Trip Reports & Member Reviews Discuss True Confessions . . . The Full Story in the Vacation Planning forums; PLACES FOR POWER NAPS
Our herd journeys to Adventureland ® at this point. This is the last day before Pirates of the Caribbean will close for refurbishment, so covering this ...
Places For Power Naps
Our herd journeys to Adventureland® at this point. This is the last day before Pirates of the Caribbean will close for refurbishment, so covering this area of the park is absolutely necessary.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is the first ride we seek out, and we endure the beatings of the punishing sun in the unprotected queque line. It is amusing to teeter-totter on our carpets, but the sweltering sunlight blinds us and beats us as it reflects off the gold camels and shiny metal construction of the exhibit.
The Enchanted Tiki Room is our next destination. The heat is intense at this hour, so DH grabs an infamous Dole Whip to savor as we wait for passage into the exotic aviary. He does this in memory of a great personality on the Dis Unplugged podcast crew, Bob, who has recently passed on into the greatest Kingdom of all. One of Bob’s legacies was his love affair with Disney Dole Whips, and since he is no longer able to indulge in this exceptional sweet, DH obliges to pick-up the tradition. He suffers from “brain freeze” as he downs the icy dessert and realizes that on future trips he will need to approach this new tradition with more caution.
Once we enter the attraction, The Enchanted Tiki Room is received with mixed reactions. DD8 and DS6 find it quite entertaining. DD3 is rather frightened at the appearance of the Tiki goddess. And DH discovers that the cool but tropical room makes for a great power-nap.
The Jungle Cruise is next. To my surprise, my trip around the river is quite entertaining. I basically have the entire Jungle Cruise narration memorized, so the corny jokes delivered on this ride don’t usually amuse me. However, Erin, our skipper, throws in a few of her own, personal zingers, and I find myself snickering as we pass the various jungle antics one encounters on this cruise. When we enter the creepy, ancient temple on the river, Erin sings “It’s A Small World” in morbid, haunting tones, and I think I may keel over because I am laughing so hard.
When we come to the end of our jungle excursion, I sympathize with DD3 and her desire to repeat attractions. I, too, feel like saying, “I want to ride that again,” but a schedule is a schedule. I know deep down that we must press on.
The Swiss Family Treehouse and Pirates of the Caribbean are taken in stride. DD3 now seems to have the hang of entering and exiting attractions with grace and style. And while DD8 and DS6 have selected a few attractions for their “favorites” list, DD3 is not shy about stating that she likes every ride best.
We backtrack through Frontierland® for the Country Bear Jamboree. The children love witnessing this variety show, but DH finds it suits him better as background music for another power-nap.
The Death Of A Disney Dream
THE DEATH OF A DISNEY DREAM
We now head to Cinderella’s Castle for lunch. On the way, we stop by Mickey’s PhilharMagic in Fantasyland® for FastPasses. A friendly cast member offers to take the FastPasses that we have just withdrawn from the kiosk and swap them for FastPasses to the show that is about to begin. Looking at the time, we see that we can—indeed-- squeeze in an immediate viewing of the 3-D movie before our designated lunchtime.
Once we are in the FastPass line, another chipper cast member selects our harmonious group to be the opening musical act for the show. I am beyond ecstatic that we-once again-have been selected for a special park experience.
This Mickey’s PhilharMagic sweetie leads us to a pile of instruments and asks each family member to select one. Unbeknownst to me, selfishness has overtaken my little band. Quite unexpectedly, I find myself trying to mediate a bitter argument over the possession of the triangle instrument. Meanwhile, I am also trying to communicate to DH—who appears clueless--that he should ready the video camera.
The triangle war reaches a stalemate. No one will relinquish his or her assumed right to the coveted, percussion instrument as the debate escalates. DH cannot hear my video instructions over the children’s raucous, so I find myself yelling to be heard. Pandemonium has broken loose, and the patient, Mickey’s PhilharMagic madam has a helpless expression on her face.
Finally, I decide to get control over this crazy scene. I declare that I will pick the triangle percussionist. DD3 is handed the bongo drums; DS6 is handed the cymbals, and DD8 is awarded the triangle. Such decisive action quiets the troubled percussion section, and DH is now prepared to commence with his recording duties. I turn to the defeated-looking, Mickey’s PhilharMagic cutie and announce that we are now prepared for our debut. She begins to apologize and points to the audience who is moving beyond the place where we were meant to entertain them and entering the viewing area for the spectacular 3-D performance.
I have missed my chance at Disney-wide fame. The green-eyed monster of greed has stolen it right out of my hands, and there is nothing that can be done about it. I cannot believe I have met such a fate in the heart of Walt Disney World® where dreams come true, and I begin to despair.
