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When Good Trips Go Bad, Revisited
Complied by Debra Martin Koma
ALL EARS® Senior Editor
This article appeared in the March 9, 2004, Issue #233 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Well, it shouldn't come as a surprise that people who love Walt Disney World know how to make the best of bad situations.
More than 100 of you wrote in response to our ALL EARS(tm)feature article a few weeks ago, When Good Trips Go Bad, sharing your stories about making lemonade from your lemon of a Disney vacation. Many of your stories were full of good tips and advice, others were inspirational, while some were just plain painfully funny... We wish we could have included everyone's anecdotes, but there were so many -- instead, we thought we'd share snippets of these tales of woe and wonder with you all. Thanks to everyone who wrote -- and may your next Disney vacation only have the kind of lemonade you drink!
Lots of you wrote about trips with sick children, but Mary DiGuardia's story was one of our favorites:
On a trip to WDW with our 3-year-old son, he laid his head in my lap as the plane made its way from Boston to Orlando. I was gently patting his head when I felt something bumpy on his scalp. He had chicken pox! As soon as we arrived, I contacted guest services at the Polynesian to receive a fax from our pediatrician. When the Cast Member realized our dilemma, he excused himself for a minute. On return, he expressed his sympathy and said that we could use our meal plan for complimentary room service for the week, so long as we did not bring our son into any of the parks. Mickey sent a gift basket to our room with all kinds of indoor activities! At least we ate well!
From Yvonne Wells: Florida Hospital Centra Care is wonderful. My 12-year-old came down with a nasty sinus infection and the Cast Member at Fort Wilderness gave us the number and directions to the clinic. Everyone was very nice and when the doctor gave us a prescription my husband asked where we could get it filled (it was 11 p.m.). He said, "Right through these doors..." My son said he felt like he had just gotten off a ride at the Magic Kingdom -- you go from the ride right into the gift shops! The next day, I was able to rent videos and purchase fruit and Popsicles from the Meadow Trading Post for my son so he could relax and get well, while my husband and 10-year-old went to Blizzard Beach. Moral of the story: Make it work. I actually was able to play solitaire with no interruptions!
From Kay Leonard: On a recent trip with my daughter and her family, not one, but both of her children came down with the croup. Of course they didn't come down with it at the same time. My grandson got the croup first and then when we thought all was well, my granddaughter got it. I must say that the Cast Members at the Boardwalk were absolutely wonderful. They actually called an ambulance, at no charge to us, and took us to the hospital in Celebration. They then had a cab pick us up and bring us back to the hotel, again at no cost. They sent balloons and signed postcards to the room from Mickey and Minnie and from that point on, every time we went through the lobby, they gave the grandchildren special attention. It is truly the most amazing and magical place. Thankfully, the grandchildren were able to go to the parks and we ended up having a wonderful vacation.
From Sue K. in Michigan: It was November 2000. I did the trip planning, creating a carefully planned itinerary, for all my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews (16 of us total). The first day of our family vacation was perfect -- a day at Disney-MGM Studios. At the end of that day, we headed back to Fort Wilderness. On the way back to the campsite, my sister picked up an extra-cheese pizza. I had two pieces, which didn't set very well with me. Even in the morning, I continued to have indigestion... At some point, I decided that I wasn't going to feel better... I told [my sister] I needed to go to the emergency room... By this time, my pain was so bad I could barely focus, but I managed to get there. Two or three hours, many tests and many questions later... I was told I had appendicitis and would be going into surgery soon! I spent the next two nights in Celebration Hospital... When I got out of the hospital, I still had three more days left to my vacation, and I was bound and determined to enjoy them the best I could. While I couldn't do any of the thrill rides, and I was too uncomfortable to make it all the way back to World Showcase at Epcot (lamenting the fact that I couldn't visit the bakery in France), I did manage to enjoy the things I could do, and, of course, I managed to do some good shopping (recovery from major surgery couldn't slow my shopping prowess at my favorite place in the world)!
I learned a lot from that trip. Had I been thinking clearly through my pain, I would have presented to the First Aid station at the Magic Kingdom where they could have arranged ambulance transport, which would have saved me from a lot of suffering. Further, if I had been thinking once I got to the campground, I could have phoned the Outpost and gotten help that way as well. Live and learn! My family and I now carry cell phones around now for ease of communication when we all go.
