Freezing rain had postponed our planned 2019 visit not once but twice, making its reappearance two years later that much more cherishable.
Our original date preference had resided with Saturday, though the Bring-a-Friend incentive quickly shifted focus to the day after. Schedules were arranged to maximize the discount. The swap would entail comparatively damper driving conditions, along with a glorious dusting of fluffy snow - an unexpected fringe for festivity.
We then proceeded through the gates, which comprised of bag inspection, ticket-scanning, and the additional step of vaccination verification.
The park environment had been transformed completely! From our typically humid summer visits and seemingly endless queue-joining, an utterly new image had emerged. Surreal was the metamorphosis, and consequently the overall atmosphere. Colourful Christmas trees were found at every corner, and buildings edged with string bulbs and sparkly spheres. There was absolutely no shortage of lights either: Dusk served to preface the dazzling scenery that would await us after sundown.
With roughly ten minutes left, we looped through the gift shops quickly before establishing our viewing perspective in International Village. Nightfall introduced chills and harsh gusts, delivering rigidity to our already trembling fingertips. I had foregoed my trusty gloves for rapid setup of my tripod; it was an undoubtedly vexatious task, especially seeing as I could not see through lens condensation.
Our footsteps trailed along the paths already traversed, leading us back to the Cider House we had passed at our time of entry. As the clock neared 8 PM, I admitted defeat to finding the globe, and instead suggested obtaining an overpriced Mulled Wine to share. To ensure a safe state of mind for vehicle operation, I also took to a Pretzel.
In the distance was a joint Wendy's and Tim Hortons - the nearest and, unfortunately, most reliable alternative in the given circumstances.
Eyes wide, I inquired further, "What time do you close?"
The display on my left wrist lit up: 9:27 PM.
With a chuckle from across me, we gathered our things and inched back to the breezy outdoors. The day had concluded on the rather unexpected note of fast food.
I recommend it, even, as a venture fit for all ages. And I guarantee it'll bring out the cheer in everyone - "Bah Humbug!" we say not, and promptly replace with a merry "Happy Holidays!"