So, Bean turned four.
(insert wailing and moaning here, please)
This year for both kids, we decided not to do birthday parties with their friends. Gracie is still a little young, and Bean’s falls at such a busy time of year that we just didn’t get our acts together in time. For Gracie’s, we wanted to go to Disney, but our friend who gets us into the park for free (which is the best kind of friend to have…) couldn’t get us in on her birthday because it was a blackout weekend. We decided to table our Disney visit until Bean’s birthday and we went to the zoo instead for Gracie. Bean’s birthday weekend was actually Gay Weekend at Disney, and our friend asked us if we wanted to cancel the trip for the second time, but we didn’t care. We were all gay for Disney that day!
We started our Disney Day a little rocky. We went straight to the Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland because both the kids love Toy Story. But, it scared the bejesus out of Bean. He’s not a fan of bad guys of any kind, but especially of the Evil Emperor Zurg variety. And it turns out, the entire Buzz Lightyear ride is a game where you shoot giant, larger than life-sized Zurg’s with laser guns. ‘Twas terrifying for the Beanster. Gracie, though, thought it was great. She was a quick draw with a laser gun!
After Buzz Lightyear, Bean was scared to go inside any ride that looked dark, but MOST rides look dark when you are standing outside them. Luckily, though, we went right next door to the race cars, and that was much more Bean approved. He even got to drive the car himself (though, it stays on a track, so there’s no risk in him crashing into anything!).
Gracie was a little small for the ride, but we snuck her on anyway. She rode shotgun with me, and had a blast! This might be my favorite picture of Gracie EVER! You can see her sass even through the blurry camera lens!
After this ride, we headed over to Dumbo in the Circus part of the park. That was really the only ride we did in that area. It was a lot of fun, and the line wasn’t too long, either. The kids loved it because they got to control if we went high or low in our Dumbo seats.
After Dumbo, we headed over to the Peter Pan ride. Bean was a little hesitant about this one, too. He really didn’t like the dark parts of the rides. After that ride, Chris and I changed tactics a bit. We decided that maybe the kids were still a little too young for the rides after all. Instead, we decided to focus on walking around and seeing everything because there is just so much to see at Disney! The first thing we wanted to see was the new FantasyLand.
Chris’s company had a staff day at Disney a few months ago, and they ate at the “Be Our Guest” restaurant, so he really wanted us to go there. We had heard it was really hard to get in, so we made sure that we were standing in line and ready to go at 11:00 when the restaurant opened for lunch. Dinner is reservations, but lunch is first come, first serve. Even though we got there at 11:00, it was only about a 15 minute wait in line. Totally worth it!
The whole restaurant is built into the side of a “mountain,” and is designed to look just like the Beast’s castle. It is gorgeous inside, with life-sized gargoyles and armored guards. They also have amazing table service. You place your order yourself at a little kiosk, and then take a little red hockey puck looking thing to your table. That puck is like a GPS device that lets the servers know where you went to sit down, and within minutes of ordering, your food is wheeled out to you on elaborate gold carts, just like Belle is served with in “Beauty and the Beast.” It was really fantastic. And, apparently, so overwhelming because I didn’t take any pictures of our lunch!
After lunch, we cruised through FantasyLand, but didn’t ride any of the rides. Which kind of bummed me out because I really wanted to ride the Little Mermaid ride, but maybe on our next visit… We continued on to the carousel. Our kids are suckers for carousels, let me tell you. And this is the Mother of All Carousels. They LOVED it!
After walking around and shopping a little in the Disney stores, we headed over to hunt down Woody and Jesse in a character meet and greet. They were tucked into a corner of the park by Splash Mountain. We waited the longest here. And it was H.O.T.! Thankfully, they had this little kids playground area that was designed to look like a rabbit hole (because Splash Mountain is Briar Rabbit themed…get it?). I took the kids over to the playground and let them play for about 20 minutes while Chris waited in line for the characters. I think that playground was the kids’ favorite part of the day! Well, until it was our turn to meet Woody and Jesse…
There was a rumor on the internets that if you yelled out, “ANDY’S COMING!” near the Toy Story characters, they will instantly drop to the floor like they are inanimate toys, no matter what they are doing. That rumor, I’m sorry to say, is false. There was a group of high school cheerleaders in front of us who tested the theory, but nothing happened. We were all highly disappointed, but I couldn’t blame Woody and Jesse. They were so big that if they fell, I doubted they’d be able to get back up again!
