The first day of our Disney vacation (as appose to our ‘road trip vacation,’ ‘St. Augustine vacation’ or ‘cabernet-induced vacation’) found Tropical Storm Debbie hovering over our resort like a large fly buzzing a particularly spacious picnic. Other families may feel flummoxed by the gloomy weather, bolting themselves inside until the sun should emerge to chase away the gloom to some other, less entertaining state . . . like Ohio, but the Murphey clan does not shrink from natural calamities. We simply bought a quiver of over-priced Disney umbrellas and trod to the local cinema . . . like men! Continue reading
Okay, sooooo . . . for the next week or so the Fam and I will be traversing through Orlando and Disney, sowing havoc in our wake like a pretty girl at an anime convention. During this interim, I’m temporarily transforming the Pub into a photoblog, detailing our adventures like a children’s picture book with as few ‘writing’ as I can manage. For some of you, who never really enjoyed ‘reading’ anyway (I’m looking at you Brigid), this will prove a chance to visit my blog again; for others, a chance to criticize my poor photography skills.
The take-home message: everyone wins. Continue reading
Our yearly sojourn to Florida launches in about two weeks. Mom and the girls are already mapping out new summer wardrobes with the fervor of gold-greedy conquistadors: new shoes, dresses, skirts, blouses, jeans, sandals and even the accursed swimsuits. The flotsam of many a shopping excursion litter their rooms, beds, and dressers like giant jigsaw pieces, waiting to be folded, twisted and rolled into a small leather case. After two weeks, they scamper through the halls, racing from room to room, to stuff the last tube of toothpaste, or hair gel, or razor, or shampoo. Once that’s finished, I’ll hear the screams and shouts for headphones, magazines, iPods, iPads, phones, computers, pillows, chargers, gum, water, snacks, and DVDs to ease the long drive, most of which will be spent sleeping. Somehow during this final stage, the men of the household are inevitably blamed for moving too slow, not helping, or not panicking enough for the girls’ taste. Yet for the boys, an hour before departure proves more than enough time to stuff underwear, socks, and the untouched dregs of the dresser drawers into a duffel, download plane tickets, and depart. Done. Continue reading
Kevin walked ahead of us along the path that bordered the canal. In the dark, none of us managed to catch a smile, just the hint of embarrassed laughter, which of course told us he was serious. We had just left Fantasmic, one of Disney World’s late-night shows, where Mickey Mouse battles the forces of evil equipped with geysers, fireworks and pyrotechnics. It’s a show designed for kids. Yet amid the visual distractions and explosions, viewers searching for fragments of story would be better tested finding a scrap of personality from Disney’s main mouse.
“I ask you,” Kev asked afterwards. “When’s the last time you laughed at a Mickey cartoon, huh? That’s right. Never. During the show, did anyone root for the ‘hero?'” Continue reading
Dasad, I discovered had never experienced the beautiful chaos that is the Disney theme parks. This realization shocked me a little, as Dad has our yearly exodus to Florida planned and booked at least a year in advance (Typically, the week after returning to Maryland, growls are heard, demanding our schedules for next summer). Visiting the familiar turnstiles and tourist-packed ‘lands’ percolate the senses the way home-baked cookies must entice wayward travelers. The cries of children, the scent of sugar roasted almonds, and even the sight of swollen lines carried the sweet warmth of remembrance, of past adventures en mass: nearly twenty or so brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, mothers, fathers, and grandparents. Nearly a continent away, I walked through the park nevertheless enervated, ready to show my friends an excellent time.
So having arrived in California, our first task was to get lost. For some reason the roads leading into Disney and thus the hotel had been blocked by the Anaheim police department. We circled the block several times, analyzing the various routes, double-checking our GPS, wondering if our room had somehow exploded and left us lodge-less for the remaining week. On our third try, the cop moved off, allowing traffic through; Dasad and I looked at each other, shrugged, and drove on to the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel.
Upon checking in, we discovered a gas leak had closed the street when a gaggle of construction worker busied themselves with repairs at the resort. Our concierge assured us nothing was amiss and although flammable material spewed onto the road, we were perfectly safe. After nearly seven hours in flight and nearly one attempting to enter the resort, I would not have cared had they admitted digging for uranium with dynamite.
Now before delving into the details of our travels, I want to say something about California weather. In Maryland, humidity can sap nearly all of one’s energy, leaving one lethargic and crawling toward the nearest air conditioner like a drowning man clawing at the sea breeze. Yet on the West Coast, sunshine and blue skies dissipate morning fog each and every day and nearly constant breezes found us rolling down windows and anticipating long walks through nearby shops and gardens. It’s no wonder that many of the environmental reforms stemmed from the Californian coastline; with the constant seasonal threat of humidity, hurricanes, blizzards, and floods, East Coasters have a love/hate relationship with Mother Nature, at times indifferent to whether she’s healthy or near-death.
The family and I have visited Disney World for years now so it always amazes me when we discover something truly new and unique. On the West End of Downtown Disney – the encapsulated title for the various shops, clubs, and restaurants open to the consuming public – Disney Quest hides like a shy behemoth. Alone the building, painted with bright kiddy-pool turquoise and standing nearly five stories tall, would attract attention anywhere, yet somehow nestled between the commercial monstrosity of the Virgin Mega-store and peaked dome of the Cirque du Soleil it appears almost demure in comparison, like a costumed juggler competing with the sensuality of the Vegas strip.
Dad took a few of the kids to Quest years ago during one stormy afternoon after spending most of the morning baking beneath the Florida sun.Like Floridian clockwork, thunder sounded at around two, and the kids convinced Dad to lead the expedition through the shops.An offer of modest recreation amid indoor air conditioning in the end, I believe, won him over. He returned quite exhausted, and when questioned he could only stutter, “It’s right up your alley, Murphey.”