We stand eagerly on the platform with crowds of other vacationers. It feels something like boarding a train only this platform is grey under our feet, and we stand in small groups of eight designated by yellow boxes painted on the floor. This designation is for our space travelling safety.
A television near us reports the news of a rebel alliance, and it continues with a warning to avoid space travel. The noise of the warning falls like static, unnoticed, as these first time space travelers watch the door to their starship slide open.
We shuffle in with our line of 6 other vacationers, and we find our starship seat. These seats are reminiscent of a movie theatre seat that lacks the padding. However, nobody seems aware of the uncomfortable seats because everyone is quivering with excitement while buckling lap belts. It seems like an unspoken decision as everyone takes their last breath of earth air, and the starship door closes with a muffled thump.
A small hand clutches mine, drawing my focus to our surroundings. The interior of the starship is lined in grey panels. It is simple, stark, and bare. A front screen opens to reveal the captain’s chair, and it is C-3PO in the cockpit. Suddenly there is a slight rumble and shifting of the starship, the engines have turned on. We can see from the front window that we are slowly rolling forward out of the alliance base. Before any of us can protest we lurch forward out of the base. We are air born! Without warning we are thrown back in our seats as the starship makes the jump into hyperspace…
* * * * *
The face of vacation changes when you introduce children to the mix. The days of laying poolside and soaking up rays of sun while relaxing, or sitting at the swim-up bar until you need life jacket to safely manoeuvre your way out of the waist deep water are temporarily suspended. Family based vacations require a little more action, and a bit of schedule. Enter Walt Disney World.
The decision to visit Disney is a big one. A big question attached to Disney vacation involves an appropriate age to visit Disney. What age should the children be? Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer to this question. It is one of those things that is steeped in personal choice.
Our first trip to Disney World, I originally argued, was for me because the children were 8 months old, and 4 years old. I didn’t think that they were old enough to appreciate the experience, or remember it. I was wrong. It really was a trip for everyone, and one we all enjoyed. With the exception of the 8 month old, we all have strong memories of the trip.
For the 8 month old it was simple. He went everywhere we did, and I found the stroller a handy tool to have for carrying water bottles, snacks, and the camera. There is designated stroller parking for those rides that the whole family is going on. We took the 8 month old on rides that had no restrictions. Pirates of the Caribbean was a family favourite, and if the 8 month old wasn’t asleep when we got on the ride he was by the end of it. Much to our amusement the impressive drops on Pirates of the Caribbean lulled the little babe to sleep. In addition to that, the 8 month old got some great character snuggles and pictures; he was too young to have any fear of a man sized stuff Pooh Bear.
The 4 year old was almost overwhelmed by it all. The glow and excitement that came off of him was intoxicating. The greatest part about this age was that everything is real, everything! For me it was this all-encompassing belief that added the magic to an already magical vacation. For example, Star Wars was a ride that he loved and we went on it a number of times. It was a great ride because we travelled to a different planet each time. That said, the ride ended, and I can’t say what trip to space we were on, but the ship had crashed at a different alliance base from where we took off from. Now from adult perspective I thought nothing of it, but from a 4 year old perspective it was something else entirely. He was reluctant to leave the inside of the ship because we weren’t on earth! He wanted to know how we would get home. He truly believed that we were travelling in space on that Star Wars ride, and I had to do some fast thinking to maintain that belief while explaining how we had in fact landed back on earth.
Can it get more magical then that? His complete belief in these experiences certainly had an extraordinary influence over the entire feeling of our vacation.
* * * * *
Seat belts buckled. We are in darkness. The ground beneath us is some 40 feet below and suddenly we are flying over millions of trees nestled in a mountain raven. The wind pushes against us, and it carries the scent of the forest below us. The countryside from this height is breath taking.
* * * * *
Soarin’ is a flying over California ride that uses a 180-degree IMAX projector. This ride was another show stopper. For a four year old we actually flew, but not just up into the sky, we had flown into a television! This ride has become a forever memory of the time we flew into a television. The quest since then has been to find magic chalk so we can jump into pictures, and etcetera, like in Mary Poppins or the time we flew into the television.
Our decision to take the family on this kind of vacation so young has not been one we regret. To emphasize that point we visited Disney Land in California about a year later, and we are budgeting to go to Disney World again in a couple years. For us, we learned a few things about the face of our family vacations, and that Disney has something to offer for everyone. We learned which parks had the most to offer our family, and those are the ones we will revisit next time. Interestingly, my 2 year old asks to go to Mickey’s house every so often. Now I don’t believe on any level that he has a memory of his time there, but he has seen the pictures and spends a lot of time listen to the 5 year old’s wild stories. So, there is no doubt for me that our next trip will be as successful as the first.
For research and booking I would recommend https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/. I did our booking through this site, and we had no trouble. You can online chat with staff if you have questions, or you can call. The site allows you to book hotels, meal plans, dinner reservations, park tickets, and so on. This site does Florida, California, and the cruises. You can also look at the rides, and see the height requirements. You can really get lots of information from this site so that you can make the best educated decision about your trip, including if you think everyone is at an age to enjoy it. I believe 48” or taller is the height required for most, if not all rides, but you can also see what other attractions are available that might be interesting to your family: character activities, shows, tours, parades, fireworks, shopping, and etcetera.
* * * * *
…The search for the rebel spy continues. The starship is shaking uncontrollable; if the seatbelt holds it will be a miracle. There is nothing in the front window to show why the ship is moving so violently. Fear is building among the travelers, and it is sitting in the air like a heavy stench. There are noises dominating the commotion now that surely indicate someone or something is trying to get inside the starship. What do you know of the passengers around you? Anyone of them could be trouble, and now you are all trapped together inside a starship bound for – BANG – a droid has attached itself to the front window and a bright light is scanning over the passengers. It is searching for something, for someone. The shaking continues as the starship tries to break free from whatever is holding it.
The droid locks onto a face, it seems to be transmitting a message to another unknown. There is too much happening, fear grips everyone as you all stare at the face of one of the passengers projected into the air in front of you. The face is circled in red like a wanted poster, with a reward. There are noises at the door now, someone is still trying to get into the ship.
A suddenly lurching, and a loud screeching, and C-3PO’s voice breaks through the grim thoughts of capture that linger in the starship. The starship has broken free, and everyone on board is now wanted as part of the rebel alliance. You are being transported to a safe place. You barely get a chance to grip your armrests as you are thrown back in the jump to hyperspace. The sounds of pursuit grow distant until they disappear completely.
Another sudden jarring as the starship comes out of hyperspace, hurtling downward towards a large body of water. Your eyes grow wide, fear grips you again as you brace to crash. Instead you splash below the ocean’s surface. Bubbles racing past the front window make it impossible to see for a long distance. When they finally clear you can see a large city looming up from the depths. The city is a beautiful grouping of dooms filed with buildings and activities. Before you can fully appreciate the beauty an enormous sea creature appears in front of the starship blocking the path to safety. Its large mouth opens revealing teeth the size of small elephants hidden in a long deep blackness. You slam your eyes shut and grip the seat as the jaws close down on the starship…
By Shari Marshall – 2016