Disneyworld -- way beyond just the mouse

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Disneyworld Orlando is a smorgasbord of activity not to be sampled for the weak of heart! Only a true vacation warrior can tackle "The Giant Mouse" and win. Once again I was overwhelmed by the variety of options this magical land offers.

Disney is in a sense its own country, seriously! Disney has its own money, its own government and with the billions it draws both in visitors and "green backs," Disney is more like Mighty Mouse than Mickey Mouse in the travel industry.

My husband adamantly proclaimed his dislike for rodents and crowds and decided to pass on this adventure. But what I found beyond the rides was a vacation even he would enjoy. Before I left, however, I was taught a very important lesson -- never mention in passing your intent to any child that someday you will take them to Disneyworld.

I guaranteed you a 3-year-old has the memory of an elephant and every day can ask, as they watch the Disney Channel, "When are we going there? ... you promised." And if you have an older second child I promise they add fuel to the fire with remarks like "Yeah, you said we were going there."

Here is the truth, there are two ways you can try and experience Disney. I've tried the first way and found myself exhausted, frazzled and beat like a Mexican piñata! The first way is to try and conquer each and every park, to map it out, plan and try and squeeze in every ride.

Even with Disney's new rapid passes I found myself pushing a stroller at warp speed looking for rides with short lines! Is this fun? No! Is standing in line for 45 minutes to one hour with not only your children but thousands of others as the Florida heat beats down on you fun? No! Can Disney be a wonderful vacation? The answer is a resounding yes, yes, yes!

There are many books on the market that tell you about the parks and the "secret" key to mastering them. Books that tell you to hit certain rides at certain times and to go left in the park instead of right. My opinion is Disney is a land that can never be conquered, but it certainly can be enjoyed. The key of a magical vacation at Disney is simple -- give yourself plenty of time. For goodness sakes they have over nine parks and hundreds of recreational activities, and secondly never think you can see it all! If you think you can even scratch the surface of the activities they offer in three or four days you are in for a big exhausting surprise.

By day two I was beat, I surrendered victory to my unconquered foe and began to actually enjoy my vacation. Sure we went to the parks, and yes we did character breakfasts and of course we dined in Cinderella's castle. We enjoyed highlights like the Cirque Du Soleil show, which is beyond description. But besides the razzle dazzle of the shows, fireworks, parades and neon lights, we also began enjoying things like swimming in a pool with a water slide and cannons that shot out balls of water at random.

We walked in the rain and fed the fish and turtles in various lakes. We watched and fed ducks and other wild life. We rode bicycles, boats, trains and even went bass fishing. Of course none of us wanted to kill a worm, so we didn't have much luck! We laughed as each child and adult said, "No you put it on the hook." So I became a hero in my children's eyes as I set the captive worms free in the woods!

Those are moments when life's values are taught and memories are made hiking hidden trails and showing each other love. There is so much more than rides at Disney! One of our favorite experiences, besides the Safari at Animal Kingdom, was the petting zoo and the ecological learning center it houses.

Disney is a place you can learn and teach important life lessons and find time to have fun and love your family. So take your time and explore a land of endless wonder -- there is so much more that what meets the eye at this magical land.

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