Long Live the Doman Sun!

I always find it amazing how family jokes and memories grow until they sometimes have their own identity. A catchword or catchphrase will be created and become a key to unlock a treasure chest full of memories and experiences that each member of the family cherishes.

The first time our family went to Disneyworld our oldest daughter was two, and her younger sister was only six weeks old. My husband had a job interview in Orlando, so we decided to go to Disneyworld for just one day. It was a very cold, blustery January day, and the park was very empty. It’s a Small World never had a long line. We could almost just walk onto the ride. Because our two year old loved it, and because it was much warmer inside riding the ride, we rode it something like eight times that day.

Our two year old was a very advanced speaker for her age. After our trip to Disneyworld, we would hear her singing “It’s a Small World” to herself. We noticed something a little peculiar. Every time she got to the part about the golden sun, she would sing doman (sounds like doe-man, with a stress on the first syllable). She was very consistent.

The Golden Sun from It's a Small World Ride, Disneyworld, courtesy of themeparks.about.com

The Golden Sun from It’s a Small World Ride, Disneyworld, courtesy of
themeparks.about.com

After a while, we asked her why she was singing doman, instead of golden. She very seriously informed us that the sun was “doman colored”, not golden. We told her we had never heard of doman colored. What does it look like? She said it has a little bit of golden in it. It took us months to convince her that the song actually said golden sun. It was a little sad to see her finally accept that the line is “golden sun”.

Fast forward about five years, and our family recently returned to Disneyworld. Our children love to hear stories about themselves, and we love to tell them. So, while we were at Disneyworld we told the story of the doman colored sun. Now seven years old, she thought it was hilarious. And her five year old sister was tickled by the whole thing.

We returned home from Disneyworld, and one day I found our five-year old looking at the book “The Day the Crayons Quit”. In the book, yellow crayon and orange crayon are mad and not speaking to each other. They each think they are the color of the sun, and cite evidence of when they were used to color the sun as rational for their behavior. I came into the room, and she turned and looked at me. Then she said, “Mom, the yellow crayon and orange crayon are so silly.” At this point, I was expecting her to say something about how their fighting was silly, since we had been talking a lot lately about how people fight about lots of silly things. But no, she continues on very seriously with an exasperated air, “Don’t they know the sun is doman colored?”

And the doman sun lives on.

Disneyworld: Fastpass Plus, Good or Bad?

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Photo courtesy of themeparkuniversity.com


For this particular trip to Disneyworld, we stayed in one of the resorts. Everyone who visits Disneyworld has access to the new Fastpass Plus system. The advantage to staying in one of the resorts is up to three months prior to your trip, you can select your Fastpass choices through MyDisneyExperience.com. Fastpass had changed to this new system from the last time we were at Disneyworld, and we didn’t quite know the best way to use it. So, here are some things we learned, some things we liked, and some things we didn’t like about the new fast pass plus.

Under the new system, you can make up to three Fastpass selections for each day of your Disneyworld trip. You can either use kiosks at the parks, or use MyDisneyExperience.com. Your Fastpass selections must all be in the same park for that particular day. Our Fastpass selections were spaced fairly close together, so we still had the option of going to a different park for the rest of the day if we wanted. Fastpass gives approximately an hour window for you to use it, or you lose it. You activate your Fastpass entrance by using either a magic band or park ticket. There are always two places on each ride you must scan your Fastpass, at the entrance to the Fastpass line and just prior to joining the stand-by line.

For new and extremely popular attractions, such as the new Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride, you have to book your fast pass as soon as possible. We were not aware of the ability to select Fastpasses so far in advance, so the Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride and Meet Elsa and Anna were no longer available by the time we made our selections. Fastpass was still available for popular thrill rides such as Space Mountain and Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster.

What I did like about the Fastpass was the guarantee that there were at least three must-do attractions on our list everyday that we didn’t have to spend a long time in line for. In our case, this was especially helpful since part of our party (children too small to ride the faster thrill rides or grandparents with health issues that prevented them from riding) couldn’t go on some of our fast pass selections. We could get the children a snack, like Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, go ride the ride, and get back by the time they were finished with their snack. This prevented several meltdowns because they needed some down time, and allowed my husband and I to ride several rides together without children in tow. It was like a mini-date! For us, that was a win-win situation.

The Fastpass Plus system also insured that at least three of our favorite attractions were easily accessible without a long wait. The longest line I think we stood in for anything during our trip was 35 minutes for the Winnie the Pooh, which we did not have Fastpass for. We felt like we were able to see and do a lot during each day of our trip.

