Thursday, January 3, 2013

Disney World 2010: Preludes and Plans

The Disnish Invasion
Or
It was actually worth it


Scheduling, planning , and moving eight people consisting of two families with three small children through Disney World is more complex than most military operations, therefore this travelogue will be a . . .

Campaign History of 2010’s Disney World Vacation

Diary of Leading up to D-Day (Disney-Day)

D minus 763 Days

Anabelle proves her McGinley genes by spending the entire last ferry ride back from the Magic Kingdom talking about “The next time I go to Disney I’m going to…”  Grandma says that in the amount of time till the next trip, Aurora will be the same age Anabelle is now and we could all go together.  We all laugh, as Grandma smiles knowingly.

D minus 246 Days

My ten day follow up appointment after a cardiac stent considerably brightens my mood when I am cleared to take Anabelle on the little roller coasters she loves (Goofy’s Barnstormer) and the bigger thrill rides she wants to try after seeing them on YouTube.


D minus 180 Days

This is the earliest we could have booked meals for the trip. Even though we had no idea we were going yet, with the amount of princess happy girls and women involved, I should have been looking into that.


D minus 163 Days

A random e-mail comes from Grandma out of the blue about Star Wars Weekends at Disney Studios, with a note saying maybe we could go for them sometime.  Follow up research on my part reveals having MGM filled with Star Wars nerds may (unsurprisingly) not be a good thing. We also learn of “Last Flight to Endor” before Star Tours is closed for a fancy schmancy 3D update. Anabelle again proves her genetic heritage by exclaiming, “I don’t want it to be new and better in 3D I liked it the way it was.” Little did we know this was only the beginning.


D minus 149 Days

At the girls’ dance recital, Grandma starts asking about Disney trips the following spring, and how we can schedule around the recital, Anabelle’s communion, and the aforementioned non relative Star Wars Nerds.


D minus 146 Days

Kim calls saying we need to talk about a Disney trip in the fall at Aurora and Veronica’s upcoming My Gym birthday party, leaving me completely confused.


D minus 142 Days 

Kim calls after the party saying we forgot to talk about Disney, leaving me confused again.  Confusion increases when she adds Grandma wants to take all of us.


D minus 141 Days

The Fortunate black out-

Two calls as I’m leaving work: one from Rosa telling me the power’s out, and one from Grandma, who invites us to dinner once she finds out our power is out.  In an unusual turn of events, Grandma and Rosa actually talk to each other, avoiding me messing up the translation and getting in trouble, and we eat there.  From the beginning of the meal to the end, we go from talking about Disney, to someone handing Rosa Dave’s laptop so she can start checking dates and airline tickets. Kim and I begin the “We’re going to Disney” dance in the hallway that goes pretty continuously until we leave.  Dave adopts a bemused stare at the rest of us as we constantly plan up until D-Day.


D minus 139 Days

Thanx to some calls to the extremely helpful Cousin Helen, we have our flight booked but without seats (in case we’d like to all sit in the stroller and be towed behind the plane, I guess).  Rosa’s internet searching skills find a couple of bargains. She uses a “room only” one as a place holder and waits to see if anything else opens up.  I check online to find park hours, show times, Extra Magic Hours, etc. in order to lay out the framework of the Meal Matrix of Doom. (As my father has before me…only I use a spreadsheet. He had much neater handwriting than I.) The list of “must go” character meals expands exponentially. Every time I try to tell someone how big it is by saying, “Not counting X, because I know we’re not going there.” I get a chorus of, “We HAVE to go there.”  This even extended to Chef Mickey’s where Anabelle got set on fire…twice. Nice to know my family has their priorities straight.


D minus 137 Days
 A group trip to the mall to meet (Anorexic) Buzz and (Mardi Gras Head) Woody.  Anabelle and Aurora are happy, Veronica is terrified at close range, and Grandma is all wistful. How things would change (except the wistful part).  Birnbaum’s Disney World Guides are purchased (by Grandma, of course) which become constant travelling companions and focus points.  Initial schedule checks show the Fantasyland Expansion won’t close down Toontown, or any Fantasyland classic rides until after we’re there, but Ariel’s Grotto is already gone.  Anabelle is sad but takes it well as the assault on her favorites continues. 


