Trick Or Treat

I went trick-or-treating.  Yes, I am 59 years old.  Yes, I thought it was appropriate.

Some friends and I went to Disney World to participate in Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  This is an extra admission (of course, because why wouldn’t we pay another 75 bucks for the privilege of spending a few hours at a park to which we have already laid out hundreds of dollars to buy annual passes?) event that celebrates the holiday most people observe on October 31.  Disney celebrates that holiday on numerous select evenings in the Fall… starting in August.  In Florida

Let’s just be clear.  There is nothing like a crisp autumn evening creeping into a spooky, chilly night when the sun goes down early and the harvest moon spreads an icy hand over the earth.  And this was nothing like it.  We went in mid-September. The sun didn’t go down until nigh on eight o’clock.  “Crisp” doesn’t really exist in Central Florida.  In September, the weather is more accurately described as “limp.”  There is enough humidity in the air to drown a goldfish.  Disney has to pipe pumpkin fragrance into the crowded streets because real pumpkins would rot on contact with the atmosphere.

When a friend called to ask if I wanted to go to the event, I hesitated.  I’m not much of a night owl.  I rarely go out after dark.  My bedtime, forged by years of rising at zero dark yesterday for work, is ridiculously early.  I don’t get up super early anymore, but I also don’t seem to go to bed any later than I did when I was working.  I just don’t seem to have any endurance for more than twelve hours or so of activity each day.  I also don’t like driving late at night.  When my friend said she would drive, I decided my stick was stuck way too firmly in the mud for my own good and I agreed to go.

I’m kind of glad I did not look the event up on the internet until after I committed to attending. When I did look at the website, I noticed that the party went from 7:00pm until midnight.  For a “not so scary Halloween party,” that seemed pretty scary to me. If I had known the witching hour for the party actually was midnight, I might not have gone.

I am a grown woman.  It really shouldn’t be a problem to stay up past the end of prime time.  Since I had committed to go, I tried to let the whole “I can’t stay up too late” thing go and just chillax.  I didn’t quite succeed.  About a week before, I broke down and texted my friends to see how late they intended to stay.  I was relieved when they shared that they planned to stay until after the fireworks, which I figured would be over by about 10:30.  That would mean getting home around midnight, which is still later than I’ve stayed out in years.  However, somehow leaving at 10:30 seemed MUCH more doable than staying until midnight and I was able to manage my irrational anxiety about actually seeing the moon in the sky.

The evening of the party was…. SURPRISE… hot. And humid.  I was wearing a black polyester t-shirt with orange witch-hat-wearing Mickey Mouse heads all over it.  Given the weather, I fully expected that the pattern would infuse my skin and I would have Halloween Mickey Mouse heads more or less permanently tattooed on my body when I peeled the shirt off at the end of the night.  The park was also pretty crowded.  I thought that the idea of paying the extra event admission was, at least in part, to minimize crowds.  I thought wrong.  The other thing I noticed throughout the evening was that there were a lot of people in those crowds who weren’t behaving very nicely.   I go to Disney fairly often, so it isn’t like I have no experience with theme park manners meltdowns.  I have to say, though, that I have never heard so many impatient, rude remarks as I did that evening.  I think a lot of people had been park-haunting in the heat all day before the party even began and desperately needed a nap, preferably one in an air-conditioned room.

The trick-or-treating portion of the evening was pretty fun.  There were candy stations all over the park.  I have heard tell of people collecting enough candy in a single evening to stock a small store.  I’ve seen pictures on line showing serious hauls of five pounds of candy per trick-or-treater.  My friends and I can go to Walmart and buy candy, so we were not that interested in schlepping around the sweet equivalent of a five-pound free weight the entire evening.  We just visited the first candy station.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that our treat package of candy was…, CHOCOLATE!  It was even more impressive that the chocolate remained formed into bars and had not melted into chocolate goo.  I had figured that hard candy and jolly ranchers would be the order of the evening, as I just didn’t see chocolate holding up to the weather.  Go figure.  Must have been a little pixie dust magic!

