I am a Disney Princess

So this is a fun little diversion:

Have I mentioned that I’m a Disney enthusiast? There’s no hiding my deep affection for Disney World (or “The world” as we cultists like to call it). I’ve been four times as an adult (with children, okay?) and I’d like to go plenty more but my highfalutin’, world-traveling, Mandarin-speaking offspring are all, ‘Yeah, that was a pleasant thing to do as a family.’ Implication? ‘We’re done, Mom.’ In all honesty, we were probably done three times ago when we lost our son at the Lion King show, or maybe two times ago when same son got left behind on Tom Sawyer’s Island.

But you’ll never hear me besmirch Walt’s name. I adore his sub-tacular rides and homogenized fakery. I love the cleanliness and freakish detail. (What kind of kook thinks of embedding faux trolley tread marks in Main Street for that special Old Timey look? A Disney kook, that’s who!)

And the ‘cast members.’ So charming! Every interaction has been nothing short of delightful. [Notwithstanding that traumatic episode, about which we speak in hushed tones, when a very insensitive cast member culled a group of us from the herd one night and pushed us through some kind of gigantic, trashy PARKING LOT located between Tomorrow Land and Main Street. It had actual dumpsters and heavy machinery right in the Kingdom. I kid you not. Did you have any clue it wasn’t completely 100 percent magical? I was just stunned, stunned that a cast member would exercise such poor judgment in order to… what? Rush us out quickly so he could go pick up girls at a bar in the greater Orlando metropolitan area? I came this close to writing an indignant letter.]

But like I said, I can’t get too riled up over these little technicalities because here’s the big WDW secret.  ‘Disney’ (we’re on a one-name basis) just WILL NOT LET YOU HAVE A BAD TIME.

That’s not to say there aren’t a few quality control issues here and there, a few executive decisions I might quibble with. We could start by overhauling the dud character breakfast set-up and the crappy buffets. And the Contemporary hotel has sort of lost its je ne sais quoi, don’t you think?

And how about the clever way the Kali River Rapids ride is engineered to soak one person out of six on the raft so comprehensively – me, always – that you emerge like a reject from a spring break wet T-shirt contest with exactly one choice: to buy an entire replacement ensemble of Tigger-themed lavender elastic-waist slacks, safari vest, hipster ‘briefs’, and men’s athletic socks, all conveniently located  – so thoughtful! –next to the exit turnstile. Oh, and did I mention the glassy-eyed women in strollers, struggling to stay awake for the 3 a.m. fireworks? (Getting their money’s worth, dammit.) Rewind: Did I just say adults in strollers? Yep, I sure did.

But what kind of spoilsport would let these things get in the way of the magic? Not me. No way. And like I said: ‘Management’ won’t let you have a bad time. See, they’re playing a deep game. They’re sinking their mickey mousey hooks in you for life; they can afford not to sweat the small stuff.

Case in point: We got a little text message from our airline at the end of our last visit, indicating that our nonstop flight from Orlando to Boston had been cancelled and we’d been thoughtfully re-routed a mere 24 hours later (it was fervently hoped without any inconvenience to us) via a partner crop-duster code-share  – Chufunaqua airlines, swear to god – with layovers in Atlanta, Dubuque, and Cincinnati, in that order. Now, you Disney novitiates might have panicked. It was New Year’s Eve, the cast members had been prattling on for days about how unprecedentedly booked up things were in the ‘World.’ Things weren’t looking good.

But we went straight back to the kindly folk at the Grand Floridian and pled our case. And as you can imagine, they were so sorry but there really wasn’t a thing they could do; we’d already checked out and there just wasn’t a single room available in the hotel, in any hotel. They’d be happy to help us get a bedbuggy berth at Shamu’s Wonder Playpen in downtown Orlando, however, if that was our pleasure. No, that’s not my f-ing pleasure. I stared in disbelief. Our cast member was going off-script.

“What happened to that famous Disney hospitality?” (Aren’t you trying to breed slavish devotion to your brand, you moron?) I asked so-sweetly. My lower lip began to quiver. I began to tear up a little. It’s so sad, really, because we’ve had such a great visit but, you know, lots of studies, possibly funded by you, have shown that even a few uncharacteristically bad moments can completely ruin a family’s recollection of a vacation, making it unlikely they will ever return.

Oh my goodness! She exclaimed. She’d totally forgotten an option that just opened up that very second. A $2,500 suite with private concierge service and all-inclusive meals. Would that do the trick for us? At no extra charge? She even got us on a ‘real’ flight the next evening, which we boarded positively drunk on a Disney love that had fiendishly morphed on our final night into a vague, faintly jingoistic, ‘Gotta love America’ fuzziness the result of which was the opening and complete fracking of our wallets.

I eagerly await my next visit and nothing, I mean nothing, will get in my way.

About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director/author. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
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