From Doug F. of Pittsburgh: We were in Epcot recently taking the Hidden Treasures of the World Showcase Tour, and just as the Cast Member finished the tour, the skies opened and it poured, and poured... and poured. After about 30 minutes of huddling 'round the entrance to Le Cellier, we decided to brave the deluge. Walking around the park with soaking wet feet and in rapidly cooling temperatures wasn't the greatest, and I soon started to take on the "why me?" attitude. Then, something (dare I say it?) "magical" happened: I looked around at all those other cold, wet folks and realized that at least we were two adults in WDW for a long weekend. Lots of the people around us were families with three or more kids, who may have saved for this Disney experience for years. So, we made it our mission to smile and encourage everyone we ran into, hoping to warm a few hearts and bring a quick smile to harried parents' faces. Lemonade? Maybe not, but as Deb said in her article, we can't control the weather. In trying to keep others optimistic in the face of cold and rain, we started feeling pretty good ourselves!
From Karen: My family (11 of us) visited Disney World in December 2002. It rained seven of the eight days we were there. We wore rain ponchos and used a marker to put our last name on the kids' ponchos. Everyone looks the same in a Mickey poncho, so it is hard to tell which children are yours. We went on Splash Mountain during a downpour. We were already wet so it really didn't matter how wet we would be after the drop. We had so much fun during those seven days -- we laughed so much! The kids had a blast. How many times can they splash in rain puddles and run around in the rain? Make sure you take an extra set of sneakers along so one pair can dry out for a day while you wear the other pair.
From Emily W.: I will never forget New Year's Eve of our trip in 2002. We were spending the afternoon at the Studios and had just finished watching the movie in the exhibition on Walt. We walked out of the theater to a torrential downpour. Of course, we had our ponchos and put them on and decided to just go on with our touring. Unfortunately, the rain got worse and our ponchos (99 cents from Wal-Mart) just couldn't keep us completely dry. We finally ended up waiting in the FastPass line for the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular for 45 minutes in the pouring rain. Needless to say we were all a little grumpy and so were a lot of the people around us. I finally decided to just see the fun side of this and commented that this weather was only good for ducks, and promptly started quacking -- and I was joined by most of the people around, just as the line moved into the covered theater! I'm sure we all sounded silly, but we entered with a good laugh!
From Melissa Haber: I so agree with making lemonade out of those rare lemony days in WDW. Our family (mom, dad, and five kids) traveled to WDW last March and the worst weather day ended up being our best park day. I had planned to the hilt and was ready. When the skies opened up and it started raining pretty hard, we took out our dollar store ponchos that were stored in each of our fanny packs. Masses of people were running for the exit and our family was headed for Big Thunder Railroad, Splash Mountain, Pirates. I had ScotchGarded all our sneakers so our feet were nice and dry and toasty. There were no lines and we rode BTMRR over and over again with no wait at all! Best of all, after the last ride of the evening we got off and there were the fireworks. There was no one else around and we felt like the show was all for us. It was magical!
From Debra W.: Our family visited the Fort Wilderness Cabins in 2001. When we returned from Epcot one day there was a note on the door and table that they were evacuating the campground due to a hurricane... I was so upset and didn't know what they might do because we didn't have a car, but I should have known Disney. They picked us up from our cabin, took us to check-in, gave us a map of Boardwalk, and shuttled us over. It was a wonderful experience, even though we had to change resorts on our last night. Actually, it gave us a chance to visit somewhere else.
From Heather Tanner: I was there on a freak December day when the temperature dropped to 23, with a windchill of 9! It was so cold, they couldn't run the monorail because there was ice on the track! Well, I bought a pair of Mickey sweats, put on every item of clothing I could, and went and had hot chocolate at Tony's! Funnier, though, was the lady we saw who had neglected to bring any shoes but her sandals. Since WDW was pretty much sold out of cold weather gear, she bought a pair of Mickey Mouse feet slippers and figured, "When in WDW..."
From Niels Hansen: Last month, I went to the Studios with my two adult sons. During the day, one of my sons lost his four-day pass. We checked Lost and Found but they didn't have his ticket. They suggested we go to Guest Relations. I didn't think they could help me since I didn't have either a receipt or the ticket number. Guest Relations asked me if all the tickets were purchased together. When I said yes, they checked the numbers on the other two tickets and were able to find my other son's missing ticket number by checking adjacent numbers. They immediately canceled his ticket and issued us a new one with the same number of days that he had left on the old one.
From Kelly Coyne: Thanks for the article on what to do when things go wrong on your trip to WDW. I think it's important information, because you're right -- we all take for granted that everything will always go right. I had a similar experience in October. I left our passes to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party home in New Jersey and didn't realize it until we were in WDW. With a ton of help from Guest Relations in the Magic Kingdom, we were issued brand new passes at no charge at all! I made certain when I got home that one of the first things I did was email WDW to tell them how much help we received in this matter.
