Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Magical Week

Greetings from Walt Disney World! We've finished day four of this whirlwind, wondrous vacation and are excited to have several more days ahead. True to my expectations, Disney World has proved to be a magical experience. Other than a brief trip to Disney Land as a toddler, I've not been to Disney before and couldn't even get my mind around what the experience might entail. After a few very full days at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, I still can't really get my mind around it all.

It's bigger and grander and more elaborate than anything I was prepared for. Talk about sensory overload, it is simply impossible to experience everything here in one week. Everything about this place is carried out with excellence. When we think it can't get more elaborate, it gets more elaborate. The creativity behind the attractions and sets and experiences is astounding.

A few meager observations:
- Fast Passes rock.
- Disney Iphone apps rock. Tells our GPS location and distance from any particular attraction, as well as an estimated wait time. Brilliant.
- Disney at Christmastime - stunning. Decor on steroids.
- Breathtaking Christmas decorations aren't the only reason to come to Disney the week after Thanksgiving. We are loving, loving, loving walking right through empty mazes and finding great seats in half-empty theaters and rides.
- That said, a "slow week" at Disney is a relative term. We've been told this week is the slowest of the year, and we're basking in the contrast of what it would be like at peak season. But there are still plenty of people milling around the parks. Says a lot for this resort that a "dead" week is still fairly bustling.
- After just a few days here, Corbin could be a tour guide. He's got the parks figured out before we arrive in the morning, manages our fast passes, and has secured some fantastic reservations.
- At nine, eight, six and three, our kids are great ages to be here. BUT, Esther is definitely a little unpredictable. She's taken with the fireworks and parades and princesses, but has given Corbin and me plenty of opportunities for executing patience and consistency...
- Evidently it's impossible to scare Hudson, even with 13-story drops at Haunted houses.

A handful of things have made this week magical for me. Being here for the first time as a 36-year-old (I'll be celebrating my 37th birthday here at Disney in a couple of days!) I find myself watching the faces of my children more than actually watching the fireworks and parades. Basden's face flushes with wonder as Belle makes her golden entrance in a flowing gown and high-piled brunette curls. Hudson looks at me, stunned, when the futuristic video at the end of Spaceship Earth features the two of us as the main characters. Branson thrives at the pace of this place - being on the go with one adventure after adventure on the docket. And I love that even at a mature nine years old, he lights up when life-sized Goofy and Donald Duck appear on the landscape. And Esther - she's just glad to be along for the ride, bouncing between Corbin and me and Mama and Papa and Cappy and Daboo.

That's the second thing that's made it a magical week. Being here with all four grandparents - I feel like it's the trip of a lifetime. Corbin and I will never fully understand how fortunate we are to have these four parents building into us and into our children.

Third, it's magical to have the means and health and flexibility to be here. It seems like everyone's been to Disney, but I feel like it's such a privilege to take this kind of a trip.
And fourth - as gratifying as it has been to watch our kids enjoy the magic, I keep forgetting that I'm not the little girl. In a place where kids and grown-ups alike wear rounded mouse ears, where a glimpse of Cinderella's castle in the distance evokes long-forgotten girlhood dreams, and where Minnie Mouse and Snow White and Winnie the Pooh erase a few decades, I have to pinch myself that I'm the adult... and who is taking care of Esther, anyway?!