The lines for rides and character meet-and-greets were not shorter than regular Disney waits.  In fact, I’d say they were longer.  We went on the Haunted Mansion because, well, we were celebrating Halloween… and there was some pretty cool entertainment outside in front of it.  We also went on Pirates of the Caribbean, which was a fantastic surprise because Disney had changed some of the ride details and had incorporated some live pirates into the mix.  We tried to watch the show and the parade and the fireworks and we saw a little bit of all three events.  The crowds were so large, it wasn’t really possible to really see anything.  I fancy it was a bit like being in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  You aren’t going to really see anything more than a few inches away from you, but you still have an exciting, electrifying experience.

In fact, the entire evening was sort of like that.  We had a really fun time, but not because of any particular entertainment.  It wasn’t about the rides or the shows or any of the normal Disney daily delectables.   The event is called “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party” and the emphasis is on the party.  There was music and people and energy.  It isn’t so much an evening at the Magic Kingdom as it is a happening.  The most fun was watching the people in costumes, getting carried away by the mood, and enjoying the fine art of play.  And doing it all with friends.

So, thanks to my friends Babs and Kathy for pushing me out of my comfort zone and into the shadows for a not so scary evening!

Have a boo-tiful Halloween!

What do you have planned for Halloween?  Is your celebration different now than in an earlier time in your life?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com. 

Terri/Dorry 😊

REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

 

Bopworthy

As I agonize over whether or not I should do the “character couture” experience at Disney World, my friends have been egging me on. As I mentioned in my prior post, “Bippity Bop or Not”, they are downright giddy over having a designated dufus to play dress-up at our happy place. They are looking forward to seeing a real-life pixie duster magically transform me into Tinker Bell before their very eyes. If I do it, I will provide them with all the entertainment of the experience without the strange looks from the passersby on Main Street, USA.

In an effort to push me over the top and persuade me to commit to the activity, a friend sent me a video published by an internationally-known sophisticated magazine that is named after a cocktail (I’m looking at you, Helen Gurley Brown.) The video described the “Bippity Boppity Boutique for adults” available at some Disney World resort salons. The video showed several “everyday” (if you live in The Valley Of The Dolls) twenty-somethings morphing into princesses at a highly improbable rate of speed.

I responded to my friend that it did look life fun, but asked if she noticed that none of the adult princesses-in-the-making appeared to need their gray roots touched up as part of the makeover. I knew I was getting perilously close to cresting the summit of my indecision and was about to succumb to the magic of the pixie dust. I told my friend that, to push myself over the top of the mountain of my angst, I needed reassurance that I haven’t completely lost touch with reality. Clearly, I don’t mind living in Fantasyland, but I like to at least keep one foot in the real world.

My friend responded by pointing out that one almost never sees a 3X-sized model. I agreed and also pointed out that the magazine in question is especially keen to showcase the beautiful people of the world. I pointed out that the Cocktail Magazine target audience probably thinks every woman self-destructs on her thirty-fifth birthday, if she has the bad manners to live that long. There are some exceptions, of course. Jennifer Aniston and Hallie Berry probably get a pass. Then there is Meryl Streep. She might be granted a 35-and-older dispensation. After all, everyone wants to be her…. granddaughter.

My friend is right that far too few businesses use people remotely resembling an average person to display their wares. Most models need the XS size altered to prevent the garment from slipping off their hipbones. I am always excited and impressed when I see a company, like television shopping channel QVC, use models of all shapes, sizes, and ages. It is an interesting turn of events to be able to visualize what an article of clothing might look like on MY body, not the body of a woman in dire need of a cheeseburger. It is also incredibly heartening to see these multi-dimensional models portrayed as beautiful, desirable, and successful. The shorter…older… plumper… whatever… models seem to be comfortable and happy. They don’t apologize for breathing air or occupying space. They don’t try to hide themselves, hoping nobody notices them. They engage boldly with the world. Their lives seem more than, not less than. They are excellent models.

My friend asserted that everyone is in Fantasyland in their heads and everyone wants to look like a model. She is probably right, but I hope we are beginning to create a culture where the word “model” has a broader (pun intended) connotation than it has traditionally held. The truth is, we are all beautiful. We become even more beautiful when we live in the world believing that we are all beautiful and worthy of creating something wonderful in our lives.

So, despite my age and despite my pudge and despite my short stature, I think I am Bopworthy. It doesn’t even have to be Fantasyland.

