If you had told me that the grumpy three-month old baby in our party would be the most well-behaved and happy kid at Disneyland, we probably would have just stayed home.
Disney magic, my ass.
Our trip started off well, and Bennett was a model baby on the plane. He nursed, flirted with the girls across the aisle, and then napped the whole time. Jack watched Star Wars on the Kindle during the flight, and overall the whole process of getting the rental car, and getting to our friend’s house was fairly seamless.
The first mistake we made was going to Disneyland the day after we arrived. The kids were tired, and the traveling the day before took too much out of them. We should have provided a buffer day for everyone involved. Especially the grown ups, since neither Troy or I drink. As we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, our spirits were high, as were our hopes. Apparently we were too thinking two seven-year olds, a five and a half-year old, and an infant would be a walk in the park.
The first indication that the day was not going to go well was that they all collectively freaked the freak out on the very first ride they went on. I was nursing Bennett near Star Tours, but Troy and my friend Elaina took the kids on Finding Nemo, and essentially ended their childhood in about five minutes. There were tears, eyes covered, hands over ears, and a general attitude of “oh hell to the no”. We had a quick recovery with Star Tours right afterwards, as all the kids deemed it “awesome”. And then? Then we shot ourselves in the foot by standing in a long line for Autopia – a ride they begged us to ride – and then immediately going on the Matterhorn after convincing them that the one yeti on the ride was pretty silly. Turns out in the five plus years it has been since Troy and I have been to Disneyland, there has been a general “scare the eff out of everyone” mandate, and all the rides have been made freakier. That one yeti we warned them about apparently did some breeding while we’ve been gone, and had a whole family of angry yeti offspring. Every corner we passed had another yeti trying to make the kids explode with terror. Oh and you can no longer ride with a friend on the Matterhorn; it is now one person per seat, and kids have to ride alone. As we pulled up to the end of the ride, I turned around to see Jack (still seat belted) cowering on the floor.
We took a pause for some snacks after that.
A long visit to Toon Town seemed to reset the day a bit. So naturally we convinced the kids that riding Big Thunder Railroad would be fun. Because we hate ourselves and our children. I stayed behind to feed Bennett, and everyone got a stroller pass for me. Our group got off the ride in a bit of a daze. Troy was consoling Jack as if he had just watched Yoda die in front of him, and Elaina and her girls were scared laughing. Hey, guess what? They updated Big Thunder as well and made it (wait for it)…scarier! Jack declared he was done going on any rides we suggested, and that he pretty much hated Disneyland. I don’t deal well with the drama, so I used my stroller pass and went on the ride solo. They put me in the back of the ride, which everyone knows is the best seat on Big Thunder because of all the awesome whipback.
It’s all a blur to me after that. I do remember we took all the kids on the Jungle Cruise where Jack sobbed in line while we told him it wasn’t scary. I said “they wouldn’t let babies on the ride, and look at all these little kids waiting to go one. They’re not scared”. Jack looked up with tear-stained face and honest to God sobbed “because they don’t know what is about to happen to them”.
I assume at some point we ate dinner, but if you paid me $100, I couldn’t tell you what we ate, or where. All I know is that the idea of wine sounded wonderful at that point. At some part of the evening, I took Jack aside and had a come to Jesus meeting with my precious boy. I’m certain I had my finger in his face the whole time, and words like “ungrateful”, “we saved for a year for this trip”, and “when I was a kid, we had to eat hot tuna fish sandwiches my mom made in the motel” flowed from my mouth like an angry bitter waterfall.
Since it had been a success earlier in the day, we went back on Star Tours, and the kids emerged happier and less whiny. I’m fairly certain we headed to California Adventure after that, and ended the night on a high note with two back to back rides on Soarin’ California, which the kids all declared “the best thing ever”. We headed back to the parking garage on the tram with the very naive thought that tomorrow would surely be better.
We didn’t even get back to Elaina’s before we took another terrifying ride that was certainly not Disney approved. As I was driving out of the parking garage, I said “are my lights on”? I saw the lights flash on a column in the garage and said “oh yeah I guess they are”.
They were not.
I didn’t realize it until we were on “the 5” (LA speak for I-5), and people started honking at us. I was looking for the lights, but stupid me, was looking in the place that every other car manufacturer in the last 50 years had put their headlight switch – on the steering column. I was able to pull over to the side of the freeway, and I finally found a weird headlight dial to the left of the steering column in the least obvious place ever invented. Way to go Dodge; your minivan is a piece of shit. And I am a moron for not double checking that critical piece of safety info from the start.
