Thursday, November 1, 2012

Aarrrrgh, Matey--This Pirate Has to Go Potty

The early morning sun cast shadows on the ground as we stood in line just outside Magic Kingdom's gates, waiting for our Pirate Day to begin.  Our first day at Magic Kingdom had been devoted primarily to princesses and fantasy, so today was all about pirates and adventure.  This was our last day at Walt Disney World, and I'd wanted it to be extra special, so I'd made a reservation at the Pirates' League inside Magic Kingdom, where kids (and adults) can shed their landlubber exteriors and be transformed into true buccaneers.  In an effort to stay ahead of the crowds and make the most of our day, we'd arrived at the turnstiles about 35 minutes early, toting activities to occupy the kids while we waited.  The time had passed relatively quickly, and the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show was about fifteen minutes away, signaling the start to our adventure-packed day.  My mind began to wander through my touring plan as I imagined us strolling down Main Street toward Adventureland (one of Magic Kingdom's six distinct areas) where we would enjoy a few headliner rides, grab a couple of FASTPASSES, and meet a character or two before checking in at the Pirates' League.  It was shaping up to be another magical day.

Yo-ho!  Yo-ho!  Hooray for Pirate Day!
Then, suddenly, "Mom, I have to go to the bathroom," my son announced, propelling me back into reality.  "Right NOW!"  Perfect timing, as usual.  As I took my son by the hand, I couldn't help thinking that this diversion would throw a small kink in our plans.  Not only were we going to miss the Welcome Show, but we would no longer be one of the first families to enter Magic Kingdom, so we would probably experience longer waits at some of the headliner attractions we'd planned to visit.  Nevertheless, I'd traveled with my kids enough times to know that potty breaks are non-negotiable!  Unfortunately, at this point, the crowds were building inside the turnstiles, making it difficult to locate the nearest bathroom.  As my son started to squirm, I knew we were running out of time, so I approached the nearest Cast Member ("Disney Speak" for employee) and asked her for help.

"The closest restrooms are all the way on the other side of the train station," she pointed, indicating a spot about 500 yards away, blocked almost entirely by the hordes of people who had now lined up at the gates.  Normally, we could cover this distance quickly, especially when faced with such a dire
potty emergency, but I knew that we would never be able to navigate these rapidly-growing crowds and make it to the bathroom in time.  Meanwhile, Jack's squirming had turned into full-on jumping, a look of panic creeping across his face.

An empty Main Street - again!!

"You know what," the Cast Member said, looking at Jack with empathy (and perhaps a little fear), "there's a bathroom right inside the gates.  Come on."  In true Disney spirit, she grabbed Jack's hand, walked us through the gates, and pointed out the restroom.  Filled with gratitude, we made a mad dash for the bathroom, not even stopping to realize that, once again, we were among the only guests in the park.  Five minutes later, a potty tragedy avoided, Jack and I found a spot on Main Street to wait for my husband and daughter.  I knew that Jack would be disappointed about missing the Welcome Show, but I also realized that we would never make it back through the crowds to my husband and daughter before the show began.

As we sat next to each other on the curb, taking in the impeccably detailed storefronts on an empty Main Street, we heard the Welcome Show begin.  I glanced at my son warily, preparing myself for a potential meltdown.  Instead, I was greeted with a smile.  "Mom," he said.  "It's ok that I missed the show 'cause look--you and me are the only ones here again!"  Jack leaned his head on my shoulder and put his hand in mine.  As I looked down at my son, I knew that we'd just made another magical Disney memory, courtesy of that Cast Member who extended herself.  At most other theme parks, employees would have shown indifference to my son's plight, but not at Disney.  Because of that Cast Member, we were able to spend a quiet moment on our last day of vacation without characters or rides or music, just "drinking the Kool-Aid" together.  A minute later, more Cast Members took their places in anticipation of the crowds that would soon burst into the park, and the moment passed, but I knew that I would never forget spending those few minutes alone with Jack on that empty Main Street curb.

Suddenly, the park was bustling with people, but since my husband and daughter had stayed near the front of the line, we hadn't lost any time at all.  We were officially off on our next adventure!!  After a morning of walking right on to headliner attractions in Adventureland and meeting a few of our favorite characters with little wait, it was time for the Pirates' League!

The Pirates' League
At the Pirates' League, kids embark on the ultimate pirate adventure led by their own Pirate Guides.  They begin by participating in a "ancient tradition" in which they discover their true pirate name.  Next, it's off to hair and makeup, where they are transformed into buccaneers and pirate empresses.  Finally, they are led into a secret room where they take their pirate oath, have their picture taken, and receive their official pirate papers.  An alternative to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, the Pirates' League appeals to both girls and boys and is a memorable addition to any touring plan.

Kat Gunskull, our little pirate empress
Jack and Sadie (a.k.a "Chris Warloather" and "Kat Gunskull") were completely awed by the whole experience.  Jack's Pirate Guide kept him entertained with silly pirate jokes, and Sadie loved getting a makeover, complete with nail polish and makeup.  And they both took the oath very seriously; Sadie actually refused to break character for the rest of the day!

After a quick lunch, our little buccaneers were starting to fade, so we decided to hop aboard our pirate ship (a.k.a. our stroller) and begin the journey back to our hotel for a mid-afternoon break.  Tomorrow, we would have to leave Disney World and fly back to reality.  But tonight, we would return to the Magic Kingdom for one final celebration, complete with the Main Street Electrical Parade and the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.  I knew, however, that no mater how magical our last night would be, it would not compare to that morning on the curb with my potty-pirate boy.

The Magic Minus the Mayhem

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