The Weekly Peanut, Issue 164
After extolling on the virtues of Maleficent, D promptly went looking for Liv and Amy when she got home Wednesday. Their room was empty. "Mommy... where Amy and Liv?" Kiddo, I told you, they're not staying here any more. We'll see them Saturday, though...
Not good enough apparently. We made it through the week. D continues to be on reasonably good behavior. She continues to test us on pretty much everything. It's frustrating as a parent to ask your kid nicely to do something repeatedly only to be ignored until you are sharp with them. As I've said in the past though, I don't get to be the parent I want to be, but the one that she apparently needs. D has been stringing together more and more sophisticated sentences recently, and her memory continues to surprise us (particularly for locations). Ian and I both have had extensive talks with her school director recently, particularly since these particularly negative behaviors don't seem to show up in school at all. She said something recently that's really sticking in my craw, but I think in my heart I'm coming to terms with the fact that she is right: I'm not raising a toddler anymore, and I shouldn't be approaching her as such. She insisted that much of D's social maturity, reasoning, and language skills are closer to a 5 year old. Just goes to show, I am continually playing catch up as a parent. My kid, at some point, skipped more than a year ahead of me and now I've got to step up my game. Yeesh.
Saturday was going to be a significant day for two reasons: it was Amy & Liv's last day in the states and it was the last day to see Dream Along with Mickey (the longest running castle show in history). While I am not someone who can't get on board with change (I'm actually very excited for the new show that will debut in June), I can honestly say that some of the most precious memories I've made with my family at Magic Kingdom revolve around this show's ubiquitous presence in the hub. As the last weekend of spring break AND the last day of DAWM, we knew it would be crowded. The plan was to arrive early and camp out in front of the stage all day, taking shifts with the girls to go on rides between shows and having a little picnic, etc. The universe seemed to have different plans.
The raindrops started to fall as we waited in the bag check lines outside the park. Ominous, indeed. The forecast, constantly fluctuating, had consistently called for rain this day, but not until later. We'd planned accordingly with umbrellas, but we'd hoped to at least have a couple of performances before this deluge. At 10:20 when the first show was scheduled to begin, an announcement came on that due to the weather, the show could not happen, but they'd perform the singalong version which is just the finale song with the majority of the performers but no dancing or twirling and such since wet stage = endangered dancers.
The disappointment both from the crowds and the performers was palpable. Sure, it was better than nothing, but this abbreviated moment was not how anybody had wanted to send off this show.
Despite the forecast and radar, nobody left. We huddled under our umbrellas waiting to see if the 11am show would somehow miraculously happen. We griped about how Disney needed to go ahead and make their magical weather dome, blue skies and sunshine ACTUALLY guaranteed.
D got to play with Liv, Ava, and Maddie, but eventually the endless rain led us to seek refuge in the baby care center.
We spent a few hours there hoping to wait out the rain: eating lunch, reading books, watching Mary Poppins and Little Mermaid II.
Ava's family ended up having to leave, but other friends like Rachel, Meg, Casey and Lea came to say hello and escape the downpour. Eventually the cabin fever set in, and we decided we could at least take the girls to the Tiki Room if DAWM wasn't going to happen.
We made our way through Adventureland under our umbrellas. The tiki room seemed to lift everyone's spirits considerably. As we exited, something strange seemed to have happened. Nobody was holding umbrellas. People were stripping out of their ponchos. Wait... can that be... sunlight?? It was only 1pm. Ian and I took the girls on Pirates of the Caribbean (we've converted Maddie and Liv on this trip!).
Maddie was hiding under her poncho, because she didn't want to get on the ride, btw. As we left the ride and met back up with the rest of the group, we noticed they had the ropes out for the Festival of Fantasy Parade. I checked my weather app again: looked like maybe an hour window before rain started again. Well, if they are planning on parade, they must be expecting the weather to hold. We headed back toward the castle, since the last Dream Along was scheduled for 4:20 almost immediately following the completion of the parade and we didn't want to have to fight crowds to try and get a decent spot IF it was going to happen.
Sure enough, Festival of Fantasy parade stepped off and stayed dry. Radar and Apps still showed the rain coming back, but maybe Dream Along could catch a break?
We stood. We waited. Stage tecs came out with big fans and towels in an attempt to dry the stage. The hub filled, literally, with people stacked all the way back to Casey's restaurant hoping to be able to send off Dream Along in style. We were fortunately very close to the front of the stage and miraculously not cramped with people. A cheer went up from the crowd: the tecs were putting out the pyrotechnics for the show, a sure sign that they had every intention of letting this performance happen. Anticipation built. We started feeling intermittent rain drops. NO. NO NO. The window of weather magic was closing, and there was still more than 8 minutes until they were scheduled to start. START THE SHOW EARLY. JUST DO IT. LET IT HAPPEN. We all stood, breath held, and towels continued to be swiped across stage puddles. A gasp went up among the crowd: The Dream Along dancers were making their way down the side paths by the stage. Not in costume. Oh NO! Did this mean they were sending people out so say goodbye without a final performance?
