Disney World Part I: CiCi's Revenge

Monday, March 31, 2008

Part of being a normal Mormon husband is taking the annual family vacation to ensure that we are hitting our quota on wholesome recreational activities. Because we live in North Carolina and all of our family is in Utah, our vacations have normally been saving just enough money to buy four plane tickets and then enjoying a week or two back home. This year we ended up with a larger than expected tax return and decided to take a week-long vacation to Disney World in Orlando. Our son, Brandon, is six and our daughter, Whitney, is almost four. They are the perfect ages for the Magic Kingdom.

Instead of describing the parks, rides, shows, etc., I decided to keep a running diary of the odd, quirky, humorous moments that make vacations like this so much fun. There was so much bizarre zaniness that this post will be broken up into two parts and I will post Part II later this week. So for now, here are some of the random moments of the normal Mormon family vacation to see Mickey Mouse:

Day 1: Pioneer children watched as they drove, and drove, and drove, and drove.....
9:12 a.m. - Just passed the first gas station of our 1,500 mile round-trip journey. I am overjoyed to see that gas has fallen to only $11.86 per gallon.
11:48 a.m. - The kids have been watching their DVD players for nearly three straight hours. Meanwhile, Andrea and I have been having wonderful, uninterrupted conversations the entire time. I hope the kids watch those things for the next nine hours. Does this make me a bad parent? Lazy? Normal? Outstanding? Call me a parental slacker if you want to, but portable DVD players and Game Boys that can mesmerize kids on day-long road trips are my best friends on the planet right now. Bless the nerds who invented them!
3:46 p.m. - We have traveled approximately two miles in the last sixty-seven minutes. Our Georgia interstate is at a complete standstill. But in the Easter spirit, instead of people honking, punching, and brandishing firearms at one another, complete strangers are getting out of their cars and talking and laughing on the freeway. Kind of a surreal moment. I love the South.

9:58 p.m. - Arrived to our Hotels.com $39/night special - the Kissimmee Best Western. Oh, wait. A large tarp is covering the Best Western logo and this place is now called the Florida Inn and Suites. Not a good sign when a place is bad enough that even the Best Western wants to distance itself from it.
10:11 p.m. - Go to our room only to find that there are no sheets, blankets, or pillow cases. There are cracker crumbs on the floor and I'm pretty sure a family of raccoons is living in the closet. The room smells like feet, but none of us have taken off our shoes off yet....Hmmm......
10:24 p.m. - Placed in a new room that we will call home for the next seven days. Fortunately, it also smells like other people's feet.

Day Two: EPCOT (Extremely Politically Correct Outdoor Themepark)

9:15 a.m. - While waiting in line, my three-year-old daughter reaches up to hold my hand but accidentally grabs the hand of the man in front of her. I am about 6'6", 215 pounds, and Caucasian. The man whose hand she just grabbed is about 5'1, 115 pounds, and Indian. In fact, he looks quite a bit like Ghandi during his younger years. Me. Gandhi. What's the difference?
11:32 a.m. - I have been blessed with three supernatural gifts - 1) A hair that grows straight out of my forehead that we loving call "The Unicorn". 2) The ability to see potential car accidents a split second before they happen and then avoid them (17 accident-free years and counting). 3) The ability to spot European tourists from six miles away. My "Euro Alarm" has been beeping since the moment we entered the park. They are everywhere! My spidey senses perk up when I see a person wearing a fanny pack on both hips, a tattered backpack, a dangling camera, soccer jersey, oddly colored and striped shorts, Birkenstocks or leather shoes, and unwashed hair. I mentally say to myself, "He's got to be European" , and then my suspicions are confirmed as he walks by saying, "K├Ânnen Sie langsamer sprechen?" So far I'm 13 for 13 while playing Spot the Europeans. Does anybody else play this or a similar game?
12:32 p.m. - Whitney and I are in the waiting room for Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable. It was the only option to pass twenty minutes before rendezvousing with Andrea and Brandon. There are television monitors all over the waiting room showing Exxon Valdez footage and then displaying stats such as, "14 billion pounds of garbage are thrown the ocean every year", and, "Driving makes up 30% of air pollution." We were then treated to a movie informing us that humans are the most evil plague ever unleashed on mother earth and that we should all be ashamed of ourselves. Good times! Look, I know that we do need to take care of the planet and be wise with our resources. But having Disney Corporation shove the "earth first" message down my throat makes me want to give Goofy a black eye. There were probably 30,000 cars in the parking lot from Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, New York, Canada, and Outer Mongolia. Thousands of people literally flew half way around the world to enjoy the Disney experience. Disney probably leveled about twenty thousand acres of pristine Florida grassland to build the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, etc. There is probably enough food thrown away at Disney every year to feed tens of thousands of starving people around the world. Disney's 2007 revenues were $35.5 billion with Net Income (earnings) of $4.7 billion. Disney corporation does more damage to the environment in an hour than I could do in several lifetimes, yet they want me to feel guilty for driving from North Carolina to Orlando? How does that scripture about beams and motes go again?
3:53 p.m. - Just visited the Norway exhibit and met employees with name tags that read Ingri, Kiim, Jan, and Stian. They were all blond and at least 6'8. The Euro Alarm just exploded.
4:41 p.m. - Just visited the Mexico exhibit. They must have been short on staff today because I am almost positive that I just saw Ingri from the Norway exhibit dressed in Mexican garb and with a name tag that said, "Rosalinda". Tramposos!
5:23 p.m. - It is raining outside and I just put on my enormous neon yellow poncho. I look and feel like a dork. If Nelson Muntz walked past me right now, he'd slug me in the gut, laugh, walk away, and then punch the next tool wearing a poncho. After looking at how silly we all appear, I had a an amazing realization - ponchos are the great societal equalizer! When you see a person in a poncho, you cannot tell if they are fat, skinny, wear expensive clothes, have multiple visible tattoos, etc. We all just look like nerds! I am proposing right now that when dating, both parties must wear ponchos for the first three dates to look past any superficial external beauty or expensive fashion. Presidential debates and high school student body elections should also be conducted in ponchos so that the constituency focuses solely on the messages at hand. Behold the power of the poncho!

6:50 p.m. - I am sitting down outside of a gift shop next to an Indian grandmother who is holding a sleeping infant. She has no backrest but manages to sit as still as a stone for twenty minutes while the baby sleeps. My rear end and back are killing me after two minutes. How does she do it? She is also not wearing any shoes. The callouses on the soles of her feet are so large that it looks like she walked through wet cement and then let it harden. She could strike matches on those things!

Day Three: Easter in the 'Hood
11:30 a.m. - Attended the block of church meetings on Easter Sunday with the Kissimmee Ward. I always enjoy being a visitor to other wards. There are no callings to worry about, assignments to accept, or lessons to prepare. You simply show up, listen, learn, feel the Spirit, and go home. We obviously grow spiritually from our callings and the Lord needs each of us to serve, but an occasional weekend off is also nice. We even had the pleasure of hearing from the Mission President and his wife in both sacrament meeting and in a combined Relief Society/Priesthood meeting. Does it get any better than this?
3:30 p.m. - Pull in to Golden Corral for dinner and I jokingly say to Andrea, "Today at Golden Corral you will enjoy our Easter menu - the menu is the same but the prices have gone up." Sure enough, they jacked up the price and even had the gall to charge for kids! I drove away on principle and we decided to go to CiCi's Pizza Buffet even though the only time I've been there I got violently ill and threw up for two days.
4:45 p.m. - Waddle out of CiCi's Pizza Buffet after eating enough pizza that you would have thought I was in some sort of extreme eating contest.
5:41 p.m. - Go to a local park with a playground to let the kids burn off some steam. The park is not in a good neighborhood, but it was the only one we could find. There is a large, loud family doing an Easter egg hunt at the park while we play. Most of the adults are shouting and cursing as they remember the true meaning of Easter by looking for a golden egg with $40 in it. A chromed-out car across the street is blaring Snoop Dogg with the bass turned up as loud as it can go. Ahhhh, another peaceful Easter.
5:56 p.m. - I just figured out two of the phrases being yelled by the adults from the other party. I'll edit out the profanity for you. "You whame bayou whun doze?" = "Do you want me to buy you one of those?". "Das ah de eh's!" = "That all of the eggs!". Have I mentioned that I love the South?
9:30 p.m. - Uh, oh. Tummy rumbling. Taste of stomach acid in the back of my throat. Mild stabbing pain in my stomach. Darn you, CiCi's! I can tell I'm going to throw up.
9:41 p.m. - I throw up everything I have eaten for the past two days. The mild stabbing pain in my stomach has been upgraded to, "piercing".
10:12 p.m. - I thought I had lost everything at 9:41, yet my body managed to find more food to expunge through my mouth. I really should have just paid the extra money and gone to Golden Corral. Why do I have to have so many principles?

