Vacation Planning? Disney Parks Not Always ‘The Happiest Place On Earth’ Or ‘Where Dreams Come True’

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It is perhaps the most retold story every Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.

“So, we’re at Disney World, and little brother had been sick as a dog for days, but mom and dad were hellbent on him seeing the parade by the castle. Because he was going to have fun, dammit. Nevermind it was 3 p.m. – the hottest point of the day, and it was nearing 100 degrees. So we decide to walk him to a spot to get some water.”

And within seconds, it happened.

“Jesus, you’re not going to believe this,” a man passing by said to someone on his cell phone. “Some kid just threw up on my shoe.”

You never saw, mom, dad and big sister move a kid so fast.

Nobody loved the parade.

Such was another terrible moment “where dreams come true.”

With the vacation season in full swing as summer approaches, we polled several OutKick writers and editors for their favorite moments at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, or Disney World in Orlando, Florida – good or bad. And most are bad.

No stories approached the brawl at Disney World Monday that happened over picture-taking space at the Magic Kingdom.

But to be on the safe side, the names of OutKick personnel have been omitted to protect the innocent from the wrath of those loved ones who still love Disney.

On the same trip to Disney World, as mentioned at the top, sister had had enough with everything and began walking away toward the exit alone. Mother told the other daughter’s boyfriend to go get her. As he began to run after her, the real order from his future mother-in-law came forth.

“You have to get her. She has a FastPass.”

FastPass, now called Genie+, was gold during its time. It was the only way not to have to wait in line for up to two hours for a ride. Mom was fine to let daughter take the shuttle back to the hotel, but there was no way in hell she was leaving with that FastPass.

Amazingly, so many of the stories shared with me include regurgitation.

Vacations Are Supposed To Be Fun, Not Work

One memorable one was at the Country Bear Jamboree attraction at Disney World. The youngster was so happy to be there and having so much fun, he didn’t really think about the fact that he was consuming food like a bear. And mom and did not realize he was eating with each while they rotated with the other kids in different areas of the park.

This all came to fruition, so to speak, while he was in mom’s lap at the Country Bear Jamboree all over her shirt. She wore it well but smelly for the rest of the day as, alas, the jamboree was one of the first stops of the day.

The good part was, the rest of the folks around the stinky family evacuated, and our boy – suddenly feeling better – and his group got front row alone.

One OutKick writer’s only refuge was the world of beers at Epcot.

The Magic Kingdom at Disney World in 2020. (Gabrielle Russon/Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images.)

“You can get hammered and numb the pain,” he said. “Last year, my girlfriend’s mom excitedly asked me my favorite part. And I said with zero kidding in my voice, ‘Getting drunk.’ They didn’t find that funny.”

This is the barley-and-hops-thick voice of experience.

“I have never gone and not spent a fortune, got sunburned, and ate food that is barely above what would be served in a prison,” he said.

And expensive. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Tom Sawyer Island will cost you $10.

Julie Bowen’s Claire Dunphe character on “Modern Family” strategized concerning this before a trip to Disneyland as she put whipped cream on her kids’ pancakes.

“All right, I want everybody to eat a lot at home because the happiest place on earth is also home to the most expensive churro,” she said.

But at least, the beer is cold.

Disney Can Make Someone Dizzy

So too was the strawberry daiquiri. One OutKick writer got separated in a thick mass of humanity from his girlfriend and her family – accidentally on purpose – in the Magic Kingdom. Magic, as in vanish, and he headed to the hotel pool alone for an adult beverage. Thankfully for his sake without a FastPass.

“That is still the best daiquiri I have ever had,” he said.

The most difficult part about Disney parks is the price and its subsequent pressure. If parents are paying $109 to $189 a ticket per day, “Dammit, you’re going to have fun, son, whether you like it or not.”

I’ve actually overheard similar statements from parents at Disney World. Or they’ll say with an edge, “Are you having fun?” As in, you better freakin’ be.

And many parents want to make sure they get every last drop out of what they paid. So, they’re there from early opening to late close. This is work. Overtime, that is.

Vacation Needed After The Vacation

“Our daughter fell asleep by lunch the first two days,” another OutKick writer said. “As you can imagine, by the end of the trip, it turns into dragging tired kids around. At a certain point, they don’t want to be there, and don’t want to wait in the long lines.”

But some still love it.

“Going to Disney World reminds me a bit of my midwestern hometown, but even better,” one writer said. “You will not experience better customer service anywhere like you do at Disney. The staff members are impeccably trained to treat you as if you’re the only person in the world. It’s exactly how customer service should be. That’s what I enjoy most about the experience.”

That makes sense. My southern wife Michelle worked at Disney World while in college as an exemplary customer service employee. And she still loves Disney World. We went there on our honeymoon – after New Orleans and before Memphis in a compromise. But it was a blast. And we’ve been back … several times, and to Disneyland.

But I have to say one of my favorite Disney World trips was when we brought the dog. We had a dog hotel set up for her, but she got sick before check-in. So, I was put on dog watch duty while Michelle hit the park with a girlfriend.

Thank goodness the poolside allowed dogs, and she enjoyed some of that daiquiri, too.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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