Bean did not care one bit about whether the toys were on the ground or standing upright. He was beyond excited! Especially when Woody took Bean’s Buzz Lightyear hat and put it on his own head. Bean thought that was the funniest thing ever!
It was almost an hour wait to see these two characters, but it was worth every minute. They spent a good three or four minute just playing around with Bean, and then they let us take as many pictures as we wanted. I tried to get Gracie up there with them, but she was pretty freaked by the characters. She liked them, but she didn’t want to be anywhere near them. Which was just fine. Bean Man was more than happy to go solo with his favorite characters!
After our visit with Woody and Jesse, it was about 1:00. We wanted to make sure to get a good seat for the parade that afternoon at three, so that left just enough time for us to go meet Tinkerbell for Gracie. I think this is a hidden gem if you have little girls at Disney World. It isn’t really advertised anywhere, but it is such an awesome experience. Tucked in this little conference-style room at the entrance of AdventureLand, there is a small sign that says, “Meet the Fairies.” You go inside and wait in this room that is clearly some sort of old conference room that they have decided to squeeze a meet and greet space into. In fact, the room was so un-Disney-like, that at first, I thought it wasn’t worth standing in line for. But, it was air conditioned, and they had Disney “Fairies” movies playing on big screens, so I figured that at the very least we would cool down for a bit and rest.
But when we got closer to the meet and greet area, we realized that they took you back into the room with the fairies one family at a time, which meant you got to spend some quality, individual time with them! And the fairy land was INCREDIBLE!
We met the first fairy, who is from the “Fairies” series of movies. She was super cute and talked with this high pitched, totally obnoxious Southern accent! Gracie was unsure about her…
Bean Man, however, was a ladies man in there with the fairies. He talked it up with Southern Fairy. They mostly talked about Buzz Lightyear, naturally.
They even made Buzz Lightyear arms together!
After Southern Fairy, we headed over to see the one and only… TINKERBELL! Tink is a hero in our house. Gracie LOVES her, but when it came time to meet her, Gracie was a little hesitant. Actually, I think terrified would be the best word. She did not understand how Tinkerbell had suddenly appeared in real life!
Gracie got a little braver when Bean was around, though. Brothers are usually pretty helpful when it comes to protecting little sisters from fairies…
Since we had a little time to kill and the line wasn’t so long, we headed over to the Magic Carpet ride after we left the fairies. It was just around the corner, and it was a lot like the Dumbo ride. The kids loved this one, too. Anything outside was good with them.
After the Aladdin ride, it was about 2:00, so we decided to mosey back to Main Street and get some ice cream while we waited for the parade to start. It was perfect timing, too, because we were about to melt from the heat. We got our ice cream from the Edy’s Ice Cream Parlor, and then found a spot along the sidewalk where we sat to eat it and wait for the parade to begin. We had about an hour to wait, but by that point in the day, we were all tired and sitting down for a while seemed pretty good. Plus, in Disney, even just sitting is exciting!
The parade started promptly at 3:00, and it was SPECTACULAR! All the characters that we hadn’t been able to track down that day were in the parade. And it was a safe distance for the kids, too. Gracie wasn’t scared to see them when they were walking by or riding on a float, so it wasn’t as traumatic as walking up to them in a meet and greet line. Actually, it was pretty perfect!
The best part was that Bean was wearing a Disney button on this shirt that said, “It’s My Birthday,” so all the characters would wave right to him from their floats and wish him a happy birthday! You should have seen his eyes! They were as big as saucers!
All in all, it was a pretty great day for everyone! Disney is one of my favorite places, and I’m so happy that we get to share it with our kids now. I just can’t believe that we get to share it with them because Bean turned four.
(sob, sob, sob)
(wail, wail, wail)
(sniffle, sniffle, sniffle)