Saturday, April 16, 2011

Casual Friday: "The Ecstasy and The Agony"- We're taking our kids to Disney World.

There will be none of this on our next trip.
Ignore the time stamp on this post. I woke up exhausted and moody and ended up sleeping most of the day, so to me, this is Friday.

I have been meaning to reread a book I have on femininity and Christianity for the purpose of more blogging material, but currently all my private reading time is filled with The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2011.  Not even the authors think that this book should be read from cover to cover, but my obsessive personality leaves me worrying that I'll miss something important if I don't, so here I am plowing through all 850 pages. I did the same thing with the 2009 edition for our "Second Honeymoon" trip two years ago.

Which isn't to say that I'm not enjoying every minute of it.  I LOVE Disney World.  The place is so incredible that you could show up without a guidebook and with no plan whatsoever, buy a ticket and walk in, wait in hour or more lines for everything, and still have an amazing time.  I've met a few people who say they don't really like Disney World, but I don't get that.  The only real reasons I can come up with for someone to not like it are: a) Having a philosophical issue with corporate America and big companies, AND never having been there; b) Having gone there but had your trip ruined by something, like death (since there's little short of that that could ruin this trip); c) Having a paralyzing fear of crowds; or d) Having no desire to be happy.  This will be my fifth trip to "the World", and my husband's fourth. We went there with my step-daughter on our honeymoon in 2002 (yes, we brought a four-year-old on our honeymoon, which was stupid), and we repeated the trip in 2009 so we could do it right and be alone.  That particular trip was heavenly.  We could get up and arrive at the parks early enough to avoid the lines, stay all day without hearing any complaining, and we only needed a backpack and a camera.  My only complaint about it would be that Disney World is exhausting, and by the time we got back to our hotel room at night we had no energy left for the kinds of things you're supposed to do on a honeymoon.

We had such a good time we couldn't wait to go back, but of course this time we must bring the children.  It's not that we missed them last time; we just kind of pulled one over on them.  We left them at Grandma and Pop-Pop's house without telling them where exactly we were going on vacation.  When we came back with mouse ears and stuffed Mickeys for them, they weren't exactly mad, but dismayed might be a good word. We couldn't go more than twelve hours without them asking when they could go to "Mickey Land" until we told them on Christmas Day that we would be going this summer.

So here we are planning a trip with an autistic seven-year-old, a hyper 6-year-old, and an infant.  I can't help but think that if I don't have an anxiety attack every single day, it will be a Disney miracle.  No one in this house enjoys getting up early, but we will all have to in order to to get to the parks and enjoy the most popular rides without waiting in line for hours.  My children, who get excited about riding the city bus, will be completely overstimulated by all the attractions.  My oldest, who has autism, may need earplugs to compensate for the volume of some of the productions.  They both complain that their feet hurt on a daily basis, and this will involve walking miles every single day.  The baby will need to be nursed, fed, and changed throughout the day, and we will have to wait in many lines twice so that both children and both parents can ride the rides, since the baby can't go on most of them.  Oh, and did I mention we're driving?  Two days in the car, both ways.  We're insane.

But there isn't a doubt in my mind that despite the moments during the trip that I will regret this decision, it will all be worth it.  Many say that Disney World is too overstimulating and strenuous for younger children, and that only older children should go.  My parents didn't take me until I was 11.  The problem is that by that age I was too old to dream of being a princess, or wrap my arms around a giant costumed character without worrying about looking dorky.  It's sort of like Christmas morning.  I put a huge amount of effort into budgeting and choosing just the right presents for each of my kids for Christmas morning.  Yes, it's commercial, it's unnecessary, and it's expensive, but I love it.  I painstakingly search out just the right things, figure out how to balance things so that I spend approximately the same amount on each child and they each get the same amount of gifts.  I will go to great lengths to get the gifts I want (though thanks to the Internet, I usually don't have to).  Inevitably every year around the second week of December there is a moment where I wonder why I bother with all this work, since they will never know how much I did for them.  But then I remember the looks on their faces when they come down the stairs and see those beautiful wrapped presents.

Pure, unadulterated happiness.

In my mind, this trip is going to be two whole weeks of Christmas mornings.  So we're going to do this now, while they're still just young enough to believe in Santa, princesses, and giant mice.  While they're old enough to reason with themselves that the scary stuff is just pretend, but young enough to choose to think that maybe some of the fun stuff isn't.  And when it doesn't seem so "magical" to us, we'll try to have a sense of humor about it.

All my life I have been searching for the fabled promised land,
with my sisters and my brothers we shall walk their hand in hand, 
through the trials and tribulations and the devil's cruel temptations
I know that we will all get there one day.

After years and years of wandering, oh the kingdom we shall find.
And the doors may not be open but we'll gather in the line.
And our hearts will swell with pride the day those gates swing open wide.
And we take a walk down Main Street, U.S.A.

