Apologies. This one is long overdue.
The day after Real Estate Dad and I were married, we were at my parent’s house. Someone started talking about the time we ended up in Disney Jail. Real Estate Dad listened to the whole story and very calmly looked over at me and said, “I see you saved the really scary stuff until after I was locked in.”
Growing up, our family vacations were nothing short of epic. Not epic/amazing but epic…uh…memorable. The real decision maker on these vacations wasn’t even a member of the family. It was my father’s wallet. The wallet would only let us to do things where we could “get our money’s worth.” Like when the 5 of us would squeeze into one crappy fleabag Motel 6 room for $16.95. That was considered a steal. Before we checked out, we would take all the leftover tissue boxes “for the car.” If we were lucky, we would leave without lice or bedbugs. I still shudder at some of this.
On our arrival to Disney World on one such vacation, Gloom and Doom sent the three of us to the hotel game room. This was the only time they would ever encourage us to go to the game room, but it’s not like the wallet had to fork over any money. We would just go in and look for wayward coins in coin-return slots or on the floor. Don’t judge, once I found $20!
The reason for the game room strategy was because they were securing our hotel room and then the Magic Kingdom tickets. It’s much harder to shave years off the lives of children who keep showing up at the desk to ask if we can leave yet.
Back then, the tickets were a paper square and they had lines for “Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.” For many years my parents would buy 1 pass with 3 days on it and 1 pass with 2 days on it, and that was our admission. I understood two things about this situation:
1) Gloom and Doom said since there were no multi-day discounts, this 2-ticket method was the same price as 5 separate passes but just less to carry.
2) Number 1 could be a Gloom and Doom lie.
We went to the turnstiles at the front of the Magic Kingdom. My mom and I were using the 2-day pass and my dad was taking my brothers to another turnstile with their 3-day pass. The underpaid employee at Doom’s turnstile didn’t approve of the “stamp for three of us” situation. She called foul and we were being told we couldn’t enter the park. What? No Thunder Mountain? No Mr. Toads Wild Ride?
To this day, my dad is a very calm and level-headed man. It’s a personality trait that served him well for six decades in his career as an attorney. We knew he would solve this.
He yelled “RUN!”
I watched one of my brothers and his long legs go galloping into the park. My Dad took off in a different direction and my other brother followed suit.
And then was Gloom. Stuck with the dead weight. All 40 lbs and 8 years of me. They knew we were together. We were detained by the Mickey Mouse Police. They brought us to some room and told us to stay seated until they came back for us. They were on their Disney Walkie-Talkies alerting Mickey, Donald and all the other characters to be on the lookout for 3 absconders.
Somehow Gloom sprung us. See, the Disney law isn’t really the law. They’re just the characters without their costumes. When they weren’t looking, Mom grabbed me by the hand and we escaped. My parents have balls, you have to hand it to them. They literally did not give a fuck.
I said, “How are we going to find everyone else?” She said, “You know your father. He’ll be at the Crystal Palace eating eggs and sausages.” And he was. As were my brothers. You have to wonder about a family scattered faster than roaches when the lights go on, and know each other well enough to find each other without cell phones.