The wonderful world of Justice and Mommy aka Mary!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas with Mickey Mouse

This year Justice’s “big” present from me was not something he could touch or play with. Instead of yet another toy, I decided to purchase tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. Of course, he still got a few presents from me on Christmas day and a ton from Santa, Nona,
Aunt Katie and other friends and family; but, this party was to be the focal point of his holiday. In addition to the tickets, I also got him a Pal Mickey who is the most amazing stuffed toy I’ve ever encountered.

Pal Mickey plays games, which is a godsend when in long lines and even has the ability to tell interesting facts about whichever part of the park you are in. When he passes through invisible sensors he shakes and giggles indicating he has something special to tell you. He can even tell you which characters are nearby for a meet and greet, as well as tell the current time! The best part is, he works in all the parks. Only the Imagineers could dream up something so special. To be honest , when I purchased him
(he retails for $80 in the parks), I thought he was nothing more than a grossly overpriced stuffed doll, that spoke a few lines. Boy was I mistaken. Justice absolutely LOVED him and drug him around all the parks we visited this Christmas like a best friend.

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In addition to that, I got him a holiday Mickey hat and autograph book and pen. When we took our trip to MGM in November, I couldn’t help but notice how enviously Justice looked, when he saw the children presenting their book to the characters. He had really wanted one; but, they are so expensive in the parks and our limited budget simply did not allow for extravagant purchases. I knew that I could pick one up on EBay for a much better price and that’s just what I did. I let him open his presents just before we left West Palm Beach for Orlando. Boy was he excited!

After a 2 ½ hour drive we reached our destination. We quickly checked into our room at the Radisson Worldgate, then made our way to the Magic Kingdom. We parked in Dopey row 110 which is only 1 lot from the entrance then took the tram to the monorail. The air was crisp and cool and the night sky was a clear shade of indigo. I drew my jacket closer to my body as the tram lumbered on and the brisk air chilled my frame. I pulled Justice’s hood over his head, then stopped to took at his sweet face surrounded by grey cotton with a hint of brown hair peeking out from the edges. He really is a beautiful child. God definitely blessed him abundantly in the looks department.

Finally, we made our way to the entrance of the park and could hear cheerful holiday music, being piped through seemingly invisible speakers, all around us. After we passed through the turnstiles, we couldn’t help but notice the cast members dressed in holiday garb, handing out bright pink wristbands. A nice woman put our bands on our wrists, then wished us a Merry Christmas as we entered the park.

It wasn’t long before we reached Mainstreet and it was spectacular. It was “snowing” foamy bubbles and the stores were draped in Christmas lights. Above there were strands of yellow lights connecting one side to the other with large, green wreaths in the middle. Everything was beautiful; although., the focal point was Cinderella’s Castle. It was draped in special lights that mimicked the look of caked on ice. I have seen the castle in many different lights; but, I must say this was my favorite. It was like something out of a storybook, or a winter wonderland.

Because this was a hard ticket event, the park was only open from 7-12am. We wanted to make the most of our time there, so we headed off to Adventure land first. Most people make their way to Fantasyland first, so our plan was to zig while everyone else was zagging. We reached the Pirates of The Caribbean pretty quickly and jumped in line for our first ride of the night. The last time we were at the MK the ride was closed for refurbishment. They were updating the special effects as well as including some new characters like Captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swan from the ever popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. As usual, Disney did not disappoint. The ride was everything I remembered and more. As we rode through the water, there were certain parts in which the ceiling mimicked the night sky and I couldn’t tell if we were really out to sea or just inside a large building and when we passed Captain Jack, I couldn’t believe how real he looked. I think the Wax Museum in Manhattan would have been rivaled for such a life like appearance of the Captain himself.

Of course as we exited he ride we found ourselves in a gift shop. Justice has had the unique opportunity to earn a Disney Dollar for each day he has earned a smile face for good behavior (brought on by his difficulty adjusting to school this year) and he wasted no time finding a fake silver sword unsheathed by a long expanse of black plastic. I could see that he really enjoyed reaping the benefits of his good behavior and hoped that it would be an encouragement to him in the months to come.

