Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning,

In case you hadn’t heard, we spent last week in Florida, attending to Disneything. Myself, Christine, our two young ladies and mother-in-law, running around and doing many of the many things. Given the Covid-era, as Christine says, we hadn’t a family trip beyond our big July drive [see my report on such here] that our young ladies can even recall (three years in the house, after all, and we haven't been even to father-in-law's condo in Boca Raton since Rose was a toddler), and apparently Disneything is an important part of Christine’s own childhood, having made their way there repeatedly. Christine was also worried about our young ladies aging out of making the trip worthwhile. And so, we are here.

Although: this is not our first time. Do you recall when we went there as part of that last Boca Raton jaunt back in 2015? (I know Rose doesn’t.) [see my report on such here]

Thursday, November 2, 2023: We flew, late. And our 4:55pm direct flight to Orlando was delayed by nearly four hours, due to something discovered on the flight that landed, earlier that day. Why did it take so long to discover, and then search? Because we weren't told anything at all, I simply presumed it to be a loose monkey on the plane (I attempted to tell this to others around us, but I don't think anyone bought it). Apparently they even had to bring in a sniffer dog. We weren't even sure we'd make it out, honestly. But we did. Aoife knocked out cold on the plane.

Friday, November 3, 2023: We woke slow, set in what was most likely a former condo. Oh, how late we got in. Once up, we headed for a full day of Universal, Orlando. Is Orlando a real place, or is it imaginary? A city of highways, condos, resorts and warehouses, it would seem. A city of palm trees and ridiculous adventure-lands. This city might just be imaginary.

Admittedly, the high point was the Harry Potter world stuff (Rose and Aoife had been years collecting change in a jar, all of which was for us to come to this specific place), both Diagon Alley in one corner, and Hogsmeade in another. The children hated the butterbeer (butterscotch foamy drink). I enjoyed a real beer. A dragon breathed fire. There were so many shops! They just wanted our money, methinks. We rode the Hogwarts train. The children collected wands. We went on a Minions ride that was amusing to all. Aoife met characters from the movie Sing. We saw Krazy Kat, and various Marvel things. I purchased a t-shirt.

Saturday, November 4, 2023: We had a quiet day, mostly at the condo space. I spent some time with notebook, and books by Laynie Browne, as well as my copy of Barry McKinnon's i wanted to say something, which I'd brought to poke through. I made various notes, some of which I'm still processing, adding to. I am still thinking upon. Christine and her mother made plans.

The tennis court across from our window also included a pickleball option, and large-scale chess and checkers, which occasionally folk would wander by and attempt. The children, at one point, made for the pool, so naturally I brought my books and my notebook, sketching out an hour's worth of notes. We wandered stores (I bought new shoes), found a dollar store and Christine and I picked up armloads of candy we can't get up here. Baby Ruth! Beer-flavoured jellybeans! What! Dinner at Red Lobster, a restaurant I don't think I've been to in years. My mother used to enjoy going regularly to one near home with my sister. I always think of them when I think of Red Lobster. The corn bread was excellent.

Sunday, November 5, 2023: Disneything, Animal Kingdom. Why are there Christmas trees and decorations everywhere? I don't want to think about that yet. We left our morning condo for our Disney-specific resort, meaning we became folded into the Disney space for five full days. We were beyond the scope of the real world, caught up in what only existed within. Aren't there science fiction films that begin this way? We saw wild animals in wide open spaces and attended an animation session, learning how to draw the sea turtle from Finding Nemo.

We saw a giraffe, some lions, some hippo. We saw artificial mountains. The scale of this place I find quite overwhelming, quite terrifying. Why is everything so enormously big?

Monday, November 6, 2023: Magic Kingdom, day one. Did I ever imagine myself here, let alone three times, including twice in one week? It is all madness, really. The real chaos is knowing that, no matter how busy this seems, we're here in the off-season. We wandered spaces and rides, and the young ladies caught photos with Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger (I kept calling them "Winston the Poop" and "Tiggles," which my entire menagerie found rather irritating). I was surprised how much Rose was enamoured with all of this, less than three weeks away from ten (when she would be priced as an adult, which was a big factor in the timing of this trip). Apparently Winnie-the-Pooh is her favourite, which I had no idea. I should tell her about the Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day VHS that we'd put in regularly when her big sister Kate was a toddler, when we needed just twenty minutes or so to be able to breathe on our own (we played that thing hundreds of times, I think). Aoife even insisted on writing Winnie-the-Pooh a note of thanks, while I think Rose caught an autograph.

The young ladies later had the (mostly) full princess treatment, and even dinnered at the castle, with five different Disney princesses wandering through. Rose and Aoife complained heavily on their paper placemats of the obvious Disney-specific Paw Patrol knock-offs, "pupstruction," and I admired their venom, but not sure which side to be on, in this one. Both sides have their problems, but one would think that Disney would have been able to find their own characters to display instead of skewering another, right? It was ridiculous, with wait staff dressed in castle finery, and various princesses wandering through for photographs and autographs (all of which our young ladies garnered), and they were both given plastic swords at the end (apparently boys got swords and shields, and girls were supposed to get something else, but they were out of those). So many small girls in that space dressed as princesses, swinging plastic swords around. More princesses need their own swords, I say.

