A Magical Week by Margaret Hart
My family and I just returned from our spring break vacation in Orlando. It was a high-octane trip built around Disney theme parks, as well as visits to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Discovery Cove. It was a whirlwind of activity, and now that we are back home, I could really benefit from a vacation from my vacation!
As I was planning the trip and getting tips from friends who’ve completed the theme-park marathon, I knew it was going to involve a lot of running around and a hectic pace. And a lot of patience. As one friend said to me, “make peace with the lines.” While there were a lot of lines, and some of them unreasonably long, we had a fast pass for most, which sped us to the front of the line. Sweet.
Our goal was to visit six theme parks in six days. Totally unrealistic, but I like a challenge. I figured we’d just go at our own pace. What I didn’t figure was that there would be about a million or so other people also going at their own pace. Yet, despite the crowds and the logistics of staying at a non-Disney resort, we found the time to do just about everything on our must-see list, visiting five of the six parks. At Magic Kingdom, I took my son on a ride that I remembered from my childhood called “It’s a Small World.” I’m not sure he enjoyed it as much as I did. He was more excited about the Buzz Lightyear ride, where he could shoot laser guns at monsters and aliens. (Actually, I had more fun on that ride, too.)
Tackling the theme parks with a seven-year-old was relatively stress free, except for his occasional whimpers about the heat and the bright sun hurting his eyes. At seven, he had the stamina to walk around without needing a stroller, was brave enough to go with mommy on the scary rollercoaster just once, but was still young enough to cry when the scary rollercoaster went speeding down a steep hill. He preferred the slower rides, and the competition of the arcades—and the satisfaction of winning a stuffed Monkey and a Dragon.
All throughout our vacation, it was a blessing to be able to watch our son experience the wonders of Disney. At the end of our trip, as we waited to board our flight home, we talked about our favorite experiences, and I was surprised that his did not include a ride filled with electronics or shooting at monsters and aliens, or even a song and dance show—two of his favorite things. His favorite was a relaxing swim-float in 85 degree waters along a lazy river, meandering through caves and under waterfalls. And getting to swim with a Dolphin!
As for my husband? He liked walking through Animal Kingdom dodging a typical Florida afternoon downpour. He felt like he was in the Amazon rain forest! It’s a guy thing, I guess. Me? I thoroughly enjoyed the light show followed by the spectacular fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom. Watching the Castle glow from special effects and colored lights, followed by fireworks that rival Macy’s on the Fourth of July, was pure joy.
Aside from the entertainment, my husband and I were simply happy to be making special memories. It was truly a magical week. Watching our son experience wonder and surprise, and hearing his infectious laughter over and over again was priceless. We would look at one another and without saying a word, we knew we were both thinking and feeling the same thing: the all-encompassing love and privilege of being his parents. As a mom who got started a little later in life, I continue to pinch myself that I am blessed with such a wonderful little person to guide through life. There aren’t words to express how grateful I am for the opportunity. But maybe one of them is “magical.”