As luck would have it, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee were meeting and greeting guests just outside the store so, we ran over to get in line to see them. Quickly I got out Justice’s shinny new autograph book and large pen, then readied my camera for some great shots. Justice had his sword at the ready and ran to meet them when it was his turn. Now, any good sea captain will not pass up the opportunity for a sword fight and Captain Hook was no exception to that rule. When he saw Justice, he signaled one of the cast members to get him a sword and fought Justice with his hook until it arrived. After a few brief minutes, I saw that same cast member running from the gift shop with a sword and then the real fight had begun. Mr. Smee was running around in circles as he usually does, while the brave Pirate Justice and Captain Hook dueled with the fury of ten men. I think it was this single moment, that really made the night for Justice.

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Next we rode Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride, then made our way further into the land. At this point we were only 15 minutes away from the start of first parade. Normally you have to stake out your spot an hour before the parade, to ensure a good spot; however, I learned a valuable tip this trip. Most people want to watch from Mainstreet; however, Frontierland is a perfect spot to view the show. You can still get a front row spot just 15 minutes prior to the parade and the road is so narrow that you are almost within touching distance of the floats.

The parade was everything it was promised to be. Skating snowflakes floated down the street, followed by life-sized toy soldiers, that CLIP CLOPPED loudly, as their wooden shoes struck the black asphalt. Glamorous floats drifted by with every princess you could imagine dressed in their Christmas best. The trees flanking the roads were alternately lit, by artfully hidden lights colored in green and red. They really added to the magical, not quite reality, effect only Disney can produce. Of course, the parade would not have been complete without an appearance from the big man himself. Normally what would be Mickey; but, this was Christmas, Santa Clause was the big guy today. Justice was bouncing and giggling like a kid in a candy shop by the end of the show. I don’t think he had any idea what he was about to experience.

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By this point the one soft pretzel we ate while watching the parade was not enough to fill our stomachs, so we decided to take advantage of the free refreshments offered for the party. They had advertised free hot chocolate and cookies; but, to my delight they were also offering apple juice and apple slices. In the last year I have developed a sulfite allergy which has made eating and drinking out very difficult for me. Unfortunately sulfites are commonly used in dried milk, a key ingredient in most hot chocolate. I didn’t think I would be able to partake in the free refreshments due to that; however, the apple juice was an agreeable alternative.

Next we headed towards the Haunted Mansion, as it was the closest attraction. This was yet another ride that we had not ridden since a small refurbishment. Justice really liked this attraction. I think in the past, he was a bit too young to appreciate the detail here; however, this time around things were different. Both of us were dazzled by the special effects and felt like we were in a really, real haunted mansion. I think my favorite aspect of this ride is how Disney managed to balance the “House on a Haunted Hill” feeling with the ever comforting feeling of safety and well-being.

After the ride we tried to slip into Fantasy land for the fireworks display, only to find Cast Members directing us to other areas of the park. “This area is temporarily closed until the fireworks are over” they told us. Great, I thought. That was my plan, to watch the fireworks there. I quickly decided to make a beeline for the center of the park. I though, that maybe we could watch the display from the front of the castle, which would put us in a great position in relation to where the fireworks were launched.

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Boy did I make a great choice. The last hard ticket event we attended was Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party and we had watched that fireworks display from Fantasyland. We had no idea what we were missing. Watching from in front of the castle really completes the experience. The show takes fireworks displays into a whole new realm. The pyrotechnics were synchronized with a story and music, as well as a projected light display on the castle. At times snowflakes made entirely of white light danced across the castle, then suddenly they disappeared leaving the castle bathed in hues of red or green. At one point a brightly light, live Tinkerbelle rode across the sky on a bicycle to the pure joy of the entire crowd. The oohs and ahhs were everywhere and anywhere as Disney continued to wow us with imagination. I have never seen a fireworks display like the one we saw there that night. It was pure magic in the form of fire and light. It was the stuff dreams are made of.