The Mickey’s PhilharMagic dear tries to comfort me and ease my pain. She offers up a certificate to document our failed attempt as Mickey’s favored instrumentalists, and she awards us another golden front-of-the-line ticket even though we are undeserving. I humbly thank her for her generous gift, and—with a melancholy demeanor--proceed into the theater as a mere audience member rather than the chosen star I was meant to be.
Surely, a good meal will brighten my spirits. So after a whirlwind performance by Mickey and all his iconic companions, we head straight to Cinderella’s Royal Table for a banquet.
We pass by the memorable sword in the stone on our way to the Cinderella’s Royal Table. Three teen-age boys are combining their strengths in an attempt to pull the sword from the anvil, but it is in vain. I point in their direction and say to DS6, “See! All those boys are pulling on the sword together, and they still can’t get it out. Only the “Prince of the Day” is able to do it.” DS6 smirks with conceit and sticks out his robust chest as he takes on a manly strut towards our lunch engagement.
Due to the nature of my children’s digestive disorder, I have spent much time prior to our trip corresponding by phone and e-mail with the few chefs that will feed us during our Magic Kingdom® days. All have been given detailed information about our circumstances as well as explicit descriptions of the consequences my children suffer in cases of dietary infractions. Prearranged menus and instructions for food preparation have been documented prior to our arrival, and I have been assured that my children’s health is in good hands.
Our two days in the Magic Kingdom® are the only days of the entire year that my children will actually eat in a restaurant, so this reservation holds more meaning for our family than it does for most others. It is an incredible expense, but since the kids do not eat out at any other time, DH and I rationalize the cost.
My little prince and princesses enter the castle waiting room in awe of its royal décor. I am pleased with their reaction, and I note that they are inspired by the tiniest details of the majestic space without my prompting. They truly are becoming Disney fanatics in their own right. What more could a NDM ask for?
We are ushered to Cinderella’s side for a quick photo-shoot. While the younger nobility of our clan are cute enough for the occasion, DH and I are in no shape for such an event. The indescribable heat and frantic pace of our day has left us looking incredibly haggard. However, for the sake of posterity, we consent to having our unsightly presence contrasted with the flawless princess in a memorable but uncomely photograph.
After that, my prince is given a sword because no prince is complete without one, and my princesses are handed glittering wands. We are then escorted up the royal staircase and into the dining hall.
The room is very regal with crest-bearing banners hanging from the ceiling and large, stained-glass windows. We are seated at a sturdy table and given menus. The children gush over some rubbery “wishing stars” that have been placed at their seats, and I notify the waitress that I need to talk with the chef.
The chef promptly arrives at our table. We briefly recap the details of our prearrangement for the children, order meals for DH and I, and off she goes back into the kitchen.
Soon, our table begins receiving some very special guests . . . all of the Disney princesses. DS6 is not so very interested, although he does enjoy showing them his new sword and honorable “Prince of the Day” sticker. DD3 can hardly retain any sense of propriety, for the excitement of being in the same room as ALL the princesses is more than she can take. But DD8 has managed to adapt the gracefulness that is becoming of nobility. She now displays elegant mannerisms and an air of sophistication that impresses each royale that approaches our dining area.
But where is Belle? DD8 has a specific love for this princess, for Belle and she have a great many things in common. First of all, Belle is the one that has the closest physical resemblance to DD8. But more importantly, Belle is practical while also retaining the ability to dream and imagine a romantic life beyond the one she lives. Belle loves books, and she is extremely intelligent. And DD8 hopes to find her true love one day just as Belle did. Although her NDM prays that DD8 doesn’t have to discover him within a beast.
Belle is the last one to visit with our adoring group. DD8 immediately strikes up a conversation with her so that Belle will understand that they are meant to be kindred spirits. Belle clearly senses the common ground she holds with DD8 and begins a small book group discussion. But before Belle can go very much in depth with her literary analysis, she is called away by the menacing, character manager.
Belle graciously bids farewell to my regal offspring. Then she winks and blows a kiss to DH. I am a little rattled by this unsuspected pass that has been made at DH. So while DD8 regrets seeing her most beloved princess dragged away by other pressing duties, I am grateful that the DH-snatcher has taken leave. After all, Disney is not the only thing that I can be neurotic about.
Suddenly, a grand, trumpeting fanfare fills the room. It grabs the attention of our entire noble family, for we sense that something important is about to take place. Jiminy Cricket’s voice is then broadcast. He announces that it is time to wish upon a star. He petitions all the little princes and princesses in the room to take hold of the rubbery, “wishing star” that was placed at their seat as well as their sword or wand that they were given. Then, he says that they are to hold them up and make a wish.
