Disney Trip: December, 2021

We were thrilled to get back to taking a trip during Christmas week, after missing 2020, but Disney seemed like a safer destination than somewhere international at this point. As it was, somehow neither of our flights was cancelled, and we "only" had a 2.5 hour delay on the way down and a 45 minute delay on the way back. Robert would also like to point out that "somehow" we made it to Florida and back and no one got COVID (thank you, Boston Public Schools rapid tests, which they handed out before Christmas and asked everyone to use before returning to school). We stayed at the Disney Boardwalk resort, so we could walk into Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and we went to all four Disney parks plus the Blizzard Beach waterpark twice. Here are some of the highlights of our five days at Disney World (plus one in Universal).


Lunch in the Beauty and the Beast castle on our last day. The Beast came around to welcome people several times. At first Helen was a little cautious of him, though not exactly scared, but soon she was calling out "Ooh! He's back! The beast is back! Hi Beast!" and waving enthusiastically at him. The girls' paint-your-own white chocolate "Chip" cups for dessert were pretty impressive too, and the atmosphere of the great hall, including the nighttime snowstorm out the window, was excellent.


That time when I got the maximum possible score (999,999) in the Buzz Lightyear ride in the Magic Kingdom and they proclaimed me a "galactic hero." (If that sounded cool, I didn't really earn it--the ride was temporarily stopped to let someone transfer from a wheelchair, and it happend that Robert's and my car was stopped right in front of the big bad guy, so I just kept shooting while the ride was paused. Still, Robert likes to tell Marcus to tell all his friends about that time his mother got a higher score than him on a video gam.)


Animal Kingdom randomness--a kite show that had giant animals being led around by speedboats, and an unexpected seal puppet just strolling around. We didn't get a picture of the man dressed up (?) like a reindeer (??) who was accompanying the seal puppet woman, but the seal puppet was much more adorable, so that was fine.


Sibling bonding


Voodoo Donuts at Universal Citywalk, and a Haunted Mansion donut in Magic Kingdom


Harry Potter everything at Universal, including a hot, iced, and frozen butterbeer


Waterpark fun


Fireworks and projections. We saw the Animal Kingdom projections show one evening, the Epcot fireworks from afar one night, and the New Year's Eve early fireworks in Magic Kingdom. Helen said "I didn't know they'd be THIS good fireworks!"


Soba noodle snack in Japan (Samantha wanted to eat them every day), dinner in Germany (Helen loved the live music), and an afternoon in Venice (everyone loved the Italian juggler).


Test Track. Marcus rode it three times and wished he could do it more. (We used a Genie+ Lightning Lane for it, and then he and Robert went back to the single riders lane while the girls and I were listening to Blair Underwood read aloud the Christmas story from the Bible with two choirs and a full orchestra at the Epcot Candlelight Processional one night.)


The carousel. Helen rode three or so times and wished she could do it more.


Every roller coaster in the parks except for the Slinky Dog Dash, which I waited in line for for 90 minutes before the ride broke down. Another year, Slinky Dog, another year. But Helen turned out to be by far our most enthusiastic roller coaster rider, especially adjusted for age. She couldn't get enough of them! Big Thunder Mountain twice, Splash Mountain twice, Everest twice, Space Mountain twice, Seven Dwarves once at rope drop, and the smaller coasters too. She waxes rhapsodic explaining what she loves about roller coasters--the ups, the downs, the curves, the speed--and she and Marcus are in agreement that Everest is their favorite in all the parks.


Star Wars "blue milk" stall--right after riding Rise of the Resistance at rope drop. What an awesome ride! There was a mom waiting in line with me, while each of our husbands took kids (her one, my three) on Star Tours meanwhile, and we struck up a conversation. Then when Robert was trying to find me again, and I was talking him through "past the first loop, under the overhang..." he broke off to say to someone else, "Oh, are you looking for your wife too?" and I said "Wait! Ask him if she's from central Illinois and they have an almost six-year-old!" and Robert asked the startled man just that. He was, and they did, so Robert and the other dad and all four kids managed to navigate their way together to us. Rise takes you in groups of eight, and we ended up being in a boarding group with that family too, and then we all ran together to Smuggler's Run right after this ride ended. Helen (perhaps adding to the long list of things she might want to do when she grows up?) was inspired by the queue area in Smuggler's Run to proclaim, "Mommy, someday I'm going to help the resistance by cleaning the windows on the space ships!"


Babywearing. Er, 5.9-year-old wearing. Robert, Marcus, and I all got chances to wear Helen, whose legs weren't quite up to the 8+ mile-a-day walking we were doing.



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