Alex Friedman -- May 2005 - Walt Disney World (OKWR)
Disney, Though The Eyes of A Two Year Old
The first and so far only time that my parents brought me to Walt Disney World they had two equal and yet opposing fears. The first fear was that I would somehow be intimidated by the crowds, find the lines miserable and have a terrible time. The second fear was that I would immediately fall in love with it and start a lifelong obsession with all things Mickey-related. Fortunately for them, I settled on neither extreme. I had a good time and enjoyed it tremendously but I was able to accept the fact that we do not – and cannot - have a stream train in our back woods or nightly fireworks over the cul-de-sac.
The Adventure Begins!
In preparation for the trip they told me over and over again that we would be going on an airplane to somewhere far away that would have trains and swimming pools. As a typical 2-year-old train-obsessed and semi-aquatic boy, I was very much looking forward to the trip.
We got to the airport fifty-nine minutes before our scheduled flight and were informed that our one checked bag would not make it through security and therefore we were moved to the later flight. Thank goodness there is a moving sidewalk between the C and D gates to play on. Before we even got on the plane, I spent the 4 hour wait enjoying riding, walking and running along the people movers. Once we got on the plane, things got boring so I fell asleep and did not wake again until we were about 20 minutes from landing in Orlando.
The first train ride
For those who have not had the pleasure of the Orlando Airport from a small boy’s perspective there is an electric powered automatic train from the terminal to the main airport. That was very exciting and I stood right in the front window and watched the whole ride. I wanted to go back and do it again and again, but they assured me that there were more fun rides ahead, so I consented to leave – and it was worth it in the end.
Our friend Mark – with whom we were staying and visiting the parks – met us in his rental van with the integrated car seats. We headed for the Old Key West Resort where Mark had checked us into our villa for the week. The villa featured a whirlpool tub that I turned on and off. How these adults aren’t amazed by these wonders is beyond me.
“Disney's Animal Kingdom” or “The Place With the Cool Truck and Train”
Our first foray into the "wonderful world of Disney" was visiting the Animal Kingdom Park. Mommy and Daddy had promised me that we would see animals. I wanted to see “giraffes.” Fortunately we saw several on the Safari truck ride but frankly riding on a ‘big truck’ was more exciting than the animals that, with the exception of a few ostriches, kept their distance. Mommy delighted in the baby hippo that ran along with our truck for a while. I didn’t find the ride scary at all, even though one of the bridges shook a lot.
My favorite thing at Animal Kingdom was the train ride to Rafiki’s Conservation Station. We ended up visiting the station once but taking the train ride twice. I also enjoyed the "Festival of the Lion King" show. It was a bit loud for me but Daddy carried to the back of the theatre when it started. As the show progressed there was so much to see that I gradually asked to be brought closer and enjoyed getting high-fives from the performers during “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – the only song I recognized.
I played the drums at the African village and quite enjoyed the food there.
They expected me to nap, but honestly, with all the excitement, how could I? I was sad that they did not let me pet the tiger in the exhibit. It was right by the glass and clearly wanted to play with me. We ended the day by running around the playground at the Dinoland USA section of the park. I went down all of the tube slides, including one that was rather longer than we thought.
The Magic Kingdom Or The Place Surrounded by the Steam Train
Our second day brought us to the Magic Kingdom and, thanks to our friend Joanne Lanza, we knew how to ride in the front car of the monorail with the driver. That was really special, even though there was a splotch of bird-poop on the window right at my eye level! I learned the word ‘monorail’ and renamed my playset in the back yard my monorail when I got home. But even more than that was the full size steam trains that run around the Magic Kingdom. Honestly it was the one thing that I asked to bring home, and you’d think that they would have said yes to such a reasonable request. Actually, Daddy said that I could bring the train home if I could (a) convince them to sell it to us and (b) fit it in my pocket. Silly Daddy. You should have seen the look on my face as I tried to figure that out. I am still a bit confused by size and how things fit into things.
Other favorite rides for the under 2 crowd included "Aladdin’s Magic Carpet" ride which was a personal favorite. We must have ridden it five times in the two days we spent at this park. I thought it was very funny when the camel squirted Mommy, but as long as its water and not real spit, it was okay when it got me. I hope Daddy was telling me the truth, because I don’t want camel spit on me all day.
I thought that "Pirates of the Caribbean" was okay the first time, but took a short nap when we went back for a second time. That was not too surprising, considering it was dark and air conditioned and I was barely napping – if at all. They pretty much hauled me up and down the stairs at the "Swiss Family Robinson" tree house and tolerated the "Jungle Cruise" but mostly enjoyed turning the steering wheel at the remote control boats near the "Jungle Cruise" entrance. But watching the video when we got back reminds me that this ride was more fun than I let on while I was there. Heck, you have to make them work for a smile sometimes.
A really interesting ride that I did not go on – but Mommy and Daddy did – was the fast train on "Big Thunder Mountain" roller coaster and the Indy Car Ride. However, those rides will have to wait until I grow a little taller to reach the height minimum.
I was tall enough to ride "Goofy’s Barnstormer" Roller Coaster which was surprisingly thrilling for a child’s ride but my favorite thing was the playground right across from the steam train station. Every time a train came by I yelled out “train!” and “whoo whoo.”
Apparently it’s almost a requirement to take children on the "It’s A Small World" ride and so went. By that time, I had my fill of boat rides ('Pirates' as well as "The Land" and "River of History" in the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot) – I immediately covered my eyes with my hands when we got on the boat. But Mommy convinced me that it was a different ride and it was nice to hear the music and see the puppets. We also got the obligatory video riding the "Dumbo" ride, which I wanted to do again, but the wait was too long and I got tired of staring at all the knees.
Epcot or The Place With the Escalators
It is hard to pick a favorite park but it would probably be the Magic Kingdom, followed by Epcot. At Epcot we toured the World Showcase and I really enjoyed visiting the ‘countries’ particularly the food in Italy. And the ‘loud’ and ‘fun’ fireworks at night were great… and I almost caught up to a bus full of famous Disney characters shouting ‘big truck, big truck!’ In World of Tomorrow I rode the "Tomorrowland Transportation Authority" ride that actually went in and out of several attractions. But the most amazing thing was in the Germany Pavilion Biergarten as one of the musicians played “Edelweiss” on a saw. We have a saw at home but no matter how often I asked if ‘Daddy saw do?’ Or course the answer was - no. The best ride in Epcot, for me, was riding the escalators up and down in "The Land" as well as "The Living Seas". For an active little boy who was mostly a bit overwhelmed by the crowds, they presented rare opportunities for him to run off some of his energy.
All in all, it was a very good trip. Seeing Disney through the eyes of a child who is too young to want to purchase any (or every) thing was very satisfying for Mommy and Daddy. They were grateful that I was content to visit the park and not bring it home with us. The only characters I really recognized were Winnie the Pooh and Tigger – but I had no desire to have my picture taken with either.
The longest line we saw was 35 minutes. The lack of crowds (comparatively) was a pleasure as I have to admit I was a bit intimidated by the larger groups of people and preferred to be carried rather than walking most of the time when we were surrounded by strangers.