DD3 is the first one to hold up her wand and star. She closes her eyes as tightly as she can and scrunches her nose, and with great intensity, she releases her wish out into the great expanse of the room. DS6 raises his eyes toward the ceiling and completely extends both of his arms (which also hold his sword and star) towards the sky as if he is receiving a great, spiritual power from on high. DD8 has taken a more cultic approach to this task. She holds her head in one hand as if her massive concentration has now caused a headache. Her “wishing star” is placed in the center of her placemat, and with her other hand, she waves her wand over the star in a circular motion much like a witch stirring her cauldron.
Apparently, all the methods of wishing are successful because the room then explodes into great flashes tempered with tiny, twinkling lights projected above. Also, the delicate sound that pixie dust makes when it falls can be heard.
Our waitress appears with our food just as the last dust particle settles. As we eat, I find I am happily surprised that my meal does taste good. I have consistently seen negative reviews of Cinderella’s Royal Table in relation to its food, so I wasn’t sure what I should expect from this reservation. However, my shepard’s pie—while not being what I would consider “fit for a king”—seems quite adequate for a duke or a duchess.
Once the meal is finished, a quick stop is made to the royal throne of an entirely different nature. The throne room is surprisingly small for such a grand castle, and we have trouble maneuvering around the other nobility in need of evacuating. Perhaps, Cinderella should put this on her list of house projects. With some agility, however, we muddle through the bathroom population and, sadly, say goodbye to the lovely castle.
The Ndm Way Or The Highway
THE NDM WAY OR THE HIGHWAY
It seems it is time to venture to Tom Sawyer Island. I must confess that even though I am a NDM, this small island has only ever held minimal interest for me. It seems that this small plot of land could be better suited as The Lost City of Atlantis or as Tarzan’s Rain Forest. Nevertheless, Tom Sawyer Island it is, and for my little Huck Finns to get the full Magic Kingdom® experience, at least one visit is warranted.
All three troublemakers are anxious to jump on a raft and float to this intriguing place, inspired by Mark Twain. DH is interested as well since I have always made him skip this oasis due to time restrictions. So we hop on a raft with a straw-hat toting river guide, who expertly lands us on the opposite side of the river.
Shockingly, Tom Sawyer Island is enjoyable. We are ahead of schedule at this point. Our golden tickets and FastPasses have put us up in our game, and there is not a pressing need to be somewhere else. I find myself slightly enjoying the lax-a-daisy environment of Tom and Huck’s stomping grounds.
The entire family laughs as we stumble over barrel bridges and explore dark caverns. A fort provides an ideal setting for shooting rifles, and various mills and other buildings give chance for more discoveries. But, inevitably, our jaunting in Dixieland begins to lose its charm, and we grow a bit tired.
A trip around the island on the Liberty Square Riverboat seems like a good idea. So after arriving back on the mainland, we board the huge water vessel. But we discover in the heat of the late afternoon—a time reserved for naps on most days—the big ferry does not provide refreshment.
The kids are increasingly irritable. Their hair is matted with sweat; their cheeks are rosy from their body heat; their eyes and their smiles are drooping. I, myself, can also feel the drag that is expected at this hour.
I recall the advice touted by the wise sage, Bob, on the Dis Unplugged podcast crew. He boldly campaigned for naps when visiting Disney theme parks. In fact, this is another legacy that Bob left behind for all who were willing to take him at his words.
I glance at DD3. She apparently is a firm believer in Bob’s way of thinking. She has unashamedly stuck her thumb in her mouth, laid her head on DH’s shoulder, and left the world of consciousness for another one that will provide her weary body with relief.
I consider that maybe it is time to hang up the gloves and throw in the towel. Maybe we should return to the comfort of our villa. I faintly remember the promise I made to myself on the rickety pier to work relaxation around the demanding Sacred Seven. I also remember that one of the reasons we joined the Disney Vacation Club was to help me release my inbred, “blitzkrieg” ways.
But while a chameleon has the ability to change its colors instantaneously, a NDM does not. In the years ahead, I may reach a point when I won’t mind leaving the Magic Kingdom® for a mid-day nap. But I am not at that point yet. The “blitzkrieg” blood flows true-blue in my veins, and so I stick with what is most familiar. In the end, I rationalize that we must not give in. This would be admitting defeat. There is still fun to be squeezed out of our day at the Magic Kingdom®. We must push through this temporary lull of energy to find our second wind. We must press on!
