Anyone that knows me knows I am a hard-core Disney fan. Cut me and I bleed Mickey Mouse red. However, I have friends that don't get the whole Disney thing (gasp!). Comments like "Let me guess where you're vacationing this year." and "Really, aren't your kids too big for Disney?" have been escalating as my kids get older. I just tell them I only do 1st class vacations, pack up my van and head down to Florida for 10 days.
This year my 2 high-schoolers had activities that went all through June and started back up in August. Combine that with baseball and softball and you've got a jam-packed summer. Vacation, who's got time for that? Then the voices of my non-Disney friends, combined with guilt of no family time, got the best of me. So I did it, I cheated on Disney.
We only had 2 days, 48 short hours, to pack in a bunch of fun and bonding. With that in mind, my crew headed to the roller coaster capital, just a short 5 hour drive. I was anxious to see if this is what my kids actually wanted, thrill rides from start to finish.
Staying on property, we were able to enter an hour before the normal time. After passing through the front gates and looking down the main walkway, my first thought was, where's the castle? That was short lived as my attention was turned to the American flag. Our national anthem was played over the loud speakers, and I'm pleased to say about everyone I saw removed their hats and stopped to face the flag. After that, it was a free for all, everyone hustling to get to their roller coaster of choice. Lines were not too bad until the park officially opened. It would have been nice to have a "FastPass", but not when you will be charged an extra $40 per person to get one.
The kids hit about 8 coaster, 2 of which I was brave enough to try, and other various thrill rides. They seemed to be having a great time. Maybe I've been wrong, maybe this is what they had been wanting all along. But then something strange happened. They asked to leave. It was only 7pm and they wanted to go. Theses are the same kids that have closed the Disney Parks and have wanted to hit Downtown Disney afterward. We grabbed the obligatory funnel cake and headed back to the car.
Now I was curious. I asked them each if they had fun and what they liked best. While they all agreed the coasters were awesome, other answers were quite surprising. "Not a lot of food choices", "The workers didn't really seem to care", and my favorite, "You didn't get to ride on many things with us". My youngest summed it up the best, "It was nice mom, but it didn't feel right. It's just not Disney.". Out of the mouth of babes.
It does my heart good to know my kids "get it". Disney is more than Mickey Mouse and princesses. It's that carefree feeling, knowing that you are special. Taking your time and enjoying each others company. Watching fireworks with tears running down your cheek that you just can't explain. In a word, magic!
Now maybe my kids can explain it to my friends.