Posted by: Kate | March 16, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth… Unless You’re a Toad

I didn’t post last night. This is partly because I was Disneyfied to within an inch of my life and could barely point both eyes in the same direction, and partly because Willem some random stranger lost my glasses and I could barely point both eyes in the same direction.

Not that I’m entirely oriented and in complete control of my faculties after a day at Sea World today, but I’m vertical and have vision, so we’ll see what falls out of my head and onto the screen.

Yesterday was just about as happy and magical as you can pay Disney to make it, and I’m not receiving any compensation – at all, and my wallet can attest to this – for that statement. They really know what they’re doing, between the setup of the park and the attitude of the staff and the many, varied, subtle ways for money to be spent almost painlessly. You’d think they do this for a living or something.

Just getting to the main entrance is an adventure of its own; you drive in, ride a tram to the ticket sales, then ride a monorail (“Mamarail,” in Jacob speak) to the park itself. We parked in Pluto 19 – Emily’s job was to remember the number, Jacob’s to remember the character – and had to fold up the stroller to get onto the tram. Willem didn’t know that my glasses were in my sunglass case in the bottom of the stroller; I didn’t know that the basket under the stroller was wildly insecure and prone to scattering things far and wide upon opening or closing. That combination left me without glasses for the day, which wasn’t a problem because I assumed I’d left them in the car.

Yeah, not so much.

I’m not bat-blind; I can read road signs without my glasses if I squint, but that leads to a special brand of misery. So I don’t squint and everything is fuzzy, which effectively takes away two senses, since I’m already hard of hearing and rely on lipreading. Good times.

But honestly, that was the only mistake we made all day. We went directly to Space Mountain and sent Willem and Emily through before the lines got long, and Disney has something called a FastPass, whereby you stop by the ride, swipe your ticket, and get an hourlong window to return and bypass 90% of the line later in the day. That is one fantastic innovation, unless you’re into waiting in lines.

We were able to hit all of the big rides, in no way checking off every exhibit in the park but getting some highlights and reminding the kids that in five or six years, once we’re done procreating and have all appropriately-aged children, we’ll come back and do a longer, grow-Mickey-ears-in-your-sleep sort of vacation. Around midafternoon, we all got tired and overstimulated, so we left, took some time to swim and decompress a bit at the hotel, go out to dinner – Joe’s Crab Shack, oh my word, the frozen strawberry margaritas aren’t as potent as the steak house we visited the first night but it’s a good thing those glasses are so skinny because I’d surely have gotten my head stuck if I’d had the option of sticking it in there, and the crabs, they are wondrous – and then returned to the Magic Kingdom for the Spectro Magic Light Parade, and snuck onto a few more rides during the fireworks display. Good stuff.

Except for the toad.

Midway through the Light Parade, we noticed a toad, and a good-sized one, too, sitting on the road, about a foot away from the wheels of the floats. I have no idea where it came from. I watched it, I waited for its suicide run – there were people behind it, so its only direction of escape was into the parade. I’m not known for my animal activism, but this was just sad. I finally handed the camera to Willem and tried to save the critter.

I did not succeed. It flopped away from me, and made it 90% of the way across the street before the Chip and Dale float put an end to its adventures. I felt horrible, but at the same time I think all I did was accelerate the inevitable. No one else did a thing; I’m still trying to convince myself that it’s because I’m more prone to action and at least trying to help, rather than accepting that the rest of them were all smarter than me.

Ah, well. What’s a day at the Magic Kingdom without a little assisted amphibian suicide?

Today was Sea World, the poor and resentful cousin of Disney. The Magic Kingdom unequivocally gets an A+ from me – particularly because after a delay and a lot of time on hold, I was able to reach Ken in Lost & Found. Ken had my glasses. I don’t know who turned them in, so I had to reserve all my love and appreciation for Ken. Bless his heart, and as a certain delightful someone in Texas has been known to say in other circumstances, “Ah kin SEE!”