We seek refuge in the air-conditioned quarters of The Hall of Presidents. DH says he has finally found his favorite attraction. The cool climate, the cushioned seats and the subdued, lengthy show provide the ultimate conditions for a nap. He wastes no time reclining in his seat and pursuing REMs. DD8, DS6, DD3 and I don’t rest to the extent that DH does, but the atmosphere is refreshing enough to restore some of our energy and sustain us a bit more while simultaneously injecting our spirits with a greater sense of patriotism.
Keep it coming!! I am loving every installment more and more! You truly are doing a wonderful job of making me feel like I got to experience your Disney magic with you!!
When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.
Thank you! I am very honored and as the wise John in Peter Pan says, "I shall try to be worthy of my post!"
Originally Posted by NDM#1
- Jaymie I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!
DCP Fall 2012: Strollers/Main Entrance Merchandise, Magic Kingdom
Vacations to WDW: 20
Vacations to DL: 2
Thank you so much! A comment like that helps me see that I am achieving one of my goals. So put on your Mickey ears beanie and join us for the rest of the adventure!
Originally Posted by Thumper10
Maturity And Meatballs
Renewed, we cautiously approach The Haunted Mansion. So far, the kids have enjoyed the mildly scary rides such as Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Pirates of the Caribbean, but admittedly The Haunted Mansion is a tad more macabre. My little ghostbusters insist that they are up for the experience, though. And since it is still daylight, this may be an ideal time to test these waters.
I carry DD3 during the beginning walk-through. This way she will feel more secure, and it will also keep her from being trampled during the cattle herding that takes place as everyone boards their doom buggies. DD8 and DS6 each take one of DH hands, and I pray that this is enough to keep them from panicking if they get scared.
The ride is quite an experience. DD3 and I have our own doom buggy, and DH has taken the elder spook investigators in the buggy next to ours. In our cart, DD3 is fascinated with all the supernatural happenings she sees. She says that the ghosts are “crazy” or “silly” and laughs at their attempts to frighten her. I take solace in her brave composure because, frankly, I am a little creeped out by the new effects that have been added in the last refurbishment. It’s a good thing that I have someone to make me feel protected in our buggy of doom.
I can’t help but wonder how DD8 is managing this scenario. Of all my children, she is the least adventurous. To top this off, she tends to be a drama queen when something upsets her. If I am internally disturbed by what I see, I can only imagine what DH is dealing with in the doom buggy ahead of us. This may not be pretty.
But shockingly, both my girls emerge from the house of death completely stimulated and giddy over the fun they had. DS6 seems a bit shaken-up, but he puts his best foot forward so as to appear no less courageous than the female persons of our group.
Well, time has flown by. We need to head towards Main Street, U.S.A.® again. Our dinner reservations are at Tony’s Town Square, and I am particularly excited about this destination.
In addition to Tom Sawyer Island, Main Street, U.S.A.® was usually skimmed over during my “blitzkrieg” years. Yet, I came to regret that as I aged. The carefree mood of the street is very appealing, and in my late teens, I began to wish I had more time to look in all of its shops and exhibits. Tony’s Town Square, a Lady and the Tramp-themed Italian Restaurant, specifically drew my attention because of its elegant exterior and interesting location.
While we are waiting for our meals, DH remarks that he should have ordered the spaghetti with meatballs. Then we could share the noodles and he could push a meatball over to my side of the table with his nose just like Tramp does for Lady in the sentimental moment they share. I am touched by this romantic thought, and I am also relieved that his affections still lie with me and not promiscuous princesses who shall remain nameless. As I blush, I playfully elbow him and say, “Not in front of the kids . . .” He flirtatiously winks at me, and I wonder where all this banter may eventually lead.
The food arrives. Over our meal, I engage my ladies and tramp in conversation about our day. I ask them what their favorite exhibition is. DD8 takes a jab at DS6 by saying that his favorite ride is The Haunted Mansion. I guess that DS6’s attempt at appearing fearless failed because DD8, obviously, picked up on her position of superiority in this instance. DS6’s feathers are immediately ruffled, and he answers that DD8’s favorite ride is Splash Mountain® and that she definitely wants to ride again. The hair on DD8 bristles, but DD3 interrupts this increasingly ugly scene with her own declaration that she still likes ALL the rides. I am thankful for the command my littlest lady has taken in our conversation. She has corrected the ungracious intentions of her elder siblings by making the neurotic Disney spirit the focus of our discussion once again. I can’t help but notice that her Disney maturity is advanced for a three-year-old.
We all conclude that our day has been a good one. We covered much more ground than was planned, and now we find that we have a few more hours to do spontaneous activities. It is unanimous that we should venture toward Space Mountain®.
