Friday, December 5, 2008

Make A Wish Day 5

Thursday, December 4 was the fifth day of Max’s Make-A-Wish Trip. We’d been running long and hard for four solid days and tried to recharge a little by taking it easy this morning and not arriving at Animal Kingdom until 10:30 am. Max, of course, had been up far earlier as he was looking forward to lunch at the McDonalds inside Dinoland. The park didn’t seem too crowded so we took our time going in and stopped for photos outside the gates and then twice more for different angles of the Tree of Life. Once we’d had our fill of photos we headed off to the Kilimanjaro Safari. There we saw plenty of animals and were entertained by our driver.

From the Safari we headed to Restaurantosaurus in Dinoland. We’d done lunch here in the past because they had Max’s favorite –the Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. Oh the horror when we learned it was no longer a McDonalds. In retrospect, a flag should’ve gone up when we found that the character breakfast that used to be at this location was moved to the Tusker House and had a completely different menu but Bob had incorrectly assumed this was just an attempt to dress up the breakfast location a little (it was a McDonald’s after all). Max was so upset that he had a little rant and then through his hat in disgust because we had promised and we were ruining his life. It so did not look well :( Bob was able to get him to pick something to eat, a hot dog and fries, and then he and Gwendolyn got on line while Tracy found a place to sit with Max and Olivia and fed those two their yogurt and fruit. Ordering lunch made things even worse. Well, getting lunch was the real trial, ordering actually went very smoothly. In Bob and Gwendolyn’s little queue there was one woman in front of them. Oddly, the first meal to come out for their queue was the gentleman behind Bob. Maybe he just had a small meal? Nope. The next one served was a good five minutes later and was again someone behind Bob. Of the six service lines that were going all had at least two orders kind of stuck while people behind were getting served. One of the servers finally, after at least 10 minutes of people having to step awkwardly around those that had ordered before, realized what was wrong and grabbed a series of meal tickets from the holder on the counter. Now things were going to get fixed! Nope. No idea whatsoever what happened to that troglodyte but it took another 15 minutes before a manager finally came out, got all of the orders reprinted, and got the people at the front of the queue served their meals.

Bob had assumed that he’d be walking from this little slice of heaven into a far worse slice run by an agitated Max that had now had nearly 40 minutes to stew over just how ruined his life was becoming. Imagine Bob’s great surprise to find Tracy, Max, and Olivia laughing and having finished their yogurts, fruits, and juice. Things were starting to look up. While everyone else was eating, Bob called Amy, our Disney guru, to confirm that there was a McDonald’s in Downtown Disney where we planned to go later for souvenir shopping. He had to do something for Max as he had adjusted so well to this deviation.

After lunch we ran down to Camp Mickey Minnie to do meet and greets with some characters while we waited for 1:30 pm which was when we were supposed to meet Allie, Max’s teacher’s daughter. Donald was on break but his line was really long because people were waiting for him. However, Daisy was holding court in the hut and either those in line had already seen her or decided to just wait for Donald because the three kids ran right up to see her. The Disney photographer got some good pictures of them running up as well as group photos.

On our way to Mickey’s hut, we saw that Kona from Brother Bear was out and about so we got on line to see him and another bear. We did Kona, Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy before 1:30 pm. The line for Donald was a little too long so rather than risk it we decided to go to the meeting place at the exit for the Lion King show. There Tracy, accompanied by Max and Gwendolyn, talked to a cast member about Allie to find out what more we needed to do. Bob was standing further back with Olivia when the doors for the exit opened and a tremendous crowd came out making it impossible to join back up until all had passed by. Olivia took this time to climb all over jungle gym Bob but only kicked a few passersby.

Once we all got back together we learned that Allie would come and see us soon and soon it was; our Disney angel walked out just a few minutes later. Allie, Tracy, Gwendolyn and Max talked but Bob couldn’t hear much of it with the crowd noise so the details are sketchy but he saw the kids get pictures with Allie and got her to sign their autograph books. What happened next was that we were escorted in to the theater via the exit and then taken to front row, VIP, seats in the elephant section. A few minutes later Allie ran back and asked the kids to come with her to help start the show! Max thought it was great but Olivia decided now was a good time to be shy and wouldn’t budge. Gwendolyn wanted to go but was also being shy. Bob let her know that this would never happen for her again and she’d be very upset with herself if she didn’t participate. Remarkably, she took the advice (though we understand that this will stop in two years when she turns 13 :( ), and Allie, Max and Gwendolyn taught the audience how to do the hand jive. The kids had a little trouble keeping up with Allie, especially at the end when it was really fast, but they had a great time!

