked for a photo he jumped in front of the camera. Every time we backtracked to find our way around, he walked with out a grumble. He is a wonderful kid and I am proud to be his mom.
When we were halfway between It’s a Small World and Spaceship Mountain, Tim looked at me, as I forged ahead making way through the crowds and did this:
Shit. I did not. I had left the backpack back in front of the bathrooms near It’s a Small World. It was my fault. Completely my fault. I told Tim to keep going to Space Mountain with the boys and I took off with Elise and channeled my Dad’s mall walking speed walk and headed back toward our abandoned backpack. Just to be clear, my Dad isn’t one of those people who walk perimeters of Malls for exercise. When I talk about my Dad mall walking it is in reference to my Dad leading my Mom, My sister and I through the mall. When we had to go shopping at the mall (at max 3 times a year) My Dad would be as patient as a man can be while we shopped in stores but when it came time to move from store to store he would be damn sure not to waste a single moment. If the only way to shorten our shopping experience was to move quickly between stores than that is what he would do. My mom, my sister and I had to run to keep up with his long Viking legs leading the way. So yeah. That is what I did. I didn’t knock anyone over but I did get a few glares from some families that were completely warranted in the evil looks they sent me.
By the time I made it back to the backpack there were two Disney “cast members” or what ever they call their employees that help empty trashes and keep the place clean. Both were talking into walkie-talkies describing the backpack. Yeah. My backpack became a matter of security in the 20 minutes we had left it abandoned. Kudos and mad props to Disney World. The “Cast Members” informed me security was on its way. Reassured them that the backpack was mine, apologized and thanked them for being so conscious of park safety, put on my backpack and head back towards my boys. Uffda.
I received text updates from Tim. They were in a 70 minute wait but the wait line had video games to play while in line so the boys were having a blast. I spent that time holding and rocking an over-tired Elise. It was nice.
The boys came back an hour and a half later talking a mile a minute. They talked while eating their dinner and talked the whole bus ride home. If you were wondering, Space Mountain is AWESOME!
That was Magic Kingdom Day One. We would go back again the next day. More photos here.