That's right, I said it and I'm not taking it back. Disney IS evil! First, they lure you in with the whole "Happiest Place on Earth" thing. I have never seen so many people bickering at each other before. Luckily husband and I are at a place in our marriage right now where we've spent so much time apart that we just don't bicker much anymore. But we're not perfect, we had our moments while we were there. Other families, though, I mean WOW! It's Disney for cripe's sake! You're really going to argue about what ride to go on next, or that your husband looked at The Little Mermaid a little too fondly?
Second, the way they herd you from this place to the next. If you've ever had a secret fantasy to be a cow, go to Disney. You're dreams will definitely come true. Many times throughout my experience I felt like giving off a big hearty MOO!!!
And I'm sure that this won't be my last complaint, but third, who gets to decide who's more important than other people? There was some "Year of a Million Dreams" thing going on where a "cast member" would give your kids a certificate to make their dreams come true. I saw plenty of them being handed out. But mostly to important looking families and families with only one child. Why not my kids? It's the last few days of the year, can't you just hand them out to everyone? I'm not really sure what you get with them, but I know it's things like special lunches with Cinderella and all day FastPass and grand marshall in the parade (of which there's 4 every day at Magic Kingdom alone, my kids could do one!)
As for our actual trip, don't get me wrong, it was magical and wonderful and I don't take back a second of it. Ok well, I take back Epcot, but I don't want to get ahead of myself here. There were just a few things here and there that really irritated me and made the experience, from an adult's point of view, a little less magical. Don't we all wish we could go back as children so that we can ignore all those little things?
We arrived in Orlando on December 29th. (Actually , it was Kissemmee if you want to get technical about it.) We checked in to the hotel and then went to find some food. Found a really cute little restaurant on the main strip there and had a great (and expensive) meal. The service was pretty bad, though. It was also pouring rain.
Next morning we wake up bright and early to go to Animal Kingdom. We got there at about 7:30 in the morning and they were letting people in as far as the main island thingy by the "Tree of Life" (see pictures). We were so excited and the air was truly full of magic. And fog. There's some big roller coaster there, so we go try out this Fast Pass thing that every one's talking about. What it is is by many of the bigger rides there is a machine that you stick your park ticket in and it spits out another ticket telling you that you can come back and skip the whole long line to ride the ride between certain times. In this instance we could come back between 4:00 and 5:00 to ride this big roller coaster called Everest. We got a few other fast passes as well, but you can only get one every hour or so. However, it's totally worth it! The line for Everest alone was 90 minutes, so Husband and Drew bypassed that whole line and got right on. For some reason, Louisa all of a sudden had this fear of ...well...everything. She's really into haunted scary stuff and fast roller coasters. But this whole trip she wouldn't go on anything fast (unless we made her or lied and told her it wasn't fast) and she was scared of all the darker rides. So she wouldn't go on Everest, or even the water rapids ride, at Animal Kingdom. Not sure what that was all about. For anyone who's never been there and isn't sure what to expect, Animal Kingdom is just like what it's name sounds like, a big zoo. I don't know what husband was expecting, but he was a little surprised that it's a glorified zoo. Magical and fun nonetheless!