I just scheduled my date to be pixie dusted. I’ll let you know how I make out!

What attributes do you think a good “model” should have?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a model day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

My Place in the World

Hello.  My name is Terri and I am a Disney addict.

I never stood a chance.   From the time I was born, my parents called me Tinker Bell.  When I was five, we moved from New York to Anaheim.  Our house was literally in the shadow of Disneyland.  We could see the fireworks from our backyard.   I grew up thinking that Disneyland was the most marvelous “someplace special” that we could go on a family outing.  One year, my parents gave my brother and I the choice of going to San Francisco for my mother’s birthday or taking our usual annual trip to Disneyland.  I could tell that the “right” answer was to choose San Francisco, so I agreed.  I cried myself to sleep for a week.  The last present my father ever bought me was a personal license plate that read “TINKRBL.”  I kept that license plate for three cars.

I made six trips to Disney World in Florida while I was still living in California.  I never had any children and, as would follow, I have no grandchildren.  I enjoy watching kids experience the World, but I have never brought any there on purpose.  I am still Disney-crazed.    I have a wardrobe of Tinker Bell shirts, hats, shoes, and handbags that is the envy of four-year-old girls everywhere.  I even have a custom-made sweatshirt with Tink and her sister Periwinkle on it, proclaiming that “I am the Third Sister.”  For those of you not up on your Tinker Bell lore, google “Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings” to get a crash course on the sister reference.  It is all Tink all the time in my world.

When I retired and decided to move out of California to a more cost-friendly area, I feared my very DNA might just unravel if I ventured too far from the Happiest Place on Earth.  I ended up settling in central Florida, where I can get my Disney fix on a regular basis. Max and I put small children to shame in our passion for exploring all Walt Disney World has to offer.  I think I can see skid marks on our annual passes, if I look hard enough.

Disney knows how to entertain children of all ages, even those who are… let’s say… children emeritus.  Judging by the folks I see gracing the walkways of the Disney properties, I have to say that I am not the only one who revels in the Disney experience, despite being well past the age of reason.  After all, who needs reason when you have fantasy?

I have learned some valuable lessons in my adventures with Disney.  There are some things to keep in mind if you, too, are a bit more experienced than your average child and would like to wander the World without benefit of youngsters.  The most important thing is to have your own brand of fun.  If you are thinking of taking your inner child to the most magical place on earth, you might consider the following observations.

It’s all about you!

Stop worrying that you are a grown adult who is at Disney World without children.  If you want to do something, forget whether or not it is appropriate for an adult or if it is intended just for children.  If for some reason there is an age, height, or weight limit on something, some Disney cast member will tell you.  Just about anything on the property, even if intended for children, is available to you if you want.

Embrace the silly.  I always reserve my Fast Pass to visit Tinker Bell when we go to the Magic Kingdom.  The first time we went to Disney World, I really wanted to go to a character breakfast.  I thought that the characters visiting the breakfast might concentrate on families and children.  I thought, as a couple of oldsters unaccompanied by children, Max and I might be a bit on the fringes of things.  I still wanted to go.  I made advance seating reservations for the Cape May Café buffet. I was amazed at how well Disney manages these experiences.  The characters visit EVERYONE.  They float from table to table, regardless of the age of the occupants, spending a good deal of time with every party. Pretty sweet interpersonal skills for animals that can’t talk!

A Little Advance Planning Never Hurts

There are those who insist that a trip to Disney must be approached like a major military tactical battle.   They believe you must get to parks early, experience attractions in a particular order, and avoid liquids so as to minimize bathroom breaks.  I agree that, if you are bound and determined to see the most you can, it is important to be ruled by a grand plan.  On my first trip to Disney, there were many lists and spreadsheets involved.  It is possible, though, to enjoy your adventure without quite so much strategy, if you find the idea of a more leisurely, serendipitous pace more appealing.  With just a little bit of forethought, you can reach a balance between experiencing a great deal of what you wish to see at Disney World and taking things as they come.

