"They Didn't Stop Us"

I had been planning it for a couple of months. The girls knew, of course. The 9-year-old didn’t, however, and that was the entire plan. We had planned a day at the Magic Kingdom to surprise her. She had been before but had no recollection of the previous adventure. This one she would remember.

We didn’t rise early as my parents made us when I was younger. I remember those mornings with fondness as my mother woke us up with an urge to go Messing. “Just for a little drive to see what’s out there.” Yet, as soon as we turned onto 192 I knew our destination. There had only been two reasons for our family to take this route and there was not enough luggage in the car for a trip to Indiana. My sister and I would bounce in the backseat with excitement and instant adrenaline.

We don’t take that route anymore. We do have a path we take that leads us to Downtown Disney where you can shop, eat, and even enjoy an adult beverage or two. We venture there about four or five times a year just to wander around and people watch. Of course, lunch is at Earl of Sandwich. It’s mandatory when making this trip.

The 9-year-old assumed that was the goal for this trip. She was wrong.

“Robbie, you passed the exit.”

“We aren’t going there. We’ve done that. I want to do something different today.”

“Oookkaaayyy.” She seemed nervous by my idea. Sometimes, I don't think she trusts me. She probably picked that up from the girls' reaction to some of my ideas.

I drove on, finally taking an exit five miles further down. Bigger roads. More traffic. Faster traffic as people were in a hurry to get to their magical destination. I wasn’t in a hurry, for once.

And then she saw it, those giant arches across the roadway that shout “Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!” Her eyes grew wide. She started bouncing in the backseat. The girls were bouncing, as well. All I could do was smile. As we drew closer, Teri asked her, “What do you think?”

We passed under the giant arches and continued forward. The 9-year-old screamed, “They didn’t stop us! I think they’re going to let us stay!” We could only laugh.

And they allowed us to stay.

We parked in Hook and road the tram to the main gates. We already had tickets, so we could just head to the monorail and cross over lakes and through the Contemporary Hotel. I pointed out that my dad had helped do some of the construction on that hotel. We continued on, giving the 9-year-old the rules. “People will be excited and in a hurry. Stay by one of us at all times. Don’t wander off. If you get lost, find someone with a Disney badge and have them call me.” And then we were inside and she was gawking at everything.

The first thing I did was buy a new hat for me and an autograph book for the 9-year-old. Then we grabbed some food. With full bellies, we hit Adventureland, climbed the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, rode the Pirates of the Caribbean, and sat through the Enchanted Tiki Birds. We even road Aladdin’s Flying Carpets. Afterward, we found Aladdin and Jasmine and had the 9-year-old’s picture taken with them as well as get their autograph. We remembered doing that with the boys when they were little, going around and obtaining those forgeries of famous Disney Characters. Those tiny books still sleep in a storage tub in the garage.

The little one bought a princess hat to go with my hat and some black light gadget. We shopped a little, rode some more rides, including Dumbo, and then watched the castle show and fireworks. She stayed awake through it all, I’m proud to stay, even if a little shocked. It was close though. Toward the end of the fireworks those little eyelids were struggling. As we walked down Main Street toward the monorail, her steps turned more into dragging slides of the feet, but she didn’t complain one time. It was a full day for all of us with another one planned in the near future.

Disney has been dubbed “The Happiest Place on Earth.” It is, but not for the reason you may think. It is the Happiest Place on Earth because of the people I take in there with me. When we are together, even McDonald’s is the happiest place on Earth. It’s not that Disney is magical; it’s that we take our magic in with us and create a great adventure. Wherever you have the love of family and friends, that is the Happiest Place on Earth, and they will never stop you. You can always stay and enjoy your destination.

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