World of the Mouse

I’ve returned from Disney World, a sewer sea of humanity that makes sense of the phrase I need a vacation from my vacation. I think this was our longest trip there yet. In the past we’ve only done about 4 days in “the World”. It never seemed long enough and it wasn’t as if we were wanting to see everything. Even at a week, we still had a lot that we missed simply because there is just so much – the world is so vast – there are just so many people – it was just so dang hot  and well, we couldn’t move that fast. I will freely admit that I am weary. It’s tough to be away from the comforts of home. 7 days on a slab of concrete that Disney passes off as a bed can do most anyone in. I slept but my body did so under protest. Usually I get some good rest when I go to these places because I wear myself out to the point that exhaustion renders me unconscious. But this time, I am sad to report that although I managed to get a few winks, the rest was far from restful. And I am paying for it today. *Ouch!*

Disney World is the Mecca for the Disney enthusiast. Many would call me one but I would have to say that I am more of a purist. There is just something about Disneyland in California that holds a place in my heart. Disneyland is smaller. It’s more intimate. If your kid pees her pants when she gets off a ride 15 minutes after getting into the park, it doesn’t take you half a day to take her back to the hotel and get her changed. There’s something simpler about Disneyland that makes it more special to me. Disney World is certainly a great place to visit but Disneyland is home. That being said, however, I’ll recap my trip to Disney World a bit.

First…even Disneyland doesn’t have a handle on the types of humanity that you encounter at Disney World. Amongst us at the value resort we were staying at were the “have nots” who clearly had enough to pay for their journey to the Mouse House. Even in “value” accommodations, things were pricey but that didn’t prevent your average slummer from pirating in their mugs from their 1997 trip so they could get some free soda. On the surface, I can kinda understand why they do this but really, can you get any more blatantly dishonest than that? Sheesh. My idea of playing the system was being creative with my snack and meal points. There were ways to feed yourself to make your points last all the way up to the moment you left the resort. In fact when we left, there were still 2 points in our account. I was just too tired to care. This was my 4th trip to Florida. I have stayed at the value resort each time and I think that this may be my last time I do so. The over crowding of the resort even during the “off season” such as this supposedly is, was a turn off to me. To have to go to the dining hall before 7 am when the parks don’t open until 9 just so you could find an empty table just seemed to absurd to me. I think my next trip it will be worth paying a bit more for some moderate accommodations – at least ones with more busses, less distance to walk to them and certainly less people. 

On the flip side, Michaela and I got a taste of where the “other half” stay when we visited the Grand Floridian resort for dinner on our last night there. The place was posh. It was luxurious. The resort was absolutely beautiful and QUIET. Lots more older folks were there. Many of the guests were couples. There were children but I wouldn’t say there were a lot. Even the noise from their pool was at a low hum when compared to the roar that came from the pool at our resort. Still…I am not sure I would ever pay the amount of money that one has to put up to stay there. You may get a nice room and quiet grounds but you still have to make your way out into the crowds at the parks where nobody can tell which resort you’ve come from. And when you’re there, it’s every man, woman and child for himself. Here you get a wide eyed view of just how many people don’t have manners, can’t flush a toilet and are willing to leave their empty water bottles laying amongst the atmosphere of the ride queues. Don’t those people know that Mickey loves them? 

So, did I have a good time? Yes. Would I go back? Yes. Was it money well spent? Of course. I got 7 uninterrupted days with my daughter. Yes, there were times when I thought that it was difficult to do this trip alone. Michaela and I had a brief moment of time about the middle of our trip when we realized just how much we wished that Daddy was there. It was tough to see the families all there – the dads struggling to fold the strollers and walking around the park with their little girls on their shoulders – the moms trying to keep the kids quiet – seeing “families” get chosen to open the park when our little family, as incomplete as it was, was just a family visiting the park, too and trying to have a good vacation. Mike was sorely missed. It was really hard to be all things for Michaela. I had to document each moment. Listen to each story. Ride each ride and be apart of each and every one of her whims and although I feel truly blessed to be given these moments, it’s hard to not think that Mike should be here too sharing them with me or giving me a moment to step back and watch when she’s experiencing these things with one her parents. *sigh* But I digress…This could easily turn into one of those whoa is me posts, so I will end it there by saying that yep, there were moments that had me reflective and yearning for my husband. I wish he could have been there.

