Part 2 of how we(and Disney) set the bar very high for all future family vacations. This time, prepping TheBoy™ and awesome customer service.
Wouldn’t it be great to not tell your kid where you’re going until the moment you leave? I read about great, and not so great, reactions to those type of vacation reveals. We even met a family from the midwest that told their 5 year old daughter they were going for ice cream. But I couldn’t handle it. I was busting at the seams to tell him the moment we made the decision. But I didn’t. I DID want it to be somewhat of a magical surprise, that I created. So I got my craft on. (I’ll take on any MommyBlogger and her glue gun. I got skillz.) Our reveal included discussing various vacations, from Florida, to Chicago, and convincing him we were probably going to New York, as well as some cardboard, paint, and yep, a glue gun. The old iMac box holding Cinderella’s castle and a sign made it all clear for him. NOW we could get down to details!
I encourage all families to really talk about your travel plans with your youngsters. We discussed, over and over, what happens at the airport (standing in line/security checks/who to talk to if you get lost/separated), how to meet the characters, standing in line for rides/shows, getting photos, pin trading, and the importance of bathroom breaks, because they may not always be readily available. Before his first ever airplane trip last year, we practiced airport security using a doorway and a ruler as a ’scanning wand.’ So this was no sweat for him. Taking turns and waiting in lines was also relatively old hat because that’s standard procedure at any preschool, though there was the added excitement of meeting a tv celebrity.
Now “pin trading” was completely new to me. Tracey filled me in on this after I had discovered it on several blogs. Basically, there are “official” Disney collectible lapel pins. And any cast member with pins displayed will trade up to 2 pins with you. The pins are very expensive on property. The cheapest we saw was $6, for one pin. Sets of 4-7 started at $30. So we did what any budget minded family would do, and ordered 50 pins for $25 on eBay. The unforeseen issue was at first, TheBoy picked only 7 pins out of that 50 that he was willing to trade. Doh! We limited him to keeping only 25, and the rest would go with to MAYBE trade. He didn’t have to trade them, but we figured he’d see many MANY more he’d rather have. (And he did. I believe we only came home with 1 of our original 25.) And we did buy a few there, for gifts and for our own collection. But it was fun to see him light up when he’d see one on a cast member’s lanyard, and (sort of) open up to approach them to ask if he could trade.
We explained how the days at each park would go, that there would be lots of walking, perhaps we’d let him use the stroller some days, and that we’d be taking mid-day breaks for naps, to get out of the heat, AND so we could stay up past bed time. Each time we headed back to Pop Century for nappage, there was resistance. Not severe, but not happy about it. And each day, he passed out fairly quickly, and usually woke up ready to rock! One meltdown occurred waking him up from a long nap when he wasn’t ready. So we dealt with that one IN the hotel room, and just burned our shopping time at Downtown Disney, which was the worst venue of our trip anyway. (I do not recommend Downtown Disney at all. It’s an outdoor mall. BFD. Our food was good at Portabello’s, but the “townies” simply weren’t quite as friendly and courteous as park goers.)
Disney knows how to do customer service. I have heard stories of people being pissy to cast members at the park, but I never witnessed anything more than someone lying about a fastpass to be with their family. Every, and I mean EVERY cast member we spoke too or asked a question was extremely friendly and helpful. Even if they didn’t know the answer, they knew who would, and would walk me to that person, introduce me, explain my issue, and make sure I was good to go before they left me with them. We made same day reservations for Portabello’s, in 5 minutes, we got a fantastic Epcot exit strategy to avoid the front gate exodus, and never felt we were interrupting anyone’s day. Anyone even remotely involved with customer service, and that means pretty much everyone who has a job, could learn soooo much from a day at Walt Disney World.
But it’s not just Disney, nor TravelOnADream, that stepped up for our trip. Our friends at PiggybackRider really saved me and remedied my own neurosis fail. We use the Piggyback Rider all of the time. TheBoy loves it. So of course it was going to WDW! I made sure to have room in the suitcase for it. But I forgot a very important piece, the child safety harness. The straps that keep TheBoy from falling off backwards. Now, he has used it many many times, and I was fairly confident that he could “ride the bar” safely without it. But HisMother wasn’t having it, and she was probably right. Don’t be THAT guy who gives his son a head injury because he mucked up. Ok. Fine. But I was seriously pissed at myself for forgetting it(neurosis is like that). So I contacted PbR through Facebook and asked if they could ship a child harness to the hotel overnight. Sure they could, but they went one better. They had a local retailer, Orlando Stroller Rentals, who delivers rental strollers to the resorts every day (who happens to sell the PiggybackRider) bring one of theirs the very next morning. Both PbR and OSR reps were emailing and texting me with the status of the collaboration. Boom!
They were very gracious and told me not to worry about an invoice and settling up until after our vacation. Their efforts saved me overnight shipping charges which would have certainly doubled the cost of the harness. My ScorpioticNeurosis now quieted and the magic continued as planned, with a kiddo a head higher than everyone around him. He loves the PbR as much as I do. And it’s always a crowd favorite. I had several long conversations about it at each park, and my wife said there were many instances of pointing and “Hey! Check that out! That is so cool,” throughout the days. Thank you OSC and Piggyback Rider!!