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The great Disney adventure: Day 2
posted by John : February 3, 2008

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Rain? What rain?

Rain rain go away come again in a week and a half when California can drink deeply without spoiling our fun.

Ha! Like a little rain could dampen the joy bubbling out of our little princesses at the thought of being in Disneyland. Even the kids were content to be wrapped in Gore-tex as we left the hotel bright and early. Rather than walk in the rain we figured the monorail would be a safe bet. Even in Seattle you can count on the monorail to get you from one end to the other nice and dry. (Safe and efficiently, no, but dry, definitely.)

Guess what? Since it never rains in Disneyland they forgot to make it possible to shut the windows on the monorail. Worse, water pools on the top and when you go around a corner the water spills into the cabin. And the last bit of joy? No Gore-tex pants. (If you find a place that sells a good rain pants for Lilly's size let me know. I'm desperate to get her ready for Spring hiking.)

Ok, so now we're wet, but in Disneyland. Tomorrowland, to be precise. Or what Tomorrowland would have looked like to people coming from 1955land. Right below the monorail station was the lagoon and Nemo's adventure. It used to be something else, but through the magic of money they transformed it into famous scenes from Finding Nemo. (One of Pixar's best, btw.) Since we were in early (take that suckers off the street!) and it was pouring rain there was no line so we walked our hefty 10 right up to the front.

One of the big fears as we were prepping the kids for the trip was that they'd freak when we got in an enclosed space or the lights went out or something jumped out of the dark and said, "RAWR!" So... we told the kids to RAWR back at anything that made them concerned. Shortly after leaving the docks Clara and Lilly are RAWRing at everything they see out the portholes. Henry was content to just sit on a lap and Molly was staring with utter fascination.

Given the success of the first ride I thought we were sure to pop the hatches and find the rain was gone and the sun shining brightly. Yeah... fat chance. It was still raining. So sucks. We used a poncho to cover Henry in the cheesy travel stroller (you know, the one that we wouldn't care if it was stolen) and headed into Fantasyland. Dumbo was our destination mostly because it was Jon and Kate Plus 8's first ride. (Yes, all those hours prepping the kids would stick with us, but with only a few negatives. In general it was a great plan and well executed.)

Nana and Papa took all four kids flying through the air with varying degrees of success. Some little ones grabbed the controls and took their elephant up and down and up and down and up and down. (And up and down once more for good measure.) Others took their ride up and stayed there. Papa didn't really care as long as it went faster. Nana didn't care as long as it went slower. Needless to say neither of them was perfectly content, but there they were riding round and round with all their grandkids with big grins all around. (Except Henry who looked a bit concerned and who could blame him? He probably remembered the old tale of how the elephants thought they were clouds and how one cloud thought he was a cloud and came crashing down. No wonder Buddha made the elephants walk the earth instead of flying high above. I guess Dumbo hadn't heard that story. Good thing, too.)

Never you fear, this isn't going to be a ride-by-ride narrative of our five days in Disney's parks. No, no, I'd stop reading that myself. Instead I'll just hit the highlights. And only the ones that don't embarrass the important people. And it won't necessarily be in order. Unfortunately, the photos come from four different cameras all of which thought it was a different time. Nicole and Martin get a pass since they were pretty close to the right time, but three hours fast since they're from the future. In the end we may have ridden Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters before we did the seventh ride of the Tea Cups, but I can't say for certain. So just go with it...

I will point out that the Tiki Room was a wild hit. Who knew mid 20th century animatronics would still thrill a bunch of 21st century kids? Who knew Amy's whole freakin' family could SING ALONG WITH THE BIRDS? (And yeah, who knew I'd leave Henry's coat hanging on a bench? )

The rain came and went throughout the day. Happily, while it was snowing like crazy at home and closing the Pass it was still warm enough while raining on us that we could eat in an open air restaurant.

We had a pretty unordered day on the first day. I was turned around half the time and I think we somehow went in through the gates to Sleeping Beauty's castle a dozen or more times, but never came out. (Talk about a lack of security. Hmph.)

Earlier I alluded to the giddiness that was present in some of the older members of the party. Amy and Martin were both keen to ride roller coasters and even more keen to drag along the sorts of people who know doing things like riding roller coasters is a sure way to end up dead. (Yeah, I'm in that latter group.)

Unfortunately, when Amy was picking out my Disney shirt (oh yes, we all had Disney t-shirts) I had made a last (failed) attempt to get a shirt that was a little more in line with my sometimes dry sense of humor. If I got the "Mountaineer" shirt with the silhouettes of Space Mountain, the Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, etc. instead of a "Grumpy" shirt I promised I'd actually go on those rides. Since my Grumpy shirt showed up in the mail the day before we left I figured I was off the hook, but Amy started pushing the idea that I could claim each as a bagged peak as though I had climbed it.

So all of a sudden I was being buckled in to the bobsled on the Matterhorn. The seat belt was alarmingly loose (I could still breathe) and Amy insisted on putting her arms straight up in the air instead of holding me. I was pretty well decided that I was going to get out when we started up a steep incline. Everybody else says I talked through the entire ride saying things like, "WE'RE GOING TO DIE!" and "WHAT AM I DOING HERE?" and my favorite, "RAWR!" but I don't remember it much. I do remember getting off and declaring that I'd ridden my one roller coaster and I was done for the trip. Besides, I didn't even get the stupid t-shirt.

When we started the day we were sure there'd be meltdowns from all the kids right around their traditional nap times and we'd be sending them back to the hotel in waves. Turns out, though, that they did great. There was little whining, only a few times when they flat out refused to follow directions, and plenty of excitement to keep their spirits up.

We also introduced them to the idea of autographs. Each of the three girls had an official autograph book and whenever we'd see a character (starting with Mary Poppins) we'd march right up (sometimes after standing in line) and the girls would interact with the character as though they were in the movie. Miss Poppins (practically perfect in every way) got them to line up, smile pretty, and cheese it up for the cameras.

Even more amazing was the fact that she and in fact all the other characters always knew which camera to look at. Flipping through all the photos if we have two of the three girls looking at the camera when the shutter opened I'd consider it a victory. (And if Nana had her eyes open in one in a hundred it's a stunner.) However, there is not a single posed picture of a princess or a bug or a space adventurer where they are looking in the wrong direction.

On they way out of the park for the night we saw Minnie Mouse and got her checked off and then raced across the courtyard to see Woody. So intent were we on the famous cowboy that we were blindsided by a pack of wild princesses bent on stealing Woody's thunder. (He totally got to second base with Belle, though, so I don't think he minded too much.) The girls were thunderstruck, but Amy and Nicole pushed them forward and they were enveloped completely in the princess fantasy. All too soon, though, the princesses were on their way to... wherever princesses go when they're out on the town, and we wrapped it up with Woody before heading out ourselves.

We managed dinner at the pizza place in Downtown Disney before collapsing into bed back at the hotel. The next day promised less rain so we set our shorts and sandals in the hope that the weather folk's predictions would come true.

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