Oh that Magic Kingdom in the sky
We will all be there together by and by
We will all drink from a fountain and go riding on Space Mountain
when we reach that Magic Kingdom in the sky.

Where Mother Minnie, Father Dopey, and Saint Tinkerbell abide.
There'll be no more cares or sorrows on the heavenly teacup ride.
I will lay down all my fears when I put on those big black ears
and join the choir to sing in harmony.

We will sing the songs of endless souls who once had gone astray,
who were lost but now are found in the Electric Light Parade.
Singing Hakuna Matata, growing Mouseketeer stigmata;
It's the only club that's made for you and me.

Oh that Magic Kingdom in the sky
We will all be there together by and by.
All God's children shall be free in Pirates of the Caribbean
when we reach that Magic Kingdom in the sky.

Oh the meekest and the poorest their inheritance shall see.
And a zillion Japanese tourists will all join the jamboree.
They will ride that Holy Monorail into sweet providence, 
when they learn that their redeemer is a mouse in short red pants.

Won't you take me to Orlando where the sun is shining bright?
All the angels are clean shaven and the people snowy white.
Where your problems all are hidden and unhappiness forbidden,
you'll find salvation for a modest fee.

Climb into my Winnebago and if you help with the gas,
then we maybe can finagle you a five or six day pass.
May your afterlife be blessed, just American Express it.
Let Mastercard and Visa set you free.

Oh that Magic Kingdom in the sky.
We will all be there together by and by.
All religions may be practiced there except for Southern Baptists*
when we reach that Magic Kingdom in the sky.

Oh that Magic Kingdom in the sky
Manufactured by that Uncle Walter guy
We'll give thanks to that old geezer and we'll keep him in the freezer
when we reach that Magic Kingdom in the sky.**

**Yes, I'm aware of the commercialization of Disney World and the fact that it often seems like they really do think they have manufactured heaven.  I know better; I like it anyway.
*The fact that we are Southern Baptists makes it even better.

Goodnight all!


  1. See now I was expecting a feminist take on the Disney thing and whether you think that the Disney Industrial Complex is harmful to girls / pre-women. :-)

  2. Honestly, I like Disney World so much that I'm afraid to think too hard about it! Sometimes you just have to choose not to take something seriously I guess. Do you think I need to think about this more? (I know you were kidding, but now I'm wondering!)

  3. As you said, don't take it too seriously. Sara grew up adicted to the disney magic thing. she doesn't have any harmful side-effects that I can see... well, except for marrying me, but that could be chalked up to poor taste.

    it's fun. it's meant to be fun.

  4. Urgh. I guess I am the only one here who has not ever been to Disney World nor plan to go nor take my kids. I know that it really must be magical, but I can't really stomach the thought of my girls dressing as princesses and thinking that is what they want to be when the grow up. I used to be all into Disney, but then no more once I opened my eyes to the fact that all the heroes are young, thin and pretty and all the bad guys are old, fat and/or ugly. But then again, since Jo has no idea who the Disney princesses are, it might be a fun place to go just to have fun because she is not saturated in the stuff. Perhaps it would be what it is, nothing more. A fun dress up kinda place.

  5. I guess the princess thing could depend on the child too. Ida's not so great at pretending, or at least she can't get so engrossed in something imaginary that it effects her life. So when she puts on her princess dress-up clothes (and it's rarely lately, but it was a few days a week before), she is just pretending. Plus, she has only seen a few of the movies because she doesn't have much of an attention span, so she doesn't know much about a princess other than that she's pretty and has pretty clothes. She never took it any further than that, and now she's growing out of it. There were times when she would put on her princess dresses and Daniel would put on his knight costume and they would say they were getting married. But she's never acted like a "princess" or anything like that. Now, she does say she wants to be a mommy when she grows up, but if she can have a mother like me and still say she wants my job, more power to her. So I agree with you in principle, but I still say "Oh well, it's fun, everything in moderation." It's still innocent stuff, even if the values aren't quite right (Disney values=money, nothing else), and as they get older I'll point that out to them a little more. Already I can hear myself saying, "Kids, have you noticed how we walk through a gift shop after every ride? That's because the people want us to spend money when we're happy."

  6. And after today, maybe it would not be a bad idea if Jo DID want to be a princess when she grew up. Today she announced that when she grew up first she was going to be a mommy (that's fine) and then a daddy. (not so fine with that one!) Of course, she doesn't understand it all, but it was pretty funny to hear her say she wanted to be a daddy when she grew up. My response? Oh, really? Well, I'm not so sure about that, but I am sure you'll make a great mommy!

  7. LOL, don't worry, that's totally developmentally appropriate! I've seen that with all my kids. A year ago on Mothers Day DJ told Pastor C during the children's sermon that he wanted to be a mother when he grew up. Also, when my step-daughter was 4 she saw a picture of her dad in his high school graduation gown and asked me how long it had been since her dad stopped being a girl.