So, what were the highlights? Well, Michaela met LOTS of characters, many of whom she had never met before such as Peter Pan, Pinnochio, Lady Tremain and the evil step-sisters. She also saw the elusive Donald Duck (who is curiously missing from Disneyland most times we go), Daisy Duck, Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Michaela also had her big makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the castle and was dressed to the nines in her super-fancy Cinderella dress. It was cool and freaky at the same time to have so many people watch as she walked through the park. Her dress was no ordinary dress. It was much fancier than the ones sold in the park and she loved the attention. 


After the makeover and some quick photos in front of the castle, Michaela and I had dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremain and the step-sisters at the Grand Floridian. It was a great dinner that was capped off by a sunset cruise across the lagoon back to the Magic Kingdom. Michaela said the boat ride was more “princessy” than traveling by Monorail even though that would have been much faster. 

Other highlights were rides on the roller coasters. Michaela’s new favorite ride is the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster that goes upside side down not 1 – not 2 but THREE times. She will brag about that to any one who will listen. She will also declare that this trip she finally kept her eyes open on the Mt. Everest ride and she got on that one twice. Big kid! :-)  Michaela was also the envy of every little girl on the Tea Cup ride because when we asked Alice to ride with us, she said YES!! So we got a great photo opportunity there with one of the characters and that made Michaela feel extra special. I’d post all the pix but I took over 700 of them. Yeah…SEVEN HUNDRED! And that doesn’t count the 150 that we took with Disney’s Photopass. HA!

Hasta La Vista, Baby!

It’s t-minus 13 hours until we’re in the air heading to Florida. To say we’re excited is an understatement. I think I’ve been packed for the past 5 days. Silly, I know! Today started with the final preparations for the trip. I found out that the portable DVD player that I had purchased 9 months ago is basically a piece of crap. The battery doesn’t hold a charge rendering it useless for our trip. Since we’ll be on a plane all day, the best way to pass the time is to watch movies. So I went on a quest today to find a new DVD player. I had seen one at Wal Mart a couple days ago that I wanted to look at again. I got there and compared it to the Sony that comes highly rated. I decided that this one (a Magnavox) would do the job nicely and it was about $50 cheaper. But WalMart being WalMart, it wasn’t going to be easy. I quickly noticed that the display model was not the model they had in the case. I pointed this out to the associate working the electronics department and instead of telling me that they had made a mistake it was basically my own tough luck. I was NOT going to get the same model as what was on display or advertised. :-( Grrr! So I basically told them to stick it and thought that if I was going to buy a Sony, I wasn’t going to buy it from them. So off to Best Buy… Big mistake. I found a pitiful supply of players there. Most of them were their crappy Insignia brand that looked like they were constructed with Legos. But if they had been, they would have been cool but they weren’t. They really they had only one name brand – a Toshiba – in stock. I stared at it for a while and pushed a lot of buttons. The screen looked ok. It was bigger than I had anticipated buying (9″) which was its only plus. Being how I was not loaded up with lots of time on my hands, I decided to buy the thing despite that it cost as much as the Sony as I had originally wanted but they didn’t have.I hurried home with my purchase and plugged it in. I put in When Harry Met Sally to test it out and saw that the picture looked good. The speakers kinda sucked but that didn’t matter because I rarely used them anyway. I plugged in my Bose headphones and was immediately met with the most annoying, loud and obnoxious buzzing in my right ear. Nothing I did to the plug made the buzzing go away and I knew right then that my sojourn to find a DVD player was going to take a bit longer. For good measure I plugged in another set of headphones and got the same buzzing. So I packed it all up and went back to Best Buy. I was not happy , especially when the Best Buy guy at the door greeted me with “Hi, how are you today?” Um…not good, bonehead. I was just here a half hour ago and yeah, well…”OH! You were just here,” he exclaimed. Brilliance. The guy who sold the player to me called out,”You’re back already?” Yeah, dude. This player is a total piece of CRAP! So, I got my money back and then tore off down the road to Target. The whole way there I was thinking what would I do if they had total crap too? Where would my journey take me then? Office Depot? Staples? A different WalMart?I ventured into Target and found that they, too were bogged down with total crap players including my lovely piece of hunk of junk that I purchased from them 9 months ago. My hopes were not too high but there before me were two Sonys… a black one and a pink one. Well, considering that my 6 year old would be using this most often, it just had to be pink. So I bought it. I took it home. I plugged it in. The picture was pretty. The sound superb. And my daughter was of course tickled pink to see this brand new PINK DVD player. Score one for Mommy! Mission accomplished. All is now packed. The minutes are slowly and tediously ticking away. I know the next week will fly by but these final hours before lift off are just dragging!Some final thoughts before I go… I will not comment on this week’s American Idol for obvious reasons. This makes me sad because this week should prove fruitful with the critiques given that we have the gay guy with the stupid looking headbands and weird nose piercing, that funky Von Smith with the huge assed mouth who shouldn’t be in the top 36, the Puerto Rican dude who is slightly frightening but not a half bad singer and the blind guy who was forced to dance in that stupid montage last Thursday. Who was the schmuck who made that dude dance? Seriously. He was flopping all over the place and his cane pratically tripped him. It wasn’t a nice thing. Seriously. I could have some fun this week talking about the trainwreck that will happen. But I digress… All I can leave you with is this little tidbit…An Idol season wouldn’t be complete without scandal. The latest are photos of Idol favorite (not mine) Adam Lambert playing tongue hockey with some other GUY. I know. That’s gross to see between heterosexuals, who needs to see that between two guys? I certainly don’t. But Vote for the Worst has them up for all the world to see and are claiming that Lambert has lots more where these came from. So, I must wonder… will he be held to the same standard as some girls who have had questionable photographs surface (remember Frenchie Davis)? Or will Idol let this slide? I am guessing they will ignore this. They probably won’t touch this with a ten foot pole because if they do, they’ll have the whole gay community out there crying foul. Which on one hand, I can see their point but on the other it would totally tick me off! Because they scream for equality but if they are held to the same standard then it’s like everyone is homophobic. GRRR!!!! So, chew on this for a while and decide for yourself. I guess America will get to vote on whether Adam Lambert deserves his shot at the Idol crown. I say put him on the first bus outta town and ship him to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Escaping to Florida

