Last week we went on a magical adventure to Disney World. Disney World is many things and magical is one of them, but it is also a few other things that no one tells you.
As we boarded the plane to head back to NC, and I looked down at my daughter’s head with Bippity Boppity Boutique glitter remnants on her scalp, it occurred to me that going to Disney World is like giving birth. Stay with me as I explain the multiple facets of this bold comparison.
I poured blood, sweat and tears into this trip. It was a secret I successfully kept from my offspring for months. My husband joked around with me saying he didn’t think I could do it. The next day he mentioned the trip at the breakfast table. That’s what he gets for doubting my spy-like qualities. Thankfully, no one heard him.
I went overboard planning this trip – to the wipe-warmer level. No one needs the wipe warmer for their newborn baby. No one needs to buy a relatively large mouse clad in red or dressed in pink with polka dots for each of their children. No one needs to buy each child a suitcase clad in Disney images for their first trip to Disney – even if they are on super-sale. No one needs to buy an untold number of Disney themed shirts to take on a trip to Disney as well as gifts that Tinker Bell will leave in the room each morning. Especially if one has to walk from the back of a parking lot at the massive outlet mall in the heaviest rain of the century in Toms through ankle-deep puddles to get to the Disney Store. No one should do that.
And, just so you know, Tinker Bell works just like the Tooth Fairy. Even at Disney. Sometimes Tink remembers to leave the little trinket on the bed. Sometimes she forgets. Then you wake up with a gasp realizing Tinker Bell isn’t really real and subsequently dig through your suit case and creep around a dark hotel room in the early morning hours with a Cinderella wand and two Mickey Mouse flash lights shoved up your shirt while your husband sleeps and your children stir in their beds. Of course, this is just an example I contrived with my creative mind to demonstrate to you the desperation a parent goes through to make a trip to Disney as magical as humanly possible.
Meanwhile, wipe warmers show up in long lists of baby registry items and fly off of the shelves as round mamas wander through aisles of baby stuff debating prints for their hooter hider nursing cover. When I took the last three mice from the shelves at Target I was beyond joyful that I managed to get one for each of my babes. Smitten. I felt a little bit like Rocky at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps. Well, the next time I was at Target the bin of mice had been replenished. They do say if you see one mouse…there are many, many more. I should have known better. I put the grey sweat suit back.
Those who have followed along know that our family of five lives in a 720 square-foot fishing cabin. What you do not know is we have a bonus forty-five square feet I have not mentioned. Forty-five wonderful square feet hidden about six miles from our house. I call it the Santa Clause and surprise Disney trip hiding place.
My husband calls it his office. Semantics.
My husband works from home and thus we have had to rent a key-man office separate from our house to accommodate him, due to the fact he cannot work with three children playing screaming in our tiny house.
When I was thrown a baby shower in my hometown, I had to put half of the gifts in the back of someone else’s car to ferry them home and then the gifts resided on an entire guest room bed and overflowed onto the floor until they were unpacked and put in their places. Prior to our Disney trip my hubs could barely walk into this office because some Disney-crazed prepper lady was squirreling away Disney-related items in each and every square inch of the forty-five square feet. Hubs had to slip through there like a ninja or else get stabbed by a sharp sequin on Elsa’s miniature dress that was hanging daintily from the book shelf.
We took a baby class when I was pregnant with my first-born and the pediatrician….I repeat the pediatrician told the class that all we really needed was clothing, diapers, food and somewhere for the baby to sleep. I think she even mentioned a dresser drawer as a potential sleeping option and I am 100% sure she referenced my breasts when she mentioned the food source. When my mother was born the aforementioned four things is probably all my grandmother had. At some point between then and now the baby industry has become a gazillion dollar industry. A statistic says that in the first year a baby could cost you $12,000. In 2015 the world-wide baby care market industry grossed $47.7 billion. The U.S. baby care market grossed $9 billion. In 2015, Disney Parks worldwide made $16.1 billion and The Walt Disney Company all-in grossed $52.4 billion world-wide. See!
My husband and I almost fell out of our seats with laughter at the “Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” when the actor took a deep whiff of Anna and said saucily, “You smell like a billion dollar franchise.” Um. Yes. That is a fact. While we did not get a sniff of Anna for ourselves, I did sniff Chewbacca and I am pretty sure that is what he smelled like. That and delightful Wookiee polyester!
Here is my final point in this parallel. When you are pregnant with your first child and walking around the baby super store glowing with the best hair you have had in your entire life people are incredibly nice to you. They speak of new baby smells. They show you soft blankets and breathable crib bumpers. They oooh and ahhh over you. They let you cut in line at the bathroom.