The check is paid, and we wander back out into Main Street, U.S.A.®. A large crowd has gathered at the hub for the “SpectroMagic” Parade. It quickly becomes evident that we will be unable to move our troops and double stroller through the dense sea of people. The only option is for us to try to find a spot where we can enjoy the parade as well.
GREAT report - I'm totally hooked! I know one day I will definately be a NDM, but until then, maybe I fall into the category of NDD (Neurotic Disney Daughter) or NDS (Neurotic Disney Sister)!
Originally Posted by Spodie
Since NDD stands for Neurotic Disney Dad, I cannot use the D for daughter. But I have the acronyms for NDI (individual with no spouse or children), NDT (teen) or NDK (kid) open to you. Do you resonate with any of those designations?
My Wild Child
The parade is about to begin. I chance to see the smallest break in onlookers with prime property right up in front, wedged in between two strollers. There is only enough room for a small child to stand, so I place DD3 there and line DS6 and DD8 single file behind her. DH and I stand a little further back so that we don’t interrupt the view of the adults that staked out their territory before us.
A very kind woman standing near my children offers me her position so that I can be closer to my kids. I decline and tell her that I would never consider allowing this when we have only just arrived. But she insists, stating that she comes to the Magic Kingdom® multiple times a year and has seen this parade more times than she can remember. Given these details, I accept her gift and take my place behind the children.
The parade appears. Instantaneously, DD3 goes crazy with excitement. I thought that I had seen the extent of her frenzied behaviors when we first arrived on Main Street, U.S.A.® that morning and again at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Apparently, I hadn’t even scratched the surface.
As floats pass by, she is simply delirious with delight. She is behaving like a pubescent teen girl at a Jonas’ Brothers rock concert, and her enthusiasm makes the event the most exciting one I have ever been a part of. Once again, her uninhibited expressions are contagious, and I find myself fighting the urge to yell, cheer and wave frantically at the lit characters crossing in front of us.
DD3’s antics are, apparently, noticeable to all. The parents surrounding us seem to take more pleasure in watching DD3 than the more subdued reactions of their own children. Also, due to the spectacle she is creating, many of the parade participants grant DD3 special attentions as they move past her position. Even Prince Charming takes notice of her and blows her a kiss from his dazzling carriage.
At one point, a rather large and intimidating Ursula rolls right up to DD3, looks her in the eye and delivers a wicked speech along with frightening movements. I fear this will be the end of DD3’s enthusiasm and she will want to retreat to a less vulnerable spot for parade viewing. But after Ursula rolls away, DD3 turns around to me and ecstatically proclaims, “Mommy! Ursula talked to me!” I reply, “She did? Did you like it?” She cheerfully screams, “Yes! She was really scary!” She then turns right back around and continues her frenzied, rock-concert behaviors.
By the time the parade ends, I find that all the excitement has left me fairly exhausted. I never expected to expend so much energy by “passively” watching a parade. And, yet, this is the magic that I am blessed with by accompanying my little pixie in the Magic Kingdom® for her first time. I would not trade this for anything.
I just inducted the first 50 people into the Neurotic Disney Community. So far we consist of 38 NDMs, 3 NDDs (dads), 2 NDGMs (grand moms), 3 NDWs (wives), 1 NDH (husband), 1 NDA (auntie), 1 NDU (uncle) and 1 NDI (individual). If you are any of these individuals, please make sure you e-mail me at ndm1 @ thedisneydrivenlife.com . I am trying to gather an "official" list over there so that if I ever get a corporate sponser, I can contact you about your t-shirt (or whatever I can afford to gift you with). If you have not been "christened" yet, but would like to be, you can either write to me or contact me here to receive your title and number. Even if you were not in the first 50, you should still STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!
Ending Today With Tomorrow
ENDING TODAY WITH TOMORROW
The crowd begins to disperse. DD8 sees her chance to bolt for Space Mountain®. She leads our tired group toward the hypnotic glow of Tommorowland®. Once we arrive, we pull out our undeserved, golden ticket and divide up in the same manner as we have for the other mountain ranges of the Magic Kingdom®. I accompany DS6 while DD8 waits patiently for a turn with DH.
After the ride, DS6 has mixed feelings about his orbit in space. But DD8 completely loves the rush of this ride. Is it possible that they swapped personalities in The Haunted Mansion? It appears that my little boy’s adventurous spirit took up residence in the spirit-friendly mansion, leaving him without much desire to explore new frontiers in space. In contrast, my big girl has turned in her cowardice for thrill-seeking passion. I am a little puzzled by these changes, but I am happy that my timid Piglet is now feeling more along the lines of a Mufasa.
