Now who wouldn’t want to spend their birthday at the Happiest Place on Earth? Of course, it’s likely that phrase means different things to different people. For instance, my idea of the “happiest place on earth” might just be the Caribbean, perhaps hanging out with a certain wiley pirate?
I laugh every time I look at this. Yes, that really is me – my face, anyway. At Disney World (where I really spent my birthday), they have a device that can superimpose your smilin’ mug onto a photo. They had lots of interesting choices, but how could I resist Jack Sparrow? I had to stand in front of a bright light, tuck my hair behind my ears, hold my bangs up off my forehead and move my face in various directions until the technician said stop. Voila – I’m with Captain Jack! In a way! Sort of! Except…not really! While the hair is actually pretty close to my own natural color and length, my neck is not that long and those are so very not my “lady parts.” Also, my waist hasn’t been that size since I was, hmmm…eleven? But the photo cracks me up so much I couldn’t resist buying it. (I had a lot of encouragement from the friend I went to Disney World with, who just loved imagining what my husband would say when he saw it. PS: He didn’t say a word. He just grinned and rolled his eyes.)
So this year you get into Disney World free on your birthday. The line at the “will-call” window, where I was to pick up my ticket, was jammed full of people who shared my birthday. (And a motley crew they were indeed! Arrrr!) Sorry – still in pirate mode. Anyway, the birthday ticket is really nice; like a credit card.
They also gave me a button to wear, on which the ticket seller scribbled my name.
As soon as we got in the park, I was startled by a complete stranger shouting, “Happy birthday, Lisa!” I finally realized he was an employee of the park. (They’re not real obvious as they wear “normal” looking clothes.) My whole day went pretty much that way, with random park employees wishing me happy birthday. I was beginning to regret wearing that button and had almost decided to take it off and go incognito, when we stopped for lunch at Tomorrowland Terrace and the server gave me a free dessert! (Sugar-free brownie…SO delicious!) Alas, that was the last time I benefited from the birthday thing, but getting in free was pretty good, I have to admit.
Normally February is a great time to visit Disney World, as the crowds aren’t nearly as bad as they are in the summer or during the winter holidays. Unfortunately my birthday was Saturday, and with all the kids out of school, thousands of families decided to show up. We only got on five rides the entire day; with the average wait in line being 40 minutes. Thank goodness it was fairly cool. My favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It’s seriously fun and not scary at all. I can almost even raise my arms up! (I won’t kid myself; most of the time my hands were gripping the safety bar.)
The Haunted Mansion is very cool, but we couldn’t get any photos once inside. Outside is this old-fashioned hearse being pulled by a “ghost” horse, along with some tombstones with funny epitaths. (My favorite, since I have a brother named Dave, was: “DEAR DEPARTED BROTHER DAVE – he chased a bear into a cave.”)
We also went on Pirates of the Caribbean, which has been updated with music from the movies and enhanced with very realistic looking animatronic figures of Jack Sparrow here and there. A nice added touch, if I do say so myself! And of course no visit to the Magic Kingdom is complete without a ride on Space Mountain. (It wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be, though I do remember screaming quite a lot.) We also managed, after a very long wait, to get on the Buzz Lightyear ride, in which you sit in a “laser” equipped car with a partner and shoot at targets as you ride. You can control which way your car faces at any time via a steering wheel and as you hit each target with your laser gun, points add up on an LCD readout on the dash. As we got off the ride, I said to the cast member standing there (before he could wish me a happy birthday) that I had “kicked the butt” of my friend, whose score was several thousand points lower than mine. He said, “She’ll get you next time,” which assumed we would be willing to stand in line forever yet again to get back on! Not. They also take your picture on this ride, near the end when several flashing lights go off a few seconds apart. Unfortunately it’s hard to determine which light is the actual camera flash, so, as was in our case, the picture usually turns out really bad. My friend is looking down at her lap and my tongue is sticking out as I concentrate on shooting the bad guys. (Needless to say, that’s one photo we didn’t buy that day.)
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned I’m a huge fan of the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, and in fact have been collecting items from the movie since 1991. I was thrilled to find an enamel trading pin I didn’t have and a couple of pretty dolls. We also came across a place called “Fairytale Garden,” in which a cast member dressed like Belle was telling the audience a story. I just had to get a picture!
My friend bought a Mickey sweatshirt and a tigger keychain for her mom, and I also got my husband a very cool Pirates of the Caribbean T-shirt. We ended the day with pizza at Uno’s, my favorite restaurant of all time (how I wish we had one anywhere nearby!) and when I got home, I found this wonderful gift from my dad had been delivered. Aren’t they lovely?
So all in all, it was a pretty good birthday. Especially since I really did spend it in the Caribbean with Johnny Depp! (No, really! I have the picture to prove it!)