The Mouse’s House

I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m thirsty. Goofy! I’m hungry. I want. No, I want. But, I want. Well I don’t want. Mom, I picked the wrong one. Yes, I already opened it and dropped it in the fountain. Oh look, Ariel! But I wanted the other one. Can we take it back? Can we? Buzz! Can we, mom? Now?

Last week we went to Disneyland on vacation.

Lots of things happened.

But today, while it’s fresh in my mind, I want to tell you how we beat The Mouse.

We used a little-talked about and absolutely necessary piece of the Disney Experience, whether it be Land, World or Cruise: The Recalibration.

Disney is designed to twist kids up and out of their minds and the corporation is not winning until a certain percentage of parents have been driven by their over-stimulated, sugar-crashing, nap-skipping, parade-missing mini-menaces into the nearest gift shop where only $150 of sour balls and princess dresses will stop the screaming.

The Mouse relies on your compliant herd behavior as a parent. To take their gently proffered toddler tantrum solutions in the form of a stuffie or an ice cream. To use one of their strategically placed and impeccably clean bench nooks to have that discussion with your nine year old about his frowny face.

But this was not our first Toy Story Rodeo.

And sometimes, it needs to rain at The Happiest Place on Earth.

For us, that moment came four hours into the first day, when I realized I was walking with little tyrants only loosely resembling my children.

The urge to whine at them was strong. Come on, you guys. Be nice. We came all this way to have fun.

But I know that showing weakness is how you lose to The Mouse.

And so I found myself holding up ALL THE PEOPLE on their way from Soarin’ to the Little Mermaid while I reminded my chickens loudly at the end of my finger just who is the Queen of this little kingdom.

There are rules for a Disney Recalibration.

Please make it as public as possible, like a PSA for all the other kids walking by.

People will queue up to go around you, because if there’s anything we learn at Disney, it’s how to move through a line in orderly fashion. They don’t judge either, since everyone is a dropped churro away from having the same moment.

Except for the mom who leans into your line of vision, pats you on the back and tells you “Get ‘em, girl!” She has probably already completed a successful Recalibration of her own. High five her without breaking eye contact with your children, because that bad-a**ery will imprint itself on your preteen’s soul. If you will bring the thunder at The Happiest Place on Earth, no telling where you’ll stop. You want him to remember that.

Do not skimp on the Recalibration. Not unless you want to do it again. And again. And again.

Instead, make it count. Build a wall of consequences around your children that is iron clad.

Then test it. March your three year old to see Elsa. Tell her it’s a 90 minute line. If she offers to wait patiently, you are in business.

But if she shrugs it off completely and asks for the Tower of Terror instead, that’s when you’ll know for sure.

Mama: 1. Mouse: 0

Kate Disney

This was Kate on Day 2. Recalibration pay-off: happy children who pose flawlessly 50 feet off the ground.

To be a Princess

Over time, a lot of negative things have been said about the female characters in the classic Disney fairy tale movies. The original princess, Snow White, finds her greatest worth in cooking and cleaning for seven little men. Aurora actually just sleeps until Prince Philip makes out with her, and instead of standing up to her wench of a stepmother, Cinderella passively endures abuse after abuse until her prince (does he even have a name?) sweeps her off of her slipper-losing feet.

The more modern Disney princesses have a little more spunk, and more often than not, control their own destinies. Belle wants adventure in the great wide somewhere, Merida bucks tradition and refuses to get married, and Elsa and Anna rely on their own act of true love to thaw Anna’s frozen heart. Awesome.

As a mom of two girls, and a self-proclaimed Disney-phile, I fill our house with the movies, merchandise, tiaras, and princess dresses. And while I’ve never taken much stock in the idea that these movies “train” young girls how to behave, I do wonder what, really, it is that they are learning from these movies. Because let me tell you, these girls love them some princesses. Love. And truth be told, so do I.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to ask my Mazie, aged 4, what she liked about the princesses. Is it their dresses?  Is it the castle?  Is it their beauty? If I had any misgivings about letting my girls watch (obsess over) the princesses, I don’t anymore. Here is what she said she liked about each of the princesses:

Merida – I like that she shoots bows and arrows

Rapunzel – I like her long hair and frying pan

Snow White – I like that she’s nice to the animals

Sleeping Beauty – I like the way she dances so beautifully

Mermaid – I like the way she sings

Cinderella – I like it when she makes clothes for the mice

Elsa and Anna – because they love each other

What I’m taking away from this, folks, is that my daughter is learning that it’s pretty cool to have a good talent and to be strong. She’s also learning kindness. She’s learning that people express themselves in different ways. And she is learning that sisters can also be best friends. What great lessons; critics be damned.  I guess we’ll be renewing our Disneyland Annual Passes again this year!

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Autumn, Disney-style ~ Dana

You all know that we love autumn, and we love Disneyland, so I had this wonderful idea to show you how awesome Disneyland looks this time of year. They have all sorts of great events going on, the biggest of which is Mickey’s Halloween Party, which we attended, of course. And I wanted to get all these lovely pictures of the girls in their costumes, of the giant ghost Mickeys that light up the party after dark, of the cast members who called Mazie, who was dressed as Princess Jasmine, “your highness” all night long. But alas, with two kids up well past their bedtimes, I came home with only a few fuzzy shots.

But I am committed to you, dear readers! And so I ventured back to the park. With the two girls. By myself. And although there were some pictures that I just didn’t get, I hope you enjoy the ones that I did.

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The entrance plaza and Main Street are decorated to the hilt with fall-colored bunting, gorgeous leaves, and lots and lots of carved pumpkins.

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Frontierland always has a country fall festival mood with a super cute little spot for pictures.

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Frontierland is also home to the Dia De Los Muertos celebration, which is new the past couple of years.  Mazie loved the face painting!

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And of course, the Haunted Mansion is decked out in all of it’s Nightmare Before Christmas splendor.  It’s hard to believe that this year is the 13th anniversary of the transformation, which stays from autumn until Christmastime.   I would have loved to get more shots of this amazing display, but the neither the kids, nor their mommy, were interested in waiting over an hour for it.  But it’s so neat, even from outside of the gates.

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And my new favorite Halloween decorations are the singing busts from the Mansion, which look just lovely adorning my new Halloween Tree!

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The girls were so good for these couple of hours, so I rewarded Mazie with a much-deserved spin on It’s A Small World.

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And home again… in matching Halloween jammies.  We are SO INTO THIS SEASON!

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We hope you are enjoying your autumn, too!