We’re heading to Florida on a long overdue visit to my relatives. It will be good for my little ones to see their great grandparents, but of course there are a few other characters they are intent of seeing while we’re near Orlando: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty—maybe even Minnie. Yes, I said the Disney princesses were dressed like sluts in my post last winter, and yes, I really hope we get a picture of them with the kids.
Hypocrisy, thy name is mother.
What am I to do? Even my intellectual father jumped at the chance to join us in Disney World when he heard we’d be going. There’s something about the Magic Kingdom that makes fools of us all.
I mentioned Disney World to a friend who’d done the trip last year. She sat me down slowly and explained in hushed tones the different princess breakfasts. This woman has degrees from two Ivy League schools.
I put out a request on facebook for tips. Friends sent notes longer than the new Health Care bill, and far more ambitious.
Arrive at the gates early, pack your own food, bring a stroller, rent a stroller, do the second princess breakfast, by no means attempt Epcot, be prepared for lines, and, from the Stroller Queen, when I interviewed her for the post on Bugaboo—bring a lock. Either there are thieves trolling the place, or the seven dwarfs are tired of walking.
I called our hotel recently to double check on the crib I’d reserved. It’s a Disney Resort hotel, so as I sat on hold for twenty minutes they played music from the B side of It’s a Small World. The high pitched, squeaky, repetitive tunes nearly drove me loony until I handed over the phone to my four year old, who took the assignment with delight.
Finally, a human picked up and I confirmed the crib. The woman in reservations checked other details and discovered that the dates of birth for my children had been flip-flopped. She corrected the error, thanked me, and then asked for a credit card so she could charge me $15.
To correct an error?
On the date of birth of two guests?
I was changing my reservation within forty-five days of arrival.
I asked to speak with a supervisor and she put me on hold.
It was then that I decided we’d be going naked to Disney World. Naked, as in: in-the-raw. No guidebook, no notes, no maps with highlighted routes, and rain contingencies. I’m not packing a cooler, or strapping a camel water pack to my back, or freebasing packets of electrolytes the morning of.
No, we are going the old fashioned way—unprepared and late, the way we did as kids, when the only planning we did was to rehearse my age so my grandfather could try to pass me off as nine for a cheaper admission ticket.
We’ll wait in lines and like it. We’ll spend twenty dollars for lemonade and eat lunch standing up. Sure I’d like to ride Dumbo and the Tea Cups but I’m not going to cry about it if I don’t. My kids might, but they’ll get over it.
Right now, I’m just concentrating on making sure I’ve packed enough for our six day vacation. I usually figure three to four outfits a day for my toddler and two for my four year old. Sure that takes up a lot of luggage but my husband’s pretty strong. And, I just bought a backpack attachment for our car seats. If hauling around five suitcases and wearing a car seat on your back doesn’t say “spring break”, I don’t know what does.
The portable DVD player is now charged. We have enough "Curious George" videos to hold a film festival. This meant telling my husband that despite being “classics” the kids would not be watching "Old School "and the "Big Libowski" on the plane.
As I write this final paragraph, we are settled into the first leg of our Florida trip, a seaside hotel a few miles from my grandparents, and an hour away from our final destination in Disney World. I called this hotel three months ago to reserve our room and request a crib for our littlest. A few days before our flight, and an hour or so after my fifteen dollar call with Disney, I called again to reconfirm the crib. When we arrived and there was—no crib—in the room, I called to check on it. By seven o’clock, as we headed out of bath time and prepared for the kids’ bedtime, there was still no crib. I called the front desk, only to be told my a gum chewing young woman that because I had “not reserved a crib”, I should not expect once, because they were all out.
Preparation does not always guarantee that you’ll get what you expect. So, perhaps doing Disney by the seat of our pants--or without any at all-- isn’t so crazy.
PS-After telling the clerk that she had to be nuts if she thought I’d travel 900 miles on a plane and not have thought to reserve a crib, and after some diplomatic and/or investigative reporter questioning by my father, the hotel finally sent a kind maintenance man to Wal-Mart where he returned an hour and a half later with a low end pack-and-play best used for a) dolls or b) recall lists. Beggars, or in this case, travelers, can’t be choosers…and I am grateful. Mostly to my dad. As for Disney, after a talk with the supervisor, they waived the $15 fee. Now we can have ice with that lemonade.