I looked more closely at the performers. While I recognized each and every one of them, I realized that none of them had been part of the singalong performance earlier in the day: these were not the scheduled performers for this day. These were the performers here to send off the show in style. Maybe it would still happen? Amanda thought it would be a nice gesture for the girls to go over and give them some love and thank yous for all the magic.
Emotions running high, hopes running low, the last thing I was expecting to hear were the opening notes that signaled the start of a full DAWM show; I was so sure we'd get, at best, another singalong. I know my jaw dropped, I heard everybody screaming and cheering around me, my eyes flew to the stage and sure enough: Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and the dancers were storming the stage and leaping and twirling for all they were worth. This was actually going to happen, drizzle or not.
I have seen this show countless times. I know every word, every dance move. It's a tiny bit cheesy, maybe a wee bit dated, but every person on that stage performed like it was the last time. Every leap, every spin was perfect. And the crowd? The crowd screamed like they were at a One Direction concert. They sang every word. The emotion was palpable and not something I'd truly prepared myself to experience. Watching the performers cheer on their friends from the sidelines was an exceptionally moving thing to witness. This show has meant so much to so many people, it's impossible to be flippant about it after having been present for this shining moment of Disney Magic.
In fact the forecast, still showing 90% chances of rain well into the evening, seemed to give up and the sun gradually made itself known to literally shine down on the last moments of Dream Along. The finale came. As Mickey told everyone to "Take the Dream With You, Wherever You May Go" the crowd released balloons, the fireworks went off.
The performers exited to the closing notes. The Fab Four lingered.
The crowd went nowhere. They cheered. They clapped. They screamed. But there would be no encore. Instead, the cast came out together for a final bow.
Maleficent was the last one to exit the stage. D looked at me. "No more castle show." It wasn't a question. She and I had discussed it beforehand. Watching DAWM in the hubgrass is something that's always at the top of D's Magic Kingdom wishlist, and I wanted her prepared for its absence. I told her we can watch it on youtube anytime she wants (so can you, by the way), and that in a few short months there would be a NEW show to cheer on from the hub.
There we were. A bit damp. A little emotional. Not ready to say goodbye to Amy and Liv in addition to the show at that moment. Haley suggested we go check out a Frontierland hoedown. We've never managed to catch one. Let's do it.
The genius of hoedown is that it's almost like a Disney flashmob. Performers dressed like merchandise and quick service Frontierland staff and a few fur characters gradually make their way to an open space in front of the Country Bear Jamboree, the music starts, and BAM! Dancing. We stood on the edge of the circle watching the opening numbers. Some random people just started standing in front of us. Enter my personal hero and advocate for all children: Mellie.
"Excuse me? Hey! There are children here trying to watch, could you please move? Hello??!!" The tourists seemed honestly surprised that they had intruded on anybody's space. I continue to be impressed with tourists at Disney's complete inability to see outside their own personal experience bubble.
After the opening numbers the performers pull some people out of the crowd to participate in a sort of conga line and a rousing round of Hokey Pokey.
D, not always the best dance participator, appeared to be having a ball.
After saying goodbye to our new hoedown friends, we headed back to the hub to wait for the last Move It Shake It party (Maddie hadn't seen Nick and Judy yet).
We cheered in front of Judy's float this time. D still remained frustratingly apart from her favorite bunny (they aren't letting them down off the floats just yet). Judy seemed just as disappointed about not getting to come down and play.
The girls spent some time twirling in front of the castle. A girl rolled up a light up merchandise cart and D BEELINED to it with Liv and Maddie. Ohhhhh no you don't. Then Fairy-GodMellie swept in and treated the girls each to their pick. They ALL chose twirling light-up Elsa.
The rain was sort of coming back on drizzle mode, so we made our way to MY favorite place in the whole world with our little group.
When we got out Ian and Amanda offered to take the girls on Carousel of Progress while Amy and I finally found food. Upon exiting we spent a few minutes at the Incredibles Dance Party before we knew it was time to face reality and say goodbye to Amy and Liv. We love these ladies with all our heart and will be counting the days until they return in October.
Sunday was a more somber day: we were headed to Tampa to attend the memorial service for Ian's grandfather. I put Daphne in the only black dress she owns (wait, is this MY kid?) and we hit the road.
The service was held in the church that Ian's dad went to as a child and even attended youth group there.
The property was situated with a really lovely courtyard and playground for the attached preschool. D and I sat in the back for the service while Ian and the rest of the family was up front. D made it through a good chunk before getting a bit antsy, so Ciera and I took her and Aria outside discreetly through the side door to let the service finish in peace.
Between getting to play with her cousin and having a while new playground to explore, plus cookies and chips after the service, I'm pretty sure D will look back on her first memorial service in a rather positive way. It's so hard to explain death to a toddler, though she's already had to face it a few times in her short life. We stayed around for a while, introducing D to extended family and letting the kids play, but D was turning into a pumpkin. Over her "I NOT TIRED!" protestations, we strapped her into the car seat and hit the road.