Several months ago my wife and I made the fateful decision to treat our two kids, ages 8 and 3, to a Disney World vacation over Christmas break.
And that was his first mistake. It gets worse:
Next we looked for air transportation–and struck out. Delta and Southwest both offer nonstop Raleigh-Orlando service, but Delta wanted $700 per ticket for the 80-minute nonstop flight (less expensive seats were available for an ATL connection). Southwest was cheaper by far, but still set me back $1200 for four tickets.
Gulping hard again, I ponied up the fare.
Lastly, I checked on Walt Disney World tickets. As every parent on earth but me knows, there are four parks at WDW: Magic Kingdom; Epcot; MGM Studios; and Animal Kingdom. My local AAA agency educated me on the ins and outs of WDW ticket options, and we settled on "Magic Your Way" tickets for two adults and two kids with no "Park Hopper" option (if you don't know, don't ask) for five days.
Total Disney ticket cost: $774. I gulped again and proffered my Amex card to the nice AAA lady.
And it gets even worse from there. I read parts of this aloud to Bunny, and as I was reading she was imploring me not to read anymore, lest I hate travel even more than I do now. “You don't need to read stuff like that,” she said.
But as I read further (it's a three part article) I began to realize that Will Allen III was particularly stupid in planning his trip to the Kingdom of the Rat God in Central Sheol—this from someone who can find safe taxicab services in the Sudan. Although, I guess when you are used to arranging reliable private overland transport from Mandalay to Bagan in Myanmar, going to Walt Disney World, the American Mecca for kids, during the Holiday Season, appears as a no-brainer.
Little did he realize.
Speaking of Disney—I have three travel stories relating to Disney, two horrible (to give an indication of just why I hate travel) and one just plain silly (not to give a totally biased acount against travel).
- Disney Horror Story #1
My Mom's cousin and her family had come down to visit us and they wanted to take their kids to Walt Disney World. I was invited to go along, and on Sunday, Feburary 27th, 1983, we drove to Orlando. The adults got to sit in the cab of the pickup truck, while us kids were relegated to the uncovered bed of the truck in back. The trip up there wasn't that bad, and we stayed with some friends of the family, who also worked at Disney.
The following day, Monday the 28th, we went to Epcot, having driven in the back entrance by said family friend, thus avoiding both the long wait to get into the park, and the actual price of admission. We ended up entering and exiting the park through one of the exhibitions.
That part wasn't that bad.
After spending a few hours at Epcot, we left then headed over to Sea World for a bit. Things were going fine until I, sitting in the front row of the Killer Whale show, got drenched by one of the whales.
And I didn't have a change of clothes.
So, on the drive back, there I was, huddled beneath a thin jacket in the back of an open pickup truck, trying desperately to avoid freezing to death. It was a miserable three hour
Made all the worse because Monday, February 28th, 1983, was the season finale of M.A.S.H, which at the time, was my favorite TV series.
Which means I missed it.
Well, not entirely—I did see the final two minutes of the episode.
I ended up getting horribly sick that week.
[Okay, technically it wasn't technically a horror story about Disney, but we still visited one of the parks that day. And I've yet to still see the season finale of M.A.S.H., twenty-four years later. —Editor]
- Disney Horror Story #2
No date for this one, but it happened sometime during the very late 80s, very early 90s.
During the week, I got a call from my Aunt Kay (Dad's sister) and Uncle Dale that they were going to be at Walt Disney World and would I like to come by and meet them there.
For some obscure reason, I said “yes” (I suspect it was because I had yet to do a road trip on my own, and felt this was as good a time as any—so I guess this would place it sometime in '89 or so). On the appointed day (a Saturday as I want to recall) I got up early, and drove the two and a half hours along the Florida Turnpike to International Drive in Orlando.
It then took another hour to drive the few miles along International Drive to the parking lot of Walt Disney World.
It then took yet another hour to get from the parking lot to the actual park itself.
And then I had the daunting task of finding my familiar relations.
This was back when cell phones weren't quite as ubiquitous as today.
I finally met up with them around 1:00 pm.
Spent the day riding rides and eating hideously expensive food and around 10:00 pm we all headed to the monorail station to leave the park.
Only the monorail system had broken down, thus trapping a few thousand people within the Kingdom of the Rat God for several hours past closing.
It was around midnight that I was eventually back in my car, heading south as fast as my little car could go (I didn't worry about speeding tickets as state troopers blew past me on the Turnpike), with this massive migraine headache for the entire trip.
Not a fun time.
- Disney Silly Story
Again, no definite dates, but given the facts of the story, this one happened in the very early 90s, back when I was living at home, working a job that paid me ridiculous amounts of money, meaning I had large amounts of discretionary funds to burn through.
My friend Sean Williams announced one Friday that instead of the usual Saturday plans, he instead, had to drive up to the University of Central Florida (in Orlando) to pick up a pair of shoes from his brother. Not having much else planned for that Saturday, Bill Lefler, Mark Hamzy (which is a different Mark than the one I normally mention here) and I invited ourselves along for the ride.
So Saturday morning we all piled into a car and headed north.
We arrived at Sean's brother's dorm room, picked up the pair of shoes, and were back in the car in less than half an hour. Sean was ready to drive all the way back; Bill, Mark and I were simply amazed that that was it.
Drive three hours to pick up a pair of shoes?
So Bill, Mark and I browbeat Sean into going to Epcot.
Now, mind you, it was around 5:00 pm when we did this.
And it was around 6:00 pm when we paid for, and entered into, Epcot.
Most people wouldn't have bothered to enter any of the Disney parks past 2:00 pm, but not us. We (actually, now that I think about it, I think it was mostly Mark) wanted to see Epcot, and gosh darn it, we were going to see Epcot.
We walked around a bit, discussing where we should eat (and that's another story for another time, the whole “Where Should We Eat” ritutal we went through every Friday and Saturday) and ended up in the Mexican Pavilion (where I had Chocolate Chicken—a very unusual but rather tasty dish).
Afterwards, we stuck around for the fireworks show, then left.
So, not only did we have enough money for a fairly expensive Mexican dinner, but enough money to get into Epcot for a fairly expensive Mexican dinner.
But like I said, I was living at home at the time, making obscene amounts of money. So was Bill. And Mark. And Sean.