January 2018

The Dad Life—Episode 2

Author: Justin Jarrett

Greetings from The Filthiest…er…Happiest Place on Earth. Actually, that’s not fair. Walt Disney World is remarkably clean, considering the number of visitors passing through, especially at the start of the day. But 50,000 people visit the Magic Kingdom alone daily, and many of them are children, who, by rule, are disgusting.
This is a difficult concept to impress upon your children, the notion that this fantastic utopia is, at its core, the world’s largest Walmart. Add in the fact that the kids are running hot on sugar and adrenaline, while being subject to standing in long lines doing nothing, and they’re bound to do some questionable things.

“Sweetie, please don’t hang on the chains.”

They. Touch. Everything.

It’s like pulling teeth to get our four-year-old daughter to hold one of our hands to avoid getting lost in the crowd, but if there’s a handrail, she’s touching it.

I’m also fairly certain we have not taken a ride on the monorail during which our little princess neglected to put her mouth on at least three surfaces that have acted as Petri dishes for untold numbers of bacteria since the 1970s.

I’m starting to think the true thrill ride is not the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror so much as watching our beloved tiny people cheat death in the days following vacation. Hooray for the human immune system!

Of course, not everyone’s immune system is up to the task. If you want to enjoy Disney (and despite what the tone of this column might lead you to believe, we do), it’s important you don’t think too much about why your My Disney Experience is telling you your favorite ride is temporarily closed. Let’s just say a former Disney employee told the New York Post that they once had to clean up 36 “Code V” incidents in one day.

“Honey, keep your hands off the chains.”

Thankfully none of us has lost our Mickey waffles on the tea cups, but I can relate to that poor puke mopper. Our seven-year-old son has long suffered from motion sickness in the car, and the princess is a budding hypochondriac with jealousy issues, so she can talk herself into throwing up faster than you can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” The only worse phrase to hear in the car than, “Are we there yet?” is “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

The motion sickness was a big concern on our most recent trip, because like any Disney family, we mark our children’s growth by two-inch increments, and each had reached a milestone: Bubby passed 44 inches (Space Mountain!) and the princess hit 40 inches (Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Tower of Terror!)—meaning they would be exposed to new, potential stomach-turning experiences.

They passed every test with flying colors.

In fact, the whole family behaved well on this trip, save for a few appearances from the Fournado and my mini-meltdown one morning, which started with picking an $8 kids’ breakfast platter off the hotel room floor. I might have said some things that would make Mickey Mouse say, “Oh, dear.”

There is something about Disney World that brings out the best and the worst in all of us—children and adults alike—but we mostly stayed focused on the best.

Our kids are in no way perfect (“DON’T TOUCH THE CHAINS!”), but just like a trip to Walmart can raise your self-esteem a few notches, a trip to Disney will make you thankful for your kids’ behavior in a way you never thought possible.

Yes, we had to drag the princess through some challenging moments, and there were numerous threats and bribes, but we hit all the parks (including three in one day), enjoyed every ride we wanted to, and ushered our kids into new frontiers, leaving behind the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Dumbo for rollercoasters and thrill rides.

Sure, we had to plead with “Naughty Ninja” to give way to “Nice Kitty”—the four-year-old is weird, y’all, and was working her multiple personalities hard. And we all got a little fussy by the end of those long days. I give the kids a break, though, because if I’m getting in 25,000 steps, they’re getting in at least 40,000 as we crisscross the parks in search of shorter wait times.

But we also got to see them use The Force to vanquish Darth Vader, meet some of their favorite Disney characters from princesses to Kylo Ren, and smile and laugh enough to last a lifetime.

Disney is the most exhausting, frustrating, filthiest place on Earth. It’s also one of the happiest, most magical places on the planet.

We can’t wait to go back.

Let Us Know what You Think ...

commenting closed for this article

Social Bookmarks