D minus 135 Days

Toy Story 3 viewing.  Everyone loves the emotional roller coaster ride of a film.  We are all surprised that the strawberry scented fluffy bear is the most evil Disney villain ever.  Even more surprised when we learn he’s a character in the parks now. Please don’t hug me!  A sea of meal scheduling plans fills my head.


D minus 134 Days

A trip to Sesame Place with my and Kim’s families serves as a dry run for the Disney trip.  Forced conversations during the day lead to Rosa, Kim and Grandma agreeing on meals that aren’t completely “HAVE to go there”s.  The Meal Matrix of Doom begins take shape. Anabelle gets Rosa to go on the Grover Roller Coaster with her by saying, “If Mami goes on this, I’ll go on Pirates and the Haunted Mansion next time we go to Disney”.


D minus 133 Days

Aurora’s birthday dinner. After sitting everyone down individually and in groups, and going over the spreadsheet, we all agree on which meals to book. With three little girls, and three women who act like little girls in Disney World, princess meals MUST be booked early. We tell the kids we’re going. Oddly, even though we have been discussing it in their presence nonstop for a week they are surprised.  Anabelle’s surprise is extended as she realizes her roller coaster deal with Mami has now taken on a much less theoretical nature. Dave makes some logistical suggestions that would involve leaving the grounds.  I explain calmly, “ONCE WE ENTER THE WORLD, WE DO NOT LEAVE THE WORLD.”  Dave is remarkably patient with all of us through this.   A phone call to Disney Dining later in the evening yields the very helpful and festive Tom, and a finalized Meal Matrix of Doom. 


D minus 116 Days

Anabelle spends a good portion of this week Up the Lake clutching the Birnbaum’s Guide.  She’s either the student, having Grandma telling her about things, or the teacher, telling Aurora and Veronica. She expresses excited enthusiasm to go on the fifty foot drop of Splash Mountain, but not the much smaller drop in the Norway ride “because it’s backwards”.  Also for no reason we can guess (other than general excitement) she changes her original view of the Tower of Terror from, “No way! Ever!” to “Only once.”


D minus 95 Days

The Magic Kingdom announces the “Limited Run” of the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade is extended indefinitely, throwing another of Anabelle’s (and our) favorites, Spectromagic, under the bus (or float, as it were).  Learning there is a new Tinkerbelle portion in the Electrical Parade cushions the blow and intercepts an extended sulk.


D minus 92 Days

A web check to confirm the loss of Spectromagic yields another attack on the kids’ favorites. The Winnie the Pooh ride will be closed for refurbishment the whole time we are there.  Anabelle has a bit of a sulk this time, but reminders about seeing the Country Bears for the first time (without screaming) and Splash Mountain (with Daddy screaming) minimizes its length.


D minus 91 Days

Its official, Disney World has it in for us.  Story Time with Belle, while returning in a larger more impressive form after the refurbishment, will be replaced by a Meet and Greet with Rapunzel from the upcoming Tangled.  There is a PROLONGED sulk…by me.  It looks like they’re also adding the Disney Character dolls to the Small World Ride during the September shut down. Whatever… numb now.  Walt Disney did say, “The parks will never be done as long as there is imagination in the world.”

Though he also said, “For every laugh a tear must fall,” which I think applies more here, the big meanie.


D minus 83 Days

The helpful cast member advice pays off. After several, “Keep those rooms, but try back later”s, Rosa finalizes park ticket and meal plans along with the rooms at a very nice discount.  Summer colds cause the idea of bringing all the kids for a checkup before we leave to be seriously tossed about.


D minus 48 Days

Disney announces a new, bigger better parade at MGM to replace the Block Party Bash that we were undewhelmed by last time. Disney continues to be rude to us by not implementing the change until two months after we leave, and also by referring to MGM as “Disney Studios”.


D minus 46 Days

Rosa calls in to lock down the reservation and confirm we didn’t miss any deals.  Kim checks on flight status, and learns that while we’re confirmed on the plane, we still don’t have official seats yet. Cousin Helen’s Travel Agent Super Powers are brought to bear to theoretically insure we don’t end up literally ON the plane.


