King for a day: Disney dishes up royal treatment
By Associated Press
Sunday, February 25, 2007
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - I am in hundreds of strangers’ vacation pictures - the bewildered guy in the sputtering truck at the front of the Walt Disney World parade. I’m sitting next to Daisy Duck and wearing mouse ears embroidered with my name, waving like an idiot and smiling like I just won a toaster.
That’s the first place they put you when you’ve won an overnight stay in the three-room suite inside Cinderella Castle. It’s the crown jewel in Walt Disney Co.’s “Year of a Million Dreams” sweepstakes, the squeal-inducing fantasy of millions of little girls - and my home for the next 17 hours.
Each day, Disney randomly chooses one family to spend the night in its new Cinderella Suite, but I got to stay there thanks to an exclusive invitation from Disney to The Associated Press. (Families stay there for free, and the suite cannot be rented, but the AP paid $587 for my stay, the estimated value.) Staying in the suite also means I’m grand marshal of the parade, the honorary guest in an event called “Dreams Come True Dinner,” created by Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, and the front-of-the-line guy at anything I want to ride.
I am a tattooed 27-year-old guy with Buddy Holly glasses and no children. But I’m just not that into princesses. So to enhance my appreciation, I’ve adopted a family with two little girls (ages 5 and 2) to stay with me.
I am tired of smiling and waving when the parade ends, and I wonder how the full-grown adults dressed up like Goofy and Minnie do it every single day. Besides that, what will become of all those pictures when they make it back to Iowa or Idaho or Kalamazoo?
The Magic Kingdom is designed so you can see the castle from just about anywhere, and the walk to our suite seems longer than it should. We are led up a far pathway, past a side door and into a small room with stone walls.
Our guide, dressed as a 17th century castle guy, swipes a card to call our elevator and takes us four stories up. The suite is brand new. The elevator is not, and moves eerily a few inches up and down when it’s boarded or stopping.
Each of us is given a swipe key with our name and “Cinderella Suite” written on it, and before long there are bite marks all over 2-year-old Emily’s. Her sister Hannah has the honor of opening our door the first time.
There are golden flecks in the floor and ornate squares on the ceiling, making the whole room feel gilded. The desk in the corner is a 17th century Dutch antique with velvet-lined shelves that Disney has retrofitted with a high-speed Internet hookup. There are two queen beds under headboards with canopies and a fireplace that can’t burn anything but holds a fiberoptic display of flame and pixie dust.
The television in the sitting room is a mirror that converts at the touch of a button, while the “royal bedchamber” TV changes from a framed electronic portrait of Cinderella. There is television with at least five channels in foreign languages, an array of DVDs (all Disney, of course) and free calls to anywhere on an antique-looking phone.
I get wild ideas about that last part until I remember I don’t know anyone in Paris or Tokyo anyway.
Perhaps most impressive is the bathroom, which features a 4-foot square Jacuzzi jet tub with a waterfall faucet, a separate shower that could comfortably fit three and a square toilet. Over the tub are three sparkling mosaics made of hand-cut Italian glass.
All of these things I like - especially the mirror that turns into a TV. But I am disappointed in the minibar. It has juice boxes but no Jack Daniels.
Much of the royal family’s day - like the parade and dinner reservations - is preset, so there isn’t a lot of time for rides. Emily isn’t tall enough for the roller coasters, which basically leaves the other category - the ones where you sit in a car, ride along a track and watch animatronic pirates or fish or jungle people sing and dance.
But because we’re staying inside the park and Disney provides us a front-of-the-line escort, we’ve got to ride something. We end up on Peter Pan’s Flight and then the ride whose name Disney refuses to capitalize, it’s a small world. When it’s over, the girls’ father and I are yawning. It’s only 5:30 p.m. but we’ve been on the go nonstop since the parade at 2 p.m.
We have dinner reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table, a place where the Fairy Godmother and other Disney characters weave between diners performing songs. It is expensive, but we aren’t paying because it’s included in our stay.
Source URL: http://theedge.bostonherald.com/trav...ticleid=184785