My Daddy's gone We chug round into Norway next, neatly bypassing the Viking ship without Ellie and Harry noticing it and demanding that we spend 3 hours of our time playing on it. They didn’t notice it because they were too busy squabbling with each other in the double stroller. Something about, “don’t touch me,” “move over,” “don’t do that,” “no you don’t do that.” You know the sort of stuff. Anyway we managed to stop them for long enough to have a trip on Maelstrom. Nanny Lesley waited with Steven this time as he was still sleeping off his tantrum. There was only a couple of minutes wait for Maelstrom and we ended up in our own boat for the trip round Norway’s waters. I normally sit and watch the little film at the end here but we walked straight through this time as we didn’t want to leave Nanny Lesley waiting for two long. We dashed through and into the shops. I asked Harry about his “gairy” rating for Maelstrom and he said it wasn’t gairy, it was funny. However, the prices of the hand-knitted sweaters in the first shop were definitely very gairy. So gairy in fact they came right off the end of the gairyometer. We walked through to the next shop where all the trolls live. Harry spotted the giant troll in there and rushed straight up to it yelling, “Dobby!” He loves Dobby the house elf and was convinced that the giant troll was a model of Dobby. He insisted he get his photo taken with the big Dobby, who of course is not gairy. After recovering Nanny Lesley and the still sleeping Steven, and regaling her with the story of Harry and the big Dobby we head off towards China, glancing nervously at the sky as we do so. The last 3 times I’ve been to Disney World I’ve been trapped in the China pavilion by a massive storm. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like the China pavilion because I do, and will quite happily browse the big shop for ages. It’s just that China and thunder have become almost symbiotic for me on my Disney trips: one does not exist without the other. I’m glad to say though that the sky remained blue as we approached the pavilion, although it was now starting to head towards dusk. We decided to skip the movie in China because: it makes me seasick, it’s a standing only theatre and Ellie and Harry would not do that for 30 minutes, it’s still a standing only theatre and Steven can’t stand and we can’t hold him that long without our arms going dead. So we spent a pleasant several or so minutes browsing the big store and looking round the gardens, and also taking in a bit of the Christmas storyteller here whose name escapes me. Germany beckoned so off into stein territory we ventured, pleased to have escaped China without the need to purchase ponchos. OK who can tell me what’s unusual about the Germany pavilion? Specifically the restrooms there. Come on, hands up, who knows the answer? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? I’ll tell you what’s different. You have to flush your own toilet and turn your own taps on and off. Why? I don’t know why and even today it remains a most perplexing mystery to me as to why the Germany restrooms do not have the same automatic sensors that the other restrooms have. At least they have restrooms though, unlike in France where the lack of public restrooms mirrors Paris to a tee. We wander through the shops in Germany, do the restroom stop, watch the little trains, and then head off to Italy. We browse the shops and make it out into the courtyard thingy just in time to hear the Christmas storyteller. I can’t remember her name but she was a she and she was very good. We were sitting along the wall by the kitchen goods shop there and all of a sudden Lisa notices Harry wander off and warns Big Steve of the impending departure of their son. Big Steve gets up to follow Harry who wanders through the watching crowd and stops about 4 feet in front of the storyteller who looks down at him standing there. “Hello,” she says. “My Daddy’s gone,” Harry replies. “Oh dear, I’m sure he’ll come back,” she tells him, having already spotted Big Steve waiting to swoop down and collect. Harry turns round and spots Big Steve. “There he is,” he tells the storyteller, pointing at the embarrassed Big Steve. Harry says his goodbyes to the nice lady and rushes back to join us. The bemused lady gets on with telling a most wonderful story to us. If you get the chance you must hear this story; it just made so much sense to me, and it was told beautifully, once the double act with Harry was done with. Japan next. Where it started raining. OK so it’s not a China thing, it’s an oriental thing. I can accept that. We hit the big store here, which ranks a second to Mousegears in must-do Epcot shopping stops. I’m anxious to browse here as I need to chose a gift for a special friend and I know they like their Japanese stuff. It was hard trying to decide what to get but we eventually chose a nice little Sake set, and of course a bottle of Sake to go with it, and just hoped we’d chosen well. Bit of a commotion in the next section of the store, which turned out to be Harry throwing himself head first out of the double stroller and on to the floor. He was removed tearfully from the shop where he and Big Steve waited outside for the rest of us to complete our purchases. One by one we all gathered outside the shop and sheltered from the rain trying to decide if it was just a passing shower or whether we had to buy the ponchos and be done with it. While we were deciding the lady who makes the candy animals came out so we stood watching her and luckily the rain stopped shortly after. This bit rankles me. Ellie was fascinated by this lady making the animals and desperately wanted one. Now her parents have taught her to stand in line and wait her turn, which she duly did. Then this loud, rude woman (not a lady) came along with about 5 kids and started yelling, “this one wants a giraffe, that one wants…” No hint of a please, or an acknowledgment of the others waiting before her. Just a demand that her kids got an animal, which they all did. By the time Ellie managed to get close enough to make a request, all the candy had gone and the lady was packing up. Ellie was crestfallen; it was the only time I saw her truly disappointed at not getting something on this trip. That made me really annoyed and I felt like grabbing that woman (still not a lady) and crushing her animals underfoot. Of course I didn’t, and of course, like all 6 year olds, Ellie had totally forgotten about the animal lady within 5 minutes. The rain had stopped and it was about 7.30pm so we decided to call it a day and head for home. What, no Illuminations? No Illuminations. It was on at 9.30pm which we thought just a little late for the children, even though we dragged them out to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party later in the trip. Also we didn’t think the fireworks suitable for the little ones. At the other displays the fireworks are set off quite a distance from you; at Epcot some can come out literally from under your feet which would definitely be a bit gairy. So we decided to give it a miss. We continued the walk around World Showcase but did not stop at any of the remaining pavilions, but there was only shops and standing up only films so we weren’t too bothered about that. We stopped briefly to watch some of the Candlelight Processional going on and I explained to Big Steve and Lisa what it was and why we weren’t seeing – too long, kids too young to sit still for that long. Who is Ben Vereen anyway? Steven was starting to get antsy again as it was a bit passed his dinner time. No one else was concerned about dinner after all the lunch we ate but the children still needed to eat. We hot-footed it round the rest of World Showcase, made our way through the now-lit arches into Future World, stopped briefly to watch the big fountain do its stuff, played on the lit sidewalk area, returned double stroller, got back to cars and went straight back to the hotel. Big Steve and Lisa stopped at McDonald’s for Happy Meals for Ellie and Harry but we went straight off to our room to feed Steven. Once he was fed he came to life again and started bouncing off all the walls. Adrian curled up on one of the beds showing all the signs of a pending cold. I sat with Steven on the other bed and played for a bit. Once Steven was settled for the night I wrote some more postcards before calling it a night.