D minus 39 Days

In honor of Kim’s birthday, Marvel merchandise first appears in Disney parks (or perhaps the two are unrelated).  Can a Mighty Thor appearance on the Maelstrom be far behind?


D minus 27 Days

Disney announces theme park exclusive Silly Bands called (what else?) Disney Bands. It’s like they knew our girls were coming.  In other news preparing for our arrival: mobile on line dining reservations now include “Near Me” on the menu, which will greatly enhance our ability to find food when I hit one of my inevitable dehydrated and  low blood sugar crazy spells.  The likelihood of my family not killing me on this trip should go up.


D minus 15 Days

Only two weeks to go. While my “Shirts I wear to Disney” have already been set aside and assembled for weeks, I realize that my new heart healthy habits may mean they don’t fit anymore. Luckily many of them date back to trips so long ago that they either have shrunk (Lion King Villains for Animal Kingdom), or were purchased last time I was skinny (the Headless Horseman I wear the day we go). Only a couple drop out of the running (including the “Bad Boys” shirt I wear to go home which now fits like an unfurled sail) leaving room for the shiny new Tron shirt in the Disney Store, yay!


D minus 13 Days

Just realized daylight savings hits while we’re there. Extra bonus hour in Disney! I’ll have to thank W. for moving it if we stop into the Hall of Presidents for a nap.


D minus 10 Days

We can now check the weather for the days we’ll be in Disney. Granted the weather in Orlando always says “Hot and humid with chance of a thundershower,” but that isn’t the point.  The goal is now visible.


D minus 8 Days

Aaaaaand the Mad Tea Party is shut down for refurbishment too.  More disappointments as my nieces discovered a similar ride at Sesame Place and loved it.  Anabelle describes it as the ride where you “spin and spin and spin and then throw up…bleah!”  I don’t think she’s too upset.


D minus 6 Days

Phone calls about what to pack are near constant between all of us.  All park hours and parade times rechecked, all menu updates added. The final version of the Meal Matrix of Doom is sent to family members. The e-mail details all “open items” not on the schedule (downtown shopping, Electric Water Pageant, etc.). These items will invariably lead to arguments, and despite me bringing them up now, all of it will still be my fault.


D minus 5 Days

I continue to send text messages stating, “This time next week we will be…” Maybe I was wrong; my family might kill me before we even leave.  Aurora goes in to have tubes put in her ears after another infection (Veronica had them earlier in the month.) This means the girls will not have pressure problems for take-off and landings, but will be very sensitive to loud noises.  For the first time Anabelle’s pre trip sniffle does not bloom into an infection but fades on its own. Her immune system is powering up. (Of course, Rosa and I will be on antibiotics for the trip again, so let’s hope her system surpasses ours.)


D minus 3 Days

The plan in place for six months to change all of my ring tones to Disney attraction music vanishes in under a week when I receive the DC Comics 75th Anniversary CD, featuring decades worth of Superhero music from film and TV.  Everyone who calls me will be with us anyway.


D minus 2 Days

Trick or Treating at well decorated houses serves as a proving ground for dealing with spooky animatronics.  Anabelle: over thought nervousness, Aurora: some fear mixed with low noise tolerance, Veronica: mostly calm observation.


D minus 1 Day

Insane amounts to do both at work (Me and Dave), and at home (Rosa, Grandma and Kim). Kim goes online to print the boarding passes. A final weather check yields a surprise. Predictions range from the forties to sixties while we’re there.  Warmer wardrobe items are quickly shoved in to already brimming suitcases. Proud and kinda disturbed when the weight on the scale when I’m holding the suitcase is a number I’ve been at before. Seeing how much less of you exemplified in a large leather bag is somewhat unnerving.


Links to the whole Campaign History
Preludes and Plans
Day 1: Operation Magical Beginnings
Day 2: Operation Jungle Run
Day 3: Operation Early Kingdom
Day 4: Operation Showtime Doubletime
Day 5: Operation International Alchoholics
Day 6: Operation Magical Meetings
Day 7: Operation Excessive Travel
Day 8: Operation Giant Nostalgia

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