Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pilgrimage to Mickey: success!

I've pretty much believed it was a bit premature and silly to bring a young toddler to Disneyland/world. But when faced with our choices for outings this weekend, and rain in the forecast for the beach, we said "well...why not?" The decision was fortified by August's new and enthusiastic interest in Mickey Mouse (which we think may have started at daycare).

Last night we scoured the website, picked out a handful of toddler appropriate activities, mapped our driving route, and packed up the hats and sunblock. We headed out about 8 am this morning, aiming to get there by 10 am. By the time we parked, took the tram to ticketing, boarded the ferry and made it to the Magic Kingdom, it was probably 11 am. But no matter, we knew we'd only see a small portion of the park, and there's no pushing it with a 2-year-old in tow.

We walked down Main Street, saw the last part of the show with Mickey in front of the castle ("Mickey Mouse!"), then went in to a cafe in Tomorrow Land for an early lunch. By the time we finished, a parade was trotting by ("P'ade!...Mickey Go!"), which we watched for a minute from a distance before going to Fantasyland and Mickey's Toon Town (home to most of the toddler-appropriate stuff). We tried Mickey's PhilharMagic first (too loud and strange for a 2-year-old...the day's misstep), then Small World (absolutely August's speed). From there it was Pooh's Playful Spot for some running around time, then Toontown Hall of Fame, Mickey's Judges Tent to meet the mouse himself, and Minnie too (which we feared would scare August, but she absolutely loved it). Then we rode the Disney World train around the park and realized that it was naptime. We headed into some Pinocchio-themed eatery, where we had some cool drinks and snacks while August conked out in her stroller for a good hour. Meanwhile, the afternoon monsoon had started, but that didn't stop Ray and I from taking turns running over to the Haunted Mansion (not quite as cool as I remembered it, but of course I was 12 the last time). Both soaking wet, we used the umbrella to shield a now awake August, and ran through giant puddles to get to only Must on the list for the day: Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. Basically it was a comedy routine MCed by Mike Wazowski, which of course August didn't understand, but she loved seeing the characters "live" and clapping with the audience. I think it was the highlight of her day, followed by meeting Mickey and Minnie as a close second.

Since it was now almost 6 pm, we decided to try our luck on the Pirates of Caribbean, another favorite from my previous trip. While the rain was gone, there was no line, and Ray and I again took turns on the ride, while August ate dinner and gleefully and inadvertently smeared peanut butter on her new Mickey doll.

Walked back to the main entrance, took the monorail to ticketing, tram to parking, and drove back up to Gainesville. Whew.

So the lesson we learned is: Yes! If you're in the vicinity, do Disney with a toddler, but set your schedule and expectations low for the day. Pick out only a few things to see, allow for nap/downtime at some nice air-conditioned eatery, and pick out one "big kid" ride to do on your own. Since we forgot snacks in the car, we were grateful for healthy choices like PB&J, apple slices, grapes and strawberry yogurt (though I fear a chicken nugget or two crept into our meals today).

All in all, it was a truly fantastic day, definitely worth the cost of the tickets...especially considering August giggled most of the way back to Gainesville.

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