They do not tell you about the hospital underwear adorned with giant pads. They speak not of stitches in your nether-region. They dare not mention mastitis or leaking breasts. Heaven forbid one utter to you anything about the fear that comes with having your first bowel movement after birth. Can I have some Colace with that wipe-warmer please? They tell you instead how beautiful you are as they hold the door open for you.
Much like when I was glowing with my first pregnancy, avoiding lunchmeat and leftovers and receiving compliments on every corner, everyone privy to our upcoming trip to Disney gushed about how much we were going to love Disney. “Oh! I love Disney!” they said. “Your children are the perfect age!” they said. They went on and on about the magic, infinitely sharing how much they love, love, love Disney. A love like I know in the leaf-sucker truck.
Only one mentioned to make sure you level-set yourself to be patient and that even if you do you will fail. She is the same one who described a third degree tear to me when I was pregnant. If you do not know what this is, then you do not need to know. She is the only one who spoke these truths to me.
No one told me my oldest child might hate roller coasters. Or, that after he endured the Big Thunder Mountain RR and Splash Mountain back-to-back would quiver while questioning whether the next ride had any scary parts or drops. Not just asking his loving parents, who only wanted the very best for him and his Disney experience, but begging the cattle moving cast member in charge of directing guests onto the rides to tell him whether there was anything frightening on the ride, convincing himself as one or both of us pulled him reassuringly onto the ride, that he was likely going to meet his end at Disney World. I sat with my arm around him and his head in my armpit as we climbed Spaceship Earth. There is no lap bar, hence there are no drops. I pointed this out. He was terrified until the ride was over and it then became his favorite.
And, even though we were told to be flexible by a few seasoned Disney parents…just like all of the grandmas say to enjoy your babies while they are little because they grow so quickly …we were not flexible. Just like you never think you enjoyed your babe as much as you should have when the sun sets on the day.
One must make the fast passes. One must make it to each and every character dinner possible. One must get as many character autographs as possible. One must get every moment for every dime spent.
Fellow mamas. None of this is true.
I cried on our first day. Tears of frustration and disappointment. Unfair expectations set by yours truly. Two thirds of the way through the day I followed Elsa’s advice and I let it go…almost. I must be honest – I am just too type-A to not be on time for a dinner reservation or to miss a fast pass. And I also have too much of a ‘we can do it all’ attitude that I was late to dinner with Cinderella. Read that again. It doesn’t make sense. Disney messed with me.
Ultimately, Walt won and I succumbed to the magic that is everywhere at Disney. Just like when you succumb to losing a little bit of yourself for a little while for a beautiful baby, you must succumb to the magic at Disney and be free amongst the pixie dust.
I rest my case. Going to Disney is like giving birth.
A former work colleague brought a pair of her pre-prego size 2 jeans to the hospital to wear home after giving birth to her first born. She thought they would fit. She shared this mistake with me so I would not make the same error. I am passing this along to you, so you do not make the same mistake as me:
Go to Disney like Gumby would. Be flexible and go with the flow. Your children will not be happy the entire time. You will not be happy the entire time. Do not run. Do not let your children play with the line ropes/chains – they will get fussed at. Your children will fight over the stroller. One of your children might refuse to leave the bus corral to go into Epcot.
But, mostly they will be happy and most of it will be utterly magical. Webster should replace the definition of magic with Disney World. If you have not been, take time to journey there with your family.
Now, to fulfill my promise to you and help bring back some knowledge, here are a few facts I gleaned while seated on Animal Kingdom’s Kilmanjaro Safari ride.
Crocodiles and African dogs are crepuscular. This means they are active in the morning and in the evening. Within the definition of crepuscular is those animals who are active in the morning (matinal) and those who are active in the evening (vespertine).
We saw the hippos in broad day light, but apparently they are nocturnal (active at night) and FYI they often walk along the bottom of the river bed instead of swimming. We witnessed this first-hand. The opposite of nocturnal is diurnal (active during the daytime).
A crocodile is and ectoderm. They are ectothermic, meaning they are dependent upon an external source for body heat. The widely known vernacular for this is cold-blooded. Because of this, crocs will often open their mouths to cool if they have gotten too hot. Ectothermic friends of the crocodile are fish, other reptiles and oddly one mammal: the naked mole rat. The opposite of ectothermic is homeothermic. Homeotherms like mammals and birds are warm-blooded thus regulate body heat themselves through internal metabolic processes. They maintain a constant body temperature.
The last fact that stayed with me after drowning in the dust of pixie: the Rhinoceros horn is made of keratin, which is the same material as our hair and finger nails. Yet, rhinos have been hunted almost to extinction by those who think the horn holds special powers for medicinal purposes or think it is an aphrodisiac. Go to the nail place people and pick up the clippings! Stop poaching the rhinos!
Journey on mamas and don’t forget to plan a trip to Disney!