Anyway, Sea World. We couldn’t go on the supercool huge upsidedown roller coaster, much to Emily’s disappointment, because she’s not 54″ tall yet. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that I’d spent the previous several days revving her up about the damn thing, after misreading the height restriction on the website. Ah, well, she coped. And their log flume ride – Journey to Atlantis – puts Disney’s Splash Mountain to shame.

Other than that, it gets a firm grade of C. It passes, but pales in comparison to the Big Mouse Machine. The employees aren’t as friendly, the park layout is confusing, the map is pathetic, and the food is abysmal. Seriously, if you decide to go, pack a lunch. I was pleasantly surprised by their “Fun Pass,” which allows a return – or several – anytime in the rest of 2008 for the same price as a one-day admission. We may very well end up returning on Wednesday morning, just for something to do before our 5:00 flight back to Boston. But if Disney let us go back there, you’d better believe we’d never look back at poor Shamu.

It doesn’t help that we were all exhausted today; traveling and vacation is hard work. We made it through about eight hours at the park, and slogged back to the hotel, defeated but miraculously not sniping at each other, around dinnertime. Instead of another meal out, following a long day complete with migraine and no medications for me, motion sickness for Willem, and plain old sleepiness for both kids, we ordered pizza and revisited the pool and hot tub. Now we’re watching Extreme Makeover: Overenunciation and Ridiculousness Edition, and with a little luck we’ll get enough sleep to be ready for Kennedy Space Center tomorrow.

You may want to call ahead, if you know any toads in the area. Just warn them I’m on my way.


  1. I stop for turtles in the road …

    (sheepish grin)

    Glad you all are having fun!

  2. Hey, we were watching the same tv show. I adore room service myself. Sounds like a fabulous time. Get your sun and warmth and rest and maybe someone will be conceived. Ya never know!

    Love ya Kate. It makes me happy to know you are enjoying yourself! πŸ™‚

  3. Kate –
    Great post. I just got back from Disney myself… we were there for a week – which 5 days were spent in the parks. Good times, is right. We also had a blast – and I also was REALLY loving the “fast pass” thing. We learned the hard way that you can only have one fast pass time working at a time, and I may never hear the end of our “wasting” in on the winnie the pooh ride… but, live and learn!

    As for the poor toad… How sad… and still sort of funny the way you tell it. I can just picture you… I also, believe it or not, would have been one who would have joined you in your efforts – probably while my husband looked on in total embarassment and rolled his eyes at me. I brake for toads…. too. πŸ˜‰


  4. I’m glad you guys are having so much fun!! I can’t wait to go myself!

  5. Hi Kate, I’m glad you’re having a fun holiday. πŸ™‚

  6. *snicker*
    I’m so happy you are now able to see. Those Disney folks really go out of their way to make sure everything goes smoothly. I saw on some Discovery Channel special years ago that they have hidden cameras everywhere – all the better to see you with. The thing that amazed me when I was there both times is that when one of the horses does its business while drawing the trolleys around the park, a little janitor person comes, seemingly out of nowhere, to clean it up – using disinfectant spray and everything.

  7. That really sounds like you had a blast! I’ve been to Florida Disney (land?) twice and then a 5 day park pass to California Disney (world?) as an adult. Far, far better as an adult, though I missed having Epcot to go to.

    One night we did this desert buffet thing where you get to sit at one of the balconies in the French Quarter/ Haunted mansion area to watch the fireworks show. It was spectacular.

  8. I’m planning a WDW trip for June 2009 and doing my homework already. Two guide books and a close friend who is an addict – I’m getting loads of info!

    Glad you’re having fun. πŸ™‚

  9. Sounds like so much fun (minus the squashed toad)—and who knows, maybe Disney is even better than you think:I imagine some employing finding your glasses and whisking them off to lost and found (which will be incredibly efficient and clean and happy). So, perhaps you will be reunited after all, like Cinderella and her Prince Charming.

    And, yeah, Sea World is just ‘eh’ after Disney. My daughter spent 90% of her time at the playground area.

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