We are home. Our trip is complete and mostly went off well. But, it wasn’t without some pitfalls. First, I underestimated the crowd calendar – big time. It was packed. Sunday we went to Magic Kingdom and it was as busy as I have ever seen (crowd levels were 10/10 each day). We spent 8 hours at magic kingdom and rode two rides. There were wall to wall people and the lines were beyond Mickey’s capability. So, we did other stuff – Country Bear Jamboree, Enchanted Tiki Room, Hall of Presidents, Swiss Family treehouse, Tom Sawyer’s island, etc. Those were far more tolerable. We had fast passes, but they were in the evening and were scheduled around the one fast pass that has eluded us for 12 months – 7 dwarfs mine train. Once the fast passes kicked in, our day improved. I won’t lie – Mickey wasn’t at his best on this day. He was frustrated and down a little sleep and he had a hard time containing his annoyance. We kept our point system going through the trip, though it was modified somewhat.
Saturday was awesome – we hung out with my friends who moved to Florida about 18 months ago, that morning at Epcot. That evening we connected with the kids’ kindergarten teacher and had dinner and took in some fireworks with her. This woman was hugely instrumental in getting us through our first year – I maintain to this day, that without her, we may not be sitting here as a family today. She was also Minnie’s kindergarten teacher and we adore her. She loves Disney even more than we do (and is possibly to blame for implanting the Disney bug in my kiddo’s heads). So, it was very cool to spend the evening with her in that place. Maybe even more significant – Mickey is obsessed with Sorcerer Mickey Mouse. We have wanted to see Fantasmic, but Mickey’s fear of fire has proven challenging with the Disney night shows – an attempts at Illuminations at Epcot was an unmitigated disaster – so we have held off. Mrs. B. talked to Mickey and he decided he wanted to try it. He did well and it may be our new favorite night show. Not only that, but he was able to enjoy the new Star Wars fireworks and then when we ferried back to our car at Epcot, we caught the rest of Illuminations. Mickey did great – not one freak out.
Monday we discovered the Wilderness Explorers program at Animal Kingdom. This became an obsession for Mickey, but both kids really enjoyed going to the various stations in the park and earning their badges. We had to change our Tuesday morning plans to finish up the program, but it was totally worth it. Both kids were “sworn in” as Senior Wilderness Explorers and were very proud of their accomplishment. Throw in 6 times on Expedition Everest and we had a very nice day and a half at Animal Kingdom. Monday night we headed back over to Magic Kingdom after some rain cleared out the crowds and we did some serious rides – knocking out all of our favorites and all the classics.
The trip was successful, but not without bumps. But, that is how Disney is for us. Mickey has mostly mastered his dealing with the things about Disney that he finds frustrating, and chooses instead to focus on the ways he loves Disney. We always find something new for him to challenge himself and he does well. I am kind of glad that it is just the three of us – I fear throwing someone else in the mix, like we did on the cruise, would ruin the magic for both kids. We have figured out how to do Disney with our particular flavor of Autism. We get asked for Disney advice a lot, but while we go every 6-8 weeks, we are only experts on getting through our day while having fun and managing frustrations. I am not sure how typical people do Disney and I know for a fact that my mother would be appalled by how much work it takes to keep Mickey in a good place (mainly work by Mickey, but it takes 4 times as many prompts/reminders from me and a lot of deep pressure breaks, etc by me). She would tell me it isn’t worth it. I say it is because of these faces: