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My top five Disney Parks mistakes

Friday, November 16, 2007

In my professional life, there’s a lot of emphasis on “lessons learned.” I do believe there’s a real benefit in sharing with others the bonehead moves we’ve made, in the interest of sparing them future pain. Plus, true-life confessions are an important part of the interweb food chain, and who am I to argue with the circle of life? So, here are the top five mistakes I’ve made while visiting Disney Parks:

5) Not taking a mid-day break during my son’s birthday festivities at Walt Disney World.  We were having a blast, and decided to just play through instead of taking a cab back to our off-site resort for our usual mid-day break, as suggested by the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (ding!). A little downtime building a new Lego kit at the Downtown Disney McDonalds did help a bit (as did a strong cuppa coffee), but we never quite got it back together. I don’t even want to admit how badly we quarreled on the way out of the Magic Kingdom that night. Bad mom, bad bad mom.

4) Avoiding Pizza Planet at Disney/MGM Studios. The food is lousy. The atmosphere reminds me of Chuck E. Cheese. We’d already been there once, when my son was four. But on our last trip, when I finally gave in and took him there again for pizza, I knew right away it had been a mistake to stay out of the place for so long, especially since he can’t even remember the visit in 2002. My son loves Toy Story, so this was practically a sacred moment for him. I’ve now promised to take him there once on every trip to Walt Disney World. I don’t have to eat there, but I gotta show my respect for the LGMs.

3) Staying onsite at Disneyland Paris. Our family trip to Paris had us staying at a lovely Best Western on the Left Bank, right near the Metro. Mr Jentasmic had the room all to himself for a night, while Jentasmic Jr and I made a side trip by train. But why was I so committed to staying at Hotel Cheyenne, instead of just making the 45-minute commute for a couple days? Did the Fantasyland breakfast package with early entry to the park really mean that much to me? These did make some great memories, but in retrospect I’m not sure it was worth it, given how much time we spent dragging our overnight bag around, waiting in line for the luggage check, and checking in and out of the hotel. And truly, the themeing at Hotel Cheyenne was nothing to write home about. If I ever get to Paris again (and I surely intend to), next time I’ll just commute from wherever we’re staying in the city, and save those extra Euros for a fancy meal or two. At least I think I will . . . Jentasmic Jr strongly disagrees with me on this point, and feels the night at Hotel Cheyenne was worth every Euro that came out of his mom’s wallet.

2) Not researching Tokyo Disneyland Resort before landing at Narita. Okay, I’ll confess, and this is rather shocking . . . visiting Tokyo Disneyland was an afterthought, and was not even a factor in planning the family trip to Japan. We had gone primarily for Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty’s homeland), so I’d researched that park meticulously, and had excellent directions for getting there by subway, as well as a bit of information about what to expect. But Disneyland? I figured hey, it’s probably just like Anaheim, I’ll just grab a map at the main gates and find my way around. I hadn’t figured on how complicated it would be to find the place by subway, and I didn’t even know DisneySea existed – a truly heinous mistaken, given that it’s the most beautiful Disney park on earth, and I never knew I was just a few steps away. How embarrassing. Why am I even telling you people these things??

1) Truly the biggest mistake of all: Believing that there’s any such thing as a stress-free vacation. Sure, some of the mistakes above could have been avoided by reading the right guidebook, or thinking things through more carefully before leaving home. But we all know what can happen to the best laid plans of Mice and men, now don’t we? And truly, if the biggest issue I have to worry about today is whether I should have taken a mid-day break at WDW last July, I’m having a very good day indeed.