Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mickey Mouse

Mid May 2009 M I CK E Y MOUSE

From Fort Lauderdale we pushed hard for 200 miles to Cape Canaveral to arrive in time for the Space Shuttle launch. Orlando was 45 minutes from Harbor Town Marina, a useful stop for the Space Coast and theme parks.

Our first park was the Magic Kingdom, which with boys of 4 and 2, was by far the most appropriate. The morning procession with dancing through the shimmering heat was a cracking way to start the children’s first day. Way after bedtime, at 9pm, came the procession of lit up floats in front of Cinderella’s castle followed by fireworks and Tinkerbell “flying” from the castle. Disney at it’s most spectacular and slick. It was a joy for us to see Jack and James’ simple delight in snuggling the Disney characters and giggling on rides such as it’s a “Small small world”, (which Sergej our Dutch friend informed us had nothing to do with Disney and was a copy of a famous Dutch ride in an Award winning park).

Other high points included, “Soarin’” at Epcot where we “flew” on a journey across the States, after which Jack was literally high as a kite. Flying over London with the Peter Pan ride, the spinning saucers in the Mad Hatter’s Tea party, the famous Dumbo ride, the huge “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” playground were other favourites, but watching a youngster being trained to fight Darth Vader was a bit “scaredy”. My favourite was the “Encounter” with Crash, the “dude” cartoon turtle from Nemo who really did interact with the audience. “Cooool.”

Dizzy-ing Nausea

Our name for Disney after two parks. $600 plus $12 a day parking, plus exorbitant food and tolls on the roads surrounding the parks, we felt that we’d been pummelled by Pete the thuggish dog (wolf) who demands payment from Mickey even when he’s trying to save Daisy and Minnie, to hell with them, pay up.

Fast Pass

I wish we could Fast Pass some experiences in life, supermarket queues, adolescence and heart ache. At least in Disney if you secure a fast pass you can return later and jump the “line”. Otherwise it can be an hour and a half wait for a 3 minute ride. Our only long line was 40 minutes for Winnie the Pooh, out of date, but thankfully the children did not notice. We got wise about the Fast Pass after that.

English Tea

I ran out of my favourite tea, Lap Sang Souchong, mid Caribbean and finally found it in the Twinnings cottage in the Great Britain part of Epcot’s World area. Charlotte from Hedge End, (fifteen miles from my mother) served us. Long dark hair and green eyed Charlotte is spending her gap year “having the time of her life” working in "England" in the plastic UK.

Six Packed

By this time we had done six parks: Magic Kingdom, twice, The Disney Studios, twice, Epcot, and the Animal Kingdom ,which we left appalled by the desperate gorilla in it’s plastic jungle, and hippo in a dirty pool, we were jaded by stroller police, (park your pushchair in the wrong place and you‘re told where to put it), and the trudging from ride to ride with tired children and worst of all the overt commercialism. Off the ride, through the shop to the exit.
Gradually the dream was fading. By our fourth parade the smiles on the melting dancers were grimaces. It was a pop rock version of the Red Shoes. The bubble was beginning to wobble. We were resenting every penny. As we were dragging ourselves home from the Studios, a fresh faced manager asked me to put my 2 year olds shirt on. I pointed out it was wet with ice cream, the automaton told me it was company policy. I told him we were leaving.

For three of our six days it rained, not just pitter patter, but, torrential, vengeance of God stuff. It thinned the crowds and stopped the rides. But whilst on our mission to “do” Disney, we carried on. The boys seemed to have more fun playing in the puddles.

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