the rest of the story

Better than spontaneous outbursts in song and dance and better than perfect weather (except that one day at Animal Kingdom), and even better than the smell of hazelnut wafting from the bathrooms was the time our family was able to spend together in Disney World. I think this was the first time Alex ever spent five consecutive days with all the children, and we only see our East Coast cousins and grandparents about once a year. This is what it looks like when you put together one ten year old, one eight year old, one seven, one six, one five, three fours and two twos--in the happiest place on earth, no less. Of course I couldn't quite get a picture of all that chaos together, but cheers to family:


scooters and strollers

I promise I don't work for Disney, but I have too many pictures for just one post. This is the penultimate ode to Disney, however, so enjoy.

Here are some things you see, and consequently maneuver yourself around, in Disney World: strollers (single and double--I was a perpetrator myself on that front), scooters, groups consulting maps, people posing in front of Disney "icons," men holding enormous bunches of balloons and moms telling their hysterical children "This is supposed to be the happiest place on earth!" If you're lucky, you might find yourself exiting the Magic Kingdom just as Mickey the mouse himself and Minnie are elevated from the depths of Cinderella's castle into a character sing-a-long. And if that happens, you might see some daytime fireworks. You see a lot of fireworks in Disney. A lot.


it's a family tradition

I interrupt this Disney blog-a-thon to bring you a moment from this morning when the children and I stopped to 1) be thankful and 2) help others in need...and 3) zombie walk [see above]. Since moving to Austin in 2011, it has become our family tradition to volunteer with Operation Turkey on Thanksgiving morning. Unfortunately Alex was not able to be with us this morning--through a strange twist of fate he was sent back to Orlando for work this weekend--but he was with us in spirit. Happy Thanksgiving!


wild animals, part 2

When we learned during our first day in the Magic Kingdom that the line to meet Anna and Elsa--you know, from Frozen--was 160 minutes long (that's 2 hours, 40 minutes...too long for me to do the math in a reasonable amount of time), we decided to tell the girls that Anna and Elsa weren't "in" that day. "It's not the real Anna and Elsa," as Scout reminded me. "It's just people pretending to be Anna and Elsa." Phew, crisis averted.

At Hollywood Studios two days later, we met Pluto. So it turns out that hugging the leg of a giant dog is more exciting than meeting a fake princess from Norway. It must be that Disney spell.


wild animals, part 1

Disney World isn't just dancing carolers and Cinderella's castle. There's also Animal Kingdom, where the safari ride is actually a safari ride. I haven't been on a safari in Africa, but the rhino charging our Disney safari bus was as close as I think I'd like to get. The pictures aren't great because the bus was bumpy and the animals actually move (they're real!). Behold lions and hippos and crocodiles, oh my:


the most wonderful time of the year

Let me start off by saying that I abhor amusement parks. I don't want there to be any misunderstanding on that front. I can't stand the crowds and the trash and the jerky rides and the fashion on display. I can't stand the smell of the food or the slow-moving lines of people waiting for rides or waiting for their ridiculously oversized ice cream cones. Let me also state, before making this next proclamation, that although my husband is about to become a cast member--if you don't know, you don't know--that I am in no way working for the mouse. Disney World is not an amusement park. It's kind of the opposite of an amusement park where everything runs seamlessly and beautifully, even amidst the throng of thousands of people. If you could overlook the obnoxious American patrons (I'm not including myself or my family in that group, obviously) then I would wager to say that it is the happiest place on earth.

There may be some sort of serum that seeps into your blood through the Magic Bands, or perhaps it's the smell of hazelnut wafting through the bathrooms at Epcot Center that puts you under a spell, but when you're in Disney there is no greater place on earth. I could be exaggerating, but maybe I'm not. To illustrate my point, here is the scene we happened upon Friday morning while entering the Magic Kingdom. Main Street USA was dressed for the holidays, and the performers below serenaded us with the chirpy Christmas tome "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." I kind of got tears in my eyes. Well played, Disney. Well played.

Don't worry, there's more Disney to follow. I want to share the magic with everyone. (There's a wink implied in the previous sentence in case you think I really have had a chip implanted in me by the Disney folk.)


disney, first and last

These two photos are the first and last--straight from the camera roll unedited, unscripted--that I took on our wild and wonderful Disney vacation. We arrived home in Texas today, and I'm still coming down from the Disney high. When I got in the car to run out to the grocery store this afternoon, I kind of forgot how to drive...or maybe I expected the car to begin moving on its own. Either way, I need a couple of days to decompress and re-acclimatize to the "real" world. But I can tell you it was a magical experience.