It was Sophie's first flight, and she was so excited just for that part of it, even. (I was really nervous about the flight, because nut allergies, but it went fine and was well-handled most of the time. The first flight, no one snacked and they didn't serve snacks. The other 3 flights, the attendants didn't serve nuts to the rows in front and behind us, and spoke with the people in those rows about the issue and everyone was cool about it. So, it went well.) We had to get up at 3:45 in the morning to get our flight, and she was okay with it, because it meant IT WAS ALMOST TIME. She was cheerful all that day, if a bit stunned by everything she was taking in - and she didn't get to bed until 7:30, so it was an incredibly long day for her.
The first couple of days, Sophie was so excited and so overwhelmed that she just kind of silently took everything in with a slightly agape mouth. "That was fun", she would say seriously, and that was pretty much all. She was just totally on overload. The third and fourth days, she tired quickly because the cumulative effect was so big - and it was really, really hot and humid. So we took those afternoons off and played in the pool or in the hotel room. The fourth night, we put her to bed early and Gramma and Grandad stayed with her while she slept, and Ryan and I went on a Magic Kingdom date. :) The last few days, Sophie was on her game again, really happy and talkative and her normal self.
Sophie's favorite rides and our favorite rides overlapped pretty well. She adored Peter Pan and we did that 5 times. She also really loved The Haunted Mansion. I thought it might be a bit much, but Gramma had discussed it with her a lot and played up how punny and silly it was, and Sophie had heard the music a lot beforehand because we have a recording. She asked us to pick her up during the beginning part, but she was completely nonplussed by the rest. We did that one once without her at night...and 4 or 5 times with her. :) She recites the voiceover sometimes while she's coloring. My favorite was while we were at the hotel taking a break, and she started saying "here are some of our guests in their corruptible mortal states..." She also loved Pirates, which is one of our favorites. Meanwhile she told another little girl on the bus that the Winnie the Pooh ride was "intense". She loved the Ariel ride. Ariel is probably my least favorite role model of the Disney Princess TM madness, but the ride focuses largely on the music and the broad strokes of the story. The rest that Sophie has taken from that ride is that Ariel likes to comb her hair with a fork and that's funny, and, incredulously, "she traded her voice for legs!!" (We talked about how important a person's voice is, oh yes we did.)
The other major emotional highlight was that Sophie got to meet Alice twice, once with the white rabbit. She had long chats both times, and hugs, and she seemed very comfortable and very happy. Both times, when she came back to us after, she was sort of overcome - choked up and stunned, but smiling. When we asked her how it was, she said "It was a lot to take in." (And my heart exploded!)
I worried and researched the food situation a lot. I was assured Disney could handle food allergies and did so all the time, but to actually see it happen was generally very reassuring and impressive. We did several table service meals, and those are where I felt the safest. That's because the chef comes out to the table if you have an allergy in your group, and discusses what the allergic person can eat. Sophie got pretty lucky - she had fish a lot, with rice and vegetables - that's a meal she really likes. At the Yak and Yeti, she couldn't have the lo mein noodles but she could have the same preparation on rice, so she had fried rice for lunch. Quick service almost as good, though we did have a couple more complicated and drawn out lunch ordering scenarios there. Only a couple though - most of the time someone would come right out with a binder of ingredients, you check the things that interest you, they personally place and carry out your order. Smoooooth.
She could eat the french fries everywhere we went I think, and the fried fish and the UK fish and chips spot - which had surprisingly good fried fish! The Moroccan quick service place subbed rice for couscous but otherwise served us a vegetarian platter of total happiness that Sophie could eat, and she was thrilled to be able to eat everything - "this is a special day, because I can eat everything on the table!" (I wanted to cry, but I was also happy for her.) She was also pretty thrilled to get a kid's meal sometimes - pizza, grapes, chocolate milk, yogurt for dessert. ("I've never had dessert at a restaurant before!" I may have had the same mix of feelings at that, too, yeah.)
I've never been with my own child before. It was a very different experience, but more magical for being able to watch her take things in. I'm glad R and I went out on our own one night, both for the Quality Time and also so we could more easily do the grown up rides and do things at our own pace...but even without that, it would have been awesome.
I am extremely cynical about Disney as a corporate entity, so I am sort of uncomfortably aware of how deeply I'm being taken in when I'm there - but you kind of have to allow yourself to be taken in and go with it, because that's how it's fun. It's like a fake world where everything is sparkly and clean and magical! Pure escapism! And I do think there is still a kernel of Walt Disney's interest in honoring imagination, story, and wonder in there. Couched in very powerful and sometimes very poisonous marketing and capitalism, absolutely, but still, the magic - and more powerfully, the nostalgia - exists. :) So yeah, the magic works, but I was still very grateful to be home when we got here. It suddenly became fall-like while we were away, and it smelled so good and fresh here, and there was REAL FOOD in our fridge and I didn't have to walk a ton of miles every day or put on sunscreen upon waking. Sophie was a bit relieved too - she longed to play quietly with her toys and read books, and not have to do anything for a little while. All that said, as I write this we are listening to ride soundtracks, so obviously we miss it a bit. ;)
Do any of you do Disney? If so, what's your favorite thing?