I half shudder with dread and half wiggle with excitement; I am taking the family to Disney World. I could word it that "We are taking the kids to DisneyWorld", but so far I'm the only one obsessing about the details. That's okay, I appreciate having the space to be as much of a control-freak as I want. After all, we're talking the four and six year-old on their first trip to the Mouseconglomeration! It must be nigh perfect.
At least that's what my Parental Vicarious Mechanism yearns for. In reality, who knows what parts of the trip they will savor or hate? They may end up most excited about mouse-shaped straws in the souvenir shop, whereas I'll be pestering them to notice the details of the "Pirates of the Caribbean." (C'mon, you have to give the Imagineers credit when they put curly hairs on the swinging foot of a pirate!)
I've had many a happy experience in the World called Disney. Heck, we hit the park the first year it opened in sleepy Orlando. We have hilarious pictures documenting each visit from then on; varying hair and clothing styles mark the passage of time. Every vist was always more magical than the previous--including the duration of our honeymoon. Until it was time to leave, that is...
Mom and Dad had gone above and beyond to book us a room at the Polynesian resort. The freaking Polynesian! It was as beautiful and exotic as I'd dreamed it would be. We frolicked from park to park by day, we wined and dined by night. We couldn't have asked for more. Our last day of the trip came way too soon, but we planned to make the most of it by going to the new waterpark, "Typhoon Lagoon". We left our luggage in the resort's secure baggage area to maximize the fun time. We would swoop back to the Polynesian after a day's fun, and hop on a jet plane into the sunset. Or at least, that's how we had planned it.
Yes, we did pack up our bags to send off to luggage storage, and yes, idiot me took off my shiny engagement ring and put it in an unlocked makeup case. And yes, right in full view of the the bellboy. (You should be hearing "dum de dum dum" by about now) We headed out via the resort courtyard, and stopped to watch scads of cute gray bunnies hopping about in the lush grass. Our bellboy skidded his golfcart alongside us and shouted "What's wrong?". At the time, I didn't question it. On hindsight, it's a bit odd wording to pose to two smiling people looking at rabbits. We told him everything was fine, and went off to have another great day in RodentLand.
Fast forward to check-out time. Close-up shot of newlywed opening her makeup case while waiting for the cab. Time-lapse still photos of increasing fear on bride's face as she realizes her diamond ring is definitely not in the zipped jewelry bag within said makeup case. Sickening stomach-wrenching agony as couple realizes their honeymoon has come to a rather miserable conclusion.
From then on, it's mostly a blur of talking to a million people, filling out forms, and discovering that the luggage area is not guaranteed as "secure". We even experienced the privilege of riding to the airport with a resort employee. She outlined the sordid pasts of recently fired co-workers, and mused that the ring had probably been pawned by now. We had a plane to catch, so we numbly headed home to life as a married couple. Without my engagement ring. That we'd purchased together, with combined savings. Which wasn't insured. (We were naive enough to think our renter's insurance had covered it.)
Once home, we made our best effort to see justice done. We called Orlando police to file a report. To increase our despair, they concurred with the resort driver. We were probably too late. What we should have done, we were told, was to get Orlando Police in before Disney security got involved. After the Mouse-B.I. showed up, likelihood of recovery was nil.
The pitiful tale pretty much ends there, aside from the scathing letter my Dad wrote to Michael Eisner. Eisner didn't reply, go figure. My husband and I repeated a process we were all too familiar with; saving up to buy an engagement ring. Adding insult to injury, my mother had recently bought a matching ring since she loved my diamond and setting so much. I had to sit and stare at it any time I was in her presence. It sparkled and glinted in the fixed smile on my miserable face. Gut-stabbing irony Number Two: her diamond fell out of the setting one Christmas Eve as we were power-shopping. It was uninsured. (Mom just hadn't gotten to it yet) Dad replaced it that week. Urggh. Glub.
We've only been back to WDW once since our lovely, yet not-so lovely honeymoon. Thus my half-shuddering with dread. Don't get me wrong; my replacement diamond will set no foot on Disney property. But it's hard to believe in the Disney "magic" once you've had an experience like that. I'll probably eye the sugar-coated castmembers with cynicism. I'll keep all money, credit cards and documents on our persons in pickpocket proof wallets.
At the same time, I want my children to experience the magic untainted. I hope that they'll actually notice the pirate's hairy foot, and kudos if they appreciate the "hidden Mickey" in their souvenir straws. I guess in some way, I'm hoping to recover some of the magic for myself. If we can make this a safe, happy and memorable trip, maybe I'll give the kleptomaniac mouse a little break.