Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We Did Disney Pt. III — The Final Chapter

The Disney World app. Download
it or watch your day vanish before
your eyes.
Before we went to Disney World, there was no shortage of people with advice on how to get the most out of our trip.

It turns out going to Disney World is a lot like getting a mortgage, or laying drywall — everyone is an expert, except you.

So plenty of well-intentioned folks offered their thoughts on the ins and outs of this endeavor.

The fact is, some people plan — really plan — for a trip to Disney. Mrs. Blackwell did some advance scouting work online and learned some crucial tidbits about navigating the park, specifically the locations of attractions and managing waiting lines.

As mentioned, no matter which kingdom you're in, be it Epcot, Animal Kingdom, whatever, they're all huge. So, having a plan will save one the trouble of spending all of their time walking.

You can plan as much or as little as you'd like but, my experience was that there's a few crucial facts to know and once you've got those, you're good.

In her research, Mrs. Blackwell uncovered a blog in which one pedantic mom offered up volumes of advice on navigating Disney.

Her first tip? Start planning about a year before you go. Mrs. Blackwell stopped reading at this point.

It rained for a bit but, because it's Disney,
it didn't last long and the weather was
otherwise perfect.
If your desire to plan rises to this level, welp, great for you. Or, if you think a vacation shouldn't require this much planning, also great (and probably better) for you.

The one piece of advice I'd impart is to smart phone owners to download the Disney World app.

It's got updated wait times, maps and all manner of information on it. It's a useful tool, but then again, so was the paper map you pick up on your way into the park.

And while you're at the mercy of the Disney Corporation and its exorbitant prices once you're in their world, they do have some mechanisms in place to ensure you're getting the most for the price of admission.

One such invention is the "Fast Pass." These little guys are reservations that one makes online or via the app, for rides and attractions that allow you to skip to the front of the line.

It's a neat being a big timer and walking to the front of the line while hundreds of people wait behind you, but don't get used to it — everybody only gets three Fast Passes per day so everyone takes a turn waiting.  If you're a compulsive planner, you can actually book Fast Pass spots three months in advance.

Clever lady that she is, Mrs. Blackwell had all this stuff figured out a few weeks before we left.

The longest wait time we ran across was 180 minutes to meet Ilsa and Anna, the main characters from the movie "Frozen."

If you're one of the fortunate few people who have not seen "Frozen" 93 times, then it won't matter much to you. Mrs. Blackwell and I were quite thrilled to not be amongst those parents whose children just "had, had, had" to see these two ice princesses.
3-D glasses for the Philharmagic. Once the show started,
the boy decided against wearing the glasses — loudly
and repeatedly. 

We spent the first Fast Pass on the Dumbo ride — you know, the one where you sit inside a Dumbo, go up and down as it rotates in a circle. It was perfect for the boy's first ride and, for his part, he appeared to have a good time.

Our second Fast Pass was spent on the one thing I insisted on — Space Mountain.

Since I was little, I've heard others speak of how much fun Space Mountain was. Now in my mid-30's I was tired of waiting.

So, we used a Fast Pass on it and, boy, good decision. The line to get on this thing was looooong but the ride was aweesommmme.

For the entirety of the two minutes and 35 seconds of this ride I screamed like a little kid. It was the first time Mrs. Blackwell and I went on a roller coaster together and, if I'd like to salvage whatever shred of respect she still has for my masculinity, it will be the last.

Due to being about a half inch too short and five years too young, we didn't take Master Blackwell on Space Mountain. I'm pretty sure some parental agency would have been waiting for us at the end of the ride if we'd done so.

The little man with the Main Man. A perfect way to close out
the day at Disney World.
We used our final Fast Pass on the best attraction of the day — meeting Mickey Mouse backstage.

We didn't wait in line for more than 10 minutes before the boy was standing next to the big guy himself. For those of you envisioning Mickey being some dude wearing a great big Mickey Mouse head, you're right, sort of.

Today's Mickey has advanced to a point that boggles the mind. His eyes blink. His mouth moves in sync with the words he speaks. And, while I'm not 100 percent sure he can say whatever he wants, he spoke Spanish to the Peruvian couple in front of us.

Mickey was a cartoon come to life and thus, completely surreal. He was also a metaphor for Disney World — living proof that, whatever they do, they do right.

There was no question that I was more enamored of Mickey than the boy. I'm pretty sure I said "Thank you, Mickey," about 20 times, sounding more and more like a ten-year-old each time.

And, that's pretty much how Disney World leaves you; it's like the reverse of prison. If only for a day, it erodes cynicism, doubles your patience and in general leaves you seeing the world through the eyes of a kid.

It's isn't perfect, but Disney comes as close as I've ever seen.

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