Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Magic & Special Effects

Once upon a time I asked Kiana what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said a princesses... I got more than a few reprimands when I redirected her and said there was no such things as princesses. It would take time, and perhaps  a cancer diagnosis before I understood that I don't know if my home is my castle but there's been a princess living there all along. And so while it's tough to watch her grow up somedays in the best of my hearts I think she's always been and always will be a princess. 

Kiana has picked up some of my slightly cynical "focus on reality" approach. Still she arrived at Disneyworld incredibly excited about all that we would do. Still she said something as we arrived and talked about the Hollywood themed park that I was a little sad to hear "Magic is just another word for special effects." Still, only moments after we arrived, we were staying in the Animal Kingdom Lodge where there were giraffes just outside our room window before going to sleep. In the morning there would be zebras and birds that I didn't recognize. We hadn't even gone to sleep when she said this place was amazing and this was going to be the best vacation.

When the day finally started, as the shows got greater she felt water splashed and smelled things during 3-dimensional shows that showed far more dimensions than she'd ever seen. It was during the Frozen sing along show that I realized that actually this was the first time in forever that Kiana and I got to take a trip that we didn't have a race to do (still with a late arrival and no alarm clock, Kiana woke up with conviction and woke me up first.  This was a surprise since wile she is always a beauty but can be a little grumpy after first waking up from sleeping). With each ride, she kept asking if it was real or how did they do that? I generally love trying to explain the world to her but a lot of the questions I didn't know the answer to or was so mesmerized I wasn't sure it was worth figuring out.

Part of it was that I grew up in Mexico without money or even the concept of theme parks really. So the scariest roller coaster or Twilight ride were first time for both of us. It seemed appropriately eery that the only day we had a dark cloud in the sky was right before we cross over into that Zone...There that little girl hung on with conviction to me like she never had before. She made it clear that no matter what I wasn't going to let her go. I might have pretended the entire ride since this was the scariest one I'd ever been on that I was holding onto her for her sake... Some of the people who recommended going there with her or calling it the happiest place on earth described the memories they had there with their parents, or siblings and how they'd go back as an adult to relive them even without children. With Kiana and I do it, it was two people of similar maturity enjoying it. She seemed the perfect age and on many of the rides she was so excited she was just exactly the right height to go on and some were frighteningly fun enough to where there was more than one way I wished she wasn't grown up quite so fast.

I couldn't even begin to describe the number of things we did and saw in any one day period because from the day we arrived on that planet and blinking stepped into the sun, there was more to see than could ever be seen, more to do than could ever be done. Still there were moments that amused me in all areas. There was a stroller parking area at almost every place... Kiana and I laughed that while we'd done many races in many places with a stroller, she was the one who was fast passing by me and telling me to hurry to get to the next thing, no stroller necessary. She had an autograph book but very rarely used it deciding that the waiting time was best saved for experiences than for a few moments with the disney celebrities. I've been in too many waiting rooms but the faces she got at the end of each of these were the best results I've ever seen out of any line I've stood in. The questions kept coming, how did they make that chocolate stamp of lady and the tramp, how did the water come on fire during fantasma, how did Mickey disappear from here to there and end up in a different outfit? Whether the hugs of fear on the ride or the hugs of thank you or affection were tighter, I can't really tell but I'm fairly certain they were all much tighter than the ones to the Disney characters because you know those you share home is where when you gotta love the most.

Still, in enchanted tales with Belle they chose many kids for many different parts but the first one was chosen was Kiana for the part of the beast. I am not sure I'd agree with that analysis other than that I don't know anyone who in the end chases beauty with more conviction than Kiana. They would choose two adults in the audience to play the guards based on how well we could march in place and the runner in me turned on. Turns out even in a guarded castle these legs have to keep moving to protect a princess. Don't believe me? Ask the dishes.

Still as we went wonder by wonder, over sideways and under, the place that we would spend the most time was on the very first day in Hollywood Studio. It wasn't in a line, or at a show or in a ride but in a place meant to replicate the scenery from Honey I shrunk the kids. One of the great beauties of it was that by then Kiana was letting me know it wasn't actually a gigantic place but that the machine really had shrunk us as we went in. I gotta say it's a good thing I work out because the tiny places she wanted me to join her and some new friends through, down and up were making me realize that Kiana had been shrunk more than me... it was great fun.

There'd be character parades, sing alongs where Kiana was singing at the top of her lungs, pirate performances, adorable aliens, light shows. Rides down Mt Everest in roller coasters where Kiana held on which endeared me even more to life.  I took and shared more pictures in 3 days than I ever had in anything ever. There was never a time Kiana needed a break and it was a good thing I knew how to buckle down and keep going when exhausted because we were there pretty much from when the park opened till it closed each day.

The last day was in the Animal Kingdom, the place where we'd see many real animals along with characters and animation and bones of creatures like dinosaurs long extinct.Still with a little girl who makes me walk around every single bug or snails she ever sees on the ground as she rescues them and puts them into safety, it was good to see her eyes wide open asking questions about every rock and tree and creature, their life, their spirit and their name. They had a safari expedition where we got to see real lions and zebras and hippos and alligators and Kiana pointing every direction. She realized that while she'd been to zoo this was the first time she'd seen many of these animals without glass or a fence. Those weren't approachable but the place we'd spend the most time was at the petting zoo and show where she raised her hand more to either answer or ask questions. Perhaps that's how you ever achieve any balance in knowledge in life... I bring back a shot glass from everywhere I go (though at DisneyWorld they don't sell those but they sell something similar called a toothpick holder). Reminded that somehow getting to be entirely on this adventure was entirely bonkers, I told Kiana a secret that some of the people are. We picked a toothpick holder with Alice looking into things that said curioser and curioser...

We were passing by Mickey and Minnie as they were ready to sign autographs between all these and even at 35 years old meeting them from the first time somehow felt pretty cool but I kept it together :). I actually was thinking about Jungle Book about how on the last day I'd reach the top and the vacation was about to stop but the privilege of the fun made it less likely that it was going to be bothering me. It honestly felt pretty cool and made it feel real what was posted in various places from Walt Disney "Never forget that this all started with a mouse."

The last thing we'd do before heading out of there is catching the Lion King festival... felt appropriate for the Leon's. Somewhere the combination of songs and lights and humans flipping was the grand conclusion. With some great meals and times, we'd gotten Hakuna Matuta, no worries for 3 wonderful days. She gave me a huge hug as we got on the plane and thanked me for the "best vacation ever!" She fell asleep on the plane hugging the stuffed animal she'd picked up. Those hugs, the affection having a chance to live uninterrupted and highlighted by such colorful fun surroundings was special. And if the effects of that had been just the experience and the laughter and the curiosity growing that alone was plenty special. But the memories have kept coming up of things I never knew I never knew she noticed. And those hugs before, there, after, those call backs meant Disney had some great special effects and that, to me, that's magic. 

1 comment:

  1. You have a very special little girl, Iram, but then she has a very special Father! You two are quite the team and will have many more memory making moments the share. Thanks for sharing them they bring such joy to my heart!