Thursday, December 04, 2008

Disney Hangover

So, my sister, daughter and I went to Disney over the Thanksgiving weekend. Our first trip was around my daughter's 3rd birthday and she loved it. She wore her princess t-shirts, chatted with all the princesses and cowered from the villians. She did have a wild breakdown during the fireworks and dark theaters, leaving both of us traumatized for years.

Now she's 7 and perfect for Disney experience. She definitely enjoyed the weekend.

My sister and I indulged her at the Bippidi Bobbidi Boutique. Yep, we splurged for the make up and the princess gown, and she worked it! She strolled and twirled through Disney in her red Belle dress. We figured this is a once in a lifetime experience. She was thrilled with the hair extensions they gave her. I haven't been too thrilled with the excess glitter that is still on her scalp, 4 shampoos later! (Note to others: If you do this, you can make a reservation, but they do accept people at the door, though you may need to wait. Also be sure to bring your own costumes. And, if you'd like an alternative experience, just do the hair, make up and glitter at your hotel and let the girl parade around all glammed up. I was really surprised how comfortable she was in that costume all day.)

Annika had a blast collecting autographs from "celebrities" like the Princesses, Mickey, Minnie, Stitch. She was thrilled out of her mind to bump into Aladdin and Jasmine in Epcot's Morocco exhibit. On the way out of the room, she went back up to Jasmine and told her "You're my favorite princess." The "princess" looked really touched and said "Aww! Thank you."

In the meantime, the whole Disney experience is overwhelming and surreal at times. People are genuinely nice, happy and polite. No one cuts in line for a ride or pushes to meet a character. Someone accidently bumped into me and my backpack, and he apologized profusely with a big smile on his face. I looked at him perplexed. Was he sincere? Why did he bump into my bag? Is this a scam?

One also has to step away for a minute and take a wide angle look at the Disney World. It seemed rather cultish at times with grown people walking around in mouse ears. And, it's not so much the mouse ears, but the way you can express yourself with the variety of mouse ears. One can be a princess, pirate, snowman, Goofy, Dumbo, whatever and still have ears.

It goes without saying everything is overpriced in the park. I couldn't find Annika a simple keychain under $6. (We reminded her that the costume/make over was her souvenir!) And, do not even get me started on the overpriced tickets! It's really sad that they've overpriced themselves out of the reach of average families. For a family of four, the non-resident, 3-day multi-park tickets would be over $1000. Have to ask if this is what Walt Disney anticipated?

So, it seems the Cult of Disney is "give us your money, we'll give you a tiara or ears." Anyway, we were ready to join the cult.

We enjoyed ourselves in Epcot's world countries by indulging in nachos in Mexico, Presseco and a rich red wine in Italy, and finishing off with a cafe au lait and pastries in France.

Couple of hints for future Disney recruits - skip a parade or the fireworks exhibit, and run to the rides. We jumped into "The Pirates of Carribean" with no lines! The best experience at Epcot was "Soarin", but the key is to get there early or grab a fast-pass for it. We waited 1 hour, but heard it can be up to 3 hours.

The Cinderella castle was absolutely breathtaking with the Christmas lights and decorations. I really felt as if I could stand there and just look at it all day. I've never seen anything like this before and it was incredible. There is something about this place that merges childhood fantasies and stories, allowing an escape into those corners of our minds and actually making them real.

While my daughter dreams of being a princess, I'm dreaming of a nice job at Disney. Running the "Small World" ride seems so much fun - just smile, wave to the people and say "Step out to the left. Step out to the left."


Anonymous said...

Did she enjoy it more as a 7 year old than a 3 year old?
I'm glad she had fun, but it sounds very expensive.

ZenDenizen said...

Kudos to you for having the patience for all this!

Anonymous said...

JD - good question! two different experiences.. When A was a very chatty 3 yr old and had no problem meeting the characters. And, I was VERY surprised to find out she has memories of that trip! She remembers daddy telling her that was mickey mouse's house and me "freaking out" and saying no, it was Cinderella's castle! ;-)