The show was awesome! We were sitting so close to the action that the kids got high-fives from many of the cast. We’ve seen it before and thought it was a great show but sitting this close was very cool. At the end of the show, while the lights were still down but the cast was still on the floor, Allie came over and said, “Follow me.” We all jumped up and ran after her to end up in an alcove where she said Max and the girls would meet the cast in a few minutes. That meeting was fantastic! Everyone came out in costume so the pictures are full of brilliant colors. Timon (a character from the Lion King movie) made an appearance as well so the kids got pictures with him and autographs. It was a great visit but Allie had another show to get ready for so we had to say our goodbyes.

We got out after most of the crowd had dispersed so the line to see Donald Duck was minimal. The kids got pictures and autographs with him and Max took a moment to let Donald know that he had made a mess of Mickey’s house (in Toontown at the Magic Kingdom) and that he really needed to make sure he cleaned up. Donald just looked away. On our way out of Camp Mickey Minnie we saw Pocahontas for autograph and pics followed by a trip to the ice cream stand. Max didn’t want anything, Gwendolyn had a fruit bar and Olivia completely wore the Mickey Mouse ice cream thing that she had ordered so it took a while to clean up.

From there we were on our way to Expedition Everest where the agreement with Max was that if Olivia was tall enough he, too, would have to ride. He remembered that the ride went backwards, something he isn’t very fond of, so he was hoping that Liv was too short. In route we learned that the parade was starting in a few minutes so we took a spot that looked good as we’d never actually seen the Animal Kingdom Parade. Max and the girls sat in front of the stroller and within just a minute or two, Max had folded himself up, lying across his pretzel lap, and fallen asleep. He was the talk of most people around us for the next 10 minutes or so. The parade was fun and what we realized, because we had such great seats at the Lion King show and could see the cast members there close up, was that many of the folks in the parade were from the show. One of the men came up to Olivia and asked if she could light her shoes up for him, as she had done during the Lion King show. That was fun.

We made a quick detour into It is a Bugs Life. Max had said that he didn’t want to go in as early as yesterday so he was more than reluctant. Olivia did not like how dark it was inside and everyone but Bob (who can’t smell anything, ever) hated the stink bug part of the show. I think that show may get by passed the next few times :) We got out and headed to Expedition Everest where Max was overjoyed to learn that Olivia was at least two inches too short for the ride. Gwendolyn argued this for a bit but Bob, Max, and Olivia split while Tracy and Gwendolyn did the ride with Max’s fast pass.

Because Max hadn’t wanted ice cream earlier, Bob offered him a soft serve at a cart. He only wanted vanilla but Olivia wanted more ice cream and would only take chocolate so we compromised on a swirl of the two. Bob paid, took the ice cream and asked Max to grab some napkins and we headed toward the restroom area that we had just stopped at, prior to splitting, because there were several unoccupied benches there. Or so Bob thought! Bob got Olivia’s stroller parked so that she had a good view and then realized that Max wasn’t there. In less than 200 yards and in a fairly thin crowd, Bob had lost Max! It didn’t take long to spot him in his neon green Make A Wish T-Shirt so Bob and Olivia walked over to the group that Max was talking to. He was in the middle of about 15 people and they were obviously all talking to him. Bob was hoping that Max had decided to ask someone about the most recent state quarter or jumped into a conversation that he found interesting but this was not the case. While Bob didn’t run, he also didn’t crawl so the time that had elapsed over the 200 yard walk was well less than a minute. However, during this brief period of time, Max had 1) gotten a pile of napkins, 2) decided he was lost when he didn’t see Bob (who is freaking huge, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and pushing a stroller), 3) and flagged down a group of people whom he informed of his status as well as Bob’s cell phone. The group saw Bob well in advance of Max. When Bob was pointed out to Max, Max did get excited but didn’t seem all that distressed. However, when Bob and Max got a chance to talk afterwards it was learned that Max really did think he’d been abandoned for about 14 or 15 seconds and he thought that he had done just what he’d been told to do if lost. He was close but had forgotten about the “look for a name tag with mouse ears” part of the rule. Thankfully it happened in the nicest place on earth and he wasn’t really lost (at least that is Bob’s story and he’s sticking to it).

