There is a serious cultural phenomena around here (everywhere on US soil and perhaps beyond) that besets all new parents like being caught in a slow-motion funnel of 5 o’clock traffic over a very pricey toll bridge. A toll bridge that your Garmin failed to mention when you signed up for the adventure called parenthood. And yet there we ALL are…held gently but firmly in its viselike grip from the very moment that your ultrasound confirms impending parenthood. It is called Disney. As in Disney World.
Latitude: 28.4186489° Longitude: -81.5813242° for novices such as myself.
Let it be known that I do love travel. I do love kids. I do like to have good time. I do enjoy my crazy family. Yet, gradually but not so subtly after I turned 30 (that would be eight years ago), I became besieged by a loathing of crowded places and long lines. I know what you’re thinking. You can buy a FAST PASS! Well, the only way to even know that a FAST PASS exists is to do your homework- not a prerequisite that I usually associate with vacation…aka relaxation. Vacation is synonymous with relaxation still, right? I can usually kick the crowd paranoia for the purposes of a good concert because great music makes us forget our troubles and shelve our quirks (well, some of us). But I am a little concerned that I am going to wreck my children’s ONE and ONLY Disney experience with my own neuroses next week.
My own parents succumbed to the Disney thing twice actually. Once for each kid. I loved Disney as a child. Still have my autograph book in safe, attic keeping. Upon finding it each time, I always wonder the same thing: Is the Mickey who signed mine still alive and kicking after living in that suit for several years?
Never, ever has another childhood rite of passage played such guilt into the hearts and souls of American parents. Princesses-in-training feel downright deprived and tiara-less without a trip to Disney. The massive, ongoing marketing campaign penetrates even the TV-less homes. You cannot and will not escape it. Eventually, you may even come to suspect that you are somehow depriving your child, too, by not taking them. Suddenly, you will wake up and wonder have I forgotten to dish out a multi-vitamin to counterbalance the McNuggets for this many years? Have I almost let my kids get too old to feel the magic? Other children will aid Disney’s cause in droves as well. Armies of them. Friends of my own kids have actually gasped with their hands over their mouths. You mean you’ve never been to Disney World? It plays out in the same manner and tone as Your parents sent you to your room without dinner for a week? Wow. Talk about turning up the heat.
Basically, I cowered when confronted with the dozens of books published on how to most efficiently navigate the place where uttering the very word magical ignites a stardust extravaganza drizzle in the sky. The travel books and websites really overwhelmed me. Particularly, the websites made my knees knock. Things like Note the shortcut through the Magic Kingdom gift shop when the doors open. I had to slam the book, exhale and grab my US Weekly immediately. Stopped just short of a smoking relapse. What if I don’t WANT to be at the park when it opens because I am still enjoying my eggs benedict room-service?
Here we go, folks. We are doing it. Courtesy of a brave set of grandparents, we leave on Sunday. In order to debunk or confirm the basic and outlandish Disney myths, I am doing a before and after guesstimation on how to successfully navigate the terrain right here on my little blog. I have done zero preparation compared to my other comrades heading over this toll bridge for spring break. Based on what I know so far, this is what I believe I will need:
- Ways to curse in other languages.
- A spray bottle with a pressure-wash setting. I must preserve my personal space in these lines at all costs.
- Some Pavlovian way to mini-shock my kids when they wander towards the gift shops bursting at the seams with $80 stuffed animals.
- The newly minted silencing gun: It’s real. Check out the story on Yahoo this week. The gun operates based on the concept of delayed auditory feedback. An attached microphone picks up the sound being made by the target and plays it back 0.2. seconds later. The effect is incredibly confusing to the human brain, making it all but impossible to talk or hold a conversation. The device doesn’t cause the person it’s being used on any physical harm- it only messes with their head.
- Enough cash to bribe one of the characters (Pluto, Daisy Duck, etc.) to be just creepy enough that one of my kid’s want to go back to the hotel for a swimming respite.
- Energy Drinks
Above: Kids from our hood (left to right): Kendall, Sydney, Ellie, and Olivia
If there is anything that I am leaving out, feel free to tell me…..AFTER next week. Be back soon with Act II: The Truth Of The Matter. Off to enjoy the journey and maybe, just maybe, the destination too.
P.S. Olivia would like to know if any places offer pedicures in the park? Her mom’s bathroom breaks have been been known to end in places such as this for some reason?
Note: At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I would like to thank all of my sweet parents (all of them) for offering us the chance to travel with them on such adventures as these. They all count in the memory-making department.