Day two was Magic Kingdom. Hmm.... let me see, what can I say about Magic Kingdom on New Year's eve other than it was crowded, but we barely waited in any lines. It was tiring, but we were there for a staggering 18 hours. My feet were so sore and tired that each step was agonizing, but we pushed on, and on, and on, and on.... Imagine your biggest dream turns into your worst nightmare. Disney for 18 hours straight! At 6:00 pm we were disheartened to realize we still had six whole hours to go. At 8:00 we cried when we realized we still had four whole hours to go. And at 10:00 pm we about lost it when we realized there were still two more hours until midnight! But by then you're not just going to give up. Oh no! You push on! While everyone is heading to secure a good spot to watch the midnight celebration, you catch a whole bunch of rides with short lines (and bathrooms). I think in those last two hours we got in about 4 rides including torturing husband with It's a Small World, a snack, and several trips to the bathroom because so many people were either exiting to beat the rush, or heading to the front of the castle to watch the fireworks. This was another day of Louisa being scared of everything. One of the first rides we went on was Haunted Mansion. We had ALL been so looking forward to this ride. We love the movie (yes, I know the ride came first) and we were excited that there was no line at all. Even Hunter could go on it. We line up outside the door to the mansion and there are some graves with funny things written on them (very reminiscent of something my friend Kate would do). Louisa starts squirming and asking to go back. We say no, she can go on this, there's nothing scary. We get in the door and she starts to cry. We go into a small room and she starts to wail. We get as far as where you actually get on the ride and she's bawling so hard everyone is staring at us. I get very frustrated because this is so not like her. I take the baby and her and I find an exit in which we end up wandering around the backstage area for awhile before we find our way out. By the time we get back to the stroller husband and Drew are coming out of the ride. Drew offers to go back in with me so I can see it, too. So we switch and Louisa and Hunter sits out with daddy while I go in. She also freaked out while we were waiting in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but since it was an 80 minute line and this ride has no Fast Pass, she was going on it! In the end she was glad she did, but we spent 80 minutes with her whining and crying and once we actually got on the ride she buried her head in my lap and bawled. I finally got her to look up and she was ok after that. Now, back to midnight. It was so worth it when the fireworks exploded over the castle and husband and I gave our new year kiss. The kids were about passed out, but they managed to get up to say Happy New Year! The park was open until 2:00 am and several restaurants were giving away free cookies and hot chocolate. So of course we found one and got our freebies. Here's another reason why Disney is so evil. The monorail at Magic Kingdom. How fun it is to enter the park and ride the monorail (or ferry) across the lake to Magic Kingdom! However, imagine it's New Year's and the whole park empties out at about the same time. How magical is that monorail now? My feet hurt so bad at this point I could barely stand. Drew was so tired that I couldn't get him to walk and he's too heavy for me to carry. Husband hears someone yelling that this other monorail, the one that goes to the resorts, also stops at the parking lot. How awesome is that? The line for this monorail is very short in comparison. I think we still waited a half hour, but the line wasn't even moving for the other monorail to the parking lots.
Day three is Epcot. And let me tell you, none of us wanted to go. But we paid for three days at Disney so by golly, we were going. Not much to say because we didn't enjoy it as much. We met a Snow White who truly did act like a princess, though. And not the sweet Disney kind either. We happened to walk by a Snow White who had just started taking pictures with people, so the line was short. Since she was the only princess we had seen in all three days, we had to stop for Louisa. Not that she's that into princesses, mind you. It was drizzling so slightly that you barely felt it. The people in front of us were two teenage girls who wanted their pic with SW. I don't know what one of the girls was holding in her hand, but SW pointed at it and snapped, "I can't take pictures with those. You need to get rid of it now!" The girl handed whatever it was to her mom. My curiosity is totally peeked. I really wonder what the heck it was. The mom stuck it in her pocket and held up her camera. The girl looked very distraught, though. Then SW puts on her Disney-Snow-White-character-voice and acts all cute and perky with the girls. Next it's out turn. SW pulls out her princess-ness again and looks to the "cast member escort" who is with her. "It's raining. I can't be rained on. We need to go inside NOW!" she snaps. The escort tells me that we're going inside this building now, but we'll be the first family once we get in. So we get our picture, but wow was she.... um.... princess-ey!
I think we were all glad to leave Epcot. Now we had a big decision to make. We were originally going to head out to Cape Canaveral to Kennedy Space Center. Were we still in the sightseeing mood? Did we really want to walk around a whole day more? We decided we'd see in the morning. Morning. Husband goes to check out, only to find that we had one whole more night there. We were tired and couldn't take a fifth night there, so he went ahead and checked out. While he was gone I called Sea World because at one point they were letting military families in for free and I wanted to see if they still did that. I mean, we were down there, so why not? Right? It's not like we're going to make the 15 hour trip some other time just for free Sea World. They still have the promotion running, so we talked husband into going. After all, it's FREE and it's because he's in the military.
We were back in a good mood and Sea World was amazing. Well, mostly for me it was. I am a huge animal person. Love love love animals! Getting that up close with so many sea creatures was awesome for me. Hunter loved every second of it, too. At the Shamu show they honored all military and had military stand. Husband is always so shy and embarrassed about that stuff, but he deserves it. It's nice to go to a place where his service is commended so much. And to get in for free because of it! So, huge thanks to Anheiser Busch! If you are military, several of their parks are free for active duty and their immediate family. Go to http://www.herosalute.com/ . So Sea World is not evil!