The Bad Decisions of Animal Kingdom (But Cinderella Saves the Day)
|It looks so peaceful on the outside...|
In order to avoid some of the begging and pleading to get Anabelle to go on the rides she would like, we tried giving her examples of all the ones she did. As a counter example, I was trying to explain we wouldn’t tell her to go on the Bug 3D movie, because it had a dark and scary part in it. The problem with that plan of attack was she liked the fantastic Philharmagic 3D movie so much in the Magic Kingdom that she became determined to start Wednesday with the Bug film, despite all warnings.
The day began well. The park entrance, the animals, the PhotoPass guy, the tree, the line, the glasses, and the giant dung ball, all of these made her very happy. The start of the movie with the cute and funny bugs, the squirting water, the stinkbug, and the 3D effects all had her laughing and cheering.
Then Hopper showed up and it got bad…
curled up in a ball in Rosa’s lap screaming, “I wanna leave this place right now!” bad.
Once the scary part ended, she watched the end, but without the glasses. I was concerned we’d never get her to see anything else.
We left the horror show behind and went to Camp Minnie Mickey. On the way, she needed to see the fairly freaky looking Lilo and Stitch. (Why they didn’t scare her, your guess is as good as mine.) Though ugly, Lilo and Stitch were pretty cool, Lilo used Anabelle’s giant pen to clean Stitch’s ears and nose. Yup, wholesome family stuff there at the park.
The original plan was to see the Festival of the Lion King, but now we didn’t know if we could get her to enter any structure ever again. Luck was with us though, as we rounded the corner, there was Pocahontas! It was very much like when we met Mulan:
She was unexpected.
She showed up when Anabelle needed a lift.
And she was Asian (or at least Polynesian)
Since Anabelle was happy, I wasn’t saying anything.
Apparently, the “Pocahontas and her Forest Friends” show was cancelled the day we arrived, which is why she was walking the streets. (OK, that came out totally wrong.) Not expecting to see any princesses in Animal Kingdom, we gave Pocahontas the Pooh card to sign, or now, the “P” card.
Her lifted spirits, coupled with the phrases, “Fire juggling,” and “Monkeys on trampolines”, got her into the building, and the show did the rest. While I finally developed some picture taking skills, what I really wish I did was videotape Rosa and Anabelle singing, dancing and laughing along with Rosa’s favorite, definitely a high point for them.
|Everyone loves monkeys.|
More greetings on the character trails followed the Festival. Minnie (after a mid-line bathroom emergency), Mickey and Donald all went as expected. Fun was also had with Chip and Dale.
Again, everywhere, and awesome.
Anabelle also decided that if I went to see Goofy, she and Rosa could sneak up and tickle him. This would be a big moment for our daughter, if we didn’t make bad decision number two. At the front of the line, Anabelle was nervous, but ready. The handler said (we thought) that the PhotoPass guy was off fixing his camera and would be right back. With our daughter’s courage all set to see Goofy for the first time, instead of just trusting our camera, we let the next kid go ahead of her in line. Then as she started to meltdown because it was her turn, we found out that Goofy was going on break and would be back with the camera guy in a couple of minutes. Anabelle started to run away in tears. I picked her up, and Goofy actually came over, willing to take his break one kid later, but it was too late. Her fear had returned and she wanted no part of him. He signed her Birthday card and we left. Again, if she hadn’t recently been hugging Koda, the bear…
the realistic looking bear…
with claws and stuff,
this episode would have been less of a surprise.
Rosa and I started to understand her meltdown timing (with many helpful insights from Grandma). A big part of it was a blood sugar thing when she needed to eat. There was also the character effect. She’d get antsy on any line, but the rides and attractions gave her some kind of calming release (when they didn’t terrify her). However, she’d get so overwhelmed by characters she liked that she seemed to be worse afterwards. Convincing her that all good and bad Disney experiences were not “forever” was also helpful. None of this meant we were better at predicting them though, at least not on this visit.
