Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Magical Trip of a Lifetime - Day 8

My heart sank that morning.

Really? Another headache?

It sank for all of about 30 seconds, because it only took me about 30 seconds to remember one of the worst headaches I'd had in my own life.

I was in San Francisco with a friend having my first 'adult' vacation. We had spent 6 weeks previously putting on summer camps for teenagers, and we had just come from Glorietta, New Mexico. My first 'adult' vacation was accompanied by an "I'm dying" phone call to my mommy. Worst headache ever. Major tummy upset. Dying.

In anxiousness my mom mentioned my condition to a nurse friend who promptly told her to have the friend staying with me walk the streets of San Fran on her own and get me some Gatorade, and to pray that I wasn't so far dehydrated that I'd need to be hospitalized.

Within hours I was walking those streets with her. Amazing the power of Gatorade. (Any time B has a stomach bug he asks for powerade or gatorade because we push it so heavily to keep him hydrated. I really believe he thinks it's a medicine, and I really believe it has a placebo effect for him!)

Why hadn't I thought of it sooner? Could she really just be dehydrated? Now that I thought of it, it'd been a long time since her last potty break. I grabbed our refillable mugs and headed for the resort restaurant.

An hour later we had a completely different kid.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some major mom guilt. The poor kid had gone about 16 hours with symptoms of dehydration, and of course she didn't know to tell me. Then - to add insult to injury - and to enhance the mom guilt - to know she could have enjoyed the previous night...

I'm still carrying it.

We had toyed with the idea of going back to Magic Kingdom several times. Saturday's plans were supposed to be to relax, enjoy the pool (which we hadn't done yet), and have a special dinner. After feeling shorted on MK time, we'd actually decided we'd spend the $40 or so and go back Saturday. (The more park days you purchase, the cheaper and cheaper they get.)

But rain was, once again, in the forecast.

We still hadn't finished up Downtown Disney.

It was our last day there and Monday was coming, as was routine.

Dinner was at 4:00. (And it was going to take some time to get there.)

And frankly - I was afraid of pushing any more.

So we packed everyone up and traveled by bus to Downtown Disney. Again.

This time, it actually wasn't raining yet, so we were able to score just a few pictures outside with the kids. We bought a few souvenirs and gifts for a few friends. We had an early lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express. It was fantastic. No pictures, but it was by far one of the best quick service meals we had. Ansley couldn't figure out why there were leaves on my pizza (bay leaves), but that didn't stop us :)

And we made one last stop at Goofy's Candy Cauldron to redeem some of the 14 snack credits we had left. Many of the items we bought are in our pantry as we speak. Chewy Sprees. Jelly Beans. Snack mixes. But a few of the things we bought came handmade. This is a horrible picture, but frankly, no picture would do it justice.

On the left? Yeah, that's a rice krispy treat. Let me be more clear. That's a Rice Krispy treat covered in chocolate. And not a little chocolate, a lot of chocolate. Then it's doused in reeses pieces. It was delectable and was shared by all four of us. (We all felt we had PLENTY.)

On the right. That's three, count them, three chocolate covered marshmallows. Simple, but heavenly.

We wrapped it up at Downtown fairly early in the afternoon. Dinner was scheduled for 4:00, and we were supposed to be there for check-in 15 minutes early.

Add to those factors that when the front desk gave us directions to the location they told us to allow a full 1.5 hours to get there. That's one and a half, folks.

The directions went something like this:

- Ride the Magic Kingdom bus to the Magic Kingdom.
- Get off and find the water taxi that goes to Fort Wilderness. It should have a green flag.
- If that particular taxi doesn't seem to be running, wait for a bus to Fort Wilderness. They should run every twenty minutes.
- Once you finally get to Fort Wilderness, wait for an internal bus to take you back to the restaurant. This can take several minutes because there are several stops.

My mouth was literally hanging as she wrote the directions down. It wasn't until we'd got to Downtown Disney that it had occurred to me, "Hey, we have a car here. I wonder if it's shorter to drive."

Turns out it is, and we arrived at the Hoop Dee Doo Review almost 45 minutes early for check in.

Yes. You heard me. The Hoop Dee Doo Review. Believe it or not, that dinner was our 'splurge' dinner of the week and required two dining credits per person. (A side note: the two dining credits - totally worth it. All your food is included, plus it's a show, plus drinks - including some alcoholic selections for those interested. It also includes gratuity. Without the dining plan, the cost for all four of us would have been around $180. Because we were on the dining plan, it was free :) )

Admittedly, this is not a restaurant I would have sought out myself. I take zero credit. A sweet friend who is a previous Disney Cast Member made the suggestion when I reached out to her about things not to miss. She prefaced that, "I went with a bad attitude and thought I'd hate it, then I loved it," and encouraged us to make a go of it if we could swing the cost or found it worthy of two credits on the dining plan.

