Magic Kingdom is sort of the heart of Disney World; it's where most people think of when they hear "Disney" and it's the home of all the Disney icons (e.g. Dumbo, Cinderella Castle). According to Arthur, it's also where Mickey Mouse lives (in his castle).
People often ask us why we go to Disney every year; it all begins with my mom, who is probably the most active person ever to have end-stage renal failure. Walt Disney World is her favorite place, and she loves to take the whole family every year. It's a bit chaotic to leave the lab and drag the little ones around Disney World for a week or more, but it's always a ton of fun and very generous of my parents to fly us down there. For me, our Disney trips represent a time when we can transcend everything--my mom's illness, crazy work schedules, household responsibilities--and focus on being a family and living in the moment. Plus, few things are more amazing than telling your kid, "Guess what? Mommy and Daddo are both off work all week and each moment is about our family."
The thing that I know my mom loves most about Disney and I do as well is that everything is so together there. No detail is a concern. For my mom, dialysis treatments are a hindrance to traveling most places, but she has managed treatments in her room at Disney. For those who stay on property, transportation and many other details are included. "Cast members" are incredibly helpful to attend to any special needs. Every detail is seen to and everything is strikingly clean, even the ground in the parks...it is rare to find even a solitary piece of trash on the ground. They also see to emergencies; I once ran out of medication there and had it delivered to the Magic Kingdom later that day, without ever having to leave the park. They also make it really easy to spend your cash: any purchases made are couriered to your hotel room later that day. Family travel is a cinch there; for example, a pack 'n play can be set up for infants in the hotel room free of charge. These are just a few of the little extra touches that make a Disney trip so perfect.
Yes, Disney World is a huge consumer trap, from its princess makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to the ubiquitous nine-dollar hamburgers. And although I have never been one to tote around a child clad head- to-toe in Winnie-the-Pooh advertisement, Justin and I also believe strongly in letting a kid do what brings them joy, which is frequently what other kids are doing, whether awesome or cringeworthy to our sensibilities.
I will never deny my little ones a chance to be caught in the swirling vortex of Lightning McQueen and even the gender-stereotyping princesses; even if we may balk at shelling out more money for less-than-educational toys, we were both raised on Disney films and know that among the cinematic entertainment available for children, they are some of the best. As children of the pop culture era ourselves, we don't have a problem with occasional television watching and in fact, see a literary/textual value to it. Arthur has a television in his bedroom and if he had been very good and needs a little chillout time, we will sometimes let him watch up to an hour of TV per Dr. B's recommendation. Besides his Jim Henson favorites The Dark Crystal, The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Christmas Carol are quite a few Disney animated films, his favorites being The Lion King and The Jungle Book, which are recurrent themes in his imaginative play ("I'm a king, mama! I'm a man-cub!" he often declares triumphantly to me). He also owns Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Dumbo, The Rescuers, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians, Tarzan, Dinosaur, Oliver & Company, and A Bug's Life. The thing we love about Disney films is that they are pretty dependable as solid entertainment and strong animation, not just some random filler to dump into a child's brain and suck away minutes of his life. Occasionally, there's a terrific life lesson, but I don't believe in relying on movies for that. Just let them be what they are: simple, fun entertainment.
On this last trip, we were at the Magic Kingdom more than once; we came back for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, which was just amazing. The kids got to trick-or-treat and there was a big dance party held by Stitch. We loved it.
This is the path to the Magic Kingdom monorail from the handicapped parking lot. It's still quite a drive...fortunately, my mom had rented one of those little scooters. For someone who had total kidney failure years ago from PKD and spends hours each day on a dialysis machine, however, she still manages to run circles around us at the annual Disney trip.
Magic Kingdom must be reached via monorail or ferry, kind of a trek from the parking areas. We took the ferry back to one of the other resorts one evening and really enjoyed the cool boat ride after another sweltering day.
Images from the monorail station.
Absolutely everyone was in costume. There were bowling pins everywhere, the obligatory pirates, princesses, and twentysomethings in a multitude of variations on the slut skirt, Where's Waldos, half a dozen Incredible families, Popeyes and Olive Oyls, storm troopers and ghostbusters galore.
This is the view from Crystal Palace.
The poor kids were so hungry. Here they are looking into the Crystal Palace wishing us off the wait.
90 degree heat took its toll on the boys. Character lunches at the Crystal Palace are always on our must-do list. It's a buffet, kind of spendy, but as Disney food goes, pretty decent.
Arthur attacked Tigger before he made his way over to us.
Arthur started off in the cutest homemade octopus costume. Unfortunately, it was too damned hot too wear in the "summer" heat, so we reverted to the backup plan.
While in Tomorrowland, Justin rode Space Mountain twice with no wait. Jealous!
This parade was the best Disney parade I've seen next to Main Street Electrical Parade, which was brought back recently.
These guys reminded me of this Willie Nelson song.
One of the trick-or-treat stations, indicated by the large inflatable in the background.
My favorite Disney experience ever in 10 trips was riding Haunted Mansion on Halloween. It was Arthur's favorite ride and he still talks about it!
We had a terrific time at Disney on Halloween. The best experience was the fireworks display, which at one point went 360 degrees around the park. It was hands-down the best display we've seen anywhere. We scored a perfect spot for viewing next to a family dressed like a picnic (they even had the blanket). Next year, we'll be going at Christmas again, which is better for our work and school schedules, but Disney at Halloween rocked the socks off of Disney Christmas.
For more of our Disney Halloween vacay, check out: