Disney with Special Needs: Trip Report Part 3

photopass_visiting_mk_7845109825Now that we’ve finally made our way through the whole first super-eventful day of my trip, it’s on to the rest of the adventure! We’re now up to Saturday, October 29. This was the day that I was able to snag a much-coveted dinner reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table so we decided that this would be the day that Hubtastic and I would celebrate our 6th anniversary. Now you know that means adventures, don’t you? Let’s go…

Day Two…or Why is the Photopass photographer upside down?

Now that we’re friends, there’s something you should know about me: I am not a pool person. Especially when it comes to Disney World. Every time that I hear people say that they take several hours off in the middle of their park days to go to the pool or plan whole days to spend sitting by the pool at their resort, I cringe. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I don’t like sunlight, I don’t like water, and bathing suits and I are not going to be holding hands singing Kumbaya anytime soon. Of course, I have a little one who absolutely adores water and so swimming is something she always wants to do.

The Art of Animation has some pretty amazing pools, but since Avalon finally achieved her dream of staying in one of the Finding Nemo suites, she opted for the Big Blue Pool right in the middle for our pool morning. She got all dressed up in her Ariel bathing suit, flip flops, and goggles, and I reluctantly got into my bathing suit along with a pair of pants and T-shirt. Let me give you a visual. You know those women who come out of the pool in their bikinis with their hair flowing behind them, all slow motion like they’re on Bay Watch? Take a look behind them and see the one dragging herself out of the pool in two layers of waterlogged clothes, hip-length hair stuck all over her face as she claws her way to land looking like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. That one would be me.

Fortunately hubby and my brother (Unken Justin) love to swim, so she went paddling off into the pool and was in her element. Only a couple minutes later, though, they came back with the realization that our super pale little one hadn’t gotten her customary slathering of sunscreen. I had asked the hubs to pack it before we left. Let’s just say that if our dining room table decided to go on an outing while we were on vacation, it would be fully protected from sunburn. Lesson #1: Check your sunscreen before heading out of the house. Make sure that you look at the expiration date, too. That stuff is only good for a year, and if you leave it in a hot car or in the garage, it loses its effectiveness. It is twice as expensive or more in the gift shop when you realize you don’t have it.

Once the swimming portion of our day was done, it was time to get ready for Avalon’s fancy, fancy makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Disney Springs. This is something that I treasure in particular because her first couple of trips she didn’t want to do it, then all of a sudden she had to do it, and it’s been a part of our trips ever since. There’s nothing like watching her be treated like the princess that she is. Usually we do the package that involves the makeup, hair, and nails, but we bring our own costume because my mother makes them. This year, though, she decided that she wanted to see what it would be like to do the whole shebang and get the costume and accessories as well. While I still prefer the look of the handmade costumes, it was pretty special to see her light up when she stepped into the enchanted dressing room and saw her new Cinderella dress. Lesson #2: Don’t get deflated if you can’t get an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Cinderella Castle (also – mini lesson – that is the correct wording. Cinderella Castle. Not Cinderella’s Castle. Stepping off my soap box now) The new one in Disney Springs is absolutely gorgeous and a far more immersive experience. The little one likes it far more than either of the other ones and has requested that we only go to this one from now on. No spoilers here, but have your camera ready when you step into the dressing room with your little princess and their fairy godmother in training closes the door. Speaking of cameras, Lesson #2a is make sure that you request the photographer get as many pictures of your little one as possible. In previous visits, we’ve gotten dozens of pictures. This time we got a grand total of 10. I was pretty disappointed.

So now that everyone was super dressed up and fancy, it was time to head to the Magic Kingdom for our anniversary dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. I had finagled a reservation at our absolutely favorite time – right before the fireworks – and was pretty excited about our celebration. Before we could get to the castle, though, we had to go through security. By now you have probably heard plenty of chatter about all of the new safety measures that have cropped up at the parks in recent months. When we went just last year there were no metal detectors and bag checks were fairly cursory. We were actually there the day that they pulled all toy guns, including bubble guns, out of the stores and stopped allowing them in the parks. Pretty soon after that, the metal detectors showed up and security personnel started doing “random checks”. Now, we didn’t get to see any of that last trip, so all we had to go on was what we had heard, and trust me, we had heard a lot. I read countless complaints about the hassle, but now that I have personally had an entire vacation of exposure to the security measures, I have a word of advice for everyone…it’s ok.

I was personally “randomly selected” almost every time that I went into a park, and three times went ahead and volunteered myself because the station happened to be in front of me and I figured I might as well. It takes seconds. They are friendly and accommodating. There is no pulling, yelling, or profiling of any kind. You go through the bag check, someone tells you you have been selected, you empty your pockets (of which I almost never have any so that’s something to keep in mind), and walk through. Done.

If your alarm goes off (spoiler: I kept forgetting to take off my anniversary pin and it went off a couple times) they wave their little wand around and then you go about your life. I saw every type of person who is ever in the parks being selected, and the only time I saw any drama at all was when a family tried to go to the Magic Kingdom on a non-party night in full costume, including a Snow White gown that dragged on the ground and several very realistic looking weapons. So not the fault of security. Poor reading skills. Lesson #3: Go with the flow when it comes to security. I personally think that every person should have to go through the metal detectors. On a single day not too long ago two people were found to be trying to bring guns into the park. If you don’t have anything to hide, you have no reason to balk at walking a few steps through what is essentially a doorway. Complaining isn’t going to make anything better for anyone and won’t get you out of the screening. If anything, it will make the people around you (I’ll be the poster child for this one) uncomfortable and unhappy. Pop on a smile, go through the detector, and then put it behind you and move on. It’s really that simple.

Once we made our way through security and down Main Street, we roamed around a bit before heading to the Castle. That is where we encountered the most dedicated PhotoPass photographer ever. I cannot stop singing the praises of MemoryMaker and won’t go on vacation without it. This man, though, was exceptional. Once he found out that it was our anniversary celebration, he took us to the front of the castle and literally laid down on the ground to get the perfect shot of us with the clock behind us. I will treasure those pictures forever. Even if I forgot to take off my purple MagicBand and it isn’t exactly the best accessory for my dress. We then went into the Castle and were ushered up to the restaurant. If you’ve never had the chance to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table, do it. It’s exceptional. We had let them know that it was our anniversary and that we love the table by the window for the fireworks, and they were able to accommodate us. Yay! Which brings us to Lesson #4: If you have a special request at a restaurant, don’t hesitate to ask. They can never guarantee that you’ll be able to get the table that you want, but asking at the podium when you check in gives you the best chance. If you’re celebrating something like an anniversary or a birthday, make sure that you let them know. No promises, but it might get you a little bit of special attention.

The dinner that followed was beyond wonderful. They prepared a special salad for me since the appetizer is a plate of cheese and meat, then created an amazing risotto, followed by raspberry sorbet that I could probably have bathed in and been happy. At the end, our wonderful waiter brought hublicious and me a cupcake with a candle in it for our anniversary. It was so sweet of him. The princesses were attentive as always, and my little one was happier than I think I have ever seen. She literally vibrated as Ariel approached. And then the fireworks. Oh, the fireworks. People say that Main Street is best for watching Wishes. Lies. If you want a truly breathtaking experience, go with Lesson #5: try for a window table at Cinderella’s Royal Table. They lower the lights and pipe the music into the restaurant when the show comes on, then you are completely surrounded by the light of the fireworks. The sound of the blasts is far less intense even though they are right above you, but the view and the feeling of being in such an exclusive environment is something that cannot be replicated.

So here we are! We made it through Day Two, the dreaded security, and even fulfilled our anniversary celebration dreams. But guess what? It wasn’t really our anniversary. That was the next day and there was plenty more fun to be had. Next I’ll invite you along for my actual anniversary and then to the Halloween party for some special needs insights into the spooky fun.

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Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop It’s Better in Vinyl.

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