Pizzafari provided a safe lunch for Anabelle, and then we walked off into Africa. We probably didn’t need the FASTPASS for the Kilimanjaro Safari, but worked out well, letting us sit in the front of the bus so that worked out well. We did the Pangani walk through while we waited for the FASTPASS. Anabelle invented reverse bird spotting. Instead of finding a bird and then identifying it on the chart they gave out, she would look at the chart and say, “Now we’re going to find this one.” She was surprisingly good at it. On the trail, we learned from a guide that meerkats are carnivores unknown to the local bunnies that come and go through the exhibit.
Translation: Sometimes Timon eats Thumper…Hakuna Matata!
|Tastes like chicken!|
We went into a shop to kill the last couple of minutes before the ride through safari, and Anabelle got some binoculars (and played every drum in the store). She got a big kick out of making the animals look closer, but a bigger one out of using them backwards to make them look further away. At least she was happy.
We took a quick detour for a temporary Minnie tattoo (as a less runny alternative to more face paint) and ice cream, before making our way over to Asia. En route, she completely snubbed King Louis and Baloo.
Oh well, it’s not like she knew either.
Anabelle led the way through the Maharaja Trek, stopping at each animal just long enough to acknowledge it on the map, before hurrying to the next. It was more of a checklist than sightseeing really. There was also some more reverse bird spotting.
In Asia was Anabelle’s favorite thing in all of Animal Kingdom, a fountain. She changed into a bathing suit and spent about an hour playing in the water. Most of the first half, she concentrated so hard on “magically” commanding the floor spouts to rise, she got hit in the side and the back of the head regularly by the wall spout. The second half of the time she spent pushing first her head, and then her body, into the pedestal fountain in the back until she was almost all the way in. I went to check and found out it was almost two feet deep, if she fell, she’d have vanished. After she finished she told us she was trying to show the other kids that the water worked like a “force field”. I apologize to any parents who were confused by their children.
The last area we hit was Dinoland, where Anabelle discovered the Dumboesque Triceratops Spin, another ride she insisted on going on once with each of us. Rosa managed (by promising her time in the dinosaur playground) to talk her into wanting to go take a picture with Pluto and Goofy. Of course, as soon as we got on line, they went for a coffee break and only Pluto came back. Still, even without Goofy, we all took part in celebrating Anabelle’s first Pluto hug.
We spent some time fighting the weird little double flying bugs that hung out in the Dino Playground before heading back to Discovery Island to catch the parade. Since it was already on the way, the only place to stand was in the blazing sun. That parade is always a lot of fun with its catchy music and cool giant animal puppets though. Particularly fun was Dale trying to sneak into a closed food tent…
|everywhere and awesome|
It was definitely worth the sunstroke. There was a woman standing behind me who decided to use my arm as a tripod for her camera. The result of this was, whenever I moved to take a picture myself, she got all huffy. Sorry, lady.
Once the parade ended, we caught a bus to the Grand Floridian and our Dinner reservation with Cinderella and family. Animal Kingdom is a very draining day, especially when it’s hot. Back when I made the reservations, I expected that Anabelle would be napping on the way there. Instead she spent the whole time scribbling in her journal, and asking Rosa questions. It turns out she was writing a long note to Cinderella and asking Rosa for spellings. At the Floridian, we went upstairs to wash up a little and see the gift shop. Rosa put Anabelle’s Cinderella dress on, did her hair, put on her light up glass slippers, and stuffed the toes of the slippers with tissue so they’d fit. Anabelle then posed in front of every piece of furniture we passed (something she pretty much did anyway).
We sat down at the (excellent buffet) dinner in a side room that was about half full. The Prince came in, but Anabelle was scared of him.
Hey, you try to find a pattern.
He said some polite stuff and took a picture on our side of the table. Then, as Cinderella entered the room, Anabelle realized, in horror, that she left the note for her in the bathroom. She went into a total panic. We tried to help her write something, but she was completely freaked out, yelling that she didn’t know how to spell Cinderella. Cinderella walked over in the middle of this and Anabelle melted. I don’t mean a tantrum; I mean a total emotional collapse. Tears ran down her face, and she couldn’t even make the words to explain what happened. We told Cinderella why she was upset. Then something happened that none of us have ever seen in any of our interactions with characters all the times we’ve been to Disney World. Cinderella picked up the journal and pen, took Anabelle by the hand and sweetly but firmly said, “Come with me.” She led Anabelle to an empty table in the back of the room, and were there for at least ten minutes. They were talking the whole time; Cinderella gave her some kisses, sat Anabelle on her lap and generally took care of her.