Day two, we let the kids sleep in as long as they wanted, and had a leisurely breakfast, filled with eggs for protein, fruit for happy kids, and happy peppy voices from the parents talking about the amazing day we had ahead of us. Right? Our voices warbled with the sound of our own uncertainty. And the layer of desperation in our words was pitiful.
The rest of the day was a blur of whining and cries of “when are we going home”? Jack was on much better behavior after our talk the night before, but there was still some gritching going on. Due to some Fast Pass ninjaing on my part, the kids had relatively short waits for some big rides that they were excited about, and things passed back and forth between the seventh layer of hell, and almost pleasant. We made it through the day biding our time until the parade started. Side note, I hate parades and always have. Even as a kid.
Elaina, her girls, Bennett, and myself headed over to Main Street to stake out space for parade viewing. We were there for about 15 minutes, and made friends with a lovely couple from Australia. We discussed our love of churros and other important topics. At one point, I hear a man with a South African accent ask Elaina if the space we had clearly reserved (stroller, backpacks, and other items) was taken. We indicated it was, and then he rudely said “this whole space”? While I may be tall, the amount of space we reserved for eight people was the same size as my arm span. We again indicated that yes, we needed all that space and that many from our party were not yet there as they were still riding some rides, a few getting dinner, etc. Easy enough, right?
Wrong. This guy then spent the next 30 minutes mumbling under his breath and talking to anyone around us about how Americans just come in and steal territory and think the whole world belongs to them. I’m not 100% on my world history/geography, but last time I checked buddy, your ancestors did some territory taking over themselves…
He made this very sweet Canadian couple behind us incredibly uncomfortable by going on and on about how we thought we were entitled to the space, and blah, blah, blah. He was standing so close to Elaina that she kept bending over to talk to her kids just so she could shove her booty back and push this man because he was all up in her grill. Elaina’s eldest daughter then had to pee, so Bennett and I were left alone to try to keep our space from this bully. The kind Australians I mentioned earlier? They saw what was going on, and came over and stood with me so there would be strength in numbers. Good on yah. At one point his rude and insulting under his breath comments came to a head, and I finally texted Troy “hurry the hell up, there is some rude asshole trying to steal our spot”.
Finally, everyone in our group was back, and it was shocking to no one that surprise, surprise, eight people did need the entire three feet I had reserved. He then continued his mumbling and said something along the lines of “oh, there is everyone, I was wondering if they were just making you all up”. We were ignoring him for the most part, but he then mumbled “you need all that space for these people. And where were they”?
My calm but annoyed demeanor snapped at that point and I finally said “sir, they’re where your manners are”. Nerd burn, right? Not my best work, but I had my brain and soul slowly destroyed over the last 48 hours.
He puffed up his chest and tried to showcase all 5 foot 7 of himself in my face and said “oh yeah, and where was that? You know, when you come to the states, you expect this type of shit. Rudeness and people being passive aggressive (um, side note: what is mumbling to yourself about someone standing two feet from you for the last 3o minutes if not passive aggressive??), and taking over everything. If you came to my country, we’d show you what is what. You should see what we’d do with you in my country”. Second side note: about five minutes after this was all over, Elaina leaned over and said “you have to title your blog post about this experience “The time I went to Disneyland and a South African threatened to kill me”.
It was then a back and forth for a few minutes. Our point “dude, this is Disneyland, these are kids, watch your tone. Everyone gets to see the parade, how about your calm yourself”. His point “I’m a big dumb douche who gets drunk at Disneyland and tries to bully people with little kids”. Well, I’m paraphrasing his point there but you get the drift.
One of her girls had bought a Mickey magician’s hat and it was super tall, and I was tempted to wear it during the parade to block his view. Take a two foot fuzzy hat, and put it on top of a 6 ft chick, and that is some sweet “go screw yourself”. Eventually the parade started, and the kids watched it from our very hard-won three feet of space. They clapped, they cheered, they shouted for the characters to wave to them…and at least 15 times turned around and said “is it over? Can we go home?”. Jack asked me why we were watching it and I yelled “for the love of God, because it’s magical and you’ll remember this forever. Now stop whining, and wave to Buzz”.
The parade finished, and we headed for the trams, only to of course be met with a giant line of people heading back to the parking garage. I said “let’s walk”, Troy laughed, but then stopped laughing when he realized I was serious. We finally got to the car, and drove back to Elaina’s with four very exhausted kids.
Everyone slept in the next morning, and I eventually made a chocolate cake for Elaina’s husband’s birthday. The kids played and fought, but generally we just stayed put and grilled later in the day.
Our visit ended a few days later, and as we touched down in Seattle, Jack declared it the best trip ever, and he couldn’t wait to go back to Disneyland.
Over my dead body buddy. Which may or may not be at the hands of the drunk guy from the parade.