The 75%

Rob and I aren’t big travelers.  I enjoy it more than he does, but neither one of us enjoys being away from home for very long.  For our honeymoon, we took the train two hours away to Chicago, and only spent four days there. Several road trips that were originally meant to last three days were shortened to two days, sometimes  even one day, just because.

So when I told him last year that we were going to use part of our tax return money to take the older girls to Disney World, he wasn’t exactly thrilled.  Partly because Disney isn’t exactly his scene, but also because when you purchase very expensive plane tickets and then tell a five- and three-year-old that you’re going to Disney World, there’s really no turning back or leaving early.  You’re in it for the long haul: for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, you’re going to fucking Disney World.

Regarding our Disney trip, Rob had three very simple, reasonable stipulations:

  • We had to stay at a hotel on Disney property, so we could come and go from the parks to the hotel quickly and easily;
  • We couldn’t go when the weather is crazy hot; and
  • We had to go during the off-season, so there would be no standing endlessly in lines or fighting crowds.

No problem, I said.  Found a reasonably priced Disney resort with free shuttle transportation to and from all the parks.  Did my research and settled on late September as the optimum time to visit in terms of crowds and weather.  Got a good travel agent to book everything for us, including the all-important Princess Lunch at Cinderella’s Castle.  Snagged a decent price on airfare.  Downloaded the app.

BOOM. Planning a trip like a BOSS.

Time went by, and last week the big day finally arrived.  Our first true travel test as a family: the flight to Florida.  We went to the airport, got through security, boarded the plane, and flew to Orlando without a single hitch.  To say we were slightly worried about flying with Bella, a.k.a. The Human Wildcard, was an understatement.  Also, when I say “we” were worried, I mean “almost everyone who knows us”.  In the weeks preceding our trip, more than one person mentioned stories they had read about the TSA closing down airports or grounding flights because of an unruly preschooler.  As it turned out, we had absolutely nothing to worry about.  Our children were absolute angels on the flights, not even asking to use the bathroom.

DOUBLE BOOM.  Still feeling like a travel boss.

So when we landed, and the captain told us that the local temperature was NINETY DEGREES, and I turned around to see my husband shaking his head disapprovingly at me, I realized that oh shit, I don’t actually know what the fuck I’m doing.  I’ve never, ever organized or executed A Serious Family Trip like this.  My husband was game enough to go on the trip, but as far as details, planning, and coordinating travel/hotel/dining plans, he could care less.

Which is a problem, because someone most definitely has to care when you’re spending this much money.  Meaning all that shit was up to me, though I knew absolutely zero about it.

Despite my less-than-boss planning regarding the weather, I’m happy to report that about 75% of the trip was a complete success.  Only 25% of the trip made me want to turn around and immediately go home, which is really not that bad when you’re traveling with two small children.

Here’s a few highlights from the 25%:

1)  Trying to convince Bella to use the unusually forceful, insanely loud, unpredictable automatic flush toilets.  Hey Disney: YOUR TOILETS ARE FUCKING TERRIFYING FOR CHILDREN.

2)  Running while carrying a 40 lb. five-year-old from the bus stops to Cinderella’s Castle in 85 degree heat during the 1:00 parade after waiting 25 minutes for the bus that was supposed to get us to the park well before the 1:00 Princess Lunch that cost way too fucking much to miss, only to find out that it totally wouldn’t have been a big deal if we were a few minutes late.

3)  Telling the photographer at the Princess Lunch that yes, by all means, let’s all get in the picture with an incredibly well-put-together woman dressed as Cinderella, so that I’ll always remember that huge sweat mark on my bright yellow t-shirt.

4)  Going to the goddamn League of Nations or whatever that bullshit is called at Epcot.  Parents of Earth: until your children are over the age of ten, DO NOT TAKE THEM TO THE COUNTRIES IN EPCOT.  It’s hot, there’s no shade anywhere except inside the small, cramped, filled-with-tiny-breakables gift shops, and there’s absolutely dick to do for small kids.  Visit the rest of Epcot, by all means, but SKIP THE COUNTRIES FOR SWEET BABY JESUS’ SAKE.

5)  Discovering that the free wi-fi at the resort absolutely, 100% does not work and getting the verbal equivalent of shrugged shoulders from the front desk staff.

6)  Getting Phaedra and Bella all pumped up to met Tiana and Naveen, only to find out that the Tiana and Naveen handler has decided that, contrary to EVERY OTHER CHARACTER MEETING IN THE PARK, he gets to shut down the line whenever he damn well feels like it, but hey, we’re welcome to hang out and wait TWO HOURS for their next appearance!  Not very magical of you, sir.

7)  Bella spotting the goddamn mice that she adores near the ceiling in Cinderella’s castle and freaking out because obviously they’re trapped up there and she needs to save them and help them down with MY LADDER! MY LAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Highlights from the 75% of the trip that totally made the 25% of the trip worth it:

1)  Hearing, “Thank you so much for taking me to Disney World, Mom!” about five thousand times.

2)  Watching the little girl that has told me her entire life she wants to go to Disney World and meet the princesses actually play dolls with a real princess.

3)  Laughing hysterically with Phaedra as she made the Dumbo ride bounce up and down like a car with hydraulics.

4) Watching Bella dance to pirate rock before the Disney Junior puppet show, and totally not give a shit that she’s the only kid dancing.

5) Phaedra doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish, and those sweet boys at the splash pad didn’t speak a lick of English, but you’d never know it if you had watched them play together.

6)  Standing in the Magic Kingdom watching fireworks with my daughter and suddenly realizing that holy shit, I’m in Disney World right now watching fireworks with my daughter and I’ll remember this moment with her forever.

Along with this moment:

and this one:

and this one.

Oh yeah, and probably this one, too.

75% fun + 80% of your tax refund – 25% annoying bullshit = 100% worth it.

I think.  I’m not so great at math.

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12 Responses to The 75%

  1. Jenn says:

    The Dumbo ride pic had me flashing back to the teacups at Story Land (NH) we rode this summer. The boy and I just screamed “TEA CUUUUUUPS!” in each other’s faces the entire time. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had.

    • For a split second, I thought, “I better not let her just randomly wiggle that lever, they’ll kick us off the ride!” Then I remembered how much money we payed to come ride Dumbo, and how long we waited, and I kept my mouth shut. Glad I did.

  2. Cherie says:

    Looks like you guys might have had more than 75% of fun ;). You guys are good parents! I love your fireworks revelation – it made me choke up a bit.

  3. Jill Jepsen says:

    Janel –
    I love this! I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Keep it up…. girl! – Jill

  4. Hooray for 75%. When I heard last year that my annual big business meeting would be at Disney World, I was like, well, we’re all going. Hotel = free, my airfare = free, my food = free. Family trip = no brainer. And I totally am cynical and we had a really great family vacation. But I remember those toilets!!

    • The toilets are insane. There’s something about Disney that gets to even the most hard-core “glass is half-empty” people. If Rob can admit he had a decent time, then there’s hope for everyone.

  5. Nikki Palmer says:

    That’s what’s up Momma BOSS. That’s my new name for you…in case you didn’t know. But, yeah what a great time you all had…and thanks for the tears that came from my hysterical laughing. Your doing a fantastic job and thanks for sharing your story and yeah 100% is worth it. x

  6. Arnebya says:

    OK I know I’m all screwed up with the maths, but damn if that’s not quite a bit more than a 75% amount of enjoyment. And yeah, off season damn sure ain’t off heat season, sorry.

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