Our space trips are wrapped up, and we find the Wishes™ Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show taking place. Fireworks usually terrify DD3. She completely goes to pieces when the sparkling theatrics appear to shower us with deafening, explosive bangs. So for her sake, we don’t draw undue attention to the lightshow occurring in the near distance. Instead, we take advantage of the diminished population in Tomorrowland® and stand in line for Astro Orbiter, which is enjoyable at night due to the glowing planets that whiz past as you ride.
DH bows out. He is unable to withstand most repetitive, circular rides, so I chaperone all of my space explorers for this attraction alone. My social astronauts make friends with two college girls in front of us, who each offer to take one of my elder kids in a space ship with them so that I can focus on holding onto my littlest space ranger. I find this quite agreeable since the rockets tend to tip at an angle that is rather precarious.
A few rotations around the planets of tomorrow, tightly gripping DD3 so that she doesn’t fall out of the rocket, and our mission is complete. The two college girls insist on taking some pictures with my little astronauts to save the memory of their cute company. Then we rejoin DH.
It is decided that for our final attraction, we should enjoy the relaxing transportation provided by the Tomorrowland® Transit Authority. This proves to be a wise decision. The steady speed with a non-demanding mood provides a great atmosphere for relaxing and recounting all the memorable moments the day held. Every family member has some little piece of fun that they want to relive through verbal retelling of it, and many laughs are shared as we glide throughout Tomorrowland®’s landscape.
By the time we reach our place of departure, a satisfying sense of closure envelopes us. The Magic Kingdom® is shutting down, and it is time for our happy team to make our exit from the beautiful park to our welcoming beds. We have, yet, another demanding day ahead of us. Not one that requires physical stamina for conquering a vast territory but one that requires emotional stamina for enduring exhausting relatives.
Frying Pans Not Included
FRYING PANS NOT INCLUDED
Our family has only a precious few vacation days each year, and we have collectively decided that these are best spent in Walt Disney World®. But there is one person who does not share our opinion . . . my mother who is also known as Grammy. Even though Grammy is perfectly welcome to visit our home in VA, she complains year round about not having enough time with our family.
In an attempt to “band-aid” this dilemma, we invite Grammy to visit us today at our villa in the lodge. She lives a few hours away from Walt Disney World®, so this seems like a reasonable way to squeeze in the all-important “Grammy Time.” She agrees to come, and she informs us that she will also bring my sister and my sister’s three children. I have doubts about such an arrangement since we only have a 1 bedroom villa and are already exceeding the room’s capacity by a person. But I have little ground for resistance since I have no other viable alternatives to offer that would please Grammy.
Grammy calls the morning of Day 6. She states that her traveling entourage is behind schedule. My sister, who is affectionately called “Auntie,” is running into difficulties. My nephew, Buddy, who is 9 years old, is doing all he can to help because he is anxious to see his cousins. However, the twins (Angel and Pooter) have not been very cooperative during the preparations. This is not surprising considering that they are merely 2 years old, but—for some reason—they have been unusually difficult today.
I assure her that this is not a problem. Our family plans to just hang out around the lodge. So if we are not already in our room when they arrive, a quick call to DH’s cell phone will locate us at a close distance.
As I hang up the phone, I say a quick prayer of thanks. Between the constant remarks that Grammy makes about us not meeting her expectations and the wild behaviors of Angel and Pooter, I am usually exhausted in the presence of these personalities. I was uncertain how I would manage a day-long visit in such close quarters with our expected company. Now I will only have to survive a half-day.
My little brood has already gone through the morning rituals of dressing and eating. They are now enjoying an episode of “Cory in the House” while they wait for the day’s itinerary. I inform them that Grammy will be late, so I will take DD8 and DS6 to hunt for Hidden Mickeys while DD3 gets in some exclusive time with DH.
When learning about the Disney’s Wilderness Lodge on the internet, I found a list of options available to those seeking extracurricular activities. Among them was a hunt for Hidden Mickeys throughout the resort. The Concierge Desk provides a list of riddles and clues. And from the list, the challenge is to deduce the location of a secretly-placed and cleverly-disguised Mickey head and then spot it. It sounds like a fantastic adventure that is perfect for a NDM and her active explorers. So I can hardly wait to begin.
As expected, the Concierge Desk is very happy to satisfy our request for a Hidden Mickey clue sheet. They warn us that the hunt is a very challenging one, and they are not permitted to give the answers. But if we feel that we need further assistance, we can return to the desk for more clues.