When the show ended Justice was bouncing again; however, this time he was also grabbing at his crotch. He was doing the “pee-pee dance” I decided to make our way over to Tomorrowland, hitting the first bathroom we could find. The crowd was difficult to move through after the show; but, Justice was patient and made it to the restroom without incident.

We decided to try the newest attraction first. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. I didn’t know what to expect as I had not researched the ride; but, I was sure it would not disappoint. It turned out to be a theater experience employing some of the newest technology known as digital puppetry. Real time computers are able to manipulate 2D or 3D figures in a virtual environment, which means, you can ask an animation a question on screen and that animation can respond to you with an appropriate answer. Just imagine what it would be like, if you could ask Aladdin a question ,while watching the movie such as “Do you like pizza?”, and then- suddenly, he turns to you on the screen and said “Yes, I like pizza too!” That’s exactly what its like to experience this attraction. Live actors perform the voices behind the screen; but, you would never know that from watching the show. It really looks like Mike Wazowski is talking directly to you.

As we left the Laugh Floor and continued to wander around Tomorrowland, we noticed Stich off to one side meeting with guest. We got in line to meet him; but, to our dismay a cast member informed us that he had to leave, but would be back in a few minutes. We decided to wait.

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Another family was waiting as well and I noticed the dad was taking a picture of his wife and kid. I offered to snap a picture with all of them together and they gladly accepted. Then the dad offered to take a picture of me and Justice. Of course I said yes. At that point, we noticed Stich making his way back over to us. Justice and I put our arms around each other, smiled and waited for the flash. SWOOSH, Stich covered the lens with his hand! We all looked at him laughing and a little unsure as to what to do next. The father tried to snap another picture then, SWOOSH! He did it again, and again. It seemed that Stich was up to his usual antics and we were all in “stiches” at that point, no pun indended. Finally he gave up and let us take our shot; however, I think the pictures of Stich’s hand will hold the most memories for me as the years come to pass.

Our trek continued to the edge of Tomorrowland where we found another attraction we had never rode, the Tomorrowland Speedway. It consists of gasoline powered, go-cart-like cars on long, winding tracks. The top speed is a thrilling 7mph; but, I think Justice really enjoyed the ride. His little legs were too short to reach the gas pedal, so I handled that part while he took the wheel. Lets’ just say I won’t be letting him drive me anywhere anytime soon! On the last leg of our race we noticed Twiddle Dee from Alice in Wonderland waving to us from the safety of the sidewalk. No doubt he saw Justice’s driving and decided to play it safe.

It was nearly 11:00 at this point so we made our way to Fantasyland to ride the last few attractions of the night before the parks closing at midnight. I must admit this has always been my favorite section of the Magic Kingdom. I love being transported into the pages and scenes of all my favorite Disney classics; however, Peter Pan’s Flight is my most favored attraction there. The best part of the ride is when we are flying over England just like Peter, Wendy, John and Michael did when they were headed off to Neverland. As a child (and even as a grownup), I always fantasized about going there. To live in a place where there are no rules and all play forever and ever must be like heaven on earth. Or so I think.

Justice had been asking for another hot chocolate since Tomorrowland so, before leaving I promised to get him one. We found the closest snack station and satisfied his sweet tooth with liquid chocolate at quarter till midnight. I hope he enjoyed it, because that may never happen again while he is a child! It’s one of those things that is reserved for extra special occasions only and there is no more special occasion than a Christmas Party with Mickey.

As we walked down Mainstreet, my eyes began to feel quite heavy. The long day had really begun to catch up with me; but, I wanted one last souvenir before leaving. We stopped in the jewelers to find a Christmas pin to commemorate our trip. I found one with Tinkerbelle on it; but, when I reached the counter I saw several other pins that were much more interesting. To my dismay I found they were only available to those who were annual Passholders or Vacation Club members. I resigned myself to purchasing the Tinkerbelle pin then called it a night. I had, had more than enough magic for one evening and the soporific effects of pixie dust were overtaking me at an alarming speed.
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posted by Mary Gerber at 12/29/2007


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