I'm not a dumb woman. When someone knows a lot more about something than I do, I take their advice. (She also suggested going in the fall for free dining! She's worthy of listening to!)

So I booked it as our last night, one last sit down, enjoyable meal as a family.

Let me first say - Fort Wilderness is that, wilderness. Not like tents wilderness. But RV's wilderness. With horses, and a lake, and a couple of cabins scattered about. And that internal bus she told us about, yeah, it really did make many stops before our stop.

But - while we were waiting our 45 minutes to check in, I got to prove I still have the mad hula hoop skills I've always had. Oh yea.

And it got to rain again.

And I got to take this cute pic of Ans with the new purse she'd bought that day. She's such a girl :)


And finally we were checked in.

Now, I've made it through like 8 blogs with not one complaint, so I'm not going to start now. I'll just offer a word of advice. Hoop Dee Doo Review tickets come in tiers. You can get Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 seating. I called around 4 months in advance and Tier 3 was all that was remaining. If you have the option, go with Tier 1 or 2. Your view of the stage - and your family, for that matter - is much better. Again, not a complaint, just an observation.  (Another suggestion, if you don't want to be made part of the show - because a lot of people don't - stick with Tier 2 for the best chance of that happening and still having better seats.)

So let's move on to the food. Fantabulous!

When you sit, you've got a big ole loaf of cornbread. And not just any cornbread. SWEET cornbread. There's also salad. Both are great. Soon comes fried chicken, BBQ ribs, corn, BBQ beans, and mashed potatoes. Real southern cookin', at it's finest, and it's all you can eat.

The show is fantastic. It's funny, cute, and somewhat interactive. It kept the attention of my three year old, and the hubs and I laughed at many things that we know went way over the heads of the kids. The kids got to sing at the top of their lungs, swing their napkins in the air, and play a washboard by the time it was all over. Who am I kidding?! I did all of those things, too!

It was all out fun, and with all of the things to do at Disney, I would not have passed this up. It was relaxing and enjoyable. We enjoyed it as a last night activity, but several there were using it as their arrival dinner. Also a great idea!

And the finale? The finale was this yummo Strawberry Shortcake! Props to Momma in the kitchen for whipping this up for the whole restaurant ;)

The turn around time here is unreal. Our reservation opened at 4:00. We were seated very shortly after. It's my understanding the next group comes in at 6:00. We left at 5:55. That's Disney perfection at it's finest.

And so the trip was coming to an end. I don't do the end of vacations well. I never have. It's sad and depressing, and really starts to set in sometime when I hit the midway point.

When we returned back to our hotel, I still hadn't packed, but I wanted the kids to be able to swim. So we donned our swim attire and headed down to the 'heated' pool.

Turns out a heated pool doesn't do you much good if you can't bear to get in it. The kids had a great time, but I shivered in the '70 degrees with a breeze' night air.

They swam until pruny, and we sat at the edge and enjoyed their enjoyment.

That really was the theme of the trip. I've been to Disney before and loved it. I'm really a kid at heart.

I could go back without kids some day and enjoy it, but frankly, I wouldn't want to.

This trip, I saw Disney through a whole new set of eyes. I saw it through the eyes of my children.

I saw their wonder seeing Mickey Mouse the first time. I listened to Ans' hilarious giggle / scream on every fast ride we rode. I saw fireworks light up in their eyes. I heard "zip-a-dee-doo-dah" be sang over and over and over again, unprompted, in the shower, and I saw B break multiple troubling habits he had picked up in the last couple months as he was able to relax with a family who was relaxing and focusing on him.

In sharing stories when we returned, I was told that B would probably remember the trip, but Ans probably wouldn't. And I don't doubt that. I don't doubt that most of the moments of that trip will be forever lost somewhere in Ans' three year old mind.


(There's always a 'but.')

But my six year old Ans who 'may have' remembered wouldn't have reacted like my three year old Ans did. And I will never, ever forget her eyes lighting up when she met Ariel and she pulled out her dinglehopper to show her. I will never forget that shrill of enjoyment that rang from her lungs riding the Barnstormer for the first time. I won't forget her sweet little face when she declared that Space Mountain was her favorite ride, even though she really only rode the People Mover through it. And I won't miss that little sleepy face that graced my bed every night.

Sure. She will have pictures.


But I - yes, I - will have the memories.  And those memories, well, they were worth every penny.

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