I have heard quite often people saying that while Disney is considered the happiest place on Earth it can also be the most stressful. And it certainly can.
Heck…just getting there can be stressful. I love traveling but I absolutely hate flying. When I was a kid, I was so anxious to get on a plane. It seemed like it would be so much fun. And when I made my first flight with my parents at the age of 10, it was a thrill. But after years of traveling and some rough flights that often felt like I was riding a bucking bronco, my love for air travel waned and my disdain for being locked up in a tightly squeezed germ-infested metal tube bouncing around 30,000 feet above the ground grew with great intensity. My wife, well, she despises air travel even more than me. And yet, we both go on Space Mountain and her favorite attraction is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Go figure.
This will be our third trip to WDW together. The first trip we made with my two adult children and the second we added my mother to the mix. So that is stressful right there. When you go with a group of people, it makes it more difficult to get everyone in sync. Everyone seems to be on a different eating schedule…everyone gets hungry at different times and seemingly at the most inconvenient times. And that is especially true for bathroom stops. Someone always just HAS to go when you get to the boarding area of Peter Pan’s Flight after you have endured that two-hour-plus wait.
Going off-season is the key if you want to avoid the big crowds and the even bigger stress that goes along with it. I have spent a number of holidays in the parks and while it was fun, it was difficult. I can remember spending the country’s bicentennial celebration in the Magic Kingdom. That’s right, July 4, 1976, I was in the Magic Kingdom with my parents and my two siblings…
I had never seen crowds like I witnessed that day. The lines were so long for all of the attractions that we decided to forego the lines at 4 p.m. and simply eat dinner and try again later. Since even at that early time, I knew the park like the back of my hand, I led the family through the crowds to get from place to place in an attempt to get us to an eatery. However, every route I attempted simply led us into the heart of another mob. Where were these people coming from? You would think there HAD to be a limit as to how many people could actually be permitted entrance into the park.
My mother, who had absolutely no patience for anything, was getting agitated. My sister, always good for a jibe, was making obnoxious comments. My brother, who could not stay still and would never listen, was poking, grabbing, fiddling with anything he could get his hands on and was crying that he was hungry. My father, who like me, found the humor in everything, was getting yelled at by mother for allowing HIS son (I was always disowned in her times of displeasure) to lead us to…well…dead end after dead end.
At one point (now it was after 6 p.m.) I believed I had finally led us out of the never-ending wave of people only to come upon yet another road block…the Main Street Electrical Parade had the crowds so packed up along Main Street that there was absolutely nowhere to move to get to the other end. It was then that my mother, after having some woman’s sweaty armpit pressed against her face, threw her now infamous tantrum smack in the middle of WDW. “I AM NOT MOVING ANYMORE!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “I AM STAYING RIGHT HERE AND NOT MOVING. I WILL STAY HERE UNTIL TOMORROW IF I HAVE TO…I AM NOT MOVING.”
Normally I would have been mortified by mother’s tantrum and I guess I was initially. However, believe it or not, nobody even noticed. The place was that overwhelmingly overrun with people. Although our journey to eat dinner began at 4 p.m., we were not able to get a meal until 2 a.m.
My wife is not keen on the large crowds, especially crowds dominated by little sniffling, coughing, sneezing, and crying kids. She works in a pediatric medical office and has to deal with it everyday. However, she likes to maintain her “no sneeze” and “no cough” zones which, as any Disney park enthusiast knows, is impossible. Every kid in attendance is touching every molecule in the park. And the constant crying, whining, yelling and screaming can grate on anyone’s nerves.
So this trip, for our first wedding anniversary, we decided to head to WDW, just the two of us to celebrate. No commitment to be anywhere at any particular time, no worries. Hakuna Matata you might say. Sounds like a plan! But wait, we are selected as “test guests” to try out the new Magic Bands. Well part of that is to pre-select your Fast Pass times among other reservations. So, again, looks like we have to make sure we are at certain attractions at a specified time. And the Magic Bands don’t exactly feel good on the wrists. So now what? Another thing to worry about?
I am excited…first I have to see about getting my wife on that plane.
Alan Karmin considers himself a native New Yorker with Brooklyn roots as he was born in Brooklyn, New York, had a short stay in Staten Island, before his family settled in Sayreville, New Jersey. He is currently a resident of Westfield, New Jersey where he lives with his wife, Diana and his adult children, Eddie and Beckie, and miniature schnauzer, Stitch. Alan graduated from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Alan has been a big fan of Walt Disney World having made over 50 visits since his childhood. He can be contacted via his website at www.alankarmin.com.