My five-year-old and I recently spent a week in Orlando, Florida. We were tagging along to our friends' timeshare, where (don't hate me) we had a week of glorious sunshine and great company. My friends and I shared bottles of sunscreen and wine and engaged in a little pack parenting of three kids five and under.
We splashed in pools, floated along the "lazy river" in tubes, and stole moments with magazines in books in lounge chairs. The boys swam, jumped between the beds in their room and played a lot of Power Rangers.
With such little kids in tow and an eye on coming home at least a little refreshed, we opted to leave Sea World and Gatorland and Epcot Centre and all of that for another time, but to spend one, long, get-your-money's-worth day at Disney's Magic Kingdom.
Lori, Kevin and I plotted and planned (well, I brought a guidebook and they read it) and purchased tickets the night before . We packed the backpacks and picked out the outfits the night before. In the morning, we scurried excited kids through breakfast and got everyone in the van (what else would we drive in the land of vans and Escalades?) nice and early.
We arrived just as the place was opening, took the boat across and started our day. We were Team Disney. We were psyched. Go big or go home, we were ready. We would embrace the kitsch. We would get the T-shirts.
Kevin had been to Disney World so many times as a child that he needed little help from the map to plot our journey. We made our way down Main Street U.S.A. to the Cinderella Castle where the kids were wide-eyed at the site of Peter Pan, the various fairytale princesses, Donald Duck and all his cohorts. Kev kept an eye on his watch and dashed off at all the right times to get us the most line-hopping "Fast Passes" we were allowed so we could minimize whining and maximize fun.
After a slow start in the line for the Dumbo ride, we dashed through the next few rides, bagging about half a dozen successes straight off. We scooted the kids through the moderate crowds (thank you, recession), kept everybody fed steadily on crackers, apple slices and juice boxes, and found THE coolest Mickey Mouse T-shirts before LUNCH. Refueled by crappy food (even the clam chowder had bacon - it sucks to be a semi-vegetarian in Florida), we pressed on with our journey through the rest of the majorly magical highlights.
I'm not sure if it was the juice boxes or the excitement, but my normally camel-bladdered kid just seemed to have to go to the bathroom every 40 minutes. It was so strange. Halfway up the rope bridge to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, he had to go. It was an EMERGENCY. We scurried back the wrong way down the one-way suspension bridges ("Excuse me. Sorry about that. Coming through") so we could make it to the bathroom. The same thing happened when we were on a ramp waiting to get into one of those hateful little diesel-powered cars that the kid is supposed to be able to drive ("This is the worstest ride!") but that was extremely hard to steer (especially from the passenger seat). "Oh, why is this happening to me?" cried Cameron (he gets his existentialism from me). "Try not to think of it so much as something that's happening to you, so much as pee. Think of it as pee," I said.
The kids were tremendously excited to meet Micky Mouse. If we didn't meet Mickey Mouse the whole day was going to be a bust. Encouragingly, there was no lineup in front of Mickey Mouse's House. We rushed in. There was Mickey's bedroom with his great big reading glasses left right on the bed. There was his kitchen, his living room...but where was Mickey? Ah, he would meet us in the "Judges Tent," since this part of the Kingdom was all about the county fair.
A slow lineup snaked through the "Judges Tent" where a the kids were taken one group at a time into a room with Mickey and Minnie. When we finally got to the front of the lineup, everyone got their hugs and their pictures taken with the silent celebrated rodents. They were happy. The parents were starting to get exhausted. I seemed to have Cameron stuck to me at all times.
Somewhere between the Jungle Cruise and the Judge's Tent, I had managed to lose my fabulous, wide-brimmed sun hat. My scalp was getting burned. We were running out of water. We stumbled our way, late-afternoon sun pounding on pavement, to an old-fashioned ice cream shop, which was great. We managed a couple more rides and another trip to the the gift shop. We made our way back down Main Street where delightfully friendly people gave me a number to call to see if my hat had made it to lost and found the next day, rather than onto someone else's head.
We made our way to the monorail. We'd been at Disney World for 10 hours. The kids were seeming kind of loud. They had a lot of questions about the fake sand outside the tacky theme hotels. We started talking up the "straight to bed, just how lucky are you boys?" stuff as we shuffled onto the parking lot shuttle bus to lot "Dopey 104." The kids couldn't seem to arrange themselves so that none of them would be sitting on the outside, in compliance with the rules. I was hot. Cameron wanted to hold hands.
We got off next to the appropriate dwarf and made our way to the hot van. Everyone eventually managed to get their small bums into boosters and car seats. We were off. Everyone would just be quiet now for a few minutes while we drove back after our great day.
"Mom..." said Cameron, "What was that time when there was a flood and there was no electricity?"