On Tuesday, Michaela and I will wake up super early to catch a flight to Florida. It’s weird planning these trips because you want to get as much time as you can in at the parks as possible. When you request a quote from Disney for a package, they consider your first day to be the day you arrive. Well, it takes ALL DAY to get there from here. There just is no fast way. So, that travel day is pretty much wasted. It makes planning your flights tricky. When we get there, it will be about 3:30 in Orlando. And that is just landing at the airport. Nevermind that we have to take the usual trip to the bathroom, then trudge to the shuttle buses and then wait for our turn to board the bus and hit the road to Disney World. I figure that will add at least an hour longer until we are on resort property. So, we won’t even be getting there until nearly dinner time and that leaves virtually no time to visit any of the parks – at least to make a full days worth of your park hopper ticket worth while. I’ve decided that our first night will be spent checking things out.It’s my fourth trip to Disney World. It’s Michaela’s second and it’s our first doing it just the two of us. We’re staying at a different resort this time. I know the memories from our last trip there will be pretty plentiful. It was our last family vacation that we took with Mike and so I figured a change in venue would be good. Although the change really isn’t that different. It’s still a value resort and let’s get real, the value resorts there are all pretty much the same. Still, I don’t anticipate any problems with getting all emotional about things while we’re there. I never experienced that at all with Disneyland and we went there with Mike A LOT. If anything, I am sure we’ll have fun remembering our silly times with him there. I’m looking forward to it. Anyway, the first night will be our exploration. I think we’ll take in the stores at Downtown Disney and get a good dinner. If the weather is nice, maybe we’ll go swimming. I’ve been prepping my scary white legs with self-tanner lotion for the past 5 days so I shouldn’t be too scary. Or shall I say, my skin shouldn’t be too scary – me in a bathing suit? That is quite the different story!!This trip will be filled with more adventure. Michaela is pretty much tall enough now for most all of the rides there. She’s really come into her own as a roller coaster dare devil so it should be fun. She’s still a princess though… It wouldn’t be trip to Disney World unless we stopped by the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for a make over. I splurged and got her a new Cinderella dress for the occasion. It’s probably her fanciest costume yet. She’s pretty excited. After her make over we’ll jet on over to have dinner at the Grand Floridian. Word is that Cinderella and the Prince may be there when we are so I am hoping for some great picture taking opportunities! So, we’re excited. The day can’t get here fast enough. There is only so much prep work you can do and it’s too early to pack although I am tempted!! But I know better. If I dig out the suitcases now, it will only serve to freak out and traumatize my dogs who know that when I start putting things into a suitcase, it’s only a matter of time before I leave. They don’t like that very much. 😉

