The Happiest Place on Earth: The Day Disney Poisoned Mama

Y’all. Disney World—a.k.a. The Happiest Place on Earth—poisoned me. It not only poisoned me, but it poisoned my toddler. I find this to be highly ironic. Then again, with a condensed space teeming with people (and other people’s children—a.k.a. germ factories), I suppose a bit of food poisoning now and then comes with the territory.

However, with a hefty per-person price tag for the “all you ‘care’ to eat” buffet, you still hope (pray?) for a better outcome. Thankfully, George loves to meet people hidden in large, anthropomorphized-character suits. His little eyes glowed as his newest celebrity crush—Mickey Mouse, obvs—approached our table. He did his current nervous tick of stuffing his fingers into his mouth (he’s his own little germ factory) while Mr. Mouse reached out a white-gloved high-five.

I used to be the judge-y pre-mom looking down (I’m 5’5.5″, so I don’t really get to literally look “down” my nose at anyone) on the parents at Disney with their tiny children. Unless you have an older child and no babysitting options, it boggles my mind why parents would bring a child under 18 months. I did see plenty of teeny bambinos sleeping in carriers, so I guess if your bebe is still in the eat-sleep-sleep-eat stage, a Disney day could be manageable. However, after having two tiny kiddos, I still decided to leave Olivia with Grammy (hi, Mom! And thank you!). George, however, was the perfect age for shortened bursts of Disney magic.

This is George’s party face. And, yes, they’re matching Iron Men.

Since he’s about to turn 3, he’s still free (yay for saving $175!), though we did get one disbelieving side glance from a “cast member” when blondie asked if he was actually under 3. Thankfully, he didn’t start rattling off states and capitals, because then I would’ve had to dig out the birth certificate. We just confirmed, avoided eye contact, and scurried away.

I loved watching Disney through George’s inexperienced eyes. We decided to do Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party as our Magic Kingdom event. It was absolutely perfect. We didn’t wait more than 20 minutes for a ride all evening. I suggested we start with It’s a Small World, which was hilarious because you could see the “what the heck is this place?” thought running through George’s mind as he surveyed the singing dolls. The Dumbo ride was a hit (which continues to baffle parents with its popularity). Best Magic Kingdom experience ever. AND everyone was in costume. Some of the costumes were so fantastic I had to double-take to make sure that wasn’t Disney’s paid Belle strolling the streets. There was also legit candy everywhere, if you felt like waiting in a few more lines.

Seeing Mickey for the first time.

George had some downtime as we waited for the Headless Horseman to gallop by as a lead-off for the Boo-To-You Halloween parade. The scariest part of the evening was when the pirate float meandered by and a fake cannon went off right in his face. Also, a dancing gal from the Haunted Mansion two-stepped right over and high-pitched shrieked at him. Yes, thank you for that, Disney. I also didn’t understand why the fireworks show started at 10:15 p.m. It was SO late. Little Disney fans were either asleep in their strollers or screaming their heads off. Though, George lasted through most of it. Good times all around.

Day two was a rest day, where my family popped in at different times to visit. We gave George a day to relax and decompress before hitting up Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom is also a great choice for smaller kids, in my opinion. Our first stop was a private meeting between the Mouses and George. He was finger-chewing and jumping with excitement. For days, he’d been telling me that he was going to give Mickey a high five, a “big hug and a big kiss too.” And my sweet, reserved boy did just that. So, so sweet.

I didn’t really expect him to go through with his plan. Precious.

Finding Nemo: The Musical scared the living daylights out of him. And he wasn’t the only one, as evidenced by the vast amounts of crying emitting from surrounding small children. We left early once George pleaded, “I want to go home!” at least four times. What is it with Disney and scary, dark, mature content? Every ride had something scary (sans Small World). I had little stuffed animals tucked into George’s bed each night, thinking he’d like a special treat after a day at Disney. Yeah. Fail. The first night, I had Tigger. Well, thanks to the Winnie-the-Pooh ride and Tigger popping out of dark corners, George promptly handed the little plush back to me and told me that Tigger is scary. The next night, I had Nemo, which was immediately thrown off the bed. I had Dory ready for the last night, but didn’t even bother. Sigh.

Animal Kingdom had some great highlights: The dino-land playground and sand pit (George enjoyed burying the dinosaur bones as fast as my husband uncovered them), the new Avatar-inspired Pandora (though we didn’t get within 1.5 hours of getting on a ride), the Kilimanjaro Safari ride (go in the evening!), and the Rivers of Light night show.

To sum up his Disney-inspired happiness.

Speaking of, this was when the food poisoning decided to join the fam. I’d had my first bout on the way back to the park after naptime, but round #2 peaked at the very end of the show (thank the Lord—seriously). We were waiting for the crowd of people to plod up the amphitheater stairs, and I knew African-themed-buffet food was about to rejoin the party. “Thankfully,” there’s a nice, lush line of foliage at the bottom of the outdoor seating, so I pushed past everyone and gave a finale to the beautiful light-and-water show we’d just seen. A middle-aged couple stayed seated right behind me, watching.

After I finish, I turn around with an “I’m sorry.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. We’re both nurses. It doesn’t bother us!” wife said, laughing.

I then ponder why they’re still sitting there…

Then, George, who is in my husband’s arms, says his tummy feels “full.” The Hubs quickly adjusts their positioning as George joins Mama in revisiting his lunch. Good times being had by all.

OK, I’ll move on. It was just such a bummer way to end a great weekend. Plus, how do you explain to your 2-year-old what is happening to his little body? I blame the two cookies he and I grabbed on the way out of the buffet, as the Husband didn’t snag one. I have no idea if this is legitimate, but those dry chocolate-chip death disks were NOT worth it!

In conclusion, don’t expect plans to go as planned. And don’t expect even the most seemingly innocuous things not to scare the stuffing out of your small child.

Thank you for graciously allowing me to show you my slideshow of family vacay photos! Got any good Disney stories for me? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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