Even More Magical

As you should know by now, going to Walt Disney World for me is the equivalent of getting to go to a second home. I know those parks, those rides, and all those good eats as well as I know my hometown. At Christmastime though, it becomes something even more magical.
I haven’t been to WDW at Christmastime in 12 years. Think about that Disney people. The last time I saw the Osborne Lights they were on Residential Street, Snow on Main Street was still novel and there was that great theater back in Tomorrowland for the Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas show. There was also, gasp!, no Holiday tag to Illuminations which I think might be the most tragic thing of all.
So, now that I had my Florida Resident Annual Pass, I headed down to WDW for Thanksgiving to take advantage of my sister being a fantastic person who was willing to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for a third time with me. Sadly, my body decided to cause issues this trip (the Celebration hospital is VERY nice FYI) so we missed our planned Thanksgiving feast at Tusker House but we discovered that the food court at Pop Century does a nice Thanksgiving meal on their own. The things you learn…
OK, so what was my favorite part of all the new holiday things I saw…that would be like asking me to pick only one favorite book. I adored the new location of the Osborne Lights on the Streets of America. The snow added a nice touch but I especially like the “dancing” lights (which is apparently it’s official name now…who knew?). Every 10-15 minutes, the lights “dance” to a song. It was fun to watch and see what they would do next! We also got there just in time for the lighting which I liked seeing – I think some of the impact is lost if you were to just wander in. Seeing all those lights come on at once was truly incredible.
Looking down the Streets of America
Next, is Epcot. This is my favorite park anyway but add in the Christmas element and it’s even better. I wish I’d had more time to go and watch all of the little shows in each country. We caught part of the show in Norway and their mischief maker Santa was fun to learn about. Also, apparently, you leave out Porridge and Ale for Santa in Norway. That is one St. Nick that knows what is up! We also didn’t have time for the Candlelight Processional but that is at the top of my list for next year. It’s something I know I will adore. I didn’t make a big push to see it this year because I missed the narrator I would REALLY love to see by a day. Next year Neil Patrick Harris (and if you don’t come, I will cry). Now, Holiday Illuminations. I love fireworks, well, let me rephrase…I love Disney fireworks. To see non-Disney fireworks is just sort of sad actually but I digress. As I was saying, I love Disney fireworks and Illuminations happens to be my favorite of them all. Holiday Illuminations adds a tag at the end. It is AWESOME in the true sense of the word. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many fireworks! And as always it goes beautifully with the music and adds a truly magical element during the holidays. We actually saw this twice and it was totally worth it!
The park that pulls out all the stops at the holidays though is Magic Kingdom. Home to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, MK is truly decked out in its holiday finery this time of year. Lights and garland are everywhere along Main Street USA and if you stay for a party, you also get snow on Main Street which is such fun to see. We attended a sold out Christmas Party so it was a bit crowded still. If we hadn’t been so tired, I think I would try to do the later parade and show because most of the families with kids do the early ones and then leave after the fireworks. I enjoyed the show in front of the castle – If nothing else, I do love watching the cast members in these shows. I sometimes think it would have been fun to be a dancer at WDW if only for the fun costumes  The parade was so much fun – I didn’t really remember it from before especially the smells! Yes, some of the parade floats come with their own smells like the Alpine float with Chip and Dale smells of pine and the Baking floats make me hungry from cookies even if I wasn’t feeling well. We did get some of the (free with your $60 ticket) cookies and I tried the apple juice rather than the hot chocolate. The juice was tasty! It had an added kick of cinnamon which I enjoyed. I would have liked it hot though even better. The new show on the Castle before the fireworks is wonderful! I liked it a lot better than the one they ran over the summer. I especially liked they have added a Wreck-It Ralph section to it – it was fun to watch Ralph and Felix wreck and then fix the Castle! Then it was time for Holiday Wishes. They had a bit of a mishap with the fireworks the night we were there – the close up fireworks were firing just fine but the larger fireworks went MIA for a bit. Luckily, they got it back on track for the finale and if you didn’t know better, I don’t think you would have missed them. I do enjoy the perimeter fireworks they have for the special firework shows – it’s fun to be “surrounded” by fireworks 🙂
Seriously, you’d think they couldn’t improve on the best sight in the world and then they do…
But wait! I forgot what I think is my favorite part of the Magic Kingdom at Christmas time. The Castle lights. A few years ago, Disney “iced” CInderella’s Castle with white lights to make it look like ice hanging all over it. We didn’t watch the lighting but it was truly a magical sight to see when we walked up to the Castle after eating. The lights will vary throughout the night but I think I prefer the blue best – truly makes it look like an iced confection!
Cinderella Castle at Christmastime
Yes, it is crowded this time of year, make no mistake but I think it’s worth it because at this time of year, the most magical place I know of gets a lot more magical 🙂
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Did Cinderella Eat Your Daughter When You Weren’t Looking?

