Our first Christmas/Solstice together, Christopher gave me a surprising but unforgettable gift. We were still somewhat “new” (had been dating a little less than a year) and were nervous about swapping gifts, each hoping the other one liked it (and would be around to celebrate NEXT Christmas!). I compiled a poetry book for him and bought him a game, he told me he had a surprise for me. (If you haven’t noticed already, he is definitely the “surprise” man!!!) Under the tree was an enormous package. I opened it, and it was luggage. Silly, naive me, I thought THAT was the surprise! Since I didn’t have a proper suitcase, I used to always visit Chris bringing tons of grocery bags and a full backpack of stuff, looking like a bad lady instead of his girlfriend. So I was psyched to actually have something to travel in! He said “look inside, silly”. Inside the main compartment was a book about Walt Disney World. “Okay, cool”, I thought. “Look inside t hat silly!”, Chris said. Inside that were two tickets to Disney! That was the real surprise. I was so excited, I had never been before.
After the holidays, on January 5 th , we packed our bags (and thank goodness I had new luggage because I packed everything but the kitchen sink) to leave for Orlando .
We arrived later that day in sunny Florida at the All-Star resort, where we would stay a full two weeks. The All-Star resort is an adorable, fun resort owned by Disney and has 3 different themes under which people can stay-Movies, Music and Sports. In each theme there are several different section that a person can stay at, and these are decorated with themes related to the suite. We stayed at the Mighty Ducks section of the Movie portion. Each morning we woke up in Mighty Ducks sheets and went outside to pass a giant Hockey mask and a pool designed like a hockey arena. We bought commemorative mugs at the cafeteria and were entitled to free drinks with them our whole stay there, so we filled up on coffee and cherry coke as often as we could, and always before going out! (Chris still teases me about the day I experimented with soda concoctions there-orange soda, diet coke, sprite and cherry coke-I was trying to be “adventurous”, but needless to say, it was disgusting).
We enjoyed staying at All-Star. The best part about it was that there were shuttles to go to the major theme parks operating at all hours. Because our visit was out of season we didn’t have to worry about waiting too long to catch a ride. But as a backup, and to just drive around where we pleased, we rented a car for the stay too.
Each day we did something new. We bought park-hopper passes, which allowed us to visit all 4 Disney Parks and 2 water parks. First, we hopped over to Animal Kingdom. It was a relatively sunny day with a chance of rain, but we weren’t worried about it. It was the first time both of us had been to the newest addition to the Disney parks (at least, the newest addition at the time WE visited there). We were impressed by the bright jungle-like atmosphere and the fact they had an actual animal sanctuary there! We would highly recommend the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.I personally have never been that close to lions, giraffes, and hippopotamuses. It was incredible.
I always seem to be the person on water rides who ends up being in the seat that gets you splashed the most. Kali River Rapids was no exception. I got soaked. Ironically, when I got off the ride, it started to rain. Oh well!
Later, we hopped over to MGM studios where we saw some interesting exhibits about Walt Disney (it was the 100 th anniversary of Walt Disney), and saw one of our all-time favorites, Muppet 3-D adventure! How can you not smile when you’re in a theater with fozzy bear and Kermie? Of course, the quips from the cranky old men (you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones from the Muppets who act like the critics of the show) made it priceless. (“How did we get here? Oh yeah, we entered a contest.and we LOST!!” Har de har) Next we went on to.the Tower of Terror . Now I have to admit, when it comes to rides that involve falling from heights, I am a total chicken. But friends who had been on it before had told me it was only 2 quick drops, it was over before you knew it. So Kris and I decided to be brave and thought “why not?. The ride had the eery atmosphere of an elevator ride from the Twilight Zone. The bellhop had a laugh that just prickled the hairs on your head. The whole time we were going up we kept consoling each other, “it’s only 2 drops, don’t worry.”When we got to the top, suddenly we heard a noise that sounded like pins coming loose. We then proceeded to fall at a frightening speed, and I admit I screamed like a little kid. The second time we went up only half way and dropped quickly again. I let out a sigh of relief when we hit ground. I was then surprised to find that we were going up AGAIN, this time ALL the WAY. Kris and I exchanged “Oh my Gods” and realized that the elevator doors were opening, allowing us to view the entire park at a distance too far too mention. We dropped again, and rose AGAIN to fall another time. Needless to say when the ride was over I was very, very relieved. But of course the dangerous rebels had come out of us then, and we were like “that was so cool! We gotta do it again sometime!”
There were days that we didn’t go to parks at all, just lounged by the pool reading books and sipping cherry cokes. Those were a lot of fun too. Some days we went exploring the other resorts, just to see where we’d like to go next time. We went mini golfing at the Dolphin resort (and I kicked Kris’ butt!!), and spent one day at a water park, Typhoon Lagoon.
