My wife and I can now mark one off of our respective bucket lists, which is a sweet deal since our lists tend to be vastly different. For instance, she would like to visit Scotland, the land of her people. It’s on her bucket list. For me, though, while I would enjoy a trip to the isles, it’s not necessarily on my list. The itinerary of my theoretical bucket includes such things as hang gliding, sky diving, bungee jumping, and becoming the prophesied “one” under a kung-fu monk’s tutelage – all things that may or may not be possible depending on whether my mom or wife know about it or I get the chance to scale a Tibetan mountain.
There has, however, been a shining item on the agenda for my bride and I from just about the moment of our first date to see Disney’s Aladdin way back in the nineties … a Just-Us-Romantic-Trip-To-Disney-World-Capped-Off-With-The-Fireworks-Over-The-Castle-And-Then-Maybe-More-Fireworks-Later, or JURTTDWCOWFOTCATMMFL for short.
For a while, we had decided that the possibility of this trip had passed us by. Disney World is expensive even without kids and we’d not been able to afford it before we spat one out. We took him when he was two and it was great, except that the went to Animal Kingdom first and made the mistake of scaring the diaper off him by doing the Bug’s Life show first thing. He didn’t understand that the big spider didn’t intend to eat him and after that, anything inside of a building, including It’s A Small World, was an adventure.
Then a daughter came along nine years later. Were we over the Disney thing? You be the judge … we named her Merida. We took her in June of 2016 because she’s princess obsessed and it gave us a reason to go. We’d learned from before and made sure to ease her into some of the attractions, although she’s our daredevil and would likely be fine and want to do it again if we duct taped her into Rockin’ Roller Coaster.
After that trip, we decided that Disney was something we would just have to figure out a way to make happen Every. Single. Year. Little did we know that while we were making plans for a January 2018 trip, the opportunity would arise for us to take the honeymoon we’d always dreamed about. Our first honeymoon 22 years earlier, by the way, was pretty much an RC Cola and a moon pie in a little mountain town called Helen, GA.
Now we’re back from our second honeymoon and I have to admit that while it was absolutely a dream come true and a fond memory for the rest of our lives, there were some realities we came face to face with that I feel obligated to share for the benefit of my readers.
- Orlando is in Florida. Florida is an active participant in the month called August. The month of August tends to be hot and muggy. Florida embraces hot and muggy. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. We knew what we were walking into of course, as June wasn’t a whole lot better. But we had vowed never to visit during the summer again until this opportunity came along. We told others, when they hissed and made the sign of the cross at the prospect of Florida in August, that at least it would be just the two of us and we could duck into a shady spot much more easily without the kids if we needed to. We’d forgotten that …
- Other people like Disney World. LOTS of other people. Shady spots are available in all of the parks, but when every crevice of darkness is occupied by someone else and their family, it can be difficult to get as much relief as might be needed, especially when …
- Maneuvering a wheel chair can be quite the task amid the throng and especially in a store full of ear-headed vacationers. My wife recently had Achilles heel surgery and found out quickly that she’d be needing the wheel chair we’d borrowed from a friend “just in case”. I didn’t mind pushing her at all and it made a handy place to hang the backpack full of bottled water, Slim Jims, sandwiches, refillable cups, potato chip snack packs, extra clothes for when we get smelly in the heat, cool towels, ponchos, hats, sunscreen, and a utility belt in case we had to battle something, that we’d brought along. Also, Animal kingdom is a tad more hilly than I remembered, which made it an ordeal because …
- Waiting in line for the new Pandora stuff can be an exercise in desert survival. I’m going to admit from the start that it’s totally worth it, in my opinion. We love animals more than just about anything and being that Disney boasts not only a kingdom that is magic, but also one that is animal, it simply makes sense to go there. Animal Kingdom is where you can take in the breathtaking Lion King live performance show and then immediately afterwards, head out on their safari. But now they’ve added the wildly popular Pandora section of the park that mimics the imagery of the movie, Avatar, and it would seem that everyone in our universe and beyond got the memo – a very powerful memo that beseeched every citizen of our universe and beyond to come see it. (It probably had Mickey somewhere on it riding a dragon looking thing. Irrisistable.) We, too, although we’ve never seen the movie at this point, were compelled go travel to the Disney version of Pandora and found ourselves in a pickle – not an actual pickle, mind you. I’m pretty sure you might be able to ride a pickle in another park and if not, why? But I digress. Anyway, it was a quandary. There were two rides: One that takes you on a boat through caves that illuminate around you all alien like – think the Song Of The South log ride, but with aliens and no Uncle Remus, and a 4-D experience called Flight Of Passage. It’s more like Soaring, but you’re atop your very own flying banshee dragon horse animal thingy and you REALLY FEEL LIKE YOU’RE FLYING! It turned out to be amazing when it was all said and done and we’ve pretty much decided to try and use all of our fast passes for that one attraction in January. But the problem was that everybody felt the same way and so the lines for both rides made me feel like I’d upset God and had been made, like the folks who followed Moses out of Egypt, to wait forty years for my prize, wandering aimlessly through a maze of chain and posts and sweaty, stinky people who each apparently had a better idea than Disney about how to handle such a crowd. The lady behind me kept saying aloud, “This is ridiculous. This is just … RIDICULOUS!” If you go to Pandora, take Scar’s advice and “Be prepared.” I say this because …
- There’s a funky taste to the water in the fountains. I don’t believe it’s Disney’s fault, but when it’s 200 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re out of your bottled water because you drank it all while waiting approximately 78.35 hours in line to ride Flight Of Passage, and you spot a fountain from which you chug with reckless abandon (right behind the kid who just put his entire mouth over the faucet, I might add), you’re likely to come away thinking, that wasn’t the tastiest water I’ve ever had. In fact, it’s pretty dang terrible due to Florida stuff that even the mouse has no control over. Fear not, though. I found out, after posting a snide remark about it on a Disney Facebook group I’m a member of, that I might be the last one to know that you can go to most quick service food spots and request a cup of fresh, funk-free water and they’ll give it to you at no charge. Still, bringing your own water boy along would be ideal, if it’s in the old budget, so you may enjoy waiting in the lines refreshed. Just ignore the lady behind you that keeps giving you the stank-eye and shouting, “RIDICULOUS!”
There are many other tidbits I learned from that trip, including the fact that at our age after a day at any of the parks, you ought to pretty much expect the fireworks at closing time to be all you really have the energy for. If you want any other advice, I’m glad to give it. Ask or tell me about your own experiences in the comments.
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