The website www.touringplans.com is invaluable for deciding when to visit to avoid the most crowds.  For a small annual fee, you get access to a number of tools for deciding when to visit, include a crowd calculator which predicts a crowd level for each park, each day.  They have some special magical formula, which is pretty accurate.  Once in a while, they miss a cue, but their ratings are fairly reliable.  Try to plan your visit for days that are rated 6 or below.  Having said that, just know that, no matter what the rating, there will likely be more people there than you expect.  It’s Disney.  You aren’t the only one who wants to be there.

Take advantage of the Fast Pass system to select the attractions you most want to see BEFORE you visit.  Fast Passes will give you guaranteed access to a few of your “must-do” attractions at a specific, pre-arranged time without standing in the regular line. If you want to experience some of the more popular attractions, the Fast Passes can save you lots of time and aggravation.  The Disney website will allow you to select your Fast Passes 30 days ahead of time if you are not staying on property or 60 days from the first day of your reservation if you are staying on property.  Because so many people do reserve their Fast Passes ahead of time, it may be pretty much useless to try to get a Fast Pass once you get there.  If you didn’t get a Fast Pass and want to do something, don’t despair.  You may still be able to get on the ride with a minimal wait, depending on the attraction and the timing of your visit.

Know Thyself

If you are not as spry as you once were (or if, like me, you were never that spry to begin with), understand that there is a lot of walking around the World.  Max still refers to our first trip to Disney World as the “forced march across central Florida.” You might want to go into training before your trip by walking a little more each day for about a month, just to give your body a jumpstart for the increased demands you will make on it.  Also, manage your own expectations.  Instead of thinking you are going to go gallivanting from one end of a park to the other and back again and zig zag all over it several times in order to experience everything, figure out ahead of time which three or four attractions are your absolute “must-dos.”   Set your mind to be happy if you get to at least enjoy those attractions.  Then, have a list of other attractions that interest you and experience those as you run across them.  It is likely that if you think to yourself, “I’ll come back to this after I do so and so (at the other end of the park),” you will wilt before “after” comes and won’t make it back.  Keep hydrated, even if that means you have to take more frequent restroom breaks.  When you feel like a rest, go ahead and sit down and enjoy the scenery.

If you have mobility challenges, think about renting a wheelchair or scooter.  You can rent them at the parks and at Disney Springs.  Often, you can get a wheelchair in the parking lot to use to get up to the gate where you can rent a scooter.  You can also check out medical supply rental companies in the Orlando area.  They may be less expensive than Disney and may be willing to bring the wheelchair or scooter to your hotel.  Even if you do not normally need a wheelchair or scooter, you might want to get one for the visit since you will likely be covering way more real estate than you normally do.  You are paying a lot of money to visit Disney and you want to enjoy it.  If a scooter or wheelchair will enhance that enjoyment and give you the freedom to experience things you might not otherwise be able to do, it may be a great investment.

Don’t “Should” All Over Yourself

Remember to enjoy the moment.  This is good advice, no matter what you are doing.  At Disney, though, it can be really easy to get caught up in concentrating on all the big events that you “should” be doing.  Yes, you are paying a ton of money to go.  Yes, you want to get maximum enjoyment out of the trip.  But how do you define “maximum enjoyment?”  Is it seeing every parade and fireworks show?  Is it going on all the newest roller coasters?  Or is it slowing down enough to see the less-popular treasures and experience the serendipity?  Some of my favorite moments in the World involve times when I just happened to catch an experience that I didn’t know about or plan- awakening Tinker Bell in a shop in the Magic Kingdom, seeing the Mickey’s Philharmagic 4-D show in its soft opening, hearing a cast member call me princess, watching small children (who weren’t my responsibility) dance to pre-show music at the Epcot pavilions, sitting on the beach near the hotel at night watching the lights of the Boardwalk across the lake. Maybe “maximum enjoyment” is going back to the resort and taking a nap in the middle of the day or walking around the hotel’s beautiful gardens.   Sure, have a plan and make sure you experience the attractions that are important to you.  But stop and smell the churros, too!

Enjoy your own brand of fun at Walt Disney World.  You earned it and you deserve it.  Remember, you don’t have to be a rugrat to love the Mouse!

So what are your thoughts?  Are you a Disney fan, too?  What tips do you have for enjoying Disney as an “experienced” child?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a magical day, as they say in the House of Mouse!

Terri 🙂