A Parental (Un)Guide to Surviving DisneyLand
(Disclaimer – If you think this will be a traditional helpful hint guide that tells you all the ins and outs of the parks, which apps to use, which Disney characters to seek out and where to save a $1 on a coke please turn that cruise ship around now and find another port of call. If I could tell you to seriously consider cancelling your trip, call up your bookie and put it all on red and you would seriously consider such a move please read on)
So whoever coined the phrase Disneyland “The Happiest Place On Earth” never had to deal with a 3 year old with diarrhea and a 6 year old that declared It’s a Small World frightens him in hour two on the 1st day of a 3 day park hopper pass that cost more than your 1st year of college tuition and he’s tapping out on any more rides. And for every parent out there that has made this trek you know what I’m talking about.
It’s been three years since our last pilgrimage to see Mickey and friends and with my kids now 13 and 10 I thought maybe I’d made my last visit but when we sat down for the annual family vacation planning summit it was declared that Disney was on the rotation again this year. There was concern raised in various focus groups commissioned as part of the pre-summit preparation that the kids were on the verge of getting too old to want to go again until they would have kids of their own and suffer the same fate like a generations of parents before them. The commission was right on the outgrowing part and yet there was no room for negotiation. My counter focus group commissioned by Mr Donut Monday made a unanimous recommendation to leave the kids at home, got to Scotland for golf and scotch tasting and talk like Sean Connery for the rest of the year. That focus group was permanently disbanded.
My destiny locked in there was only one thing left to do. Embrace my fate and Initiate the Disneyland Ultimate Family Unification for Survival plan (AKA Operation DUFUS) This is essentially a survival guide that has been honed and refined over the span of about 45 minutes it took to churn this out, passed down from generations of parents who bought into the Disney dream and came unprepared. It’s so sacred and secretive that even the illuminati don’t have a copy of it but I share it for my fellow donut disciples. Some of these need to be executed prior to the trip and some are initiated on site but each are proven techniques to help you survive and dare I say enjoy your trip. And I’m not talking about how to use Fast Passes or which day to visit the park to minimize crowds. Let’s face it, the last time Disney was not crowded with endless lines was never.
- Fake a Disney Bookings Website Crash
A true patriot of deception goes cloak and dagger in day one of Disney trip preparation. Get out in front by volunteering with strong enthusiasm that you will immediately work on booking the tickets online only to come back with academy award winning frustration that the Disney ticket bookings site has been down all day. Position yourself accordingly for a fast acting yet sly unplugging of the router if she tries to access the site on her own. Inevitably a Google search will produce a toll-free number to call (1-800-Shoot-Me) so you’ll have to set up a fake call center routed to your Thursday night drinking buddy who will be instructed to pleasantly take a ticket order while simultaneously suffering a Tourette Syndrome attack and/or making inappropriate advances. Alas she will recognize your friend’s sailor mouth from regular Thursday night drinking experiences and the gig will be up. You’re going to Disneyland.
- Contaminate your kids with ride fear
Embracing your fate, it’s time to plan out your day. One technique I like to leverage is to compare the average wait time for each ride (which I like to categorize Death March 1 through 4) and then subconsciously convince your kids they want no part of the ones with the longest wait times. No kid interest = no ride.
So it would go something like this if you want to avoid Pirates of the Caribbean.
“Hey kids did you hear that Disney upgraded Pirates of the Caribbean with real life pirates this year? It’s going to be so much fun. They try to actually snatch children out of the boat and sell them for ransom but don’t worry your Dad will negotiate a fair price for your return”
Think you will lose your mind if you have to ride the Jungle Cruise one more time? No problem
“Hey kids I’m pretty excited to ride the Jungle Cruise! It’s so fun to avoid the poison darts that are shot at the boats by the natives from the shoreline. Aunt Gertrude loved it to until she got a little slower in her advanced age last trip. RIP Aunt Gerty”
This technique can work on enthusiastic adult family members as well.
“You are the best mother-in-law ever! Thank you for coming on the trip to hang with us and the grandchildren. I’m just sorry you picked the year to come when Disney profits are down and they had to fire all the sanitation “cast members” who were responsible for cleaning the park rides and the restrooms on a regular basis. Here take this TP. We brought it just in case. Now let’s go snuggle into a It’s a Small World paddle boat!”
- Train like it’s your last Olympics
Embracing the fact that your daily itinerary will not end until you have knocked out 24 rides in 12 hours with a maximum of 12 minutes of down time for you and your family (to visit those sorely neglected Disney bathrooms….see point #2) speed is the name of the game to get from ride to ride especially in the early hours of the park opening. A navy seal level regimen of wind sprints for the kids should start T-minus 4 weeks before the trip. Set up obstacles that resemble frail grandmothers using walkers, obese slow walking teenagers who wear extra tight gaming T-shirts and triple wide strollers and employ a no mercy policy. If taking them out determines whether you get to the next ride before the fast pass window closes you go Jonny Lawrence Kobra Kai on that obstacle my friend.
4. Get your doctorate in Traveler Boozology
Ah ha ha..you’re so smart you brought a flask to sneak into the park to share with your significant other to help get you through the day. Rookie. Good luck getting that through Disney security and enjoy your day drinking lukewarm $10 cokes. You have to get one step ahead of these security guys who are looking to bust a cap in your ass and by bust a cap I mean voiding out your $600 park hopper pass. I choose death instead.
You have to think out of the box now and get ninja stealthy. Buy one of those kits that are crafty booze smugglers designed as real day to day products like hand moisturizer, sunblock and Tylenol containers and pack them right on top of your bag in plain sight while you cackle walking though security with an extra spring in your step. Right after that first kid melt down you say “Hey honey can you pass me the sunblock and a coke? I’m feeling hot and thiiiiiiiirsty. Ah yeah all better now. I love SPF 80 proof. You look a little red too. You want a single or double application?”
You see a man at Disneyland that loses his shit because his wife forgot to bring extra “tampons” and think what a freak. I see a fellow drinking ninja who ran out of booze and needs a new wing man. My wife would never make that rookie mistake.
- Don’t look at a bank account or credit card bill
Perhaps the most important tip. Pre-embrace the fact that you are going to get fleeced. Some dumbass and now ex SVP in the Disney picture division greenlit The Lone Ranger and they have to make it up with $24 water misters, $18 sunblock (but hey don’t worry you brought your own 🙂 and $12 hot dogs to help pay off Jonny Depp’s salary and “alleged” coke habit on your back. But I gleefully smuggle booze into kid theme parks so who am I to talk. Sure you can try to sell some 3rd rate traveling carnival as the new Disney to avoid the fleecing but the kids will see right through that sham and there is a 34% chance one of them suffers a traumatic injury from the death trap they call carnival rides. Either way you are hitting your medical deductible.
So enjoy my fellow donuters and next time you see Mickey give him a good poke in the eye.