Thursday, January 26, 2012
Surprise! We're going to Disney World.
You know those Disney advertisements where the parents surprise the kids that they are going on a trip? I confess, I choke up when I watch them.
I grew up being raised on Disney. We lived in California for a time as did my grandparents, so I can't even count the number of times I've been to Disneyland. My sisters and I would play the Disney princesses. (I was Snow White and the others were Cinderella and Aurora--yep dating myself a little here). I had an old 33 record that had all the songs from Cinderella. I had another 33 that told the story of Snow White in addition to the music.
In short we are/were Disneyphiles.
For many years I've heard great stories about parents surprising their children with a trip to Disney--then Disney began showing the linked ad from above. I wanted to do this for my kids.
Two problems--1) Disney can be really expensive--especially for a family of my size. 2) Those great videos and stories where they tell the kids they are leaving for the airport right now? Yeah, that doesn't work so well with kids on the Autism spectrum. My boys need sign posts and time to adjust to ideas.
So a compromise. I did a lot of research over several months and when I heard Disney had brought back the free dining plan again I jumped on it. I made all of our reservations and I was bursting with the secret.
As I said, my children need time to adjust to ideas. My husband and I talked about it and decided that we would tell the kids a couple of months before the actual vacation so they would also have a chance to earn and save money for souvenirs.
On my son's birthday I set things in motion by having a letter delivered to him by "owl" (or so the server at the pizza parlor said) which set all of the kids off on an adventure. When we got home from the pizza parlor, (and no, I didn't have them make a Mickey shaped pizza though I sort of wish I had), they had to go around the house collecting objects and filling tasks--most of them related to Disney or Harry Potter (my kids are HUGE fans). I even made wands out of chocolate dipped pretzel sticks (the long ones), but I was remiss in getting any pictures.
The end reward was supposed to be cookies--literally found in the cupboard under the stairs--though I had been making them in secret and the royal icing hadn't dried completely, so they ended up being found inside the second fridge. I found my inspiration here. She is much more talented than I am.
It was my first attempt at edible royal icing and I discovered three things. 1) It's probably better to start with smaller amounts of icing and make more rather than trying to find creative ways to use up white, black and red icing. 2) Getting the right consistency for both outlining and filling in is trickier than it looks on paper. 3) Gel food dyes--especially black--can leave a nasty stain on your tongue and teeth. Brush immediately after eating.
Below are some of our attempts of baking more cookies and using more icing.
We took our vacation this last fall (another reason I didn't post) and we had a great time. I had to skip a few rides given my current project (baby on board), but being pregnant made me change my focus-it was okay if we were slower paced and if we didn't get to the opening gates 1/2 hour before the parks opened. We enjoyed ourselves and each others company and it made the difference.
As a side note--I recommend families with ASD children look into disability passes for theme parks. Most parks have them, but I would not have known about them were it not for a good friend whose child is also autistic.