From Goodreads

Sigh, I need to be careful here, I know. I don’t have a daughter of my own nor will I have one any time soon. I only have my experience as a daughter myself, along with four years of women’s studies where I read books like this by the dozens – particularly ones that look at how fairy tale mythology operates in today’s culture. I wrote my thesis on that after all. It was even focused on Cinderella. My conclusions dealt with the idea that Cinderella is an ever-adaptable myth; whether you put her in science fiction or horror. She is also at her best when she is surrounded by strong support groups, often female, rather than isolated as she is often pictured. Even Disney’s Cinderella had her band of faithful animal friends to fall back on for a dress. So, I’d say I came to this particular examination of Cinderella and how she translates in the modern world “girlie culture” with a fairly solid background of knowledge.

In Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, I agree with the main thesis. I cannot argue against the fact that the way culture and society inundate girls from the second they leave the womb with conflicting messages of pink, princess, sex and more pink is a problem. However, that problem goes in both directions because don’t we inundate boys with black, blue and how to be a “real” man from the start as well? I’d say gender modeling hasn’t quite gotten to the equality stage we’d like and science, as Orenstein explains, may not ever let the sexes be entirely on the same footing because, like it or not, some of it is genetic. There are some things we do seem to be hardwired to do, to be. What made me anxious reading this book was how anxious that made Orenstein. Is it a bad thing if there are a few inherent differences? Shouldn’t we celebrate those as much as we do when we make a step forward in gender equality? Wouldn’t it be slightly boring if we were all the same?

I know, it bugs me that I was wondering that too. But Orenstein is anxious, worried, almost obsessed with the fact that she might be somehow either not raising her daughter anti-girlie or not raising her girlie enough. As I am not yet a parent, I have to ask – does everyone get this worried about this? As I thought about my own childhood, I tried to think about my parents and how they approached raising my sister and me, opposites from the day we were born. I come from a Disney family so the Disney Princesses were always there in some fashion. I had a Beauty and the Beast lunch box for years in elementary school, I saw all the movies when they came out, and we went to the parks all the time. I, however, wasn’t a kid when Disney Princesses was a brand, when parents spend fortunes to let their daughters go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, when it seems like a family vacation to Walt Disney World is now somehow ruined because the little princess doesn’t get to have breakfast at the Castle with Cinderella.

Personally, I loathed wearing dresses as a kid (still do), had more guy friends than girls (that changed when I got to high school), could play tackle football with the best of them and wanted to be smart, brainy Belle when I grew up. The fact that she was a princess somehow didn’t really seem to register. She liked to read, she spoke her mind and she wasn’t afraid of the Beast. Oh, and I hated the color pink. I have made my peace with it over the years but I’d still pick blue over it any day of the week. My sister? Adores dressing up, loves pink, can ride any horse you put her on and will give you an opinion of any college basketball team in the country on demand. Now, I’d need to ask but I don’t think Mom and Dad ever fretted over whether to buy me the Barbie house versus a book nor do I think they worried when Ally discovered horses, makeup or declared her wish to become a sports broadcaster. I think they were just always present; paying attention, supporting us and letting us find our own way whether that was by decking out in pink and frills or enjoying earth tones and hiking boots.

And that brings me to my biggest issue with this book – I don’t think Orenstein needs to be that worried. She is ever present in her daughter’s life, a little girl who seems to have a healthy curiosity, who enjoyed Disney Princesses until she graduated to Wonder Woman and who sounds, quite frankly, that she is more aware of women stereotypes than I am. This is a little girl who asks questions and who has a mother informed, interested and open enough to answer and then see what her daughter does. Culture and society are not going to change any time soon. We still see trends today that we’ve seen from the 1950s. At the same time, there are new trends, trends yet to show themselves and trends we haven’t even thought of yet. Yes, Cinderella is always going to be there, be she in Ashenputtel, Cendrillon or Cindy garb, but I think the best way to deal with her is head on and see what happens. I think we may find our daughters just might surprise us. Or, maybe I’ll go into spasms of worry the second I have a baby daughter of my own but I think having a little more faith in ourselves as caretakers and our daughters as bright, intelligent women with equally strong women ahead and behind them will be the best cure to Cinderella fever we’ll ever find.