Oh yes, and the "it's a small world" ride, once more. We did same with toddler Rose, but she remembers none of it. Both ladies were quite taken with it. I mean, the old standards are important. And Don Quixote!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023: Epcot, wandering. We went through Canada, of course, as I sang songs by The Tragically Hip under my breath. We caught the Day of the Dead festival display in Mexico, and mother in law purchased a cuckoo clock in the German Pavillion, to replace one she once had, long gone. I considered a stein, but the price, weight, travel considerations and the fact that I don't even use the ones I have at home prompted me to rethink (they were pretty cool, though). Did you know that "stein" translates to "stone"? There was a grand arch in the Chinese Pavillion (ours in Ottawa is better). We had lunch in the same German buffet we did from that prior visit, but mis-timed from the show. I kept telling Aoife that we were depending upon her German language classes for the sake of ordering, which terrified her (no! I can't do that!). The food was grand (traditional!) but uber-expensive. Mein Gott!

We caught a ride with Olaf and Elsa and Anna. We wandered the whole history of human civilization through Epcot, and dinnered with an aquarium of fish (where Rose, again, complained of the placemats and character knock-offs). We rode through Imagination Land. A sequence of days where there was barely enough time to wake, check email, and leave. Once back to the resort at the end of the day, we all crashed.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023: Cafeteria breakfast, at the resort. As this snapshot suggests, Rose is leaning pretty hard into pre-teen stuff, I would say. I ask you: what is morning? What is coffee? A needlessly-expensive bottle of (what I would discover to be) terrible wine collected for evenings.

There is an island by our resort with a pool, so I sat with Barry McKinnon again, as mother in law and the children splashed about. I made further notes, and thought about whether I should garner a beer, for Barry's sake (it was barely 11am, so decided it was a bit early).

Today was Hollywood Studios, so I was pretty excited for the sake of the Star Wars stuff. I took Barry to see the Millennium Falcon, naturally. I took Barry McKinnon into the Cantina. Not even the Storm Troopers who came through could wrest that away from me. And we realized that Christine, in her own way, was inadvertently dressed entirely appropriate for Tattoine.

We went to a Mickey Mouse animated short in one theatre, and had a 3-D Muppet Show experience in The Muppet Theatre. We went to Potatoland. We had buckets upon buckets of popcorn. We had dinner in a drive-in theatre that showed theatrical trailers from classic horror flicks! After the past couple of days, Christine appreciated how quiet this particular dinner was, volume-wise. All eyes caught up on the big screen. Plan 9 from Outer Space!

Thursday, November 9, 2023: Not enough food here is shaped like Mickey Mouse. Is this a real complaint I have? Hard to tell, isn't it. We took a riverboat after breakfast to one of the other resorts nearby, mainly so we could catch a riverboat, but also, so we could make the French Quarter resort and have those sugar-donut things. What are those called? I know Christine and I had some back in New Orleans in 2012 [remember when we were down there?]. Naturally, Rose managed to get white sugar everywhere (and yes, they were shaped like Mickey Mouse, as they should be).

After that, we made for our second Magic Kingdom day before heading out. We saw the noon parade, which we caught the tail end of again, repeated, later on. How many times does one see two parades in a single day? Hard to imagine the staff not sick of such things, after a time. The sky was perfect blue.

We caught an enormity of rides, again. They caught Aladdin's carpet ride at one point, the spinning aliens from Toy Story, and the Dumbo rides (classic), of course. Which day did I regrettably catch The Guardians of the Galaxy ride that nearly killed me? I can't even remember now. I regret it, terribly. It nearly did me in. And there was a follow-up, a day or two later, via Star Wars that nearly did the same. And yet, the children were fine. Let us speak no more of this.

Honestly, the craziest part of Disney is that we kept seeing these things. The future, indeed!

And Aoife wanted a picture of this guy, who I recognized but she didn't. Quite terrifying, really. At least he's the mandolin player (as we all know: bass players can't be trusted).

I insisted on catching the Hall of Presidents, also, before we left the park. There was considerable resistance by the adults in our group, but it was better than we might have thought. Odd, the whole thing of it. What are the stories we tell ourselves of ourselves?

And then leaving the park at 5pm to get back to the resort to pick up the car and our stuff to drop the car off at the airport and catch our 9pm flight home. A bit of chaos, that. And the smallest one barfed a couple of times right at the moment we were entering security (she was fine in the end, but it made the whole experience askew). Both kids slept on the plane. I did, also.

Friday, November 10, 2023: We are home, exhausted. Exhausted. Landed well after midnight. In our beds after 1am. We move very little once we are up in the morning. If at all. Did we move at all?


1 comment:

Michael Turner said...

Epic post, rob. Poetry World meets Disney World. Barry would howl to see pictures of his book there, vacationing. Favourite line (from your post): "Epcot, wandering."