Whirlwind Trip

Well, I am back from the Mouse House – weary and exhausted but exhilarated all the same. Michaela and I had a fabulous time and are always sad to leave. This trip was a trip of firsts…Michaela is officially 48″ tall which means that she can ride pretty much anything with the exception of the Malaboomer tower thingy…whatever that ride is that shoots up into the air…She’s got 4″ to go for that one and honestly, I am not in a hurry to ride that so it’s all good. This time around, however, Michaela got to ride the swings in the big orange and the white roller coaster that goes upside down over in California Adventure (California Screamin’). Michaela has been begging to go on the orange now for a while and now she could do it legally but wouldn’t you know it? They changed the ride and added tandum seating so those under 48″ could ride wiht an adult. Figures. Either way she went on it and was thrilled. If only they took pictures of you on it because the look of joy on her face was priceless. It took til the last minute we were in the parks to get her to go on California Screamin’ but all of a sudden she decided she was ready and she still hasn’t stopped talking about the ride. She is so excited to be counted among the big kids.  I think she’ll be pretty pooped tomorrow at school.Also new this trip was Pixie Hollow. Michaela got to meet Tinkerbell which was a lot of fun for her. It was our longest wait of the trip but I guess that’s par for the course when it’s new. I’ll update the blog with pictures tomorrow when I am more conscious. So for now, enjoy the Buzz Lightyear photo we took.Interesting thing about trips are the opportunities to people watch. I got to see many people act really selfish and mean with each other but I also go to see total strangers reach out to each other too. I wore a birthday button this trip and I have never experienced having people other than castmembers wishing me a happy birthday but I think I had about a dozen of these people call out to me by name and tell me that they hoped my birthday was good. It was kinda weird but cool. I expected it of the workers there, of course. But random people, no. I think of any year, this one meant the most to me in regards to the little things – simple things such as a person you don’t know wishing you happiness. I don’t know you people, but thanks.

Christmas at the Mouse House

What will this be – the 6th trip to Anaheim this year? I’ve lost count. What can I say, the Magic Kingdom beckons again and we leave this afternoon. The flight benefits that we enjoy with Southwest only have another 3 years left. I am going to cram as much Disneyland and Disney World and anywhere else I can get away to into those 3 years as I can. It just so happens that Disneyland is one of the easiest destinations to escape to, even if it’s only for a day or two – which this will be. So, it’s just Michaela and I again. We’ve got a room at the Sheraton and no other plans but to just soak in the Christmas spirit that Disneyland is so good at providing this time of year. Of course a trip to Anaheim wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Roundtable Pizza. So, that is what is on our agenda tonight when we get there. I can almost smell the pizza now. Hmmmm!This will be the last trip to the Mouse House this year. I am not sure when we’ll get back to California but knowing me, it will only be a couple of months. Michaela has a spring break coming up at the end of February and we haven’t figured out what we’ll do during that time. We’ll see.One thing that we DO have something to look forward to next year is a girls night out at a Rick Springfield concert in April. Tickets just went on sale and Debbie got them today! YAY! This will be Michaela’s first rock concert and it will be the first time in a really REALLY long time since Mom has seen him. How weird it will be to go to this concert with my daughter. HA! Oh well. It should be a blast. Also, we’re in the fifth row – dead center…so, if Rick has any plans of standing on Debbie’s chair this time, he’ll have to climb over several people to do it. This may be the catalyst for buying my camera…who can resist the opportunity to take some cool concert pictures?

The Magic Kingdom is Beckoning

We have another week before we travel to Anaheim and I couldn’t be more anxious to get there. I asked Michaela this morning if she wanted to run away with me.She said, “No. I like it here.”DANG.”Where would we go?” She asked.”I was thinking we could just go to Disneyland forever.””MOVE there!?””Sure.””But they don’t have toys there.”Um, WHAT!? Girl needs to work on her priorities. Disneyland is a toy mecca in my opinion. But alas, I told her that we’d stay here and just live with our frequent visits to the Mouse House instead. I don’t know why I am so eager to go. Michaela and I were just there in August. So it’s not like we haven’t been for a long time. I think it’s just things have reached their breaking point. I am about as fed up with this election as I can get. I know I do this to myself every election but this one really has me on edge. I can’t believe I am saying this but I actually miss the Clintons. I am still holding out hope they do SOMETHING before November 4 that will blow Obama out of the water so Hilary can make her come back in 4 years. I would much rather bash on her than have to deal with Obama’s socialist garbage. The man is scary. He is truly a frightening individual with such horrible opinions about our country. It’s true what moms say, you are who your friends are. If you look at who your closest friends are and who you align yourself with, it pretty much shapes your opinion of the world and how you treat other people. Obama will not answer a question directly. He holds his nose up in the air and looks down on people when he talks and he says he has all the answers but he won’t say what they are. I’ll just say it..He’s a freakin’ lunatic and dang it, I want the Clintons back. At least with them all we have to worry about is an occasional woman getting sexually harassed and a death or two under mysterious circumstances. I can deal with that. I just can’t fathom the idea of what this world would be like if the likes of Barry Obama takes over. **Shudder**So, I want to escape to the Magic Kingdom. At least in that world, politics seems to disappear. Not to mention all the other garbage gets checked at the gate….unemployment, boredom…widowhood :-( Anyway, it can’t get here fast enough! I think everyone except Grandad is excited about it. Poor Grandad. He’s so over the Disneyland thing… but we got him to tag along and hopefully he’ll find some joy there. Me on the other hand, plan to have a fabulous time!

