We are vacationing in Orlando, complete with trips to Disney, both coasts, and a designated manatee refuge with 72 degree springs.
Initially, our only Disney plans were to spend one day at Animal Kingdom. We did not think Magic Kingdom (the traditional Disney destination) was necessary since Kieran has never seen anything Disney. The only introduction he had to Mickey Mouse and crew before Florida was the pack of stickers and temporary tattoos I got him at the store last week.
I guess that was enough.
Much to our surprise, Kieran has fallen in love with the Disney characters. Walt and his successors have done an excellent job of turning Orlando into Mickey's town. Even though we didn't do any of the parks until we'd been in town four days, we were inundated by mouse ears at every turn. I'll admit, it might have made even me a little mouse-crazy.
And so I talked Tom into a trip to Magic Kingdom.
Because we weren't planning on the expense of two extra Disney tickets, we had to get creative. In a very short amount of time. (There aren't a lot of legit options out there, by the way.)
Consequently, we pimped ourselves out as potential resort shareholders. It's not necessarily a route I would recommend to anyone with small children with no babysitter. Basically you eat a one star lunch, hear a two bit sales pitch, tour a five star resort, and have to refuse three or four offers before you are shown the door (and your much-reduced park tickets). It doesn't help that you are tag-teamed during the final push - their banter is reminiscent of the good cop/bad cop routine on cheesy TV shows. The strangest part in all of this is that the salesperson who was your best friend for the first 1.5 hours becomes almost hostile as soon as you give the final "no."
At any rate, we got our tickets and were shipped off to the Magic Kingdom. We arrived in time for the 3:00 parade, and we closed the park down after the last fireworks sparkled out over Cinderella's castle. Kieran rode "up! down! up! down!" on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride, fell asleep during the Haunted Mansion, and watched with wide eyes as the floats and characters passed in front of us during the Spectral Magic Light Parade.
The best part of the day was when Kieran finally got to meet Mickey and Minnie. He had talked about them for hours. As soon as I told him we were going to meet and perhaps hug Mickey, he had been repeating "hug Mickey? hug Mickey?!" incessantly. When we reached the front of the line, he ran up to Mickey and gave him a big hug. And then he kissed Mickey on the nose. It was incredibly sweet.
I must admit, it wasn't the only moment during our two days at Disney that I got a little misty.
I had another misty moment the following day at Animal Kingdom. Kieran loves animals, and I have been excited to see his reaction at something a little more flashy than the exhibits he is accustomed to. We are Friends of the Zoo at home, and Kieran never tires of visiting. He loved the exhibits at Animal Kingdom too, but we had to laugh when he fell asleep during the last few minutes of the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride (one of the most popular rides in the park). His favorite part of Animal Kingdom was the Finding Nemo musical. He was frightened at the beginning of the sharks' number, but once he realized they were harmless he kept (nervously) bebopping along to the music.
Before "Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade" started, we hurried over to meet a few characters. Kieran gave some loves to Donald Duck, and then he spied Thumper - the only Disney character he was actually familiar with outside of his new stickers and tattoos. My mom bought him a "Thumper Counts to 10" book last year, and it is a semi-regular read in our house. The pictures are beautiful, and he was set on kissing Thumper as soon as he made the connection.
Unfortunately, we were a few back in line when Thumper had to leave to join the parade. Kieran saw Thumper leaving and started crying as if his heart was broken. We tried to tell him that we would see Thumper in the parade, but Kieran wanted none of it - he started running after Thumper.
As he ran behind Thumper, he cried and sobbed "hug! hug!" I had no idea what to do. Thankfully, Thumper heard the distraught toddler losing ground behind him and took pity.
Thumper stopped to hug my baby. He hugged him long and hard, waiting for Kieran's tears to dry up.
Disney may be a billion dollar corporation, but it has instilled in its cast members the reason behind its success: