Our trip to Disney was a success! Andy made a great call when he decided we should only head down for five days instead of a full week. We didn't get to do as much, but the time we did spend there was very enjoyable, with only one meltdown in a park.
We flew down Sunday morning. I was really impressed with how well Michael did on the plane. I had been prepping him with books and stories before hand, so he had an idea what to expect. I also think hauling his car seat onto the plane was beneficial as well. He's already conditioned to sit still in it, so riding on the plan felt just like riding in the car.
Once we got to Florida, we checked into our cabin at Fort Wilderness and headed for the Hollywood Studios park. It was packed. Turns out that the park is very busy during the Star Wars weekends they have each spring. Yes, we went to the Star Wars weekend. No, it was not by accident. Yes, I am a geek. But you knew that already.
Michael loved the park. We went on several rides and he did great. I was really impressed with how well he held up on so little sleep.
Monday we hit the Animal Kingdom. It became clear pretty quickly that when it comes to amusement parks, Michael takes after me. He likes rides that spin and dislikes rides that drop. Like me, he loved the Animal Kingdom and could have spent much longer there.
But, we did make a mistake first thing at the Animal Kingdom. We took Michael on Dinosaur! We had never been on it before, so we didn't know how scary it was. We should have known it was scary by the warnings they had posted, but we were too busy trying to convince Michael it wasn't scary to notice them. Oops.
It was very scary, and it ruined Michael for anything dark after that. Of course, we also took him on Splash Mountain the next morning and that did a good job of freaking him out as well. Don't worry, we didn't try any other scary rides after that. Not even the Haunted Mansion, which Andy loves.
If you think about it though, Disney has always been a little scary. Even though the movies have happy endings, most of them do involve some heavy stuff at some point in the movie. And it's not just the old ones, like Bambi's mom getting killed in a fire. The Lion King and Nemo aren't all nicey, nicey either. So, it shouldn't be a surprise that some 4 year olds might find some of the rides and shows scary.
Aside from a few scary moments, we really did have some magic moments. I'll never forget the look of pure glee on Michael's face as we whipped around on the tea cups, or his awe at seeing the fireworks show over the castle in the Magic Kingdom. He was really impressed by meeting Mickey and Minnie, even though he clinged to me through the entire encounter.
On our last day, we debated whether we should hit Epcot, or head back to the Animal Kingdom so Michael could visit DinoLand again. In the end, we decided to hit Epcot and if it was too boring for Michael, we would leave early for the Animal Kingdom.
Michael loved Epcot. He got to participate in a fake gameshow in the innoventions pavilion. Who knew velcro could be so fun? He loved playing with the foutains outside the Imagination ride. (One of my favorite places in the parks too. I still love playing with the jumping water. ) And, he loved Test Track.
Yes, we took him on Test Track. We explained the ride too him before hand and let him decide if he wanted to go on it. He decided to try it out and started begging to go again as soon as we got off. He liked it so much that he was willing to wait in line for 40 minutes to go on it again.
Yes, my four year old liked a ride so much he waited for 40 minutes to go on it again. That, my friends, is true Disney Magic.
We ended up spending the entire day at Epcot and poor Andy had to deal with the fact that he's now out numbered by the Animal Kingdom/Epcot lovers in the family. Michael and I are perfect Disney companions.
We did have one meltdown in the parks. It was over a .51 cent pressed penny. I don't know why I picked that battle to fight when I was practically throwing money at the Disney enterprise, but once I put my foot down, I realized I needed to stick with it. So, we ended up carrying Michael off kicking and screaming instead of giving in and getting him another squished penny.
Even with that one little incident, I'd call the trip a success.
Michael was a real trooper through the entire trip. We spent long days in the parks and by all rights he should have had more meltdowns than he did. It was such a treat to spend four days with so few battles and so little crying. Even the nights at the cabin were simple. He fell asleep quickly and had very few wake-ups.
Four days was just perfect. The only problem with that was we needed to return home on the fifth day and Michael didn't want to have anything to do with it. He made that clear the moment we tried to get him into the car to head for the airport. Wow, he put a lot of pent up energy into that tantrum.
He ended up having four major tantrums between checkout and arriving home. The worst, by far was the one that occurred while we were going through security. I was wheeling Michael behind me in his car seat when the TSA agent asked him to take his shoes off. He freaked out and refused. He curled into the seat and refused to do anything. Andy had already cleared security, so I was stuck by myself. It was a very bad feeling.
The TSA agents working the family line at security were awesome. AWESOME! As soon as I picked Michael up the one woman whisked the car seat away, took the wheels off, and sent it through the screening for me. I walked through the metal detector with Michael crying and fighting only to have the buzzer go off. I had left my phone in my pocket. Another TSA agent grabbed a bin for me and took care of my phone while I wrestled with Michael. They were not just understanding, they were extremely helpful. It was a nice gift at the end of an awesome trip.
This trip was a much needed break after a very long winter. I'm really glad we decided to go, and I'm looking forward to other trips we can take in the future know that we know Michael can handle it.