Monday, November 5, 2012

It's Raining, It's Pouring, But We're Still Touring!

Sighing heavily, I glared at the daunting pile of dirty clothes and souvenirs that lay before me on the floor of our hotel room, trying hard to focus on the positive.  We'd had an amazing morning at the Magic Kingdom.  Once again, we'd stayed ahead of the crowds with my touring plan and rode all of the headliner attractions on our "wish list" with little to no wait, giving us time to enjoy some truly memorable moments at the Pirates' League.  By lunchtime, however, a nagging feeling of dread was growing inside of me.  Tomorrow morning, we would have to leave our magical Disney cocoon and fly home.  Now, I was faced with my first dose of reality as I began packing our mountain of things.  And when I say "mountain", I am truly not exaggerating.  About halfway through our vacation, our small collection of souvenirs began a growth spurt that had quickly spiraled out of control.    

Our giant pile of loot led us to set some limits on our next trip
Tip Time: Before we left on our second trip, my husband and I made a conscious decision to limit souvenirs.  One of the best ways to do this is to give children a predetermined amount of money and let them make their own purchasing decisions (of course, younger children will need more guidance).  When the money is gone, it's gone.  This encourages kids to weigh their purchases carefully and discourages impulse buying.  

Realizing that I could not procrastinate any longer, I started tackling the challenge of stuffing our giant souvenir-mountain into two already-full suitcases.  As I worked, I periodically glanced over at my napping children.  Although I was sad about tomorrow's departure, I knew that our vacation was not over quite yet.  We still had an entire evening at the Magic Kingdom stretched out in front of us, giving us one last night of memory-making.  And tonight, I'd planned...absolutely nothing.  Tonight, we'd revisit our favorite attractions and celebrate our most magical memories, ending the evening with the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes Nighttime Spectacular (the Magic Kingdom's fireworks show).

Tip Time: Bring one suitcase full of non-perishable food items, travel toiletries, activities for the kids, and other disposable items.  When your vacation is over, this suitcase will be empty, and you can fill it with your souvenirs and mementos.  

An hour later, I'd made a small dent in the mountain, and the kids were recharged and excited to embark on our final Disney adventure.  They skipped down the hallway to the elevator, raced through the lobby, and bounded outside into...a rainstorm.  By all appearances, this was not one of those short-lived Orlando thunderstorms; we were in for a wet night.  It seemed as if the same weather that had greeted us on our first night at the Wilderness Lodge had returned on our last night to bid us farewell.   

Making Disney memories, even in the rain!
At first, I found it difficult to hide my disappointment.  I knew that some of our favorite outdoor rides would close due to the storm.  Even worse, if the rain didn't stop, the Main Street Electrical Parade would be cancelled.  Jack and Sadie looked up at us, disappointment and concern spreading across their faces.  In that moment, Eric and I were faced with a decision about how we were going to react to this setback, and I knew that our choice would set the tone for the final night of our vacation.

We all stared at each other for another moment.  Then, "Ponchos out!" Eric declared.  "We're walking to the Magic Kingdom in the rain!" The kids cheered as they donned their rain gear and hopped into the stroller for the ten-minute trek to the park, the rain beating down on us the whole way.
Tip Time: Rainy days can provide the perfect opportunity to explore the parks at Disney World.  Crowds will be lower, and indoor attractions remain open in the rain. 

The rest of the evening was a wet blur, as we ran from one indoor attraction to another.  Although I can't recall the specific attractions we visited that night, there are some things I do remember.  I remember stomping through puddles in front of Cinderella Castle.  I remember sticking our tongues out to catch raindrops.  And I remember laughing harder than we did on any other night of our vacation.  The rain persisted all night, until about 15 minutes before the Main Street Electrical Parade was scheduled to begin.  Then, as if by magic, it simply stopped.  As the parade floated down Main Steet, lighting up the night with hundreds of thousands of lights, I peered down into the stroller at Jack and Sadie.  Still besieged by fits of laughter, they smiled back at me with giant goofy grins on their faces.  I realized that, while the parade and fireworks were a wonderful way to end our last night of vacation, they weren't truly important.  I'd learned a few other things that night, too.  I learned that dripping ponchos should be removed carefully.  I learned that wet ice cream really doesn't taste that bad when you're eating it with people you love.  And, most importantly, I learned that the best memories are never planned.

The Magic Minus the Mayhem

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