From Dawn D.: On our recent trip to Animal Kingdom we lost my son. He was shown what to look for in a Cast Member and each of our four children was equipped with an "ID" card. We laminated a computer printout 3" x 4" that had their name, the name of our hotel, the hotel phone number and address, our name and our cell phone number, and each child carried it in their own fannypack. When I realized he was lost I found a Cast Member and they started walking me to Guest Relations, while my husband went to the last place we saw my son. When I saw my son at Guest Relations, the Cast Member behind the counter said Jon gave her his "ID" card and they were just calling our cell number! What a relief that Jon and the Cast Member knew what to do!
From Jenny Rogers: About 10 years ago, on our honeymoon, I was so anxious to get into the Magic Kingdom that I locked my keys in the car. My husband, who was still in the honeymoon mood, just shrugged his shoulders and said we would worry about it later. Later came and since we were staying off-site we really needed our car. We called Guest Relations and they sent out a locksmith and he got our car opened -- at no charge! All we had to do was show them our registration and license. We still remember that trip and how great they treat you when you have a problem.
From Debbie Andrews: In September 2002, we took our relatively new (6 months old) RV to Fort Wilderness. We were having a great time until we woke up one morning to a strange sound -- the air conditioner was going, going, gone! We had plans that day of seeing some of the Studios and heading to Magic Kingdom for the parade. My husband was willing to unhook the entire RV and drive it to the nearest repair center while the kids and I carried on. Not so, said Guest Relations -- they had someone who would come on-site and fix it AND turn in the bill to the warranty company! WOW! On top of that, the repairperson realized that we had plans, so he told us he would be there at noon, so that my husband could go to the Studios with us. The best part was, he fixed it and my husband was able to join us for the Share a Dream Come True parade. Where else but Disney?
From Dianne Spawn: Our family has a habit of traveling in herds of at least 10 and up. We have had my mother getting sick and needing to go to the hospital... We have been in the rain before, so we go around looking like a BIG herd of bright yellow ducks in our ponchos -- but we keep going! Another time we had a dental emergency -- kids playing and a fall, which almost knocked out a tooth, but braces were holding them in place... Another time, a case of pinkeye... By the way, I forgot to mention that not everyone is in good health. My mother was in a wheelchair due to many illnesses, my grandson is in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, one of my granddaughters, now 9, has arthritis, and my oldest daughter has seizures. We seem to plug on and make the best of things. We ALL love Disney. Our many, many trips to WDW are still a lot of fun, and no matter what happens we keep going back.
From Anne C.: We were on line for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show at the Studios and just as we were entering the theater, a little boy behind us threw up all over my son's feet. Luckily, my son was wearing sandals. I went over to a Cast Member and explained what had happened. She led me over to the back exit, pointed out where the bathroom was, and instructed me to go past the line outside to enter the theater when we got my son cleaned up. As we were running into the bathroom, a shirt vendor asked what was wrong. After I explained the situation, he offered my son a T-shirt. This more than made up for a very bad experience. It could only happen at WDW!
From Kim W.: My son and I just returned from a week at WDW. We have been at least 15 times over the past 10 years and one thing that I said that I would always avoid was going at a time when the crowd capacity was high... Well, obviously I didn't do MY homework this time. We arrived Daytona weekend and during the week that all of New England had spring break... We had a good time but we are pretty spoiled since the longest we usually have to wait in a queue is maybe 10 to 15 minutes. There were single rider lines lasting over 30 minutes this week. But then I realized that thousands of others were going through the same experiences I was and that most of them were doing it with smiles. I looked at my son and realized that nothing could be more special than a father and son being able to do something together that they both enjoy tremendously. Being there with him brought the joy to the trip, not the trip itself. He loved it, and that was good enough for me.
From Lois Ann R.: Last year, we had a lot of lemonade during our Disney vacation... We traveled from West Virginia to Florida and were on the Florida Turnpike when we had an accident that involved our new trailer. At least every one was OK... My sister called Disney and got us reservations at Animal Kingdom Lodge after telling them about the whole mishap. We didn't arrive until eight hours after the accident. We had to go get a U-Haul and dig through the contents of the camper, placing items in boxes (since we didn't have suitcases). Disney was wonderful. The girl at the front desk gave us an upgrade on a Savannah room and $10 in quarters to do laundry. (Yes, that's what happens when the fridge opens during an accident in a camper.) I mentioned that I would just like a cup of hot tea and she sent a coffee maker with tea bags to the room. We spent the next two days sorting everything and yes, doing laundry. I did about 14 loads in two days. (Did you know the best time to do laundry is at 6 a.m.?) We did manage during our 2 1/2 week stay to get our vehicle fixed and insurance arrangements made. Our two daughters spent the time "exploring" the lodge while their father and I took care of accident claims. Disney people are the best and they did such a good job helping us make lemonade.
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.