Don 31 Dec 2009 A Disney Adventure with Don, Laurie, and almost four-year-old Nya As we leave the room for Animal Kingdom this morning, Nya says goodbye to Belle. She sure makes friends fast. She doesn't complain when she has to hop out of the stroller for the steps up to the resort's main building, but I've barely hit the top step when she's ready to get back in. She explains "My feet are kind of lazy today." While waiting for the bus, Laurie takes the opportunity to show Nya how the cast members all have the name tags and can help us if we ever get separated. Once on the bus, she takes her now-routine seat in the back corner, and we're at the front of the upper deck with her, about four seats ahead on the other side, facing her. We figure as long as we can see her and are between her and the door, we're in good shape. A family of four gets on and sits in the back row with her, a ten-year-old girl sitting beside her. We're in constant eye contact, which gives her the opportunity to mouth to Laurie "It's okay." We knew it was okay because we were between her and the door, but we really didn't think ahead to when we would get to the park and everyone would stand up and she couldn't see us anymore. To make matters worse, I tell Laurie I'm going to jump out and get my stroller out of the aisle and she can wait for Nya. But Nya's not in on that plan and only knows that she can see me out the window and has a whole crowd between her and the door and she freaks. It's all over though as soon as the people clear and she sees Laurie sitting there waiting for her, and she has a great big smile. She's always about four seconds from either tears or giggles, so we have to try better to keep her on the giggle side. She doesn't want her picture taken while we're waiting at the turnstiles; we think the bus trauma has changed her mood a little. We'll see how much of the day that will affect. Turns out it's about six minutes. She doesn't want me to pick her up to see the animals on the Tree while we're waiting for rope drop, she stays right in the stroller. But when Minnie makes an appearance, it's immediately "Grandpa, you can pick me up to see Minnie." She's waving vigorously to Minnie, and also to Tour Guide Mickey who's way back by the Tree. We get fast passes for the safari and head down the Pangani Forest Trail. The fish are "kind of cool" and she actually wants to take a picture of them. The birds are kind of boring except the ducks, and the naked mole rats are boring but the turtle is cool. She says she has no interest in the gorillas, but when we get up there she spends quite a bit of time watching them, the last half from my shoulders. At the gate for the safari, she suddenly asks "Does it ever rain at Disney?" We finally realize that question comes because she hasn't seen any yet, but there are puddles of water where the buses pull up to load. It's just the three of us in our row and she wants to sit on the outside. We tell her it isn't allowed and that if she sits in the middle she can slide back and forth and see things on both sides. She reluctantly agrees, but now that we're out on the road she's power sliding back and forth to see everything. Giggling, pointing, asking a hundred questions. When we disembark, Laurie almost trips over her because Nya stops suddenly and says "Wait, I want to do it more!" character breakfast at the Tusker House, and she's having a really hard time. She wants to go back to the room and play with Belle. We'll see how it goes, because our plan is to stay in the park right through til closing at 6, because we think she's going to really enjoy all the shows. When we first get seated, our waiter puts a glass of dark orange liquid in front of each of us, and when I ask him what kind of juice it is, he replies "jungle juice" and walks off. Thanks for pinning that down for me buddy, hope no one's allergic to jungles. Nya says she's very hungry, and has Laurie fix her a plate with ham, bacon, tater tots, melon, and grapes. Mostly bacon, you would think she had some of my genes. When combined with the chocolate milk, that's every food group, right? She's absolutely thrilled to meet the characters and get their autographs and pictures. Mickey kisses her on the head, which leads to another fit of giggling. Since we were among the last to be seated at the last breakfast seating, we never do get to meet Donald. Nya mentions it, so we mention it to one of the cast members. They do a good job of making sure that no one at a character meal misses out on any of the characters, so this guy tells us that Donald had to leave to meet people over at Camp Minnie Mickey and gives us a head-of-the-line pass to meet him over there. It takes me quite a while to take care of our bill, because just before he got to us, our waiter took the checks for two tables of about a dozen people who all got individual bills, some had dining plan, some had issues with their cards, etc. By the time I get through, the girls have found some African drummers (Tam Tam Congo) out in the plaza, and Nya has made her way right up to the rope, dancing like crazy. We end up spending twenty minutes over to Asia instead. We never know what kind of trip it's going to be until we're on it. We tell Nya that there's another trail over here, except it has tigers instead of gorillas. She says "Let's skip that one", so we go down to Dinoland. After potty stops and the purchase of Tinkerbell sunglasses, we get in line for the Triceratops Spin. We aren't sure what rock song it is that's playing in the queue, but she's dancing like crazy to it. We may have to spend some time in the Aerosmith Courtyard before the trip is over, and see if she likes my music too. About the third time around on the ride, Nya takes over the controls. We're all the way to the top, then all the way to the bottom, then repeat as often as possible until the ride is over. She loves the ride, but looks a little discomforted after we're off so we ask her what's wrong. "The sun is still coming through my sunglasses." Well, you got Tinkerbells, not Ray Charles. She says she wants to ride that again later, but within about 15 seconds she wants to go back to the hotel. We knew she would really love the Nemo show, but don't think she can handle the line or wait right now, so we're just going to have to be sad and miss it. (We realize now we could have made this all work by just bringing Belle this morning. Live and learn.) It's closes early, but if you get tired, you get tired. We do remind her that we still have to get Donald's autograph, and she's up for that. We also know we'll be able to catch the Lion King, so we'll suggest that when we get over there. We