There are no bad days at Disneyland (it’s scientifically proven – I’m pretty sure); however, I’d like to share with you the debacle that was The Lickert Family Vacation Fail. Kinda.
First off, my husband Tom and I were traveling with our two children, Abby and Chloe, who were ages four and two respectively at the time. We tried to leave them at home – haha! Just Kidding (no I’m not). It took us about an hour to get to the airport. Not bad because we had a ride. My mom and dad dropped us off. As my dad lifted my giant suitcase from the trunk to the skycap, he bid me a fine sayonara with a wise grin and chuckle.
What’s so funny?
Ha! Nothing, have fun. Your mother and I always loved taking you to Disney. You were nuts about the Haunted Mansion! You’ll look back on this and laugh, I promise. Good luck! Call me between flights, if you think about it.
We stumbled through check-in and security with strollers, disposable sippy cups and shoes that slip on and off easily. We found our gate, sat in wide, flat airport gate chairs and tried not to read the minds of other travelers as we fed our children McDonalds.
My God, I hope they’re not on my flight!
My God, I hope they’ve drugged them!
My God, that woman’s hair is incredible! (embellished)
We took two flights from Detroit to LAX connecting in Denver and totaling about five hours in the air, three hours worth of worth of layovers, and about 187 hours of hitting ourselves in the head for putting our children and ourselves through this, but I’m not good at math.
The first flight was uneventful. Lots of tiny bags of pretzels, friendly flight attendants who thought (claimed) our girls were cute, and free crayons! By the second flight, my four-year-old daughter’s claws came out – literally. The novelty of the airplane rides had worn off. When the initially polite but ultimately exhausted flight attendant spoke through her teeth that the captain could not land the plane unless my child was buckled in her seat, I of course agreed with her. Agreeing with her and actually getting the deliriously over-tired child to physically sit down and get buckled were two completely different things. Naturally, I made my husband be the heavy. When he attempted to gently place Abby into her seat, she scratched his face and left him bleeding.
Oh honey, does it hurt?
You have no idea.
Shoot, I forgot to call my dad.
We landed in LAX. I booked our ride to the Residence Inn Maingate months in advance with a highly recommended limo company (I won’t mention their name because to this day, they scare me). I also included a generous tip. Who wants to deal with math and wallets and stuff when all you want to do is let the magic begin? I reserved carseats too! How great of me! Said limo company asked if they could provide refreshments after our long voyage! Well, okay! This is too good to be true. And it was. It really was.
The “limo” arrived. It was a beige sedan. Now, I’m no car expert, but aren’t limos supposed to be long and shiny and have at least 16 doors? Fortunately, the carseats we requested and paid for were in the trunk of the vehicle. Still bleeding about the face, Tom volunteered to strap them in. It was difficult because the carseats appeared to be from 1985; but, onward march! I just wanted to get to our hotel, change into my pj’s, dress husband’s wound, and get the girls settled down. Happy place tomorrow! So onward we marched.
When the smaller of our two children, Chloe, announced she was thirsty, I politely asked the driver for our reserved provisions. He looked confused, handed me his personal lunchbox containing an apple, bologna sandwich and a coke, and said “here”.
Um, where are the water bottles and goldfish crackers?
I’m sorry. We don’t do that, ma’am.
Ok, then. Press on. No biggie. Dehydrated children in makeshift carseats is so not a big deal (laughter from the audience).
Alas, we arrive to the Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate in the early evening hours. Lovely! Palm trees swaying! The faint sound of happy guests walking to and from the parks! Tom and I felt bad that the driver was misinformed about the refreshment option. We decided to tip on top of our pre-paid tip amount with our hard-earned cash from the Disney Souvenir Fund (a glittery shoe box we keep on top of the fridge year round). It wasn’t his fault, and how many Disneyland coffee mugs did I really need anyway? He took the cash and left without a “thank you” or a “have a nice day”. It was okay, everyone has a bad day.
Our hotel room was great! A kitchen! Two bedrooms! A portable crib! I regret not taking pictures of room; theses were memories I didn’t want to preserve. You’ll find out why in a moment.
Ahhhhhh, it was time to open my suitcase and put on those Mickey Mouse pajamas my mom had gotten me for Christmas three months earlier!
Why does my suitcase smell like patchouli?
