Orlando, Part IV: Disney Springs

I have to say that when I woke up that Tuesday morning I thanked my wife big time for scheduling “break” days within our Park program, because my legs ached, I was exhausted mentally, and so was everyone else after the chaos of the Magic Kingdom deep into Monday night. It was the equivalent of working hard on your feet all day, knowing you have a relaxing weekend to look forward too — except that the “work” was one of the most amazing days of your life.

If there are any big takeaways I can give from the Magic Kingdom, these are they…

  1. There just aren’t enough characters there, but it gives more time for rides, shows, and just soaking in the atmosphere of the place.
  2. The place truly is larger than life. Standing in front of Cinderella’s Castle it feels like you’re really in front of Cinderella’s Castle.
  3. If you stay late enough, you can go on pretty much any ride without waiting in line. We got to do the Haunted Mansion when time was running out without waiting at all, even though the attendant at first said the ride was closed.
  4. Everyone really is a big kid once inside the gates. I felt such elation just getting to be there.

But that was over, and as much fun as it was, we wouldn’t be headed back there on this trip, so I hoped the kids had enjoyed the park as much, or hopefully even more so than we did. All the pictures came up within minutes on our Disney app, which was fascinating too, because we were chronicling the trip step by step along the way, and it was visual to everyone. We spent some time on Tuesday morning scrolling through them and recounting memories we had of the day. Continue reading “Orlando, Part IV: Disney Springs”

Orlando, Part III: Magic Kingdom

When most people think of Disney, the first thing that comes to mind is the Magic Kingdom, the nighttime parade down Main Street USA, pictures in front of Cinderella’s Castle, and everything that comes along with that. So it was fitting that the next morning we were up early and on our way to the Magic Kingdom first. Swirling through my head were all the memories (both real and embellished in the intervening years) of my own trips there, the most recent being 25 years prior to our adventure.

As we drove through the expansive gates of the Disney complex it was like entering a whole new world (pardon the double entendre). I had Heidi take a few pictures as I drove a little slower to capture it all. The kids in the back with my mother were oohing and aahing over the huge likenesses of Mickey, and Goofy, and Donald painted onto the gates. I knew it was going to be an amazing day, although it had been hot as blazes when we’d left our resort, and I knew it would just get hotter as the day went on.

But we had a plan. If there’s anything you should know about Heidi, it’s that she’s the queen of planning things out. Our honeymoon was coordinated to perfection, and other trips we’ve taken have received the same treatment. Following the signs, we ended up in the parking lot marked for Simba (Alexa was upset we weren’t in the villains parking), but we were early enough that it wasn’t far from where we needed to catch the monorail. Continue reading “Orlando, Part III: Magic Kingdom”

Orlando, Part II: Settling In

It was hot. No. Seriously. Now, we knew going down to Florida in the dead of August was going to be a bit of a warm affair, but no matter how much we prepared ourselves, nothing quite compared to the real thing.

We touched down in Orlando late on Saturday night. Stepping out of that airport into the night air should have been refreshing, but the air was like a heavy thing, pressing down on us from the start. It was simply a preview of the coming week, though we were too tired at that moment to truly appreciate it.

But none of that really mattered, once we drove past the sign for the Magic Kingdom, and the other Disney theme parks. Maybe Alexa doesn’t believe in magic, but seeing that, just being there, it made all of us take in a breath. I tried not to think about how fast it would all go, because things always seem to move quickly when you’re trying to stop the world and move as slowly as possible, when you’re trying to let it all sink in.

Our resort was amazing, walking distance from Old Town, a fifteen minute drive to the Magic Kingdom. I still can’t believe we were so close to a sort of magic I hadn’t truly experienced since I was a kid and my parents sacrificed for my sister and me to be a part of that magic. Of course, though, as we pulled onto DeLorean Drive, that was the last thing on my mind. Continue reading “Orlando, Part II: Settling In”

Orlando, Part I: The Plan

“Do you believe in magic?”

I asked Alexa this about six months ago, while she sat at the dining room table, after ostensibly doing all of her homework. She looked up at me with this inscrutable expression on her face, the one that reminds me so much of her mother. After a few beats, however, a smile danced across her lips, and a laugh came out.

“I believe that we do what makes us happy, and if that’s magic, then that’s magic.”

Out of the mouth of children. Though, if I’m honest, she’s an “old thirteen,” a girl who understands the world even when she doesn’t. She was right, of course, that magic is what we make of it. For many that magic takes the form of the unexplained. For others it means fortuitous circumstances that drop down like rain. For yet others, magic is a living, breathing thing, coiled and ready to spring at any moment.

It’s in the eye of the beholder, like a beautiful puzzle that sometimes shimmers when it’s all put together.

“There’s a kind of magic that lives in all of us, a sense of adventure that doesn’t go away just because life gets harder.”

“Yeah, Dad, that’s too much to think about.”

And that was that, as it usually is. So, why did I bring up magic in the first place? Well, for an eternity Heidi and I decided this would be the year we went to Disney. We wanted to make sure both girls were old enough that they would remember it. We wanted to make sure the magic was as real as it could be for them. Perhaps we waited a fraction too long for Alexa, the girl who tried to trip Santa Claus last year, but perhaps not. Continue reading “Orlando, Part I: The Plan”

The Ineffable Quality of Love

ineffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. 

The other day I ran into someone who uses the L word a lot. In the course of regular conversation, she expressed it no fewer than 10 times, to encompass everything, from the latte she was drinking, to her new bag, to the latest episode of some vapid TV show she watches but I’m glad to say I’ve never seen.

I nodded along, but inside I was counting, and thinking to myself, “You can’t possibly love all of these things.” I realized one of two things in that moment. Either she honestly believes she loves all of these things, or she hasn’t really taken the time to analyze her feelings for each one, and love is simply a placeholder until she decides she wants to dig a little deeper. If she ever decides she wants to dig a little deeper.

Too often people don’t. Too often they grab a word, put it in their pocket, and pull it out whenever the mood strikes, whenever they can’t think of anything that fits the situation they’re in. That’s why we often say we love others too soon, when all we can possibly feel is attraction, or companionship, or relief, or any number of a million other feelings that often masquerade as love.

We see others living the lives we want, having the love we wish we had…

Continue reading “The Ineffable Quality of Love”

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