Raindrops on Vacation

As I sit here typing, I’m enjoying a cup of creamy chai while rain pounds on the window next to me. This blog will complete my Disney/Universal Experience series. I’m getting ready to take part in a 31 Days Blog Challenge that kicks off October 1. Join me for a month of blogs.

SAM_0470The rain has me thinking of our trip because we   learned to laugh in the rain this time to Florida. Our last trip we had no rain. It was in May. This time we had almost no lines but we had rain. Thanks to my fav Disney book, The Unofficial Guide to SAM_0471Walt Disney World, I was prepared with 97 cent rain slicks from Walmart. One lady at Universal hinted she’d buy mine. Silly, unprepared lady.

It rained three major times on our trip. The first was at Universal and it was short-lived. Phew. We were prepared. We found indoor rides until the sun returned. On our third day at Disney, the downpour put a damper on spirits as we arrived at Animal Kingdom and realized there wasn’t much to do but walk around watching animals get wet. It put me in as foul a mood as the kids, frankly, but we soldiered on and enjoyed indoor shows until it stopped. A nice concierge had gotten us fast passes to Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: the Musical—both phenomenal.SAM_0672

The last time it rained on our trip was at Epcot. Epcot was Ryan’s bad autism day. It started with a lost hat on Test Track and ended standing in a deluge watching fireworks. It was the perfect ending to a rocky day. I couldn’t help but laugh.

You should know, if you don’t already, that Disney has a No Crying Child policy. Every Cast Member is empowered to try and fix whatever is making a child cry. Obviously temper tantrums and screaming parents are not in their power to fix. But when Ryan couldn’t control the tears after losing his hat on Test Track (the second souvenir he’d lost that week), a kind Cast Member gave us a voucher for a new hat and free ice cream for all of us. Disney rocks.

The attempt to fix tears later that day is what I’ll remember most.

Ryan had not enjoyed the day. It started off rocky and the fact that we made it that long before autism reminded us of its presence was pretty good. Autism needs order, routine, time alone. A vacation like this is scant on those things. We arrived at the front section seats for the fireworks our concierge had arranged and just before they were to begin, plop went the frozen lemonade into the dirt. The last vestiges of Ryan’s control vanished and the sobs began.

So with a charge to Jarod and Kati to keep an eye on the other two, I went in search of a replacement. But how to exit the Fast Pass fireworks viewing area and be able to reenter to join my kids? I found a Cast Member and explained that question. She didn’t know but walked me to another Cast Member who pointed to a supervisor. I explained I just needed to exit since my son had dropped his ice cream and was crying. He told me no problem and proceeded to write me a voucher for another, without my asking. It was kind.

So I asked if this could also count for popcorn, the item Ryan had really wanted. He smiled and said yes. “Where do I find popcorn?” I asked. We were in Mexico. He said Canada had a stand. Only in Epcot can I run from Mexico to Canada without causing an immigration flap. Off I headed to Canada at a jog. I found a nice lady at the Scotland food stand to ask where popcorn was sold in Canada. She pointed me to the closed stand nearby. Great.

Just then I saw a Cast Member coming from the Canadian gift shop. I asked her if they had popcorn inside. Nope. But she peaked behind the curtain of the popcorn stand to see if they could give me one. All out. Seriously? The fireworks were about to start and I just left four kids unattended. Just then she realized I could try the Port of Entry snack shop—back towards Mexico.

Back I jogged (yes, friends who know me, I was jogging!) towards this snack stand. There was a line but I waited, noting that popcorn was not on the board. Would they take my popcorn voucher and give me something else? As my turn came, I explained my sad story to the young man and asked if they could just give me a small cup of ice cream instead? It didn’t’ have to be a huge Dole Whip (YUM! But that is another blog). The lady next to him remembered they had a box of Mickey Ice Cream bars in the back—would that work, she asked? Yes!

I thanked them and walked back to the supervisor who remembered me and waived me in. Ryan calmed quickly when he saw the new treat. All my kids had stayed put and were behaving well. A few people were staring at the man-child sobbing on the ground but we ignored them. Ryan got happier.

And then the first drops started. Seriously?!?!

I pulled out our ponchos and we got covered just as the deluge began. It rained hard. I’ve gotten less wet in some showers than we were getting everywhere our ponchos didn’t cover. I thought surely they’d cancel the fireworks and laser show. Nope! Not Disney. The show MUST go on. As we stood in the pouring rain, oohing and aahing the fantastic fireworks, I started laughing. Whaddya gonna do?

We all appreciated getting back to our hotel and warm beds. The next day was our final day and thankfully it didn’t do more than mist at the Magic Kingdom until dinner time. We left the park to eat at our hotel and swim in the rain at our pool. As long as there’s no lightening, Disney keeps even the life guards on duty.

I’m sure once I put together the scrapbook and include the poncho pictures, the kids will be able to smile about our fun in the rain. I know I can. These are the memorable times of vacations we laugh about years later. These not-so-picture-perfect events that come up are the ones that make us work together and laugh when we should be miserable. Maybe that’s the lesson we should take from the rain. Maybe that’s why today’s cold down pour is making me smile.

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