Tapestry of Nations Through a Child's Eyes
by Tara L. McKinley, age 12
This article appeared in the June 19, 2001, Issue #91 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Before I saw Tapestry of Nations, I thought it was just a regular parade with floats and people in costumes who just waved as they went past. Boy, was I shocked! When the music started, everyone cheered so loudly I thought my eardrums would break! I thought, "Oh boy, something exciting must be about to start!"
When I saw the Sage of Time leading the whole thing I was in awe! He was gigantic! He was towering over everyone, filling them with fear and wonder! His face was painted a gold color and he looked almost *not* real! When he would see you waving at him, he would bestow a smile on you and bow. It really made the fantasy seem like reality.
My favorite float came next, the RPU (better known as the drums). These drums are huge, and turn all the way around. One of our favorite things to do with the drums is to call out and wave to the drivers. They love hearing us all yell and cheer for them, since most people forget they are even there. If you look carefully on the drums, you will find a few hidden Mickeys in there!
Next came all the colorful puppets! They were so interactive with all the kids! My little sister, Serena (age 4), loves to wave at the puppets and some times they will even invite her out to dance with them, or let her pull their strings, or even bring their wings or hands down for her to touch. They do not forget about the older kids and adults, though. They love to play with people that aren't paying attention to the parade.
My favorite puppets are the ones that are actually controlling another puppet. It sort of reminded me of a marionette doll. The people controlling the puppets love to put them down on the ground so that little kids can shake hands with them, or even hug or dance with them. When people aren't busy watching the parade, they can notice all the neat details on the costumes the Cast Members wear and listen to the hand clapping, toe-tapping music.
My two favorite places to see the parade are by the Norway Pavilion and the gate between Morocco and Japan. I suggest you get there early (at least an hour), and bring a large beach towel or blanket with you to place on the ground to stake out your spot. This way you are not crowded in the back and have a great view of the parade.
The area in front of Norway is the best spot, in my opinion, to see ToN and IllumiNations. They tape off the area where you can sit. If you find just the right spot (by Norway), you and your family can sit where you won't have anyone in front of you for ToN, you can turn right around and watch Illuminations without anyone blocking your view!
Because we stake our spot out early, everyone is always hungry, so we like to take some snacks with us in our backpack. My mom always packs fruit snacks, chips, crackers, and our trusty water bottles. We always have a picnic of sorts while waiting for the parade to start, and I just love eating!
If you are in the park, and have no snacks with you, you can go to just about any of the quick serve shops and get a meal to go. One Of our favorite restaurants is Casa de San Angelo. It is across from the Mexico pavilion. My little sister LOVES desserts, so we like to go to a little dessert shop by the bathrooms (in Norway). The shop is called Kringla og Bakeri. It has a lot of great sweets, hot coffee and espresso for the parents, and even has a few really good open-faced sandwiches.
If your child gets bored while waiting, I suggest that you bring some stuff to do, possibly stickers, stencils, a small pack of crayons, paper, pens and pencils. If you can, you might want to buy a stencil kit or stickers for them -- they sell them all around the World Showcase.
Some of the sticker kits even have a sticker album, although I like to write in my journal about our day and decorate it with stickers that my mom gets for my little sister. They have some great ones that have Epcot places and such. If you have a toddler or a preschooler, these sticker kits are great and very economical. They run from $4 to $12 for the huge kits. If you get the sticker kits that are inside of the vinyl bags, you can even use the back of the package to put your sticker on and be able to reuse them!
If you go to the early parade and your kids are older, they can always go play at the Viking boat in Norway (if you sit there), and the KidCot Fun Stop is right there also. I love making masks and decorating them, and your parents can still see you, if they are sitting in front of Norway! Otherwise, one person can stake out your spot (on a blanket of course) and the other person can go around with the kids. My parents like to take turns with us.
My opinion is that Tapestry of Nations is a very good parade for kids, and is not to be missed! IllumiNations is one of the best fireworks shows I have ever seen. Parents be warned, though: the music and the fireworks are a bit loud for little kids. My brother, JP, 9, loves to count how many fireworks they shoot off.
IllumiNations only lasts about 15 minutes, but it is a spectacular show and well worth the wait! If you ever get over to the parade and find that the best spot is already staked out by a family with a big blue towel, it might just be my family! Stop by and say "Hi!" I just love talking to other kids and adults!
Editor's Note: Tapestry of Nations will run until the end of September 2001. Beginning in October, a new parade called Tapestry of Dreams will debut, coinciding with the "100 Years of Magic" celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney's birth. There is no official word yet, but it sounds like the new parade will be similar to Tapestry of Nations, with different puppets.
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.