Every year at this time things at my day job get CRAZY!! Actually, they start getting crazy in October, but we won't focus on that. My method of escape lately has been to stare longingly at our Disney World pictures. And while staring I've managed to get a few of them ready to share. One of my favorite things we did, — yet really hope we don't need to do again to the same degree we did it this time — is meet the Disney Princess and characters. One of the reasons we made sure we went this year was because we feel the girls are on the cusp of disbelief. Even this year I'm not sure Big was 100% convinced that the woman in the fancy dress was Belle, but she still wanted to believe, so she did. (Probably didn't help that we met or saw at least 4 Belles. . . As well as Ariel with and without her tail.)
I don't usually gush. But I'm going to gush. I LOVE Disney World.
The grounds are immaculately clean. Everything is so beautiful. Major construction was going on while we were there, but it didn't detract at all. Every once in awhile you might see a crane peeking up from behind the barricade or hear a saw. They made every effort to keep the real world away from their magical dream world. And while I don't support living your entire life like that, it was a wonderfully needed escape for our family.
All the things were amazing, but what makes Disney World truly spectacular is the people. Every one we encountered seemed to honestly love working for Disney — no matter how menial their task.
When it came to the characters, I absolutely cannot say enough about them. When we met Mulan, we didn't meet a woman dressed up as Mulan. We met Mulan. They NEVER broke character. They had their mannerisms down. And most importantly, when they talked to my two little girls, they were the only kids in the world and they we so excited that they came to visit.
All of them were wonderful, however a coulpe of instances particularly stand out for me. You may not be able to tell from the photos I've selected, but Little Sis was particularly stiff & shy with the characters. She would stand awkwardly beside them until I reminded her to smile (which when posed is also awkward at this age, but I love it!)
When they went to give her a hug, she'd hold her arms close to her body and sort of side-hug into them — allowing the Princess to hug her, but not returning it. When I look at the photos from (the first) Snow White I tend to tear up with happy tears. Little was stiffly standing at her side, I reminded her to smile — or asked if she was happy, or something similar — and Snow White glances at her, sees how stiff she is, and starts talking with her and even tickling her a little bit. She very actively tried to draw Little out of her shell. She didn't have to. She could have just stuck with signing the autograph book while making chit-chat, taken the posed pictures and called it good. But she went the extra mile, despite the line of kids behind us, and made that encounter special for my daughters. The reward? A big, genuine two-arm hug around Snow White's neck with a real smile. Then Big, not to be left out, practically tackled Miss Snow from behind with a huge hug of her own. That'a girl! :)
One night for dinner we ate at Askerhus at Epcot which was a character dinner. I think on any future trips this is how we'll do Princess encounters unless we spot someone we've not "met" before or they're a particular favorite. The food was amazing, the girls got their photo taken with Belle who was the evening's hostess, and all evening we had princesses coming by the table. At the end of dinner we were given an 8 x 10 & a couple smaller photos of them with Belle. I just realized that I forgot to include my personal photo of them with Belle, but I suppose since I already have so many, you don't really mind. ;)
In the new Fantasyland area of Magic Kingdom there's a new attraction called Enchanted Tales with Belle. Children (and a few adults) are selected from the audience to portray various characters alongside Belle as they act out the day she and Beast met. Nate was chosen to be a suit of armor, Big was Felipe, Belle's horse and gave the cutest little neigh ever, and Little got to be Chip. It was a lot of fun. At the end, the cast gets to each pose with Belle and she gives them a bookmark.
Sometimes the characters are just standing on the side of the walkway, but as is the case with Tinkerbell, she has her own world. It was amazing. You can see a bit of it in the picture.
Jasmine and Aladdin are another set of characters that stand out to me. All morning Little had been talking about meeting Jasmine. She was wearing her Jasmine t-shirt. She wondered if Raja would be there. Then we get in line to meet Jasmine and Aladdin. And she absolutely, positively refuses to have her picture taken with them. I nearly force her because I KNOW she wants to, but blame her switch on being tired and once it came down to it, I couldn't bring myself to force her to do something as silly as meet a girl dressed up as Princess Jasmine.
So Big meets them by herself. They talk with her, take photos, and Big even gives Aladdin a hug. Then Aladdin & Jasmine notice Little hiding beside me. Aladdin makes some comment about "going over here," and essentially removes himself from the scene, and Little excitedly goes to talk with Jasmine.
While I'm sure this situation isn't completely new, I am so thankful that Aladdin (it's really weird to talk about people using a cartoon character's name!) was paying attention enough to recognize what the problem was even when we didn't. It may be silly, but just that little thing made this Mommy extremely grateful. Oh, and of course, we all had to get our picture taken with the man, er, Mouse himself. :)
These amazing people kind of make me want to quit my job, move to Orlando and go be a Disney Princess. Especially if the crazy doesn't stop soon! I think I'd make a good Snow White. Who would you be? xoxo Lori Danelle