Give the mouse your money and no one gets hurt

September 17, 2006

The annual family vacation, this year, was to CA for the World Science Fiction convention, and Disneyland.

The last time we did Disney, the oldest boy (now almost 16) was just starting kindergarten. That time, I distinctly remember saying, “This is the happiest place on earth. ACT LIKE IT!”

I also had to explain to the kids how animals got caught in the La Brea tar pits, while trying to mop tar off their new white shirts, even though they were separated from the water by 20 feet and a chain link fence. Face it, kids, if not for the ever watchful eyes of your parents, you’d be extinct, just like those baby mammoths.

This time around, I had two cynical teenagers instead of two strollers, and Disney was a blast.

We began the trip with an early flight out of Milwaukee and a trip on the Disney airport shuttle direct to Anaheim. This is a disgustingly festive bus, bright blue and purple and covered with Micky-ness. It was also fully air conditioned, and had TVs and a bathroom.

Much better than last trip, where we rode a shuttle van that probably had to be burned after we left it. The driver that time was trying to pick up extra fares at LAX, until #2 son blew chow all over the back seat. The driver became another name on the long list of people who got a huge tip from the Merrills after one or the other of the kids had a biological accident in their vehicle.

Traveling with small children. Those were the days. Did I mention how much I love teenagers?

But I digress.

The Disney shuttle has a bathroom, so if anyone this time got violently ill from watching Lindsay Lohan in Herbie Fully Loaded on the TVs, they could just run to the back to puke.

This bus came with a floor show, too. Other happy families on their way to Disney. I watched as the brother and sister in the seat next to us got their vacation off to a good start.

Brother said something.
Sister pulled up hoodie and went into full sulk.
Brother said something else.
Sister punched him.
Brother lay back on the seat and responded with a full kick to the side of her head.
Sister dissolved into tears and went up to tell Mom.

And we were still day one and 20 minutes from Mousetown. I figured if we saw them again, it was going to be on the evening news: “Tourist Family melts down on Space Mountain. Police called.”

I leaned forward and told my kids how much I loved them.

When we get to Anaheim, the vacation begins in earnest.

We hit the hotel at full speed, check in, unpack, get discount Disney passes from the conference and more shuttle tickets to get us from hotel to park. Money is leaking from our wallets in a steady stream.

#2 Son points out that we keep buying tickets, but never seem to get anywhere.

Soon, boy, soon.

We are in the park proper by about 2:00 pm. We storm Disney like we’re invading a small, well landscaped country.
Straight to Adventure Land.
Indiana Jones.
The Swiss Family Treehouse, which is now the Tarzan Treehouse (for middle aged parents, most of the things at Disney are now ‘I remember when this was something else.’)

The children do not know, “never leave a man behind.” It’s every man for himself as the family races ahead of me up three flights of steps so that they can jump up and down on the rope bridge as I try to cross.

I would catch them and kill them, but I am busy hanging over a guard rail trying to catch my breath before I have a stroke.

Off to fake New Orleans for dinner and the Pirates ride. Pirates is new and improved, with extra doses of Jack Sparrow. There is also a fabulous fog curtain projection of Davy Jones. It is also broken down half the time. We only get to ride it once.

We pass Thunder Mountain until after we have digested supper, cross to Futureland and do Buzz Light Year (described by a cast member as “a really slow trip through outer space!”) and Honey I Shrunk the Audience.

Now we are up to the rides that are best at night. The Haunted Manor, (Which we got stuck in, but not for long enough, IMHO) The Jungle Cruise (Now with Piranhas!) and at last Splash Mountain.

Or Flash Mountain, as #1 son calls it. He is hoping to see tits. He is disappointed.

We wait in a long line. I try to explain, in a non-offensive way, who Braer Rabbit is, and why the kids will never see Song of the South.

The cast members running the ride try to lead us in a chorus of “If you’re happy and you know it…”

I am really wishing I’d bought the GRUMPY baseball cap I was looking at.

My good mood is instantly restored when we are trapped in a schadenfreude flume ride with a woman and her designer handbag. Splash Mountain, is splashier than I remember. We are soaked to the skin to the tune of Zippity Do Da and the steady stream of profanity coming from the woman behind us with her wet $500 purse.

Our first day is at an end, and we are fighting our way to the exit, while the fireworks go off. Fireworks are also new and improved. They are like the attack on Baghdad with a musical soundtrack and best viewed from our hotel room over a mile away.


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