Friday, October 12, 2012

Disney Whirled: Highlights of a Nine-Day Adventure into Magicalness, PART 1: "Preparations"

Friday night, September 14, The Hungry Preacher and his family pulled out of our driveway destined for Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  The driveway?  Metaphorical.  The destination?  Magical.  The account?  As follows.

Disney World had been a place I felt I knew everything about, yet nothing about.  I knew it as an icon, but not as someplace where I could actually walk around in my physical body, spending actual hours of my life experiencing.  It was like the Kremlin, or the moon, or how “going to college” used to be.

Not understanding the nature of Disney World made preparing for the trip all the more daunting.  Come to think of it, it was a little like applying to colleges: my preparations were an exercise in cooperating with my destiny, but it was a destiny I didn’t understand and felt overwhelmed by.

Beth had taken care of much of the heavy lifting.  We would be meeting up with Tim & Angie, friends of ours flying in to Orlando from Seattle.  Beth worked with Angie to nail down dates and accommodations.  With about a month until departure, I was tasked with things like figuring out the driving route, making arrangements for our dog (who only looks like an animated Disney character), and figuring out exactly where were would spend our days within the World that is Disney.  Oh, and when and where we would eat.

goofy, but not Goofy

Of course, the first thing that popped into my head was, “I need to buy a mattress.”  See, back when we bought bunk beds for our daughters, we let them use the roll-up mattresses that were included.  Within the past few months, we realized—what with them being vertebrates and all—that they might need something more supportive.  The search became urgent when I realized that one of their rollable mattresses might be able to lay flat in our minivan, providing a more comfortable sleeping experience for non-driving grown ups on their way to Disney.

I closed the deal on a real mattress for our older Monkey, experimented with seating configurations in our van, and tested the fit and comfort of the roll-up mattress.  The result:

From left to right: right ankle, left foot

Everyone zonked out pretty quick...

...though one little girl did not zonk out quite as quickly as I thought.  If only I had taken my eyes off the road, I would have seen she was still awake.  What was I thinking?

Meanwhile, I worked within certain parameters to construct a schedule.  The considersations were:
-the “light parade” would take place Monday night at Magic Kingdom
-Angie had made lunch reservations for Thursday at Epcot
-we would not leave a park just to go eat, then come back to the same park
-we would spend 2 days at Magic Kingdom, and it was preferable that they not be consecutive days
-many restaurants did not have reservations available for groups of 9 (the 4 members of The Hungry Preacher's family, plus Tim and Angie and their 3 kids)

I created a calendar and got to work.  It was like a logic puzzle, like when you are told that 5 different people played 5 different sports on 5 different days, and you have to figure out how to match them all up based on a few clues.

Angie and I sent drafts of a schedule back and forth, until we ended up with this:

To quote Fletch: "If this were at all legible, you'd see what I meant."

I arranged dog-care from 2 friends, my mom, and the professional dog-boarders at Kennelwood pet resorts.

All that was left to do was drive. Do we leave Saturday morning or Friday night? After much consideration, I decided Friday night was the way to go. We made super-duper time. I made it all the way to Atlanta by morning, and Beth drove the morning shift all the way to Lake City, Florida, the self-proclaimed “gateway to Florida.” I like a city that knows its purpose. And the girls liked having a long afternoon in the hotel pool with mommy, while daddy caught up on some sleep.

I call this one: "Feet protruding from the Day's Inn Swimming Pool in Lake City, Florida"
Sunday morning, we would get a leisurely start and still reach Disney World by mid-afternoon.

Next up: PART 2: First Impressions


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