Where dreams come true

Published 2:19 am Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I was in my thirties, with two small children, when I made my first trek to the place where dreams come true, at least that is what the creative folks at Disney World advertise. It’s the family fun epic center of the universe with endless miles of attractions focused on enticing your kids to come inside like a giant candy house, but beware of candy houses — they sometimes have a child-eating witch inside!

Not Disney though, more like a money eating machine, but no real witches and most kids survive the trip.

Now, 15 years later, I am still returning young children to the Magic Kingdom for their first tour of duty and that is what you get when you spread your younglings out. Return trips to Disney to expose the little darlings to such torture as “It’s A Small World After All.” Does anyone really like that ride? Or is it meant to be a rite of passage for anyone who takes the trip to Orlando? The song becomes a chant in your brain, never completely disappearing. I have done my duty now, no more small world ever again.

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Fall break is wonderful thing. It is still a fairly new experience for me to get use to, but perfect for the trip to Disney World during what is called a non-peak season.

Does Disney have an off season? Exactly.

At my age, many of my friends are journeying there with their grandchildren, but not me. I am still introducing the magical place to my sons. The twins are being initiated to the place and they are in a stupor of awe.

This is my final curtain for my kids to feel that newness and it’s a joy to behold. The funny part is, its Carl’s first time as well. In his forties, he has never experienced this right of passage, and the best way to do it, of course, is with your kids. His only complaint is that the roller coaster rides are too tame.

As the day grows longer, the Florida heat swelters, and the fun is in the observation of how the families are coping. You find the exhausted and wilted parents, looking miserable with tired and fussy small ones, who are all determined to squeeze in every bit of Disney they can. After all, it cost quite a bit of Mickey dollars to get here and darn it, they are going to spend every waking moment being happy in the happiest place on earth. It is isn’t it?

Well, at about ten in the morning it is, but by seven o’clock, not so much.

My twins were real troupers and only began an complaining session around 8:30 at night when hunger and sore feet ills finally crept upon them. I vowed, we are going to stay for the Magic Kingdom fireworks and they groaned. I stood my ground, after all, I had sat through all of their shenanigans, the Splash Mountain, the Tea Cups, the Buzz Light Years — it was momma’s time to see the big happy ending. We were going to be there even if I had to tie them to a Mickey Mouse statue. After a 10 dollar hot dog meal, that is for each person, we found our viewing spot and the magic began.

It was worth it. They thanked me and as we dragged ourselves to catch a boat to our cabin, yes cabin, these rustic boys required a rustic cabin in a wilderness setting which translated was a refurbished one bedroom trailer decked out in mountain-style, including an exterior of fake log siding. The cost of a fancy room in a resort would have been less expensive, but for a family of five the extra room came in handy. They were well satisfied, or as they said at the end of Splash mountain — “Satisfactual.”

I have to mark this trip off my must-do-as-a-family list. As the twins are pushing nine years old and Luke will be 18 in a month, my visions of the empty-nest syndrome are growing. I can see the nest within the next decade and I hope I am young enough to enjoy it!

At the conclusion of the first park, my feet hurt, my mind was numb, my stomach had digested high priced cheap food, my hair was frizzy, and my stamina was fading fast. I had to survive several more days of fake animals, boat rides with happy songs, and children’s shows. It was October but Florida was experiencing record highs causing a higher number of kid meltdowns.

We parents are made of stern stuff. Like Superman and Spiderman have superhuman powers, parents were given the ability to keep on going like the Energizer bunny rabbit to fulfill the dreams and wishes of their children, some by what I have witnessed, are not so appreciative. The twins were very thankful as we hit park after park, smiling and pointing out all the fun stuff.

The question is, why?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it for the great memories, the great photo ops, or the fact we are pressured by society to be like all the other parents and it’s the expected thing to do? Or for the joy that it brings to our children?

I must confess, some parents actually have fun too. I love the swell of the musical Disney theme, a sighting of Tigger, the rush from simulation rides with great visuals, stunt shows, and it all boils down to that I am still a 40-plus-year-old kid.

Disney World is not for the faint of heart. The scooters, wheel chairs and strollers are weaving in and out and could take you down at any moment. I saw a parking lot of strollers. These wheeled demons were driven by frantic parents and for the parents of the parents, the motorized scooter was in tow. If you were not careful, in your exhausted state of hiking the park’s miles of paved streets, you could find yourself Disney road kill.

Was it worth the danger, the expense, the physical exhaustion?

As the little fairy flies out of Cinderella’s castle during the spectacular fireworks extravaganza, and the music swells, tears fill my eyes and I think this is a place where dreams really do come true and I am living happily ever after. Yes, it is worth it.

Tracy Williams is guest columnist and can be reached at her website: myhometowncolumn.com or be a fan on FaceBook at my hometown column.