Perusing the Fastpass selection also prompted us to do some things we might not have otherwise thought of doing. We met Mickey Mouse at Town Hall. I never would have thought of seeking out that opportunity, but it was our youngest daughter’s favorite experience from the trip. She still walks around saying, “Mickey Mouse hugged Aeryn!” What a magical moment it was for her! Even the grandparents had a great time meeting Mickey Mouse. He even sounded like Mickey.

Mickey Mouse Hugging Aeryn!

Mickey Mouse Hugging Aeryn!

What I did not like about Fastpass was the spontaneity it removed from our trip. There always had to be some planning involved, especially with such a large group, but it seemed that our days were planned directly in response to our Fastpass selection. We also lost some of the flexibility often necessary with young children. When they need the bathroom, or food, or some time to sit and look at the flowers, they need it now. They really don’t care if you have a fast pass that expires in the next half an hour. We didn’t use several of our Fastpasses because of situations like this. We also lost using one or two because they were assigned early in the morning. My family does not do early in the morning. At least the majority doesn’t, and it is much harder to convince night owls to wake up early than it is to convince early risers to stay out a little later. That caused some frustration and bad feelings, and made it more difficult to spend time with one pair of grandparents who are more on the get up and go side of the scale.

Overall, I appreciate the opportunity to have some short wait times during the day. I am glad that Fastpass is an option when visiting Disneyworld. I think you have to be okay with not always using your Fastpass if the children would rather do something else during that time, and I am curious how well the Fastpass system works when the parks are really crowded. We had moderate crowds during our time there.

What are your experiences with Fastpass?

Disneyworld: Why Do We Love It So Much?

“Our Family Vacation”

Our family went to a magical place

With princesses, pirates, and journeys through space

We had fun galore

And left wanting more

We made memories we’ll always embrace

IMG_4042We love Disneyworld! We love the rides, the shows, the resorts, and the magical feeling that permeates our Disneyworld vacations. Our love of Disneyworld has always seemed contradictory to our regular travel style and preferences. When we travel we don’t like tours, unless it is specific to one thing we want to see that day. We shy away from “packaged getaways”. We always try to learn at least a few phrases of the language from our destination countries. We like to learn about the culture, to be immersed in the culture, to be a tourist without seeming too touristy. In fact, a lot of places we travel I get mistaken for a native and spoken to in their native tongue. Greek in Greece. Italian in Italy. Spanish in Peru and Mexico. Hong Kong was the exception, because I don’t look the least bit like a Chinese woman. I tease my husband that we need to travel to more of the Nordic countries, because there is no way I would be mistaken for a Swede or a Norwegian. Two of our daughters might, in part because I have developed a fondness for Scandinavian children’s clothing. But even if I were decked out head to toe in designer Swedish clothing, I would still be an average sized brunette with curly hair and slightly olive skin. But we would still try to absorb the culture and experience of the everyday Scandinavian, regardless of how much we did or did not resemble¬†one. That is part of the joy of traveling to new places.

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If we enjoy so much experiencing the cultures of the world, why we would love the fabricated world of Disney so much? And then, I suddenly understood. Disney has truly developed their own very specific culture, founded upon the wonder of childhood and magical stories that make people feel that childlike magic even as an adult. Disney attends to even the smallest details, so when you visit one of their parks, it is like walking into another country. It is a magical faraway land where wonder and mystery awaits, but that is simultaneously familiar and comfortable. The characters in the shows and parades are like old friends, familiar and dear to our hearts. Aeryn could not contain her excitement when we met Mickey Mouse. She still randomly tells me, “Mickey Mouse hugged Aeryn” as we go through out our days. Rapunzel told the older girls a secret when we met her. Abigial and Alyssa talk about the secret together, but not with me. You can tell they feel very important sharing a secret with Rapunzel. ¬†When we travel to Disneyworld, we embrace the culture of Disney in the same way that we embrace the culture of any country that we visit.

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This Disneyworld vacation was especially memorable because we were joined by both sets of grandparents. Watching children experience the magic of Disney makes the entire experience more fun and rewarding. When my husband and I were first married without children, we went to Disneyland. The rides were fun, but we didn’t feel the same sense of wonder and magic as we do now, watching our children seeing their favorite characters come to life. I am so glad that the grandparents were able to have this experience with their grandchildren!