Why are there video games and raw meat shrink-wrapped in several small bags? Because this isn’t my suitcase.
Tom called the number on the luggage tag. The owner’s grandmother answered. He had obviously woken her up. Tom explained that we inadvertently selected her grandson’s suitcase from baggage claim and that we would promptly return it to LAX so his meat was safe (It was deer meat. We’re from Michigan. Deer meat is quite common, but most people don’t bring it across the country in a suitcase – Ewwww). Luckily, we discovered (after a semi-frantic call to US Airways) that my suitcase was at LAX, and it would be a quick exchange. Tom called a cab and he was off to rescue my jammies so we could finally get our magic on! Not so fast. Time for injury number two. It was my turn. Naturally, I called my dad.
You made it! Are you at the hotel?
Yep! My eye hurts. Like real, real, real bad. Chloe accidentally poked me in the eye.
At the airport getting my bag. I’ll explain that part later.
Can you see?
Can you open it?
Very, very little.
Go to the ER. Call me when you get back if you think about it.
The pain was unreal. I couldn’t let my daughters see how much pain I was in by the “eye poke heard round the world”. We played hide-and-seek until my husband returned from the airport. I was “it” and counted to 150 while I crouched in the corner.
Mama, why you crying?
Me? No, sweetie, I’m laughing! Hahaha-ah-ah-AHHHH!
Tom arrives triumphantly with my suitcase! Knight in shining armor!
Don’t let the cab go. Mama has to go to the ER.
“You have a Massive Corneal Abrasion,” said the nice doctor at the Anaheim Regional Medical Center emergency room. “That must have been some poke!”
You have no idea.
I received a very large dose of pain meds and a lovely greasy, gause-packed eyepatch. Laughing about my trip so far I wander around the hospital to find the cab (while riding a unicorn with a rainbow tail – did I mention the dose was large?). It was gone. Dialing is hard with one eye on a unicorn, but somehow I managed.
Finally, I arrived back to our hotel in the middle of the night, doped up and looking like a scallywag. The baby is asleep, the big girl is asleep, Tom is asleep, all is well! I put on my Mickey Mouse jammies and settle in.
Hey! How’s the eye?
The folks at the ER were nice. I have a scratched cornea, it hurts, I’m tired, I got a patch.
You’re a pirate! Good theming is important. Go to sleep. Have a great time tomorrow! Call me if you think about it.
We’re here to pick up our tickets. My folks bought them for us for Christmas, here’s the confirmation number.
I’m sorry ma’am, these were purchased during a period when we were offering a discount. They don’t apply anymore. You’ll have to pay the difference.
How’s your eye?
It’s fine, arrrrrrrgh matey! They say there’s something wrong with our tickets.
Put ’em on.
Lots of smiling, waiting, punching in numbers and passing the phone to other cast members. The girls were running around, Tom was the goalie and I the sideline coach while silently begging the tiki gods to keep it magical. Hawaiian war chant.
Ma’am, you’re all set.
My dad paid the difference. We enter my Mecca. My happy place. I embrace Tom. I touch the sweet, soft heads of my children. We pass under the railroad.
Give a nod to the lantern burning in the window over the firehouse. Thank you, Walt.
Extend a warm smile to the American flag.
Clop, clop, clop. The horses ease by and Tom’s phone rings.
Sir! Sir! You gave my driver a measly @#$% tip!!!!
I’m sorry for the confusion sir, the driver’s tip was already added to the initial payment. The cash was just extra. I have the original receipt. May I send it to you? Did we make a mistake?
Silence and shuffling of papers.
I’m with my family in Disneyland right now. I will email you my copy of the receipt in five minutes.
I grab the phone. My one eye whirling and my mouth spouting injustices and expletives. I’m right, I win.
Never again will we use your service, sir.
Tom ushers the soft-headed children away.
All is well 🙂
Did you ride the Haunted Mansion?
Was it better than ever?
Yeah, it totally was, how’d you know? One day, I’ll look back on this and laugh.
You think so? Go have fun, call me if you think about it.
The man who brought Disney magic into my life when I was a child, brought it back full circle in my adulthood. To this day, he still wants me to enjoy the experience like I did when I was a kid while easing me through the struggles (crazy children, injuries, mean people) of being a parent. We see Disney through the same eyes now and some day, I’ll give Abby and Chloe the same the sayonara, grin and chuckle.