Saturday, December 8, 2012

M is for Mickey Mouse

We are blessed to spend every Thanksgiving at Disney World, home to Mickey Mouse. Due to the nature of Neal's work, we don't get to take a "summer" vacation. You can't tell the crops in the field "Stop growing for a week...I want to go to the beach!" Thanksgiving is the unofficial end of the Farm Season in our area, and the beginning of our business' winter slowdown. Eight years ago, we bought into the Disney Vacation Club*, packed our bags, and now we return every year. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to be in Florida - the weather is nice, the big kids aren't usually doing a whole lot in school so make-up work is minimal, and I don't have to cook a turkey dinner. (My philosophy - if you want turkey, find a cart in Frontierland and get a drumstick.)

This trip was the first time we've used the Guest Assistance Pass offered by Disney Parks. We've been dealing in Autism, ADHD, and tubeys for 8 years now, and have always managed to have a good time.   After a lot of thought, we realized we were likely in over our head with Jude, now that he wasn't a "little kid" any longer. Large crowds and noisy places easily overwhelm him. With four other kids in tow (including Damien wearing his feeding tube gear), we couldn't count on being able to restrain Jude in a crowd or entertain him in the queues. So reluctantly, we got the pass. It was really difficult to not only accept the help, but to accept that we needed it. But what a difference it made. There were several rides that we were able to do with shortened waits -- rides that we would have been forced to skip if we had to wait in the regular standby queues. When we went to Festival of the Lion King (Animal Kingdom), Jude was able to stay in the stroller in the theater. (The GA card comes with a stroller tag that gives permission to use it as a wheelchair). It meant he was secluded from the audience ("nobody can see me!"), and we were given seating at the edge of the stage. The sides of the stroller also blocked a lot of the extraneous things, allowing him to "focus" on what was in front of him and keep from getting overwhelmed. When we saw Beauty and the Beast, he ultimately sat on our laps for the show itself, but having the stroller next to us gave him a "safe" place to await the show and then to quickly retreat to when the theatergoers began to surge past us towards the exit.  I think we will do it again in the future, at least until Jude is old enough to handle things better.

Jude safely secluded in the stroller, watching the Tumble Monkeys. 
 Bonus: we had been seated in the Giraffe section!

 This year was also the first time Jude interacted with characters.  Normally, he has a meltdown when they approach our table.  We just keep him tucked in the back corner - away from the characters - when we go.  (Not going is not an option -- our tube-fed daughter enjoys them, and since she otherwise spends 21 meals watching people eat while she can't, character meals are Jude's turn to compromise.)  This year, for Thanksgiving Dinner, we had reservations at Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom.  It's a character dinner, featuring Pooh Bear, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore.  At first, Jude was his usual hesitant self, recoiling as the characters approached.  But suddenly, he did open up to them!

This was the best part of Thanksgiving dinner.  Not the food, not the family, not even the "friends."  But that one little boy came out of his shell for just a few minutes.  

After realizing Tigger and Pooh were "really nice after all," Jude also was willing to meet some other characters...or at least stand in the line to do so.  He desperately wanted to meet Phineas and Ferb, and was thrilled to get the chance...until it was our turn to approach and he just slammed on the brakes.  

I think he was just a little overwhelmed.  Maybe next time he'll shake their hands. That was pretty much it for characters, though.  We had a few other character meals, and he wanted nothing to do with anyone.  At Chef Mickey's, Pluto tried to tickle him...bad move, Pluto.  Hope your ears feel better by now...

Something that surprised us was Jude really wanted to go back and see Beauty and the Beast again.  Trying to figure that out was a bit of a trial, though.  Between his normally garbled speech and sobs of desperation,  it took a while to figure out what that tantrum was about.  At first I didn't understand -- sitting through shows is a bit out of character for him, so it never crossed my mind that was what he was trying to tell us.  Finally we figured out he was saying he wanted to go back and show us Beast was PRETEND, and he was really just a sad person, not a mean beast.  We put the clues together, and asked him if he wanted to go back.  Tears stopped immediately, and he said, "I've been trying to TELL you that's what I want to do." Yes, dude, you were.  A consult of the schedule and a quick re-plan and we were able to fit in the 3:00 show.  Jude was happy.   He really enjoyed the singing and dancing, too - he's just starting to appreciate music and sing songs. 

Some of our favorite rides:

 Buzz Lightyear's Spaceranger Spin

 I think Zurg was crying "Let me OUT, get me AWAY!!"

 Peter Pan's Flight

it's a small world

Of course, we spent a day in EPCOT -- where learning happens even when you don't realize it.  Jude enjoyed "The Magic Golf Ball Sphere" (Spaceship Earth) and Innoventions Plaza.

Spaceship Earth - Photo by Jude

 The UL Testing Lab.  Here Jude and Daddy (l) and Jude and Damien (r) are seeing if they can generate enough force to slam the doors shut.  (They could.)

Testing out the strength of a fireman's helmet -- something you definitely don't want to crush when a large weight drops on it!

How energy-savvy are you?  Jude actually picked out all the places to be "greener" -- turning off taps, environmentally-friendly soap, low-energy appliances!  Good job, Jude!

 Also on display...the new 2013 Chevy Volt Hybrid. Jude would like one of these for Christmas, please.
 (I think it's too big for Santa's sleigh, dude...)

We also toured World Showcase.  He enjoyed the Gran Fiesta Tour ride in Mexico.  The calaveras at the fiesta looked familiar from our Dia de los Muertos studies earlier in the month.

On our last day at the Magic Kingdom, we saw the "Dreams Come True" show in the Castle Forecourt.    Jude's favorite part was when the "real" Captain Hook and Mr. Smee came out to battle Peter Pan. Donald and Goofy were only *pretending* to be Hook and Smee.

The best part of the trip was being able to just relax - no doctor visits, only a little bit of schoolwork, and time to spend with each other.

M-I-C ya again real soon, Mickey!

*If you ever are interested in the DVC, let me know and I'll give you our Tour Guide's info. Unless they're running a special promotion, I get nothing from it, so I have no real motivation to recruit people. We just have a very lovely contact who is not in the least pushy but is MOST willing to answer the same question six different ways because it just didn't click the first five. (Some days I swear my hair isn't coming in grey but white blond.) She just rocks and because of that, deserves the referral.

M-I-C YOU over at Ben & Me.

1 comment:

  1. I understand the bittersweet feelings of asking for a Guest Assistance Card. I think it's worth it to see so many happy faces throughout the week. Great pictures of your trip!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover