Yes, I know, there are a few of you out there (assuming there are a few out there actually reading the blog in the first place) that probably thought I was nuts to take Sarah Kate to Walt Disney World by myself. Not just TAKE, either, but actually DRIVE there. Yes, I have to admit a little pre-trip concern myself. One thing was for sure – it would be a memorable trip. I just hoped the memories would turn out to be pleasant ones.
We got up and headed out from Fairhope on Friday morning. It took us about 7-1/2 hours and I think Sarah Kate watched “Ratatouille” three times. Pretty uneventful. Birdie (our nickname for the GPS) took us straight to The World. As soon as we saw the spires of the castle, we both lost our minds. We could not contain our enthusiasm. We were downright giddy. It was an unusual feeling to have, considering I was about to part with a great deal of $$$, but that’s just part of the Disney magic.
We headed straight for the expo to pick up our race packets. We had our photo taken with Cinderella, bought matching Bondi-Bands that said “Rockstar” and then headed for the Pop Century Resort. We took a quick dip in the “Hippy Dippy Pool” and then enjoyed a brief visit from the Fairy Godmother (a.k.a., Mrs. Darlene, the best Disney Cast Member EVER!) and her wonderful daughter, my friend, Katie. The Fairy Godmother hooked us up with our park tickets, a Minnie Mouse pillow for Sarah Kate, and some great Disney-themed scrapbook items for me (I’m talking handmade here).
On Saturday, we had a marvelous day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (which I will henceforth refer to as “MGM” because the new name is just way too long). We got to ride the brand new Toy Story Mania, courtesy of the Fairy Godmother. The ride was not actually open yet, but was operating in cast-member-preview mode, so it was a real treat to get this sneak peek of a new attraction. We also were honored to be the “Family of the Show” for Playhouse Disney Live on Stage, which gave us the chance to be seated first, a cute certificate signed by the Little Einsteins, and a coupon for two free ice creams.
Now here’s the part where you all (assuming there are at least a few of you still tuned in) will decide I had really lost my mind. I decided to take Sarah Kate on the Tower of Terror. Yes, I do mean THE Tower of Terror. The one that is described by Disney as “a terrifying thrill ride that culminates in falling 13 gut-wrenching stories again and again.” Why would I do that to my fragile five year old, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
When I was her age, I rode Space Mountain and I remember it to this day. It terrified and thrilled me, and isn’t that what these rides are all about? I had held onto the coupon for free ice cream and had that in my back pocket in the event of an unpleasant ToT experience.
In an effort to cushion the blow, I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to describe in detail exactly what the ride would be like. I gave her several chances to bail out. We pressed on. We watched the scary Twilight Zone video. We boarded the elevator. We held hands. There was plenty of screaming, but not a single tear. When we got off, the Bellhop (i.e., Cast Member) asked her how she liked it (“Great!”) and if she wanted to ride again RIGHT NOW. I think he was going to put us right back on, but she hesitated briefly, so he gave us a FastPass to go around again. I wasn’t sure if she really wanted to do it or not, so we went to eat our free ice creams. She finished hers and said she was ready to go again.
It was great and terrible.
It thrilled and terrified her.