It's about time I wrote about our trip to Disney. As a part of a press event I attended for work, Disney graciously brought Lil E, my parents and me to their parks for four days of what also happens to be the epitome of parenting -- both exhilaration and exhaustion.
The mere idea of Disney intimidated me, to be honest, and I thought it would be best to hold off a year before introducing my boy to it all. After all, his Disney education has been limited to a few movies and whatever his friends whisper to him when the show lights go up. But this was an opportunity we had to seize. We put on our credentials, cozied up to the fun and informative Disney rep who guided us through the parks every single day, took our place in the lines and went for it.
The gods of amusement parks were definitely laughing at us.
[So much more after the itty bitty little jump]
The temps in Florida hovered between 40- and 50-degrees that week and rain poured down and through our layers and layers of windbreakers, t-shirts and scarves we piled on to combat to combat the cold. My mother had a sprained ankle that required her to be in a wheelchair most of the time. My work requirements kept me moving from 6:30 in the morning until after 10 at night, and spotty cell reception and awful access to the interwebs made it even more difficult to catch up.
Still, when I saw my boy see it all -- the teacup ride, a thumb's up and hug from Buzz Lightyear, the "high four" from Mickey Mouse, the castles and lights and ear hats and rides, the Mickey imprints hidden everywhere, riding on a Star Wars ships and gasping to see a real AT-AT Walker, all of it -- it gave me the greatest joy. His delight was infectious. It made us all happy. It made all of the stresses and clouds and thousands of other people fade away for just enough time.
I attended press conferences and met people and saw mom bloggers I know and toured facilities and participated in the Give a Day, Get a Disney Day volunteer launch. But there was a hilari-iii round of mini-golf and there were phenomenal private parties that all of my work there afforded for Lil E and for the rest of us. That part was a blast.
At one, a hilarious kids' DJ spun while a crowd of children danced and danced on the stage in the ESPN Zone Wide World of Sports, where we also feasted on Cracker Jacks and cotton candy and all kinds of tailgate goodies.
At another, there were surprise performances by Disney stars I am sure really are famous (among people 20 to 30 years younger than I am), including (I still can't believe this) JOE! JONAS! The novelty of that was a kick, but what got me was that Lil E SQUEALED when he heard it.
"FROM THE JONAS BROTHERS?!" He couldn't control his pitch. He couldn't contain his excitement.
I nodded. Then I stopped.
"Hey, wait," I was confused. "How in the world did you know about the Jonas Brothers?"
I would have been less surprised if he'd squealed over Cinderella or Snow White. The Jonas Brothers?
"FROM A COMMERCIAL!" He let it out with equal enthusiasm. (Yes, that's the part I can't believe.)
I hoisted him up on my shoulders to see it all and we danced and waved glow sticks. I stuck my camera out in front of me to try to snap a shot so I could see his face. What I captured was the face I'd been seeing for days -- eyes bright and intense, mouth open, a slight smile. It was like he was trying to take it all in, remember every single detail.
It's funny because, as shivering and chilled and tired and ready to just go home, I was doing exactly the same thing.
So we will go back. Maybe not on Disney's dime. Perhaps we won't stay in a fantastic suite overlooking Magic Kingdom or make it a foursome again.
But we will be back, if only because there is so brief a time that the magic feels that real. I want him to feel that again. And ohhh, I've got to see that look on his face at least once more.