Anabelle told us part of what she said was that princesses aren’t sad, and also stuff about their matching dresses and shoes. Instead of a plain signature, she signed the book, “To my Anabelle, Love Cinderella”. She then asked Anabelle for her autograph and held it like a treasured item as she left. We were all amazed. I grabbed an address before we left and Disney World got a letter praising the “real Cinderella”, plus a laminated thank you note from Anabelle with a picture of the two of them for Cinderella herself. The thank you phone call from Cinderella’s boss brought the magic home a few weeks later.
Anabelle was walking on air following her encounter and even had the courage to take a picture with Lady Tremaine (who told her she looked much better in the dress than Cinderella). After our photo the woman at the table next to us told her kids that she was “the Wicked Stepmother.” Lady Tremaine stopped, stared coldly at them for a while and said,
“I’m not wicked, I’m just misunderstood.”
Then she turned and exited. The stepsisters were a hoot too. One said, “Oh that dress…how original,” and the other, “I guess that was the only dress they had left.” They both were mugging for the camera and yelling and arguing with each other back and forth between tables. (e.g. “No desperate is your middle name.”)
Still amazed at how wonderful Cinderella was, we took a packed monorail one stop to the Magic Kingdom. Rosa’s infection was going out with a roar, and we put her on a boat back to our hotel so she could rest and recover. Anabelle came with Grandma and me to see the Spectromagic parade. Of course, first we had to stop at all of the diorama windows on Main Street.
After a couple of failed attempts to find a spot, we met a nice family from Michigan. The Father and Grandfather were holding spaces for their wives, who were shopping, but said Anabelle could sit on the curb with their two boys (ages almost five and three). The boys immediately started fighting over whom would sit next to Anabelle, so we told her to move over and they sat one on either side. There was enough magic left over from Cinderella that this didn’t upset me, I just took a picture. Right before the parade started, a woman came and sat on my Mom’s feet. She mentioned this is second time that happened to her. The boys’ dad then sat on the curb to prevent more of this, and also to stop the flow of people narrowly missing stepping on our kids.
Anabelle asked where the parade would be and I said, “Right in front of you.” She pointed to her feet and said, “Right here?” With years of Disney wisdom behind me, I corrected her, “No, out in the street.”
The parade came and Anabelle was completely captivated by it, even the stuff that would normally scare her. When Tchernabog showed up in Fantasia on TV, she left the room, but when he loomed in front of her, all she did was say, “There’s your favorite, Daddy.”
|Yes...yes he is.|
Since she was waving continuously and sitting right out front in her Cinderella dress, she got direct waves from Chip and Dale, (Everywhere and Awesome) and an ominous point from the Wicked Queen. The highlight was when the Cinderella float passed, Cinderella waved right at her, and the Prince blew her a kiss. She yelled, “They remembered me from dinner!” We almost had to tie her down with a balloon string to keep her from floating away.
When we returned to the room she told her Mommy all about everything. This included, “And Daddy was wrong! He said the parade would be out there [pointing away], but the fish came right up to my face and winked…like if I was here on this bed, the fish was right there, [pointing at her feet] right in front of me.”
Overall it was a very magical night. There was an entertainingly silly little boy at the next table at dinner, whose name was Stanley (and also a Stanley Crane on the safari). I’d like to take that as a sign that Dad had something to do with it.
A revelation: I’ve always felt that Spectromagic was the most lyrical and romantic parade there, but didn’t know why. It’s not just the lights, as I’ve seen the Electric Light Parade, and it’s not even close. I read the liner notes on the CD, and Spectromagic is the only Disney parade with the music in ¾ time. That means while all the other parades are marches, Spectromagic was a waltz. (Thank you Mrs. Windish.) Now I know why.
Please Click Here to return to the Introduction which has links to the other Disney Days.
Please Click Here to return to the Introduction which has links to the other Disney Days.