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The Disneyfication of the Curmudgeon
by Jill Hogg
AllEars® Guest Columnist
This article appeared in the February 8, 2011 Issue #594 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
My husband is a Curmudgeon. While he has a wonderfully wicked sense of humor, he is notoriously un-spontaneous and doesn't much care for people in general. When we take vacations, his first choice is a cruise with a private balcony room. I'm pretty sure his life's ambition is to take a nap in every seaport in the world. When his mother proposed a family vacation to Disney World with her sons and their wives last year, I was overjoyed, but wasn't sure how much fun my "Crubby" was going to be.
I had only visited the World on three separate one-day trips in my life, starting in 1975, a trip I can barely remember. One thing I do remember vividly is Space Mountain. I was almost 5 years old. My parents claim they didn't know what the ride was when they took me on it. Seriously? Reflecting on this, my father chuckles that I was so scared, I refused to ride any dark rides the rest of the day.
I was excited to finally get to spend a whole week at the World, and to stay on Disney property, no less! And we weren't even paying -- Mom was. Then it turned out Mom wanted no part of planning this trip for which she was paying. I understand, it can certainly be overwhelming. Lucky for me, I had discovered AllEars.Net! The problem was that since it wasn't my money, my decisions were somewhat limited. I was quite disappointed to learn we would have to stay at a VALUE resort. Did you hear the derogatory tone there? VALUE RESORT. My fear was that this was my only opportunity to visit the World. While that Curmudgeon of mine wouldn't turn down a trip offered by his mother, what was the chance he'd ever want to go again? After all, he gets sick just looking at roller coasters. I wanted to stay at the Yacht Club, or even the Caribbean Beach Resort. But alas, we were relegated to the cheap seats. Of the value resorts. I chose the Pop Century for our stay.
The Curmudgeon is not a foodie and was thinking we could get by with the lowest meal plan, if any. Lucky for me, his mother is a devout foodie (like myself), so she chose for us to have the deluxe meal plan. Between my sister-in-law and myself, we went through all the online menus (thank you AllEars.Net!) and we devised an easy way to enjoy a lot of "Signature" restaurants. We'd use a snack credit for breakfast, such as a bagel or muffin, and then use that extra meal credit at dinner. We made our reservations online and all that was left to do was to wait for the weeks to pass.
From the moment I first walked out from the Pop Century lobby to the "Hippy Dippy Pool," all notions of this being a value resort fled from my mind. This place was amazing! Even the Curmudgeon was as dazed as I was, as we walked around the resort and marveled at the larger-than-life icons of our childhood. And later that evening, walking around with my in-laws, I felt how warm and welcoming the Pop Century is. It's not hoity-toity in any way, but it certainly doesn't feel like the cheap seats, either. It simply felt like home.
The Curmudgeon was not happy to get up early the next morning, but our sister-in-law was determined that we would all arrive at the Magic Kingdom in time for the opening ceremony. The bus was crowded and I could see my Crubby was just delighted about that. I had serious doubts as to how this trip was going unfold. After the train rolled in and as the ropes officially dropped at the Magic Kingdom, my sister-in-law cried (her first visit ever) and I got teary as well. Crubby and his brother both smirked. Later that day, Crubby asked if we had to ride "it's a small world." I told him it is an imperative and riding it is a tribute to Walt himself. Somewhere along that canal though, his demeanor changed ever so slightly. With his arm around my shoulders, he began to hum softly along with that innocuous little tune. The Disneyfication had begun.
The next sign of the Disneyfication happened the very next day while meeting our favorite characters, Donald and Daisy Duck, at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The Curmudgeon enjoyed posing for photos with those fluffy characters so much that afterwards he exclaimed to me that we would have to make an effort to do more meet-and-greets.
As the week progressed, I saw more and more signs of the Disneyfication. Crubby was excited about going to Downtown Disney and building his own light saber. One night we dined on filet mignon at the Yachtsman's Steakhouse, knowing we would get to ignore the bill at the end of the meal. Sitting in that upscale ambiance, he commented, "This is just like a cruise!" We had many delightful meals, such as Narcoossee's, the Brown Derby, 50's Prime Time Cafe, Cinderella's Royal Table and even breakfast with Lilo and Stitch at 'Ohana. The real breakthrough was during a sumptuous lunch in Morocco, while visiting Epcot. The Curmudgeon actually said, "The next time we come back, we'll definitely get the deluxe dining plan." I was floored! Disney had worked its magic! I would get to come back to the Most Magical Place on Earth! The math geek inside my Crubby was excited at the idea of saving money by staying at the Pop Century and splurging that money on the dining plan -- and he's not even a foodie! Someday, when we have the money, just the two of us will go back together, hopefully in time to celebrate my 45th birthday.
Thank you, thank you. For my next trick, I will attempt to get the Curmudgeon on a Disney Cruise! (As the Crubby says, "We don’t have kids. We don't even LIKE kids! Why would we want to take a cruise with a bunch of them?") Come on, Disney Magic!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill Hogg is a Walt Disney World theme park fanatic from a distance. She has only been able to visit the World four times, starting in 1975, but hopes to vacation there more often, as time and money become available. Jill grew up on Disney movies, such as The Aristocats, Lady and the Tramp and The Rescuers. Originally from Michigan, she currently lives in Phoenix with her husband and 7 cats.
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.