get our picture taken with Donald and get into the Lion King theater just in time for the preshow stuff. Nya's really putting a lot of energy into learning the Hand Jive. She loves the show, but the minute Scar's fire twirler gets going, she asks Grandma "Is there any way that can get over here?" She's very much locked into all of the songs, and the costumes and dancing as well. closed. We spend some time looking at the fishing scene near the theater, and she's wondering why Donald would go fishing for boots. "They won't even fit him." I know guys who wouldn't be caught dead wearing a fanny pack, partly because it sounds too effeminate. Well Nya's trying to start a trend that will make that worse, because she keeps referring to them as "fancy packs". She's reminding us of her oldest sister, and our first grandbaby trip. Now that we're headed out of the park, she has enough energy to walk. Skip, even. We've also discovered that there's a gravitational pull that affects her whenever she gets near shopping of any kind. But she's not just a girl who shops for the sake of shopping and sees all kinds of shiny things and is all "I want this, I want that." She's very specific as to what she's looking for (mostly dolls), and if it doesn't strike her immediately, she moves on. She confirms that she can go swimming after she plays with her dolls, and now she's thirty feet in front of us on our way to the bus. After we've touched base with all the dolls, we go out to the pool. Nya stands in the water on the stairs while we big kids just dip our toes in the too-cool water. She tells us that at home, she can go out in the middle because she has floaties or something, so we go over to the bin and find a teeny tiny life jacket that fits her perfectly. Now she's out in the three-foot area having a ball and decides she wants to go over to where the flowers are spraying in the pool, but needs me to come in before she does. But I don't want to come in, it's too cold. Laurie helpfully suggests that it's probably nice and warm after you get in, so I take the plunge. I haven't even gotten my breath back when Nya is gone like the wind toward the spray. Apparently she didn't need me to help her; I just had to be in the water somewhere. After serious naps, we head over to Epcot at about 7. There are Extra Magic Hours there tonight, but we thought we'd just see Spaceship Earth and maybe some of the Kid Stops around World Showcase and then see if we can hang around long enough to take in the Illuminations fireworks. Nya's intrigued by the bag check, and wants to know "Why does he want to know what's in my Fancy Pack?" She appreciates having a choice of what crackers or raisins or other snacks she brings, but why would that guy care? Good question. After we're through the line, she asks Grandma what he said. Grandma tells her he thanked her. "Did you say 'You're welcome'?" Yes. I guess it's never too late to make sure Grandma watches her manners. Nya doesn't like this park, because it's too windy. We had planned to do a water park tomorrow, but the weather report is calling for it to be the coolest day of our stay, with 10 to 20 mph winds, so we'll probably adjust our schedule. Especially now that we know Nya doesn't like the windy parks. We encounter a first for all of us on Spaceship Earth, with the ride stopping right in front of the first scene. We've been stopped plenty of times before, but usually just for the length of a wheel chair load. This time the wait is at least ten minutes, and includes two cast members with flashlights hiking up the trail beside us. And the scene with the growling wooly mammoth and the yelling hunters and the howling wind isn't necessarily the scene we would have chosen to park Nya in front of. She's a little nervous through the ride, probably because of the initial stop, but Laurie's talking her through it and telling her all about how when we get to the top we'll be able to see the moon and the stars and everything. As we enter the top room, Nya says "Looks like a planet to me." Laurie tells her that's what she meant to say, that's Earth. "Are we in space?" On our morning walk, Nya and I had seen some hot air balloons in the distance, so when we enter the Land pavilion I point out to her that we have some pretend hot air balloons here. "Not all of them," she says, "one's the Earth." We had never noticed it before, but the top one is in fact Earth. We apparently can't tell the difference between the earth and the moon or a hot air balloon -- she must be wondering what kind of goobers she brought on this trip. During dinner at the Sunshine Food Fair, she's already planning her 2 ½ year old sister's trip, telling us the things she's really going to love about Spaceship Earth. After dinner we manage to get in the front row of the Living With The Land boat, and she's giggling because "That's real water". There's adventure everywhere here. And then the questions. "Is that tree fake? Is that lightning real? Why do they call it a prairie dog if it doesn't look like a dog?" And then when we leave the fake half of the ride and get out where the plants are, "It looks like we're in the Ball again." We've got to the point where we don't notice the dome anymore, but it is kind of cool. For no apparent reason, she's particularly excited about seeing the pineapple. And then the baby alligators are "Aw, so cute!" To prove she understands the concept of farming, she sees the shrimp tank and says "Yummy" and giggles. We've already reached the point in the trip where escalators are no longer intimidating. In fact, you can actually walk up them while they're moving and jump over the yellow line at the end. Outside we encounter a group of 12-year-old cheerleaders from a school for the homeless. We know this because they're chanting "We don't got no place to go, we're hobos!" We're headed out of the park now because Nya says she's getting a little tired. But we do spend about five minutes jumping around on some colored lights shining up out of the sidewalk, and then another five minutes doing likewise on the next batch. Apparently 'tired' is a relative thing. At the front of the park she informs us that she doesn't want a balloon. Not that anyone had asked. "When I keep getting balloons they just keep popping." Very sensible approach. She's trying to determine if one of the many buses we see approaching is ours, but "Grandma, it's hard, because all the buses have the same letters on them." True, they all say "Epcot". With tomorrow's cold forecast shooting down our water park plans and Nya's minor sadness on the bus because "I don't like it when I miss fireworks", we guess we'll make tomorrow our Epcot day.