Dr. Strangedad…or how I learned to stop worrying and love Disney

We started Southern Girl Travel out of a love for travel, and a desire to help families and people like us carve out time to really enjoy one of the good things in life – travel.


We chose Disney as one of our specialties because of a real love for Disney vacations along with a tremendous respect for Disney as an organization and the excellent service and experience that it provides.

Jennifer always had that love for Disney.

I didn’t.

For me it was different, as I think it is for many dads.

Before I experienced Disney as an adult I thought that a visit to Disney World would be like a visit to one of Dante’s circles of hell. It all seems so kid and mom-centric, I just couldn’t see where I’d fit into the Disney picture.

I was wrong, and I readily admit it.

How did I get to admitting I was wrong?

How did I stop worrying and learn to love Disney?

Here’s the story, and I tell it for all the moms out there so they can read it, subtly pass it on to their husbands, with the hope that they’ll learn to stop worrying, too.

Here goes…

Not long after our three  kids came along,  Jennifer began bringing up the possibility of a Disney World vacation. My response was always:

“Are you kidding?”

Actually my response was more colorful, but you get the gist.

About the time the kids were old enough to really enjoy what Disney has to offer, Jenn and I were sitting in the backyard, drinking a beer or two and enjoying a pleasant early fall North Carolina afternoon, when she brought it up again.

I vaguely remember agreeing to it…vaguely.

The way Jenn tells the story, she was in the house and on the computer making reservations within the hour and had the entire trip planned and booked before the day was out. She had been researching for weeks and I was the target of an exceedingly premeditated effort to deceive me into agreeing to a Disney trip.

Some weeks later she told me all the plans were made.

I immediately began back tracking but after seeing how excited she was, I relented, hung my head, and figured I would take my medicine, considering the visit penance for some evil I had done in the past.

As the fateful day approached I became more and more difficult to get along with. And, as we got up, very, very early to make the 7:30am flight from Raleigh to Orlando I was not pleasant to be around at all.

I did relax a little as we dropped off our luggage, complete with the Disney tags that supposedly guaranteed delivery to our room at the Polynesian Resort without anything further from me.

Then we were on the plane and, as many of you will already know, flying with a family of 5 including three relatively young kids can be rather nice. You’ll normally have nearly a whole row of the plane to yourself (if you planned ahead properly) and you can spread out a bit.

On this flight Jenn and I were across the aisle from one another and could lean in and talk a bit. When the drink cart came around we ordered morning cocktails – Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers – two rounds which was exceedingly indulgent both for the early morning hour and for the cost of four drinks on a plane these days, but I believe it was another ploy on Jenn’s part to calm me down.

It was working.

I was calming down some. We had decent seats. We had cocktails. I didn’t have to deal with the baggage claim…but I knew what was coming and I expected the worst.

I had been through the bottom floor of the Orlando airport before on a number of occasions near the car rental areas where the Disney Magical Express picks up their guests.

It always made me think of what it would be like if some tyrannical force took over the US and sent us all to relocation camps somewhere – the blank stares haunted me, and I knew that was my fate, I figured we wouldn’t make it to Disney until late afternoon at best…. and I could tell my wife again that we should have driven.

Again I was wrong.

As we walked through the Orlando airport, I was surprised by the lack of crowds – then I realized it was only 9:00am on a Monday morning, probably not a particularly busy time for an airport as popular with tourists and vacationers as with business folks chasing a dollar.

Then, as if something straight out of a vision of paradise, we arrived at the roped off areas directing the Disney visitors toward the Magical Express. No Lines!

No lines, at all.

No lines and multiple employees at our beck and call fawning all over the kids, addressing me as Mr. Newsome and insisting I remove my sport coat (it was seersucker and very comfortable – I declined to remove it).

We were led to our bus – we were the only ones on it.

The driver was polite and friendly.

IMG_20791Looking smug with Cecilia on the Magical Express headed to the Poly

I was starting to wonder what exactly was going on…had I been drugged? This was not at all unpleasant so far and dare I say, I might have even been close to relaxing.

In what seemed like no time, but was probably 20 minutes or so, we were in front of the Polynesian and climbing off the bus to a group of employees with head sets and clip boards who were calling us by name, smiling, giving the kids leis, and bidding us  “Aloha.”

IMG_20811In the Poly’s lobby

And get this, our room was ready!

It was about 10:00am…I had left Raleigh at 7:30.

Ok, Disney was doing something right. And I was all smiles. Though I was eagerly looking for faults, I was having a hard time finding any. I was also eager to get to the room and gloat because the bags weren’t there.

The bags were there.

The room was great. We could see the castle in the Magic Kingdom from our room.

Then I realized, I had Jennifer (travel planner extraordinaire), and I had Disney!

I found a mistake.

We sent a box full of goodies UPS to our room the week before – snacks, sunscreen canned drinks, and maybe a bit of alcohol, just to save a few dollars and space in our luggage.

The box was missing.

I was ecstatic.

Jennifer insisted that I take the kids, explore the resort a bit, and come back in 15 minutes.

I did just that.

IMG_20821Exploring the Poly and thinking I had found a flaw (I was wrong!)

When we got back to the room Jenn had gotten everything unpacked, put away, found the box (She said it was delivered just minutes after I left), and had mixed me a Bloody Mary from the contents of the box and the ice machine down the hall.

So, we left Raleigh at 7:30am and by 10:30 or so I’m on a boat heading from the Poly to the Magic Kingdom. Everyone I’ve encountered has been as pleasant as humanly possible, the weather is great.

What’s not to love?

The week continued on just the same.

No, actually it got better and better.

IMG_21382Really, really enjoying Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

What really pushed me over the edge into full-on Disney lover?

It was something our oldest daughter said to me later in the week. She said:

“Daddy, I wish you were always this happy.”

What’s a dad gonna do with a comment like that?

happy2590At the Polynesian, wishing I was always that happy!

So, yea, it took a while and some personal experience, but I kinda love Disney.

If there are any dads out there that need some convincing about a Disney trip, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be more than happy to share my experiences and some other reasons you don’t want to miss out on that Disney experience with the family.

IMG_23242Getting ready to head home, and still smiling


Relax…you can get to Disney from here.