The response to my Disney post has really blown me away. I’ve heard from so many cast members, many of whom have shared my post and all of whom have been astonishingly nice and complimentary. There have even been a few who remember my family from our trip! It’s never fun to come back from vacation, but all of you helped keep the magic going for a few more days, so thanks.
To everyone who read the post, I want to say a couple of things. One, many people wanted to make sure I know that Disney treats everyone as well as they treated my family. It’s their goal to make us all feel special. That couldn’t make me happier. I’d love to think that everyone who goes to Disney World has as wonderful a vacation as we did.
Two, the Fairy Godmother I wrote about is apparently well-known for being extra awesome. That makes me happy, too, because she definitely deserves the recognition. If you go to Orlando, make sure you pay her a visit.
Since people seemed to connect so well with that post, I figured I’d share a few more photos and anecdotes from our trip. Some of them have already appeared on my Facebook page, but I think they’re worth reposting here.
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Before our trip, Bennett talked constantly about the Tower of Terror. He insisted he was going to go on it, even though we warned him it would be very scary. When we got there, he could hear people screaming from inside the ride. It didn’t help that the building was so tall and foreboding. Suddenly, he wasn’t so confident anymore.
“Daddy,” he said. “Maybe we can just take a picture with the Tower of Terror, and if it’s a good picture, then I don’t need to go on the ride.”
So we took this picture.
He decided that was enough, and he didn’t need to go on the ride after all.
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Here’s a ride that was more up Bennett’s alley: Goofy’s Barnstormer, a kiddie coaster that lasts about 20 seconds… and sometimes had up to a 40-minute wait.
Once we got smart, we started arriving at the park at opening time and rushing right to the Barnstormer before it got crowded. One day, it was raining when the park opened, and we went on the Barnstormer five times in a row, with no line! Pretty sure the kids think their dads are geniuses for arranging that.
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I was anticipating waiting in lines to go on rides, but I wasn’t expecting to wait in lines to see characters. Turns out my kids were just as excited to see Ariel as they were to go on her Under the Sea experience, and the wait for both was about a half hour long. It turned out to be well worth it. Ariel did more than pose with my kids and shoo them along. She was awesome — full of personality and well-versed in her character. She saw the yellow and blue striped shirt I was wearing and told me I looked like Flounder, which cracked the kids up.
We met Ariel again the next day at a character lunch, but the kids didn’t mind seeing her a second time, because, as Sutton pointed out, this time it was Ariel with feet, not fins. Totally different. All the princesses were incredibly friendly with the kids, though none was quite as friendly as Jasmine…
Um, aren’t you married to Aladdin or something? At least Bennett seemed to enjoy the attention.
Later in the week, we met Belle, who was flattered to see that Bennett’s autograph pen was a mini Belle.
As soon as we left Belle, we ran across the park to our lunch reservation, another character meal, where we met…
… um, Belle. In a totally different outfit.
Thankfully, the kids were too entranced to wonder how Belle beat us to the restaurant and changed her clothes and facial features along the way. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but four is a good age.
By the end of the week, I was as eager to meet characters as the kids were…
Maybe more so. On the last day of our vacation, we heard that Mulan, one of the few princesses we hadn’t met, would be making an unscheduled appearance in Epcot’s China pavilion, so we camped out there waiting for her to show up.It struck me that this was my vacation. I was a grown man waiting on a bench in a theme park in the hopes that a woman dressed like a cartoon princess would show up. Well, she did…
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Bennett’s a big fan of Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, so I was excited to take the kids to the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor show. While you’re waiting in line, they ask you to text them your favorite joke, so I sent one in for Bennett:
Q: Who’s the magical fairy who never takes a bath?
Success! Mike Wazowski read the joke during the show and credited it to Bennett from New York. Sutton was also picked out of the crowd to be Boo in the show, so it was win-win.
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We were worried there wouldn’t be much for the kids to do at Epcot, especially in the World Showcase section, but they were happy to make their own entertainment. In the piazza in Italy, they got up on stage and performed their own “show.” Of course, what they call a “show” is mostly just them running around in circles singing “Let it Go”, then, as seen above, taking curtain calls for a nonexistent audience.
Ziti Sisters, you’ve got nothing to worry about. (We actually saw the Ziti Sisters, too, and they were terrific. They even pulled Drew up as part of the show.)
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We stayed at the Art of Animation hotel, in a Lion King suite. The kids loved it. I think if we had stayed at the hotel all week and just gone in the pool, they still would’ve thought Disney World was the greatest place on Earth.
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By our last day in Orlando, we had done pretty much everything we wanted to do, so we decided to have a Greatest Hits day. Everyone got to choose their favorite thing from the week, and then we’d do that thing again. Bennett chose the Barnstormer, of course.
When we asked Sutton what her favorite part of the week was, she replied, “Shopping for a toy!” So here we are again, doing Sutton’s favorite activity.
Again, I want to repeat that this post is totally unsponsored. Nobody paid me to say any of these things. These are not the words of a corporate shill, just a dad who had a great time. Of course, if the Disney people see this and want to thank me — well, I’d love to go back.
Jerry, it’s true – the cast members really do their best to make everyone’s visit magical – and ours this past week was no different. We also had an amazing rainy night experience on Big Thunder Mountain which we rode by ourselves in the downpour at least 10 times. Also my son, at 7, was still as excited to see the characters as your kids – especially his favorites Phineas and Ferb, who goofed around with him, playing with his stuffed Perry and treating him like an old friend. Anyway, Disney often drives me crazy as an employer but, when it comes to giving my kid a magical experience, they are tops!
You guys are so cute! 🙂
GAH….this makes me want to take my kids back to Disney but the littlest is only three. I know what you mean about getting swept up in the magic. My daughter started to melt down in a shop one evening and a princess appeared from nowhere, sprinkled both of us with fairy dust, and put everything back to rights. MAGIC.
They really, really do try to make everyone’s trip special. We were just there with our 19 month old and it was magical. I remember reading your first post and thinking nothing you described seemed like it couldn’t have come from our experience if we’d found ourselves in the same circumstances! We filled out a bunch of feedback forms for the cast members who really went above and beyond before we left, evidently they can get nice thank yous from their bosses for that, so if you remember any names or dates/locations for characters that would be another great way to pass on the love!
It sounds like you had a genuinely good time 🙂 Just curious–what did you do to pass the time the lines? It sounds like it added up to a few hours. Also: What was the best food you ate? 😀
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Looks like Bennet has your comedy talent, Jerry 😉 Oh and I love how Sutton is wearing her tiara 24/7. I bet you had big arguments about taking it off at night. Glad she enjoys shopping as much as the next girl 😀