David and I, and admittedly more David than I, came close to despising places like Disney World. Nothing is real. Out of swampland rose a “magic kingdom” with rides, amusements, restaurants and more stores than in the Mall of America. It was in no way organic -- people did not gather for pleasure in a simpler time at a beach or a lake here in Orlando. The beach and the lake were dug and sand imported. No natural beauty was demanded attendance, no ancient religious rituals gathered natives from far and wide to celebrate yearly festivals. But 20 years after our last visit, which was our third (excused, at least in our own minds, that we were visiting David’s father and Claire and so might as well experience what so many people talked about), Julia, Cheshire and I allow ourselves to be embraced by the magic of this ersatz kingdom.
And magic, in very carefully controlled terms, it certainly is. And I have the pictures to prove it.
But it all takes time -- I forgot, or never knew, how spread out it is. Transportation takes forever, and although incredibly friendly, the “cast” will direct you to walk in the longest way possible between any two points and will parade you in front of every retail establishment known to man or beast helping you get to your destination. Just what part of frustration don't they understand?? (And of course, this is why the Unofficial Disney tour book and others like it exist).
So, I channel the curmudgeon spirit of my dear David and let it go to enjoy what certainly is magic.
And it is magic.
We are staying in a lovely room, in a very lovely resort -- paid for in part by the conference that I attended, and helped along by the “conference rates” for everything from room to park tickets that we are entitled to use. Boardwalk Inn is a lovely, if not almost too big, resort. Every room has a balcony for early morning and late night sitting -- ours faces a very quiet internal garden which is not at all exciting in the evening (thank, goodness!). It is big enough, lush enough, and efficient enough to feel vacation as a noun and a verb.
There are some strange things -- no map at check in. Hence, the necessity of bringing something from home, or of course, buying it on arrival. And although everyone is helpful, solicitous, generous with advice and help, it is on a need to know basis. As in, the cast member who checks you in will not recommend a particular restaurant but will direct you to a plethora of possibilities which can be mind numbing, and for which you had better have made a reservation for two months. (Again, thanking the gods, the cheat books and my cousin in London for that advice).
I went conferencing yesterday -- content will be discussed later -- in a lovely conference center in which all needs were met almost by magic -- a faulty mike replaced almost before a speaker finished her sentence, an additional table appeared and was set without one attendee looking rather lost as he realized his hands were full from the buffet and all the existing seats full. Even my small challenge getting on the internet our first evening here was taken care of first by a tech support phone call (the best tech support since my federal court days and those guys were the best!) and the next day, by an early morning visit which took care of whatever problem there was.
And so, with creature comforts taken care of, and beauty everywhere -- look at “green” Julia told me as we entered the property on Thursday, an apt exclamation for our garden-starved, spring-Wisconsin eyes -- we eased into vacation.
While I conferenced yesterday, Cheshire took Julia to the Magic Kingdom. The pictures say it all -- hours of rides and characters and kid fun. Julia was kissed by Pinocchio and proclaimed her eternal love. She loved her sequined ears and was savvy enough to ask for ear plugs and head phones when the noise got too intense. Although on that last note, Julia did not use plugs and phones during the day and Cheshire assured me that it was sufficiently loud to require them. Julia did need auditory remission at the very loud Puck’s restaurant, touring the Disney Marketplace, and certainly at the Cirque du Soleil show. But again, she was in charge of when to put these things on. Julia is learning to control her environment or just to control the effect that the environment has on her.
The Cirque du Soleil show, La Nouba, was spectacular. Cheshire loved the music; I was thrilled by the visual elements which incorporated an eclectic mixture of French cinema, Comedia Del-Arte, shrill institution, and circus. The "acts" incorporated into the show -- trapeze, juggling, trampoline, uber-biking, tiny Chinese girls with two handed yo-yos, and a few more -- were all very well done and many times so imaginatively conceived as to make me really giggle. It was very loud and intense and too much was happening at the same time -- Julia was, for sure, over stimulated, but did great and was very excited.
It might become the theme of this vacation -- transportation within the "World" sucks. We were misdirected and not told about logical or short cuts getting from place to place. Friday night it almost cost us our dinner reservation, and produced a lot stress as we wolfed down food and ran to our show.
For me, the day was incredibly long, intense -- like at least three days in one.
Still, sweet day, good show, we all fell into bed exhausted with alarms set for Saturday.