With the promise of Disney World in my near future, I am elated. I immediately head to my closet to start planning my Disney wardrobe. I need to be cute, casual, and comfortable. Being the research monger that he is, Josh gets to studying The Unofficial Guide to Disney World throughout our Christmas evening. He shouts out little tidbits he comes across, which only excites me more. He is completely into it and so am I, just in different ways. I am expressing my excitement through a timeline of fashion and he is deep in text. The next morning, as he’s walking out the door to go to work, he suggests that I read 2 chapters of the Disneyworld guide he has given me. “If you can’t get through all of it,” he says, “at least get through part 2: Making the Most of Your Time and Money.”
Josh fully expected me to complete my reading assignment. I didn’t have a penchant for homework during my school days and I wasn’t into it now. I am a jump-in-head-first kind of gal. I prefer to get right in there and explore a situation as opposed to figuring out the logistics beforehand. I like to imagine and visualize, instead of taking notes or mapping out routes. I certainly don’t think that is the best way, but it’s my way.
Later, Josh continues to read and adamantly urges me to involve myself in “Operation Optimize Disneyworld.” The only thing I want to focus on optimizing is my wardrobe. Especially finding the perfect hands-free carrier for my daily Disney World essentials. I have decided that the only feasible option is my gold metal mesh fanny pack. This particular accessory has come out to play a few times, but it was finally going to have its “fashionable and functional” moment. This was only mildly less exciting than the Disney trip itself.
Finally, D-day is upon us. We are packed and ready to go. We get on the plane and he pulls out some spreadsheets. I am disappointed that he has some work to do, so I order a drink and silently pout. He promptly says, “Okay so lets go over the spreadsheets.”
Annoyed I snarl, “You know I don’t speak spread sheet.”
He smiles. “They are for Disneyworld.”
He made spreadsheets for Disneyworld.
He made spreadsheets and I brought a fanny pack. Being the epitome of cool, we set out for our adventure.
Once we settle in to our hotel, it is time for bed as we have a big day ahead. He has referenced the spreadsheet and we are to be at breakfast by 8 a.m. so that we can get to Epcot Center by 9:00. According to the book, “Epcot lines are most manageable at 9:30 a.m.” I made fun of him mercilessly for his spreadsheets, but as it turned out, they were essential to maximizing our experience.
We start at the beginning and ride Spaceship Earth. This time machine of human communication advancement is pretty cool but the caveman’s stare at the beginning of the ride is still hauntingly burned into my memory. Mission Space simulates the training required to be in the space program but I can hardly focus because the chubby kid next to me with powdered sugar on his face looks a little queasy. Michael Jackson is the commander of our crew in the space fantasy adventure, Captain EO. I remember the poster of him I kept in my room as a child. He donned a butter cream yellow sweater vest with a plethora of pearl broaches on the left side. Hearing MJ’s sweet, soft voice made this particular experience perfectly nostalgic.
Next we make our way through all the countries that Epcot has to offer. I eat schnitzel in Germany, have a margarita in Mexico, and indulge in champagne in France. Okay fine, two champagnes in France. By the time I get to Japan I am sufficiently drunk and I stumble upon the Hello Kitty mecca. They have a massive variety of rare products that showcase her sweet feline face, and I go apeshit. I absolutely have to have hello kitty chopsticks, a nightgown, and a mini spoon. No, two mini spoons because my mother also loves tiny eating utensils. I need some hand fans, a washcloth, and of course a tank top that doesn’t fit properly but is just too cute to not possess. Naturally, I held on to it for too long, never wore it, and finally decided to give it to Goodwill.
I am in heaven, but I have yet to see Mickey Mouse. Like a little girl I whine, “Where is Mickey? When do I get to see Mickey?” I am still a little tipsy, but dead serious. Josh assures me that we will see Mickey tomorrow. I am slightly disappointed but I think it’s best that I don’t meet Mickey with any mood-altering substances in my system. Later that evening, we enjoy an amazing wine flight dinner at The Wilderness Lodge. There are giraffes outside the window, a fireplace by our table, and the most amazing wines being poured per course. Who knew Disney did fancy wines? I try venison for the first time and it turns out, Bambi is delicious.
The next morning, we find ourselves at the front of The Magic Kingdom waiting for the gates to open so we can storm the castle. We have arrived very early and are among the first ten people there. As it gets closer to opening time, a crowd congregates and the energy is buzzing. Parents are telling their kids to stay close and calm down. A freckle-faced ginger kid beside me asks his mom, “Are we going to see Mickey?”
I look at him and say, “I hope so. You know, I’m 27 and I’ve never met him.”
“That’s crazy,” he says taking a step closer to his mother.
By the time the park attendants show up to remove the ropes that will open the park, we glance behind us and the crowd is massive. I am actually a little worried that we may get trampled getting in since our early landing has placed us in the very front. I decide that if I die at Disney World, I shall die a happy girl. The anticipation is palpable.
At that moment, before they touch the ropes, they start a show on an elevated stage in front of the Magic Castle. I believe as a distraction to keep the crowd from trying to bust into the entrance. It’s hard to see through the gates but I catch a glimpse of Mickey and Minnie dancing together and my heart melts. I feel the tears begin to well up in my eyes because I have finally seen Mickey Mouse, in the flesh. Well, actually, in the giant plastic head, but a very real dream has finally come true for me. I apologize to Josh for being such a baby about it and he assures me that it is a very sweet thing that he has just witnessed and he is glad that he could be here with me for it. He takes my hand and we experience everything that is on our Magic Kingdom spreadsheet.
After I saw Mickey Mouse, I have no idea what happened. I had a nostalgic emotional blackout. I know there was no tea party arranged for me in the castle, but I had a blast spinning on the Mad Tea Party cups. Aerosmith serenaded me as I screamed my head off in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster while holding on for dear life. Luckily I was able to stay dry on Splash Mountain and avoid squishing around in wet shoes and socks for the rest of the day (Nothing is worse than wet socks). And although the creepy bellboy at Tower of Terror frightened me so, I rode that falling elevator twice to prove to myself that I was not a sissy. We surely skipped that damn It’s a Small World, instead opting for second go-round at Epcot’s Test Track.
Our last stop is to meet Mickey Mouse, one on one. As I wait in the line, I positively feel like my seven-year-old self, My Little Sarah. I am nervous, excited, and full of wonder. My perfect moment can’t get here fast enough. As I make my way up the path to the pavilion where Mickey stands, I try my hardest not to break down and scream “MICKEY!” I am a grown ass woman after all. Keeping it together in this moment is of upmost importance as I don’t want an “ugly cry” picture with my beloved mouse friend.
When Mickey puts his white-gloved hand on my shoulder and that photo is snapped, all is right in my world. In my head I hear the symphonic swelling of “When You Wish Upon a Star.” My Disney dream came true after all and it was truly magnificent.
© Sarah Blackman 2015