Disneyland Report

Again, the trip to Anaheim was a quick one. But it’s ok. We’re a little weary but the deprivation of sleep was worth it in the end because a glorious time with family in the Happiest Place on Earth was had. Jeff and family arrived in Anaheim a couple hours ahead of us. We flew in late to help curb some of the costs. I was concerned for Mom. She has been having problems with her leg and hip since our trip in early March. I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to enjoy herself much. But she seemed to weather it fine and I think getting to see her grandkids take in all that was Disney made it all worth while.We woke bright and early Monday morning and made it to the free breakfast at 7am. Good thing, too. The breakfast room at the La Quinta filled up quickly. Jeff’s kids eventually filtered into the breakfast room but not much was eaten. Nerves, excitement and anticipation fueled the morning. No amount of corn flakes, imitation orange juice and rubber pancakes were going to help. The kids wanted to get going! We had a nice little hike to the park so we got a head start and decided to wait for Jeff and family to arrive . I was able to capture their first moments in the park, usher them to City Hall for some free buttons and follow them down Main Street hoping to catch their first reactions. Perhaps it was stunned silence. Maybe they didn’t want to cause a scene? But the group was pretty calm and quiet those first steps into the park. Maybe they didn’t know what awaited them? I’m not quite sure. I don’t remember my first time in Disneyland. So I cannot say that I could relate to what they were feeling. What became apparent, however was that the kids were willing to try just about anything and soon, their personal likes/dislikes started to surface.Abby and Enoch wanted it fast and furious. They were abundantly patient when it came to allowing the younger kids a chance to experience some of the tamer attractions. Allie and Maggie were willing to participate in pretty much any activity but clearly preferred the livelier rides. Madelyn is the in-betweener – not quite the older kid but certainly not a little kid, either. Don’t be fooled by her size. She may be the smallest of the bunch but she is no longer a little girl. Her speed was much more in line with the older kids. Emma, having not experienced anything like this before was quite brave. Seeing some of the characters can be kinda creepy for some people. She seemed to enjoy it. Each ride was met with a little cautious curiosity. She tried it and if she didn’t like it, she made it known. I think maybe Sandy was kinda happy to see that her baby was still very much the little girl she hoped she would be and happily obliged when Emma preferred to ride the younger fare. But it didn’t take long for my little dare devil to rub off on her.By the next morning, Michaela and Emma were eagerly hoping to ride some rides together. Alone. NO GROWN UPS! Sandy wasn’t too sure that was a good idea. And I admit that perhaps on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, it could be a little risky having the little ones hang on for their lives by themselves. You slide around a lot on that ride and usually Michaela rides with me. It would be a new experience for me as well but heck, if she can handle Space Mountain, she could handle this. I told Sandy we could ride behind them. It’d be ok. Well, they were fine, of course. Michaela rode with her arms outstretched and freely screaming her head off. I did the same. We made quite the pair. Emma even threw one hand up in the air to show her daring solidarity to her cousin and left the other hand clinging to the lap bar to show her mother that she could follow instructions. Sandy, meanwhile, wrapped both of her hands around Emma’s shoulders. There was no way her baby was going to budge! It was a huge moment – quickly becoming a family classic. This is one memory that I will never forget.The trip was quick. And Michaela was very sad – dare, I say it? She was MAD that we had to leave. As we drove home from the airport last night she asked me, “Why don’t we just move to Disneyland so we never have to leave it?” Sounds like a great idea to me!VIEW THE TRIP PHOTOS

Are We Having Fun Yet?

spacemtn_mkes.jpg We just returned from another marathon trip to the Mouse House – 3rd time in a month. We’ve set a record, folks! Let this picture serve as a teaser of the absolutely hilarious photo album to come. I’m doggone tired so I will do the uploading while I slumber and check back in tomorrow to give a full report. To see a larger version of this photo, just click on it. G’night folks!