Day Four: I'm Ill (Not in the cool Snoop Dogg way, but in the lame sick way.)
8:20 a.m. - Decide I'm too sick to go to the Animal Kingdom with the family.
10:12 a.m. - Get my first work-related cell phone call and spend the next thirty minutes discussing strategy for our upcoming union negotiations. Vomiting and HR strategy calls? Now that's a vacation!
2:30 p.m. - Look up the Spanish translation for "spill" to tell the non-English speaking housekeeping staff that a drink was spilled on the sheets. I served a Spanish-speaking mission to Chile from 1994-1996 and am still pretty fluent, but I just wanted to verify that "derramar" was the correct verb. I looked it up on WordReference.com and learned that derramar is, in fact, the right word. It even used it in the following sentence, "Sorry, I've spilt some whiskey on your sofa." Now there's a sentence that an active LDS returned missionary uses all of the time! What Mormon doesn't know how to say that in Spanish?
4:30 p.m. - CNN showed a segment that studies have shown that marriages are happier and more enriching to both partners when the wife is more attractive than the husband. No wonder Andrea and I have been so happy for the past ten years.
6:18 p.m. - Stomach is settling down a little bit. Hopefully I can make it to the Magic Kindgom with the family in the morning. The only two things I have eaten today are two graham crackers and two cups of Jell-O. Best. Vacation. Ever!

Come back in a few days to see if I live or die from the CiCi's food poisoning and what hilarity awaits us at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Assuming, of course, that I live to make it there.


Natalie said...

The ponchos comment was hilarious! I want pictures of you in a poncho. Too funny. I am sorry that Cici's did you so wrong. I have only eaten there once and it went down fine.

5:45 AM

Ah, the quirks of family vacations! Too bad yours included puke.

Thanks for the comment on my blog, although it felt a little BigBrother-ish that you tracked me down. How did you do that?

7:17 AM
Julie said...

Was there nothing open besides CiCi's and Golden Corral?

Oh, and I look hot in a poncho.


I hope you lived through the food poisoning, because I am anxiously anticipating the rest of the family vacation saga.

8:57 AM
Megan said...

"The Euro Alarm just exploded." ROFLOL.


9:21 AM
bioman75 said...

Hope you really enjoy Disney. Being in Florida we go about once a month (usually on a temple trip). My two boys really like the trips.

If you are feeling better and can make it to the Magic Kingdom, go to the main street bakery and get an ice cream sandwich with homemade cookies. It will make you forget all about Cici's (also they are much better than the Nestle ones). You can also get them at the American Experience but not your choice of cookie.

10:19 AM
The Wiz said...

Now I want to go to Florida. Great. Thanks a lot.

11:14 AM
andrea said...

Reading your post was almost as fun as actually being there.

While I'm just living in the moment, dumb and happy, you're coming up with witty banter for the blog. Tommy Boy quote coming to mind, "Most of us use 10% of our brain, I use 1 1/2 %..." I'll stop there.

1:33 PM
Shelley said...

If only you had been wearing your "street cred" shoes at the park on Easter Sunday, I'm sure you would have been invited to join in on the hunt for the $40 golden egg. What those shoes won't let you do...

10:24 AM
Anonymous said...

Snoop Dogg at Easter? They were just celebrating the fact that the world's greatest rapper has joined the one true faith:


12:50 PM

I read the article about Snoop Dogg's reported conversion to the LDS Church and was so excited. Can you imagine the possibilities? Unfortunately, I did a little research and found out that it was nothing more than a very convincing hoax.

Here is the ksl.com article about the hoax.



4:37 PM

Couple of comments to your comments:

Natalie - You don't need to see me in a poncho. With as tall as I am I just look like a walking yellow tee-pee. I'm sure you can envision that.

Bartle Fam - Didn't mean to freak you out by visiting your blog. All I had to do was click on your hyperlinked "bartle family said..." link on your comment. Don't worry, I'm not peering in on you from outside your kitchen window or anything. But have you checked the children?

Julie - There are about 40,000 restaurants in Orlando. When we splurge a little on a dinner we often go to Golden Corral so that I can gorge on red meat, my wife on salads and fruits, and the kids on pizza. Since GC was gouging us, we decided to go elsewhere but didn't want to eat at Arby's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, etc. again so CiCi's seemed to be a good second option.

Megan - What does ROFLOL stand for? Rascally Old Females Love Offensive Linemen? Really Oppressed Foreigners Love Our Land?

Bioman75 - (In my best Adam Sandler voice) Once again, something that I could have been told YESTERDAY! How lucky are you to go monthly to Disney? You will probably one of those guys who visits every Major League Baseball stadiums in one summer when he retires. Can I come, too?

Wiz - You're welcome. Sincerely, The Florida Department of Tourism.

Andrea - If not for you and your zest for life, there would be nothing fun for me to blog about because I WOULD NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE. Also, how could my Science Girl call herself, "dumb"? Remember, when we had the same Anatomy class at the Y you got an B+ and I got a C+. If you're dumb, that would make me....ummmm...uuhhhh..I can't think the the right wordy-like thingy.

Shelley - For those who do not know, Andrea bought me a pair of "Big Ben" and "Starbury" tennis shoes. Two gangsters saw me wearing the Starbury's and gave me props. If I were wearing my ghetto kicks, not only would I been invited to search for the $40 egg, I would have outrun all of them to it. Word.

6:42 PM
Ang said...

Oh, brother of mine, if you do not know what ROFLOL (or its variant, ROTFL) means, then you might be kicked out of the bloggernacle.

Rolling On Floor Laughing Out Loud


Rolling On The Floor Laughing

I loved your poncho talk. There was a snippet of time (2004ish?) that the poncho was "in" for women. I loved the idea because I deluded myself into thinking that it made me look thinner, but then when I saw pictures I realized it only made me look like I was smuggling something under my shirt. Or that I was hoping it would make me look thin, which, in the obvious hoping, had the OPPOSITE effect.

And my last chastisement: Your on vacation, hon. You can eat somewhere BESIDES a buffet!! :-) I hear they have these restaurants where you can sit down and a waitress lady comes and asks you what you want, then somebody cooks it FRESH. Just for YOU! And you harldy ever throw up afterward.

Love ya.

10:09 PM
normal mormon wife said...

I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't know what ROFLOL meant, either.

The important part of the eating-at-cicis-equation that is being left out here is that WE ARE CHEAPSKATES! Yes, even on vacation. Both Andrew and I are thinking about the hundreds of dollars we spent on the crappy hotel, disney passes, and overpriced gas so we were trying to cut corners where we could. Yes, we paid dearly for it this time. Will we make the same mistake again? Not at Cici's, but probably somewhere else. It's part of who we are.

5:42 AM
Sandy said...

Awesome post! I agree that car DVD players are man's greatest invention. Otherwise my parents (23 hours away by minivan) would never see their grandchildren. Jake and I each also have a unicorn hair - they are nicknamed "Uni".

After reading your wife's post on Disneyworld, Jake said that the reason you got sick at CiCi's is because you are no longer a missionary. Apparently missionaries have digestive immunity there, as its the only place they can afford and must eat enough pizza to last them several days. Jake served his mission in Texas, which apparently has Cicis everywhere like Utah has scrapbook stores and Mormon churches.

Looking forward to the rest of the tales of Disneyworld...the funniest part is comparing your version to Andi's version. She's a bit more of the "find the sunshine" type then her husband, eh?:)

7:07 AM
Jami said...

My friend, here's a hint. When you don't know one of the snazzy TTFN LOL FWIW IIRC, ROFLOL or diSNey-type words, just stick them in the search engine and a definition will pop right up, saving you much ribbing.

The first time I saw ROFLOL, I guessed 'really old fat ladies ogling lollipops.' I still bear the scars from the emotional abuse I suffered that day...

8:06 PM