The older girls loved the ride and Gwendolyn wanted to go again but it was getting late (around 5 pm) and we still wanted to try and do the few rides at Epcot that the kids were looking forward to before heading to Downtown Disney for dinner. On the way out of the park we stopped by Guest Services to check on two Disney passes that we had left over from our 2004 trip to see if they could be used tomorrow by Bob and Tracy. We were hoping that each had a day left from that previous trip when Amy and Tara had not done the parks but stayed at the rental house with Owen and Olivia to rest up. Imagine our surprise when we learned that we, in fact, had 2 days left! That was great, but now we have 2 more adult tickets and 2 kid's tickets that might still have 1 day left on them but we need to find for the next trip.

On the heels of that great news we headed to Epcot arriving there at 5:40 pm. We left everything in the car because we weren’t staying long. We made a bee line for Turtle Talk and walked in just as the show was starting. Having Max get picked the last time we were here to describe a bikini had set the bar very high. While this show was fun, it was far more entertaining to have Crush talk to Max about Max wearing a bikini top to the beach while Max thought he was only talking about a bathing suit. On the way out, all 3 kids decided that they wanted to do the Nemo ride which Bob had thought was somewhat less than entertaining on our last trip. Bob was correct but it only took 5 minutes out of our lives.

From there we went to Soarin. On our last trip Bob and Olivia had stayed outside because she was far too short for the ride back then. Now, everyone was tall enough, but Max was not looking forward to the ride as he has a minor fear of heights. He agreed that he would sit next to Tracy, hold her hand the whole time, and close his eyes if things got to be too much. He did fine and everyone had a great time. From there we headed to our last ride of the day, Test Track. Here we saw a friend of Gwendolyn’s from school, Emily. Neither had known the other was in Disney the same week so that was nice, unexpected surprise.

We ran back to the car and then raced over to Downtown Disney to get dinner at McDonalds and finish the souvenir shopping. The parking lot was packed but we finally found a spot and we were done with dinner at 8:37 pm! We went over to the Disney store where Tracy and the girls went their way and Max led Bob on what was expected to be a long, painful, and possibly horrifying journey. Max was done in five minutes! He had decided he wanted some Matchbox type cars that were $5.00 each. He had done the math ahead, and had picked his cars during his other trips. He struggled a little bit because the Star Wars cars were not available but getting both C3PO and R2D2 was going to put him over budget. Bob let him know that because we were done so quickly he could get both cars the next day at the Magic Kingdom where we’d seen them earlier in the week. Bob cannot describe how wonderful and unexpected this was. Max had been brutal to pull out of the stores for the entire trip, insisting on stopping at each and every kiosk to scope things out and taking a really long time to do so. Here, it paid off handsomely though. He didn’t even ask for anything else. It can be so hard to try and guess what he is thinking, but often comes through at times like these. To his credit, this kind of thing happens more and more with him as he ages and the tantrums that involve throwing his hat are becoming few and far between.
Max and Bob were finished and able to find the girls again within about 10 minutes. Olivia had found her souvenir so Bob took she and Max back to the counter to pay for these purchases and pick up a discounted (Disney discounted anyway) duffle bag to bring all of the purchases home. After this, Bob and Max tried to help Gwendolyn figure out something appropriate but she was having a very hard time. She is at a stage in her life where she understands that things cost money and is unwilling to spend money on herself or have people spend their money on her. That mentality made for a long time in the store but she finally found something she liked. Gwendolyn rejoined Tracy to finalize shopping while Bob, Max and Olivia headed outside to ditch the chaos at 9:46 pm. By 10:17 pm, all three kids were sound asleep in the car as we headed to hotel to pack and prepare for the last day of our trip.

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