I am not swayed by this caution. While this hunt may prove challenging for the average Disney guest, I am a NDM. I eat Disney trivia for breakfast. I overcome Disney obstacles in a single bound. I have a sixth sense that instinctually guides me in all Disney matters. This Mickey hunt is the type of thing I was born to do. I surely will wrap up this “challenge” within half-an-hour and amaze the Concierge Desk with my impressive skills.
DD8, DS6 and I have a promising start. Right away, I cleverly deduce the location of many of our clues. The first one clearly indicates that a Mickey head is hidden within a red stone on the great fireplace. Fantastic! We skip over to the fireplace and search for this camouflaged impression.
For at least 15 minutes, we look intently at every stone on the fireplace. Our examination is so scrutable that the normal irregularities of these rocks begin to take on strange shapes much like clouds do if you watch them too closely.
I spot a peculiar looking red stone above the fireplace screen. Does that stone host the Mickey head? If you look at it from a specific angle, cross your eyes and hit yourself on the head with a frying pan, it vaguely resembles the famous thrice-circular symbol. That must be it. There is no other visible possibility. It is a good thing that I am a NDM because the average visitor would NEVER be able to extract that image from the rock. But my Disney super powers include being able to see Disney images that escape the natural vision of others. We check off that clue on the list, and I declare proudly to DD8 and DS6 that we have undoubtedly spotted the first Hidden Mickey.
The next clue indicates that there is a Hidden Mickey near the geyser. As I walk towards the new location, studying my list of clues with children in tow, I am called to attention by a comment directed at me. “Ah! We know what you are doing!” I look up and see another mom with two teenage daughters who are holding their own clue list. “Oh, yes,” I reply, waving my paper in admission. She responds, “I hope you are having better luck than we are. Have you spotted the Mickey for clue #4?” “Well, we have only started,” I offer as an excuse for only having checked off clue #1, “but I suspect that clue #4 is near the boat rental shack.” “Hmmm,” she considers, “that is probably right. You are very good at this. I suppose you have already found the Mickey head on the red stone next to the bottom supporting beam on the extreme right side of the fireplace.” “Of course,” I remark. But I inwardly rationalize she must have been imagining her Mickey. The Mickey image that I saw was centrally located on the fireplace—not to the right of it.
“This is really difficult,” the woman continues, “My girls are a little annoyed that this is taking so long.” I observe her two companions. They are none too amused to be standing next to their mom while she conversates over the trials of the Mickey search. I suspect they are feeling the call of the teenager destination, Disney Quest. “We have had to ask cast members to show us where some of these Mickeys are because we are just not finding them on our own,” she laments.
I sympathize with the woman and tell her that they can provide her with more specific clues at the Concierge Desk. Then I wish her well as we go our separate ways. I think about the disparaging, floundering mother. It must be terrible to attempt this search without the innate ability to sniff Mickey out like a hound dog on a fox hunt. Thankfully, I will never know that helpless feeling.
We arrive at the geyser, which is temporarily dormant. The sun is scorching every molecule in our bodies. DD8 and DS6 groan as they perspire. Why is the weather so unbearable this week? I grew up in FL, so I am aware of its tropical conditions. However, this is really beyond anything that I remember in my youth. But since there is nothing that can be done about the heat, the best plan is to ignore it and go about our business. We are out seeking Mickey heads, and proceed we must.
I look over the railing in front of the geyser where the familiar branding surely is and see . . . nothing. In confusion, I ask DD8 and DS6 to look upon the rock that surrounds the geyser and tell me if they happen to view the Hidden Mickey. Nope! They can’t see anything except the beads of sweat dropping off their eyebrows and into their eyes.
Maybe it is on the railing. I diligently examine every inch of railing in the vicinity. Nothing! I reconsider that the Mickey head must be on the geyser rock. The clue clearly implies it is on the geyser rock. So—once again—I scrutinize the entire rock. Where is it?
Back in the early 90’s, the optical illusion/3-D posters and postcards were in vogue. So that I could appreciate this trendy art, I developed the skill of “relaxing” my eyes. Once I had finally learned to tell my brain to stop focusing my vision, I was able to see all manner of images emerge from the cluttered pictures before developing incredible headaches and dizziness. It occurs to me that this Hidden Mickey search must require the same technique in order to be accomplished. So after I instruct my brain to unfocus my eyes, everything becomes blurry and surreal. I see it! I see it! I finally can make out the faint form of a Mickey head, floating across one area of the geyser rock. Yes! We can now check off that clue on our list.
DD8 and DS6 look doubtful when I claim that we have found the Mickey head in question. But, being a NDM, I always know best in these matters, so they cast aside their uncertainty and follow me in our detective investigation.
I decide that since we are already outside, it would be best to skip clue #3 and pursue clue #4, which I am certain indicates a location near the boat rental shack. “Mom,” DS6 says with a slightest hint of whine, “Do we have to keep looking for these Mickeys?” “Of course,” I reply, “Aren’t you having fun?” “Not really,” he admits with some hesitation, “It is really hot out. And I can’t see any of the Mickeys you show us. I just want to go back to our room.”
Poor DS6’s Mickey-senses have not entirely matured. But they never will if I don’t push him to use them. In his best interest, I insist that DS6 “buck-up”. I assure him that he will see the next Hidden Mickey if he remains patient, and I lecture him about not giving up so easily.
I am extremely deliberate in my efforts to unveil the next camouflaged Mickey. The sidewalk that we travel is carefully analyzed. Each board on the pool-side eatery as well as each shingle on the boat rental shack is looked over. I even begin to scrutinize the shape of the petals on the flowers we pass. But there is nothing that resembles a Mickey head--not even with the help of my head-striking, frying pan.
I come to a point where I realize there are no other alternatives. In order to continue this hunt I must apply the one fail-proof method for success . . . cheating!
I approach the attendant at the boat rental shack and ask her if she knows of a near-by Hidden Mickey. She smiles pleasantly and says, “Yes.” I explain the desperation of our situation and beg her to simply take us to it so that we can skip the agony of searching. She agrees and calls to her assistant-in-training, “C’mon. You are going to need to know where this is too because a lot of people are going to ask you this question.”
The benevolent, boat rental lady leads us around a bend to a corner of the lodge’s vast structure. “Do you see it up there,” she implores as she points up in the sky. I shield my eyes so that I am not struck blind by the sun as I try to follow her direction. What is she pointing at? A cloud? A roof? A hallucination? “I am having trouble,” I finally confess. “Right there. On the beam next to the balcony on the fourth floor,” she declares. I count four floors up, look at the supporting beam to the right of the balcony and there it is—plain as a bow on Minnie’s head. The imprint is so clear that it looks as if someone has taken a hot iron and branded the beam. No frying pan is required to view that image. If this hidden Mickey is so easily seen once you have found its actual location, is it possible that my hazy images conjured by exceptional Mickey senses were not actually the designated Hidden Mickeys?
The revelation is a bit alarming to me, but I thank the boat personnel for her assistance and recall the conversation with the other Mickey-searching mother. Did she say she saw the figure to the right of the fireplace? I must go back to make sure that I didn’t miss something.
DD8, DS6 and I backtrack to the fireplace. Sure enough, there it is on a red stone to the right of the fireplace near the bottom jutting beam of the second floor. Again, no frying pan required. I feel disillusioned by the apparent failure of my Hidden Mickey abilities. How will I ever recover from this crushing blow to my Disney-inclined ego?
I lead my group over to the Concierge Desk, shamefully admitting defeat to the pitying clerk. She sympathetically pulls out a three-ring binder, turns to a particular section and looks over what appears to be the answer key to my impossible quiz. “May I have that sheet,” I petition. With a look of dismay at the unethical proposition, the Concierge countess responds, “No. I’m sorry. We are not permitted to release the answers. We can only try to give you more direction.” I plead with the policy-adhering clerk to just hand over the answers so that we can finish our mission, but she remains resolute.
The mean, ogre-like clerk gets summoned to take a phone call and leaves the open three-ring binder on the counter. I consider grabbing the answer sheet and making a run for it. But the thought of getting caught in such a demeaning act is horrific, and I can’t bring myself to reach across the counter and swipe the remedy for my afflicted condition.
Had I understood the unrealistic standard set for this hunt, I would have done extensive research on it prior to our trip. Surely somewhere on the internet, someone has found all of these distressing locations, possibly even posted actual pictures of them, enabling wretched souls such as myself to find the answers they so passionately seek. And if they haven’t . . . well, they should. Right about now I would be agreeable to forking over a few bucks to buy a copy of “Hidden Mickeys for Dummies” (if there was such a thing).
At this point, I call off the hunt. So much time has been lost on this hopeless affair. I feel frustrated, dejected and a seed of bitterness is planted in the depths of my NDM soul. The only thing that could top this miserable event would be a visit from my insane family, and I am fortunate enough to have that very thing as a follow-up to this bruising of my self-esteem.
As we drudge back to our villa, DD8 and DS6 are grateful that the Hidden Mickey escapade has finally come to an end. I recede into a great depression and desire only to curl up in my wilderness bed and cry myself to sleep. But alas, for the sake of the family, I paint a happy smile on my face and tell my small detectives how appreciative I am of their company during our morning excursion.