Monday, March 18, 2013

Pirate Peril: Part Two

My daughter's trip to the Pirates' League had begun with such promise.  Sadie has absolutely LOVED our trip to the League on our first Disney World visit the previous year, and she could hardly wait to be transformed into a pirate empress once again.  We arrived about ten minutes early for her appointment, and we were called in almost immediately to begin the pirate-naming ceremony.  After a few rolls of the dice and a spin of the super-secret pirate-naming wheel, Sadie was officially christened Pirate Empress Kat Gunskull, and we were directed to the seating area to await her pirate makeover.

I'd assumed that Sadie would be thrilled at this point, considering she'd been counting down the minutes to her appointment.  Within seconds of being called in to the Pirates' League, however, Sadie's mood had changed drastically.  I could tell that she was already unhappy with the experience, and she was trying hard to hide her disappointment.  By the time her "pirate guide" called her to the makeover chair, she wasn't even smiling.  For the rest of the appointment, I could tell that she was just going through the motions; at times, it even appeared that she was fighting back tears.

Tip Time: Just because your child enjoys a special experience on one trip to Disney World, don't assume that she will like it as much the second time.  The novelty will have naturally worn off, making the experience inherently less magical.  It's nearly impossible to replicate a memorable moment exactly, so it's sometimes best not to try.  Trying a brand-new experience is almost always better.

After a lackluster appointment at the Pirates' League, we stepped out into Adventureland just in time to catch the next showing of Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial, a fun live show featuring the scoundrel Jack Sparrow himself.  As we wandered over to the Tutorial's stage, the Captain's eyes locked on Sadie, and he called on her to be his assistant for the show.  Sadie did not even hesitate for a second; she bounded right up to that stage, a huge smile on her face.

Sadie on stage at the Tutorial
For a moment, I let myself believe that this whole Pirates' League experience might just be memorable after all; at the very least, Sadie would have an amazing story to share with the boys when we met up again.  For a few moments, Sadie actually appeared to be enjoying herself...and then, Captain Jack Sparrow made direct eye contact with her...up close.  And the terrified tears started flowing.

Captain Jack graciously helped Sadie off the stage and back to my waiting arms, but there was very little I could do to console her.  She was completely over the entire pirate experience, and she begged me to wipe her face off and take off her costume.  I'd learned from previous experience that it is crucial to "pick my battles" with my kids, especially when we are someplace that is highly stimulating to begin with.  If Sadie didn't want to keep her pirate costume and make-up on, this was not a battle that I was interested in fighting.

Tip Time: While Disney World is one of the "happiest places on Earth", it's important to have realistic expectations for your trip, especially if you are traveling with small children.  The theme parks are full of stimulating sights, sounds, and smells; children can easily fall victim to sensory overload.  Since kids are not capable of fully expressing themselves verbally, this "overload" often results in tears.  To avoid a complete meltdown, try to pick your battles. Of course, it's important to correct unacceptable behavior, regardless of where you are.  On the other hand, it's probably not that important that your kids keep a bandanna on all day if they don't want to.

By the time we met up with the boys a few minutes later, Sadie looked almost exactly as she had before her Pirates' League appointment.  My husband and I locked knowing glances.  We shook our heads, let it go, and continued on.  Because we'd decided to "go with the flow" as much as possible that morning, there was no major meltdown to recover from, and the rest of the day was simply wonderful.  In fact, that evening brought some of the most memorable moments of our entire trip!!

Next Up: Dinner with Mickey, a Fireworks Dessert Party, and Isaac Hits!

Meredith McCutcheon
Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways
Personalized Disney Itineraries and Touring Plans
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