A family from England was getting ready to leave one afternoon and was kind enough to give us the remainder of their passes to Universal Studio. We weren’t planning on going but we were glad they gave us the tickets because we were very impressed! Universal was slightly less commercial than Disney and seemingly more adult-centered. We walked along a number of different “sets”, and at each set there were different rides. The themes flowed into each other well, and there was different music played all over the park to match the different “sets”. Our faves were Terminator 3-D, Men in Black, and the Wild West live stunt show. There was also a really cool exhibit about I Love Lucy, with a woman who did an extremely convincing impersonation of Lucille Ball. There was so much to see at Universal, next time we go we hope to get a pass for a couple more days there.
One afternoon we visited Sea World, looking at manatees, riding paddle boats and looking at dolphins. The dolphins were so funny, I took a picture of one of them and it looked like it was posing to smile at us for sure. As far as going out to eat in the evenings and afternoons, most days we would go to India Palace as soon as it opened for the lunch buffet (yummy yummy and cheap too!) and would hit Wendy’s at night (we gotta have our Frosties).
Epcot was the park we frequented most. Not only was there a wide array of food and shops at the World Showcase, but visiting each place gave you a little taste of what it might be like to live in those countries. For food, our favorite “countries” to visit where Morocco (for there vegetarian platter and tangerine drinks), France (pour les crepes!), and Mexico (for obvious reasons.who doesn’t like burritos?). We also had favorite rides-Norways “Maelstrom” (“You are not the first to pass this vay.”, Mexico’s “El Rio del Tiempo” (go there, you will know what we mean about it being an addictive little ride), and of course, as far as the entire park went, Spaceship Earth, Test Track, and the Land (Kris, the lover of all things gardening, of course loves the garden tours there!). We also enjoyed Ellen’s Energy Adventure and the Living Seas .
Now of course, the BEST day at Epcot was my Birthday. I purposely chose to mention this last because it is most special to me. The night before my birthday Kris didn’t seem to be feeling so well (which he later admitted to me he had gotten drunk to calm his nerves) and the next day he didn’t seem like himself at all. I was worried, and a little miffed (why was he acting this way on my birthday? What was he upset about?). In the early morning, before we left, Kris said he had to go to the safe we had rented to get some more money out for the day. I talked to my parents on the phone while he went, and thought nothing of his going there.
The first part of the day we hopped over to the Magic Kingdom and rode our favorite rides. (Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion , of course!!). We had enormous sticky cinnamon buns for breakfast and walked around until the early afternoon. Before we left, we passed Cinderella’s Castle and Kris took a longer than usual pause there. He seemed a little more agitated than usual and then I was really wondering if something was going wrong (Usually, people who are at the Magic Kingdom look estatic. Kris looked green). He quickly asked a woman passing by if she could take a picture of us, and then we moved on. (That picture is now in our bedroom as a reminder of “the short moments before”). We decided to hop the monorail over to Epcot for the rest of the day. Kris kept having to go to the bathroom all day, I was certain he was really sick or had some bad news to tell me. When we walked past Canada , we found a lovely little spot called Victoria Gardens . It was peaceful and quiet there, and there was a beautiful waterfall to walk under. As we walked under the waterfall, I commented on how beautiful it was and Kris answered “Kathy, you know I really love you, don’t you?” and I answered “Of course ! I love you too!”. Kris then answered, “You know I really, really love you?” I was starting to get worried. Was he going to break up with me? He sounded nervous. We made our way to a bench in the middle of the beautiful garden and he asked me to close my eyes, he had another birthday surprise for me. What happened when I opened my eyes is something I’ll never forget. He was down on one knee, asking me to marry him! I was so shocked I could barely make out a sentence (and I didn’t really.Kris says it felt like forever before I answered him.I just couldn’t talk I was so surprised). I of course finally said yes, and a relieved (and hopefully happy!) Kris answered “good, let’s go get some drinks, I’m dying!”. Now I know that the reason why he was acting the way he had all morning was because he wanted to ask me, and he wanted to do it in front of the castle at Disney, but a parade was going on and he didn’t think it was quiet enough. Being in the intimate little garden with a nervous boyfriend was the most romantic to me. Kris is still a little embarrassed that he forgot to take his pirate hat off when he asked me and that he blurted out “you don’t have to say yes!” after he popped the question. I just think it’s awfully adorable and couldn’t have loved him more that moment. I was on cloud 9 with a goofy smile on my face the rest of the day. Throughout dinner and the rest of the evening I barely said a word. Everything about the rest of the day was just blissful. A dog could have gone to the bathroom on my shoe and I wouldn’t have cared. I looked back in disbelief on the afternoon as we watched the fireworks that night. It’s amazing how, when you’re in love and when something like that happens to you, you become oblivious to anything bad in the world. The screaming children and nagging older couples and drunken college kids yelling just disappeared. I know I am at times a cheesy romantic, but when you’re in love, it feels like the whole world falls in love along with you. There’s lots more to tell about our trip that I just can’t put down. You’ll have to ask us sometime. For me that was the most memorable vacation. I think it always will be.