Let’s set some ground rules before I begin. First, for all you Disney worshippers out there please do not send me e-mails telling me I’m depraved, not worthy of breathing and mentally unsound and soul less to write anything less than glowing about the Disney experience. Because I love Disney and all of it’s worlds. Really, I do.
Whatever drug, hypnosis therapy or electro shock they’re giving their “cast members” bring it on Mickey. It needs to be shared because it must be exceptional stuff. All things Disney are great, including the Disney people. They’re like a combination of Stepford Wives and the robots in the movie Westworld before they got all freaky. The only thing not so great – the non cast members at the parks.
That’s the problem – Disney World would be perfect if it weren’t for the other huddled masses you have to share it with. Note I did not say Disney World was magical. If it were magical it would be free, uncrowded, blessed with a less humidity challenged climate and I would look, at the very least, 10 years younger and 20 pounds thinner as I climb aboard the Dumbo ride.
So, before I start let’s all agree Disney World – good, non Disney people – at best annoying and I know this is going to be hard for some of you, but take a deep breath – Disney parks not 100% magical.
I’m not a novice to the Disney Parks. I’ve enjoyed many a trip to Disney Land and Disney World. Not even Hurricane Ivan could keep me from visiting the park in 2004. Nothing says Disney fan like being hunkered down in the basement of a Orlando Marriott amid a sea of 3 legged ballroom chairs, scarred end tables and really, really, bad artwork to ride out the storm.
The good news – it kept the crowds down. The bad news – worst humidity ever. So, based on my vast Disney knowledge here are some of my tips to making the most of your trip to Disney World.
Lower your expectations: To be fair, “Lower Your Expectations” is my family motto along with “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.” Both of these will come in handy as your Disney World mantra. Let’s begin with your park arrival.
I suggest staring with the classic Magic Kingdom. It’s here that you will see all that Walt Disney first envisioned. Unfortunately it’s also where you’ll see the screaming armada of parents, grandparents and fussy children already hitting the wall. Yes, the park has just opened and already people are unhappy. It seems so unfair and so un-Disney. Just like there are no tears in baseball, you would think there would be no tears at a Disney Park (excluding tears of joy, of course).
The hard reality is that even at Disney World people still get cranky as hell. My theories for this abound. My top two are: you are paying more than your first car cost to go to Disney World and that’s just for your Park Hopper passes and secondly too much pressure. You’ve planned for this, saved for it, used it as a parenting bribe (i.e.: “If you three kids keep this up there goes your trip to Disney) and no vacation can live up to the hype. It’s like losing your virginity. You planned for it, you saved it, used it as a boyfriend bribe and then when the big day comes your like – really, that was it?
Pack extra underwear: Now, you might be thinking this is because the rides are so exciting you could wet yourself. This, my friend, is not the reason. You’ll need that extra underwear due to the Florida weather. There I was standing in line for Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom and the unthinkable happened – my underwear was soaking wet. I’m talking I. P. Freely wet.
One of my worst fears had come true. I had peed myself in public. Urinary incontinence was now a part of my life. Depends here I come and FYI adult diapers aren’t cheap. I excuse myself from the line and leave my kids and husband to scale Everest without me. I jog to the ladies room. My wet underwear is slapping against my backside as I run, making a mocking kind of whap-a-slap sound. It’s as if my underwear is singing, “ha, ha, you peed yourself, you peed yourself.”
By this time I’m also experiencing some serious chaffing. I hope Depends comes with a baby power lining or else I’m going to have to purchase adult diapers and diaper rash medication. Although, the smell of Desitin brings back good memories of adorable babies I don’t want to have to rub it on my own backside. Can you say mortifying? I go into the stall to investigate and I’m relieved to learn that I haven’t wet myself. I’ve sweated myself. That’s right – sweated, perspired, and as my mom says “dewed” all over myself.
The debilitating Florida humidity had turned my body into a swampy mess. It looks like all my sweat rolled down my back, forming an Amazon river of perspiration that journeyed along my backbone, then used my butt crack as a conduit, a tributary, if you will, for conducting all the dampness to my crotch, which I guess in the whole river analogy thing, became an ocean of moisture. No matter how it happened I had to get, somewhat, dry fast. I could not spend the rest of the day and night in soaked underwear. Never mind how gross it felt it was deplorable hygiene.
