So, yeah, I disappeared. Life got somewhat busy, my brain got somewhat muddled, and I found myself being overcome with a severe lack of time. And then. . . well, I crammed my family into a car and we drove across the country in search of a mouse.
In a rather last-minute decision, brought on by some impending changes in the Oster household, my wife and I came to the realization that it may be some time before we would actually be able to do a trip to Disney World (which had initially been pencilled in for sometime in October) unless we were to do so pretty darn quickly. We were in need of a vacation, had just barely enough funds to pay for the trip, and thought that it had been too long since we had tried something as purely insane as loading up two kids (under the age of 4) into a car for a 20+ hour car trip. The trip down actually ended up being somewhere around 27 hours with the stops and whatnot.
First, my kids are simply amazing. At the point of loading them into the car, neither of them had any actual clue as to where we were going (outside of the name of the resort we were going to be sleeping in). They were just excited to be hanging out as a family. Our first stop, a mere few hours from home base at the New Glarus Brewery, was their first opportunity to showcase how truly awesome they were in that there was very little for them to do outside of drink their root beer, but they still were having a fantastic time.
By the time they woke up the following morning, we were in the land of Waffle Houses, and my two adorable little minions gobbled down their southern-made waffles like candy before we hopped back in the car and made amazing time to our final destination.
Sure, the parents were exhausted (I had approximately 1.5 hours of sleep for the trip down), but once we got unloaded into our condo, the kids were more than ready for a little time in the pool and some dinner before retiring early. Both expressed little interest in ever leaving the confines of the condo. There was a pool, there was the newness of this place we were staying at, and the promise of being able to find lizards out our front door, they were more than excited enough already.
If only they knew. . .
Anyways, approximately 30 minutes into a viewing of Monsters Inc., both kids (as well as parents) were showing signs of a need for bed. With an early bedtime, the family was becoming quite prepared for what was to come. Of course, convincing them that we should go out to a restaurant for breakfast, instead of eating Rice Krispies (the only breakfast food we had in our possession) at the condo, proved to be somewhat difficult.
Breakfast was scheduled at the Polynesian Resort, one of the Disney hotels. We were to be joined at breakfast by Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto, some of my kids’ favorite characters. Since we intended to hang out at the Magic Kingdom for the day, we parked in the theme park’s lot and walked the 10 minute walk to the restaurant. Along the way, Mickeys, images of the castle, and many other very Disney-esque items were in view and pointed out quite excitedly by my two children (both of which were very aware of what Disney World was, due to their father’s prepping them for the trip). At one point, I was certain the surprise would be out as my daughter excitedly pointed to the monorail driving past overhead, only to have her focus on the Monsters Inc. characters on the side.
Constant questions to them regarding their ideas of where we were at were responded to with blank stares, or answers of Encantada (the resort our condo was located in). We arrived at breakfast, no characters in sight. We were seated at our table and immediately dived into our food (the restaurant has a set menu of all-you-can-eat family style dining, so we were fed immediately upon sitting). Soon, me and my wife began to see Lilo enter the room, followed shortly by Stitch, Mickey and Pluto. She and I giggled with anticipation of the moment our children would obviously be aware of our location.
Then it happened, both kids sighted Stitch at the same moment. They began looking around the room and saw the rest of the characters making their rounds to all the tables. Excitement grew, interest in food waned. My wife and I again continued asking our children where they thought we might be. Neither were aware.
After giving hugs and taking pictures with each of these special guests and having an interesting parade through the restaurant, we determined it was time to depart the restaurant and head to the Magic Kingdom, figuring that by getting on the monorail to head into the park, our daughter, at the very least, should be aware of where we were. As we gathered our belongings, I noticed my daughter’s seat was perfectly situated to get a beautiful glimpse of the castle throughout the meal. She had been staring out the window the entire time before the distractions of a mouse and his friends came along. She was well aware of the castle and where it was located. . . Then I lowered myself to see what she would have been seeing from her actual vantage point. By my guess, if she would have been an inch taller, she would have been able to see over the tree branch that was perfectly situated to block her view.
At this point, I was bubbling over with the need to tell them where we were, but also very intrigued to see how long this could continue. I consider my daughter to be a very intelligent little girl, but here, despite all of the signs I considered to be incredibly obvious, she still had no clue of what the week had in store for her.
The monorail ride did nothing to help her on her way either. In fact, the train-in-the-sky had a stop in the middle of the track for a moment, which, if it had stopped a few feet later, would have also given her a perfect view of the castle.
Unfortunately, the moment in which she realized where we were was rather anticlimactic. We were inside the turnstiles, awaiting the opening ceremonies which would allow us entrance into the park-proper, when she finally looked at her mom and said, quite sweetly, “Mom, are we at Disney World?” The grin that appeared on her face with the answer, however, was priceless. . . a grin that barely disappeared over the course of the following (incredibly long and sleepless) week. Her brother, limited vocabulary that he has, immediately perked up once the realization was made as well. I pulled out the Mickey ears and we were all loaded and entered the park with smiles on our faces.
It was a great day, but, honestly, I think we all would have had just as great of a day no matter where we were just because we were out there having and adventure as a family.
There’s much more to be said, but I’m calling it for today. The trip was fantastic and filled with more and more surprises for my children. I’m very happy to have been able to do all that we were able to do for them to make this as memorable of a trip as is possible for kids of their ages. It will at least be something I remember for many years to come. . .
Have a good one!