Here’s what I have to say about a magical day at Disney: Not everyone’s Disney day is so magical.
Maybe it would have been if there had been a single breeze to ruffle the stifling 100-degree temps. Our boys were already starting to wilt just trekking with the bus herd off the Disney Cruise ship into the actual park.
Or maybe if we’d proven more intelligent parents who didn’t talk their seven year old onto a supposedly most magical outer space ride called “Space Mountain.”
Space Mountain is in the “Tomorrowland” section of Magical Kingdom, a “kingdom” where “fantasy reigns” and is most highly recommended by just about any Disney-experienced bright-eyed parent we’ve encountered. One who even found on Ebay a copper relic Mickey Mouse knocker for his front door.
We tossed 30 bucks towards a double stroller rental. What parents put their seven and eight year olds in a stroller you may ask? Parents who have drooping children whose combined weights just meet the 100 pound double-stroller limit!
Once in the magical Tomorrowland arena, we saw the Astro Orbiter! Flying spaceships!
Kenny shook his head no. “I’m afraid of heights.”
Then there was the Tomorrowland Speedway! Ryan wanted to go!
Kenny shook his head again. For which I was grateful, as I personally had no desire to get into a mini racecar out in the boiling hot sun.
But we needed a ride we all could agree on, fearing losing one another in the sweating mass of bodies misting themselves with the day’s best seller, $20 water bottle fans:
So there we stood there in a huddled hot daze, my husband’s 50 UVA floppy sunhat inside-out so that the tag was hanging over his nose (it took too much energy for me to right it on my poor hubby’s hot head, its ties too tangled up with his lanyard holding our magical kingdom key cards); our two boys crumpled into a stroller; me, with my mascara no doubt smeared and my shorts soaked through with sweat as if I’d peed myself.
We must have looked terribly pathetic, as a nice Disney theme park lady suddenly appeared in front of us. “Can I help you?” she asked, with that famous Disney this-is-all-about-fun-and-setting-free-your-inner-child smile.
My husband waved his arms around, flapping our Magical Kingdom map, at the long lines, crowds, unable to verbalize.
“It’s ok, I’ll help you,” she said, and I thought she might actually give us all a big comforting magical Disney hug.
Instead, she gave us a plan! Which was that we absolutely had to go on the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger spin, even though the line for tickets was “about 30 minutes” and the show “about only five minutes.” But she assured it was so worth the wait!
Then she suggested we get a flash pass for the Space Mountain rollercoaster ride, which would give us a time to return later so that we would not have to stand on line!
“No” Kenny shook his head from beneath the stroller hood. “I won’t go on a roller coaster.”
We asked him since when didn’t he liked roller coasters? He went on them as a toddler, at birthday parties….
We were hot. He was messing up our plan. The only one we had.
The nice Disney lady leaned into the stroller and said kindly “Oh, it’s not like a real roller coaster. The drops are only about 20 feet. It’s one of our most popular rides!”(As if 20 feet means much to a seven year old who is just learning to add double digits.)
I told Kenny that even Mommy wanted to go (and I hate roller coasters), anticipating it would be just a wavy fun space adventure – 20-foot drops didn’t seem that much.
What she failed to mention about these 20-foot drops was their speed.
After the Buzz ride, tame enough, mere shooting at space creatures (and air conditioned after standing in line for that promised half hour with Ryan whining “why we can’ t we buy one of those spray fans everyone else has?”
Because we’d just spent 30 bucks so he could be escorted around in a stroller….
The fast passes were as she promised! We whizzed past those other poor folks standing in line, and started up an escalator.
Into total darkness, except for some blinking lights here and there.
Kenny kept shaking his head no, his face hidden beneath his baseball cap.
Meanwhile Ryan was gleeful, not wanting to miss a single planet or shooting star.
Then we were there. At the edge of a dark platform. Being told to line up in a row , to prepare to embark on the next space shuttle coming down the ramp.
Now I was worried. About myself frankly. I really don’t like roller coasters and not ones heading into a pitch-black tunnel. But also yes, worried about my little seven year old Kenny who can be afraid of roller coasters, but also of the dark, even at home with his nightlight on.
We embarked, one behind the other, into little bucket seats. And were told to hold on tight to the safety bars…
And we were off. At the speed of light. I swear.
The last time I was on any ride was 20 years ago, some teacup thing on Coney Island that didn’t’ scare me, but spun so fast my ribs hurt, and afterwards I had to go down and dry heave into the Atlantic ocean. I would gladly take that ride again compared this living nightmare.
Yeah, sure, mere 20-foot drops. But at the speed of lightning. In pitch darkness. I gripped the hand bar and shut my eyes tight. Every lightning-speed dip and turn felt like I was being shot out of a cannon to my death.
I wanted it to end. Now. Not just for me. But for Kenny who was seated in front of me. If I wasn’t so afraid myself, I might have tried to reach out in the dark to assure him.
It did end. Probably a mere five minutes later. An eternity. Shaken, I climbed out of my little bucket shuttle seat.
Ryan jumped out of his. “That was so cool!”
And Daddy had to lift Kenny out of his. Our youngest was crying uncontrollably.
He draped our ragdoll-traumatized son over his shoulder, and Kenny sobbed all the way back down the space escalator.
I never thought I’d be so glad to be back out in the 100-degree frying sunlight.
But Kenny was inconsolable. Daddy held and rocked this child too big to be on his shoulder, and finally settled the still sobbing melting teary mess back into the stroller.
“Great, this will take years of therapy to undo,” he mumbled.
We apologized profusely, told Kenny the next ride was his choice. Thought of heading over to Fantasyland. I mean, how bad could a ride called “Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” be? Bad enough, when we saw its warnings of “moments in the dark.”
We stood in a huddled hot haze again and even with a screaming child, no smiling Disney personal came to rescue us.
“I want to go home!!” Kenny cried. “The ship!” He burbled. “Back to the ship!”
“But we’ve only gone on two rides!” Ryan said.
Then Daddy had the blessed – truly self-sacrificing, as I knew he wanted to escape this magical world as much as I did – idea for me to take Kenny back to the ship and he’d stay with Ryan.
Kenny only stopped crying once we had exited the park and were trekking back to the bus, having left Daddy to push Ryan around in the stroller (as well as give into one of those blue misting fan things).
“I’m so happy to be back on this great bus!” Kenny said, the one who’d whined all the way there why the hour-ride took so long….
Now that he had quieted down, I had to ask: “So did you keep your eyes open?”
“Yes. And the moon smacked me in my face.”
I was glad I’d kept my eyes shut.
And as we embarked back onto the ship, a well-trained smiling Disney cruise personal asked if we’d had a magical day, and Kenny let her know loud and clear, “No. It was hoooorrrrrible!”
She kept her well-trained smile in perfect gear, clearly never having been trained for such an unexpected reaction from a seven year old who happened not to find Disney so magical after all. Some of us prefer the simpler magic of transforming towels into animals:
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