I love Walt Disney World. I’ve visited the Resort (because diehards like me refuse to call it a THEME PARK) numerous times. Many would call it an obsessive amount, but not me…I can’t wait to rack up more trips. Maybe it’s the childhood family vacations we took there, or my love of picture-perfect corporate sterility, but I’m a die-hard Disney World enthusiast.
Lover Fo’ Life is not.
L4L thinks Walt Disney World is one big eye-roll, but he puts up with my fanaticism. As a life long Disney Dork, I know the judging that comes with the territory. Negative comments about my beloved vacation destination? I’ve heard them all.
I don’t care, I love the place.
That’s why when last week’s Caption This Contest Winner, Uncle Fester sent me the open-ended topic: “Adventures in Walt Disney World,” I squealed with delight.
While I could write an entire secondary blog devoted to my love of the magical vacation destination, attraction by incredible attraction (Disney Dork for “rides,”) I’m choosing to stick to Uncle Fester’s request and writing about a specific adventure of mine while on Vacation at Walt Disney World, actually…It’s about a specific adventurer.
Gather ’round kiddies,
Uncle Remus Crib Keeper is going to tell the tale of a folk hero that only appears in Orlando Florida…
When I was 9, my parents decided to take us to Walt Disney World. Like many families, we planned the trip for months prior to our departure. Allowances became souvenir savings. Hotel and tickets were booked and tireless research was done. I interviewed countless friends at the lunch table. “What were we in for? Any standout rides?” I wanted all the details on their experiences with the mouse. I did my research, and so did pops.
My Dad, AKA Angry Grandpa, purchased a guidebook called “Birnbaum’s Guide to Walt Disney World,” the tome was thin and filled with colorful photos of the WORLD.” Ever the know it all, my dad would not rest until he had memorized every line in the entire guide. Each evening, he would read our requests aloud…
“Read about the Haunted Mansion again, Dad.”
“999 Haunts await you in this splendid….” He would then read the complete requested topic or entry out loud, as if it were pioneer times and he was Michael F*cking Landon, with all his children listening around the campfire. We studied the guidebook for the better part of 4 months. Finally, it was time for our Vacation.
Father doesn’t consider himself a nurturing soul. Matter of fact, he calls baby bro, baby sis and yours truly “the troops.” Since birth, we have been soldiers in his army of annoyed.
“Let’s go troops! Time to pack up the car and head out to Disney World. “Atten-HUT-HUT-HUT!” We jumped in the car, and started the trek to the Land of the Mouse.
As we pulled out of the neighborhood, he began debriefing us on the mission. “Here’s how it’s gonna go…I figure if we drive straight through, we’ll make it to Pensacola by 2:00am, and if we make it that far, we might as well drive the additional 8 hours to Orlando. No sense wasting valuable vacation time at some flop house in the Florida swamp.”
This whole “non-stop drive plan” was news to my mother.
“I thought we agreed to take a break for the night in New Orleans? I think the kids would enjoy a nice sleep in a real bed rather than the back seat of a Toyota.”
“New Orleans is full of Honker Joints, and gambling. The kids aren’t old enough to enjoy either, they’ll live. Besides, I want to spend as much time as possible getting my money’s worth in Walt Disney World. They say you can’t do it all in one trip,” I’m going to prove those pantywaists wrong.” Teach them to try to squeeze a whole additional trip out of me. Lousy Jerks.’
“Who are you referring to?”
“Those nitwits at Disney. I’ve read the secrets and tricks, we’re going to do it all …with time to spare!” As he recited the tenets of his “getting the most out of this vacation” manifesto, my mother, who had been quietly rolling her eyes for months during our nightly Disney “fireside guidebook readings,” did something I never imagined she would do, she bought in.
In an instant Mother went from the voice of reason to a devoted follower and sidekick of my father’s alter ego: Vacation Dad, tormentor to tired children and murderer of feet. After a grueling 20+ hours, we made it to Orlando.
In the golden mid-morning sunlight, Vacation Dad was born into power. A true inspiration to those interested in torture as a hobby. Vacation Dad reigned supreme our first Trip to Disney World, and every family trip there that followed. We’re going to spend the rest of our time together in this post learning about the Simon Legree of leisure time…
Vacation Dad has a machine for a body. A machine that runs on accomplishments. Food? It’s overrated and slows you down in line. Drink? Only if you’ve got a squeeze bottle in your knapsack, missy. Vacation Dad doesn’t fool around.
Much like every
supervillain superhero Vacation Dad has a costume, AKA uniform. The crucial get-up involves:
- A Texas Longhorns Shirt: When in Orlando, he insists on reppin’ his love for my folk’s alma mater. He has a million different burnt orange UT shirts, and is wearing one at all times while in Disney World, because according to my father, “The world loves Texas.”
- A pair of khaki shorts that belong in an 70’s gay pride parade: My father looks like he’s cruising a truck stop in Paris when he wears his “comfortable shorts.” Unfortunately, over the years most of his shorts have really “creeped up the trail,” if you know what I mean. Real Talk: “YMCA” plays when he gets anything out of his pockets.
- White knee socks: Pulled all the way up to the knee, “just like the good Lord intended them.”
- Velcro Tennis Shoes: A must for fast, comfortable footwear adjustment.
- Clip Shades for his windshield-like glasses.
Once Vacation dad is in uniform, he begins mustering the troops.
“ATEN-HUT MARCH! MARCH MARCH!”
Every day began like this. We were always there an hour before the park opened, patiently waiting for the gates to open. Vacation Dad doesn’t waste time standing behind some schlemiel from slowpokeville. He’s there to press palms with the mouse, and check off every last thing in the guide-book. Which reminds me…
Vacation Dad is never without his dog-eared guide. Even though the genius memorized it prior, he has it to refer to, just incase. Like Patton, leading his army through a sea of “dawdlers,” we cut through the crowds with razor precision, Vacation Dad leading every efficient step.
Mutiny? Not on your life. Uprisings? Think again. Willingly, we follow Vacation dad’s relentless itinerary. To call a 3:00pm slog across Epcot Center in August a “Death March,” is putting it mildly, but we triumphed on. Why? Because cramming our days with nonstop activity makes my father giddy as a school boy. Vacation Dad, while unrelenting and woefully outfitted, is a laughing, smiling, affable ray of sunshine.
Perhaps it’s all the money he thinks he’s screwing Disney out of by jamming our time there full, or maybe it’s just because he misses his days on an aircraft carrier, but my father is never more relaxed and at ease than when he’s riding our sweat wave all over the various grounds of Walt Disney World.
It’s a cold hard fact of life that one day my father will no longer be here to remind me and my siblings to “stop acting like an idiot.” Thankfully, I will forever hold in my heart the times I served under Vacation Dad, the toughest screw in the fun game. Yes, he was a taskmaster on those trips, but MAN did he make sure we had ourselves one amazing time after another.
In 2.5 years, L4L and I will be taking Angry Baby to my beloved Disney World for the first time.
Vacation Dad? He’s already making strategy notes. Like Alexander the Great in cheek peeking shorts, Vacation Dad will conquer the (Disney)World, once again. This time with a new warrior in his battalion, a scrappy upstart who takes no prisoners, and never stops moving…my feet are so screwed.