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"My 2 Cents!"
Almost as Much Fun as Being There!
article appeared in the
May 21, 2002, Issue #139 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Some people are lucky enough to have the magic of the Mouse practically in their own back yard. For them, Disney World is not a vacation destination, but the location of their local park, favorite restaurant or show. With just a swipe of their annual pass, they can pop in for the day for lunch at France or a quick Tower of Terror fix.
When a new show or attraction opens in Mouse World, seeing it requires all the preparation of going to the mall. Phrases like, "There's a new parade, let's go Wednesday," or "Wanna catch Illuminations after dinner tonight?" are the entire crux of their pre-trip planning.
They have their favorite servers and tables at their favorite restaurants, their favorite Cast Member attraction operators on their favorite rides. They reek of Mouse savvy.
For the rest of us, a trip to "high-four" the Mickster requires a *tad* more planning.
Our trips require giant bottles of change that must fill up before we call Central Reservations. Calendars must be scoured and vacation time requested well in advance. Airlines, cars, and hotels must be booked. Countdown clocks to the Mouse can have numbers upwards of 600 days. We are lucky in one way that many of the local folks are not, however.
We are blessed with Anticipation.
Anticipation of what the newest hotel or attraction will be like (I'm *SO* excited I'll be at the Beach Club Villas for opening day!). For those on the longest cycle of visits to The Mouse, their Anticipation might include what the new park will be like. Or the new PARKS.
It almost seems to not be an accident that Anticipation and vacation sound so similar. Anticipation can be a way of adding time to a vacation. For "She Who Must Be Obeyed" (aka my wife) and me, it most certainly is. In fact, all of our vacations, regardless of where we are going, have a number of definite anticipatory steps. With Disney World, it's kind of a 5 step program for Disney addicts.
Step 1: Admitting you need to see The Mouse
"Hi, my name is John, and I am a Disneyholic." This usually is accompanied by an unexplainable need to give giant fuzzy- headed characters a hug.
It may have been suddenly brought on by a year of exceptional responsibility and hard work. Or maybe just a reflection in the mirror one morning that looked more like your parents and less like you. A flurry of phone calls to Central Reservations or the Disney Vacation Club usually follows, ending with the final realization that YOU'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD.
Step 2: Vicarious Vacations
Almost immediately, the vast resources of friends and the worldwide web are accessed. You're suddenly eager to see those lengthy vacation videos and photos of your neighbor's trip to Mousedom last month. You're even happy to see perfect strangers' videos and pictures. (Those of you who e-mailed me for mine KNOW WHO YOU ARE!) You find yourself smiling and waving at Mouse commercials on TV and squealing, "We're going!" -- even if no one else is in the room.
Suddenly it MATTERS what's going to be happening at The Mouse five months from now.
Trip reports are read from beginning to end. In Disney newsgroups across the web, subject headings like, "What's the best character breakfast?", "Best rides for a 4-year-old?", "When is E-ride night?" or "Will Carousel of Progress be open?" begin to appear. You don't care about the latest newsgroup controversy and begin "deleting" any article that does not give you what you crave -- direct Mouse World input regarding your Vacation.
Step 3: The Battle Plan
Serious planning begins to take shape at 60 days. EVERYTHING that can be read, is read. Over and over. Even those who have been dozens of times are apt to buy a guide book just for some fun reading.
Life and death decisions are calculated. What night for Portobello Yacht Club? When will we see Fantasmic? What days for Animal Kingdom?
In MY case, WHICH fireworks to see 4th of July.
As the 30-day mark approaches, resort hotel maps are scoured and memorized.
This is where you'll have breakfast. This is where you'll swim. This is where you'll have your nightly 10:30 p.m. martini. (OK, so maybe that one is just in my scheme of things.) An ever-changing battle plan begins to evolve for a multi-day incursion.
Step 4: Dusting off the old Mouse-wear
Packing is a very personal thing, so I will speak personally about it. Some begin packing well in advance of any trip. Some wait until the last spin of the dryer the night before departure. Some pack with the skill of an Air Force load master, leaving nothing behind. Some stick a toothbrush in their shirt pocket and hope for a good sale on underwear at their destination.
Before I met and married She Who Must Be Obeyed, most of what I packed was money, to purchase all the items I left behind.
For the last bazillion happy years, however, packing has been the pinnacle of Anticipation. It begins with the arrival of the Vacation Packing Fairy.
There's nothing that brings more joy to this writer's mind than when the "big as a friggin' house" suitcase magically appears open and empty on the bed in the guest room. It means something wonderful is about to happen. It means that work, and all thoughts of it, will soon be gone. It means great fun and adventure SOMEWHERE is about to be had. It means my car stereo plays less Bob Marley and more Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.
As days go by, little piles of clothes and things in Ziploc bags begin to surround the suitcase. A detailed replica, in miniature, of our bathroom and the items in it, begins to take shape. One by one over a period of days, the Packing Fairy moves all the items into the suitcase. Finally, as if from God above, those magic words, which signal the arrival of the final step, resonate throughout the house.
'"JOHN, I've packed the whole suitcase, can you at LEAST bring it downstairs?!"
Step 5: Pirates in Your Pillow
It doesn't matter how many times you've been to see Mickey. It doesn't matter if the servers at Boma know you by name, or if you've never been to the Mouse at all. As far as 72 hours in advance of your departure, truly mystical things begin to happen in your pillow at night.
Train and steamboat whistles can be heard in distant parts of the down. Pirates singing "Yo Ho" just below the pillow case make sleep hard to come by. Fireworks appear on the inside of your closed eyelids. You can SWEAR you smell Main Street cookie dough. You hope for even the smallest amount of sleep to help make the nights pass and your passage through the Disney World main gates arrive.
Anticipation has a magic that can stretch a five-day, one- week, or two-week vacation into a mental one that can last for months. It makes the toughest days a little easier, and the best of days even better. It has the power bring a smile to your face, often when you need it the most.
Anticipation is a gift, as long as you realize that, regardless of where you go, how much you pay, or where you stay, having a good time on Vacation is entirely up to you.
Don't vacation as a critic, and don't let little things bother you. If your favorite ride is no longer there, look for a new favorite ride to take its place. If you run across Cast Members who aren't smiling, share yours (remember, they may have many days in the countdown clocks to THEIR vacations). If it's hot, be happy it's not raining. If it's raining, be happy it's not crowded. If it's crowded, rejoice in all the opportunities to meet some wonderful people around you while waiting on lines.
In my case, if my actual vacation doesn't match the vacation "in my head" that I've anticipated, and I can't find the silver linings in momentary downturns, it's my own fault. It's a philosophy that always seems to work for me. So far, each bit of time off away has been better than the last.
I never get sad on the last day of a vacation. I just switch to the "Anticipation" mode of my next.
May your countdown clock be short, your pillow full of marvelous sounds, and your next vacation be your best.
That's My2Cnts! What's Yours?
Office of Anticipation
The Zamgwar Institute
(Side Note: John is currently at Step 3 in Anticipation of his upcoming trip to Mousedom. Once again, he invites any ALL EARS readers who will be in Walt Disney World between July 1-5 to play "Find Zamgwar" -- a sort of real-life "Where's Waldo?" John can easily be spotted wearing brightly colored ZAMGWAR T-shirts and will happily treat the first person to spot him to an ice cold "tasty beverage" of their choice at an appropriate beverage station.
Ironically, long before their ALL EARS association, publisher Deb Wills was the FIRST ever to be a "Find Zamgwar" winner. She found him just before she departed the park on the last day of her own vacation. Thus far their Disney paths have not crossed again and she has YET to collect her tasty beverage.)
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.