I can’t say exactly what time is was but I’m certain it was close to ten o’clock. I was tired. We had walked for close to an hour in a futile attempt to find a place that didn’t turn out to be what we hoped. All of that walking for nothing. It was hot. My kids were growing tired and I simply wanted to get back to my room to shower and sleep. Our bus was late. It seemed like everyone else in the entire park was getting picked up except for us. Where is our bus? Finally it arrived. I drop into a seat next to my mother. I’m holding my tired, sweaty son. It felt like we drove in circles for the first ten minutes. We make another stop and take on what felt like 50 new people. Now I’m sitting, still holding my tired and sweaty child but having to stare and the backside of a stranger. I’m sure this is a very nice and kind gentleman but I don’t relish the idea that I have to stare at his back pockets for the next 25 minutes. My lower back is on fire. All of the walking and carrying, bending and carrying I have done today is wreaking havoc on my back. To improve matters, not only am I sweating, I am also slipping. I don’t know about you but apparently no one in Florida understands the concept of softening their water for visitors. Hard water coupled with hotel soap makes for one dry girl. The lotion I applied that morning is now causing my sweaty legs to become slippery. The hem of my sun dress is unfortunately folded far up under my thigh with no chance of ever retrieving it which means my sweaty and slippery thighs continue to slide across the seat. The act of keeping my thighs appropriately closed while also holding my tired and sweaty son who has now taken off his shoes and socks is becoming too much to bear. My inner thighs begin to cramp. It’s entirely too much and I cannot stand another single minute. I plop my son onto my mother’s lap and stand up, making my way to the center of the bus. Shaking my arms in the air I scream, “Get me off of this bus! You have driven for 15 minutes in one giant circle! We aren’t going anywhere! I am hot, tired, and hurting all over. Not to mention I have to stare at this man’s rear end and all you can do is drive us in a complete circle! I’m not having a magical day! I’m not having a magical day! I am not having a magical daaaaaaayyyy!!!
What happens next is a bit unclear…because of course it’s not true. As much as I wanted to stand up and scream I didn’t. I certainly didn’t want to end up being thrown into Disney jail or worse yet be forced to walk back to my resort. Aside from the tantrum, the situation is completely true. During this long ride home I looked at my mother and asked, “Kind of makes you want to stand up and scream, doesn’t it?” She laughed and agreed knowing it was totally true. We all wanted to stand up and scream. Thinking to myself on that long ride back to our resort it made me wonder, how is it possible that no one ever totally looses it at Disney?
Unless you go to Disney alone by yourself, it is work. If you bring along two kids ages six and (almost) three it’s serious work. Actually it’s more like manual labor. It’s barely even June and it’s hot. You walk, on average, six to eight miles in a day. Several times I was walking carrying my son. Other times, I was pushing both kids in an umbrella stroller made for one. Yes, that’s right, about 80 pounds of children piled into a stroller that should probably max out at about 35 pounds. I was asking a Chicco to do a Bob’s job in the hot sun walking past landscaping that had an odd smell of manure. So it was more like hauling small children through Haiti. Just the shear physicality of the trip, it seems, would make one go mad. At one point I remember wondering how it was possible that my underarm was sore. What about this odd bruise I have on my upper left calf muscle? I have no idea how and why I have these pains. Listen, I’m no athlete but I’m in pretty good shape and yet my body took a beating. Everyone takes a beating and yet no one looses their shit. I’m amazed. I watched this one family make their way into the Magic Kingdom: mom was holding one toddler, dad was pushing a double stroller which one child in it all while he had another child strapped to his chest. Kudos to them. If they are not collapsing at the end of the day I can only assume they are androids expertly disguised as humans.
We are put under, what would normally be oppressive conditions. We are hot, sweaty, dehydrated, and often hungry. We are pushing, carrying, or walking with our children for countless miles (often in the wrong direction) and yet no one seems stressed, panicked, or overly troubled. Let this happen in the mall and see how well things go. I would give it ten minutes before there was a riot. It’s truly an enigma.
Have you ever been rammed in the Achilles by a hard plastic stroller wheel? It hurts. It’s a pain level similar to stepping on a Lego with bare feet. Somehow, though people get rammed by strollers all of the time and it seems as though they couldn’t care less. Here you are in a huge group of total strangers, often many from different countries speaking a variety of languages. Go ahead and accidentally ram into some guy from Bangladesh and he’s going to say something like, “Not a problem.” or “It’s ok, I’ve been there!” or “I understand, we have kids, too.” It makes zero sense. Give me ten minutes at any given Wal-Mart and I can find a handful of people ready to go fist-a-cufs because someone’s buggy is taking up too much room in the aisle. Does the mouse really have this kind of effect on us? Do we all just turn into the people we should be in our daily lives but aren’t?
My daughter is six and I have been talking with her about what I like to call ‘social movement etiquette.’ This involves things like, always walk to your right, allow passengers on an elevator to get off before barging in, and never, ever stand still at the top or bottom of a moving escalator. Apparently none of this applies in Disney but thankfully no one cares. At one point we were walking back for our mid day break on the right side of the sidewalk located on the right side of the park. It was unreal the mobs of people coming at us. But it’s totally fine – a mob of people will simply and instantly dissect itself to move around you and will instantly regroup once you are passed. Conversations will end mid-sentence and be picked right back up once you are out of the way. No one is upset by this either. It’s like everyone suddenly adopts a new way of scattered conversing as soon as they hop on board the Magical Express.
On that long bus ride home that night I remember thinking that Disney would be a great place to study. It seems like it would be a social scientist’s dream come true. If I ever had to write another dissertation I think I would find a way to study the human behavior at Disney. Why do we become so amenable? Why are we so willing to intentionally put ourselves under such physical and mental stress? As I think back to the trip we just had I think I know why.
It’s because our son is really just that excited to fly high in the air on Dumbo. It’s because our daughter thinks Goofy’s Barnstormer is ‘totally awesome!’ I’m still laughing that my family group of 9 had trouble figuring out how to evenly distribute ourselves into three groups to ride It’s a Small World! We laughed so hard. It’s because my son looked up at me while waiting to drive the race cars and said, “Mom, you my best friend.” It’s because where else can you sit under an umbrella and enjoy ice cream and strawberry pops and reminisce about meeting Minnie and Daisy IN PERSON! It’s watching your niece and nephew genuinely want to push their cousins in the stroller. It’s watching your son’s excitement and joy as he watches the steam train pull into the station. It’s seeing my mother’s joy that she was able to bring us all together for this trip. In short, it’s worth it. At the end of the day, it may be just a waffle but it’s a Mickey Mouse shaped waffle.
So yes, ram me with your stroller. It’s ok. I’ve been there. Walk aimlessly in the wrong direction for miles on end? We have totally done that! Even though I’m tired, I will happily carry my tired son simply because I can. Of course we will get back in line to ride again, because she’s totally worth it. We brought home so much from the trip – Olaf and Elsa t-shirts, stuffed Dumbo, dinosaurs, and freshly cracked geodes. (Little do they know but a Disney steam train and a Doc McStuffins doctors kit is on the way to our house.) I’m thinking, though that it may be a good idea to bring a little something else home with us – the patience, understanding, and willingness to always go the extra mile that somehow magically happens when you hop on board. Good thing I kept my magic band.