Two words, ladies – yeast infection. So, I did what all of you would have done. I took off my capri’s, took off my underwear, put my capri’s back on, peered out of the stall until the coast was clear, then went to the sink, scrubbed those undies, stuck them under the hand dryer until they were good and dry, (yes, people did come into the restroom and saw my undies blowing under the dryer and yes, I felt shame and embarrassment) went back into the stall, took off my capri’s, put my dry underwear back on, put my capri’s back on, left the stall, washed my hands and went to catch back up my family. Now, think how much easier all that would have been if someone, somewhere in all the guidebooks out there had told me to bring extra underwear to the Disney Parks. You are all welcome.
People to watch out for: Being on the alert for these people will make your Disney World trip much more enjoyable.
Princess Stalkers: These are the parents (more moms than dads) that will run you over, trip you, shove your toddler to the curb, push your stroller off to the side and give you a hard elbow in the ribs or a karate chop to the neck to catch up with, get to or cut in line so their darling child can have the chance for a photo op and/or an autograph with a Disney Princess.
(WARNING – I have it on good authority that the princesses from the newest Disney movie Frozen are creating a blizzard of bad behavior from parents. Including a throw down between two dads about who was first in line to get their kid’s picture taken with Princess Anna.)
In my keen observations these parents aren’t here for the Disney experience they’re here to fill up their child’s Disney autograph book with faux princess signatures. These parents literally chase the princesses from one venue to the next.
Distinguishing characteristics of these parents are: Ability to yell – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White repeatedly and with gusto. Excellent at grabbing their child by the arm and towing them behind them at high rate of speed without dislocating said child’s arm from their socket while in hot pursuit of princesses. Stellar at exhibiting no shame as they “accidently” step on Ariel’s fin causing the princess to trip into their child and thus securing autograph.
Parade Parents: If at all possible avoid the parade parents. They are easy to identify. They’re the ones camped out on the parade route, bonding their backside to hard, hot concrete three hours before the parade is set to begin. Do not go anywhere near their perch. Parade Parents protect their sacred little piece of parade watching Disney real estate like it’s their sovereign property.
Beware if you find yourself commingled with these people right before the parade starts. They will aggressively defend their turf. If your child accidentally sits on “their” part of sidewalk, scoop your kid up, keep your head down to avoid eye contact and quickly back away to safer, higher ground to steer clear of a very un-Disney like confrontation.
The Tears R Us Team: Why, oh why do some parents make their children get on rides the kids have no interest in experiencing. I know that deep psychological damage is being done to children when their parents torture them – forcing them into a roller coaster seats as they kick, wail and flail in terror and then strapping them down and buckling them up all while the children sob. The screams reach migraine inducing frequency as the coaster revs and takes off. I’m pretty sure that kind of parenting sets off a complex series of serial killer brain cells in each kid’s head.
To avoid witnessing this scene and therefore avoid you opening your mouth to tell the parents what a colossal piece of crap they are (Yes, I’ve done that, but I did use better vocabulary) here is what you need to do. Steer clear of any parent you hear using the phases: You’re being a big baby, don’t be a such baby, or any variation of. Immediately vacate your place in line if you hear a parent offering to a pay their fear-stricken child to ride the roller coaster. You know that will not end well.
Kodak Moments – Doubtful. If there ever was a place where you think you’ll walk away with wonderful happy family photos it’s Disney World. After all, as you walk through the parks they have clearly marked just where you should take those happy family pictures.
Here’s why you’ll get home without those one-of-kind photos. No one looks good at Disney World. Humidity cancels out any photogenic quality any of your family members possess. Even the Disney Princesses are having a bad hair day and they’re wearing synthetic wigs.
To exacerbate the problem no one wants to stop and have their pictures taken until after you’ve been at the park for a few hours. That means any photo you’ll take will feature sweat stained family members with their clothes and hair plaster to their bodies. Do I need to mention that humidity adds pounds? Yes, the moisture literally weighs you down.
So, you the mom, who has done all the heavy lifting planning the trip will look horrendous in any and all pictures. Totally unfair and dare I say, unmagical.
God forbid, that you want to take a photo at Disney World to use as your family’s Christmas Card. Talk about pressure. My sole advice is to take it first thing in the morning and you, mom, use plenty of hairspray. The downside to using hairspray, in what once was Florida swamp land, is that it’s a mosquito aphrodisiac and they’ll be your constant, horny companion the whole day. To get good Disney pictures may I suggest going to Disney Land. The Southern California climate is much more conducive to snagging that all elusive Kodak moment.
I hope this few tips will make your trip to Disney World more enjoyable. As you proudly enter the park armed with lower expectations and fresh underwear in your backpack, ready to quickly snap your family photo and on high alert (level orange) for people who could negatively impact your Disney adventure remember who you have to thank. Me.