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Everything I Wanted to Know about Life, I Learned at Disney World

By James R. Warda


Sitting on a bench at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, more than halfway to REM sleep.
It was just after midnight and Matthew, my 12-year-old, was riding the Goofy’s Barnstormer rollercoaster again. I had brought him to the park after a late dinner to take advantage of that night’s extended hours – and to spend some time alone with him. Unfortunately, I was wearing down, way down, victim to the long, hot Florida day.
As the coaster turned the final bend and headed back to the station, I saw Matthew waving and smiling. Then, he was running past me back to the ride’s entrance, asking as he ran if he could go “Again, just one more time!” and not waiting for an answer.
Yes, I’ve learned that “Again!” is a child’s favorite word, especially when it comes to candy, ice cream and carnivals – and, most especially, when it comes to Disney. They hop off the swirling, whirling rides and run straight from the Exit back to the Entrance. While the adults stagger out, looking for handholds, benches and excuses to leave.
Later, as the Magic Kingdom got closer to closing and so did my eyes, Matthew’s “one more time” turned into eight – until it was time to go. While walking back to the monorail, I asked Matthew what it would be like if the park never closed. His eyes lit up as he said, “I could ride all night!”
I want to remember how to be like that again.
Maybe Matthew will teach me.

And Walt, too.

Copyright 2010, James R. Warda. All rights reserved. James R. Warda, author of Where Are We Going So Fast?, is a Speaker, Writer and Workshop Presenter on finding meaning in our moments. He has written and spoken for Chicken Soup for the Soul and the Chicago Tribune.

We welcome James to the Disney4Dads family and look forward to many more stories like this to come. Be sure to comment above and give him your own welcome.

This home of ours is buzzing with anticipation for an annual event that is just around the corner. Now I am certainly not one to rushtime’s passing, but let’s face it…with the hectic schedules of today’s families, time flies. Our departure will be here sooner than later. The calendar with the proposed daily events is hanging in the kitchen as inspiration to make good choices with our expenses until we go. Caitlyn already has an envelope with her savings stored safely away.

We are excited about a million things regarding this trip. We have done some improvements to our motorhome inside and out for starters. One weekend was spent on a growing checklist of items that needed our attention or we felt would be a benefit for future trips. The outer compartments got a nice fresh coat of paint and some aluminum trim along the bottom to help with road salt and rust. All of the compartments also got emptied, vacuumed and reorganized. My handy husband Jerry made some great dividers for those little things that can get lost in such a large area. Some 2 x 4’s, a chop saw and a screw gun can certainly make organization a bit easier. In our golf cart trailer he utilized some nice handles and cable cuffs for securing a variety of camping paraphernalia to the walls. Jerry also constructed and welded a bike rack to mount to the beams in the trailer. Yes I am so darn blessed to have a handy husband! And even more blessed to have a husband that understands my compulsion for organization. (I hear your chuckle now Grandma Tag-Along)

We have begun our tradition of revisiting some moments whereby a situation could have gone better if we’d only done this or that. I think it’s great that we are all open and honest and share our feelings, not only of the great moments but also of the annoying or frustrating times. This really clears the air for a better vacation. We came up with a great shower system since there will be 5 of us on this trip and using a motorhome shower is by far a different experience than being at home with as much water as you need  coming out of the showerhead at a constant rate – not on and off to conserve as in the RV. So, depending on the upcoming days plan, some may shower at night and some in the morning, maybe in the motorhome or perhaps at the lovely Fort Wilderness showers. Hey, if it works out or not, it’s an attempt to rectify at least. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again, right?!

Something I definately recommend is a tentative plotting of the parks and attractions you’d like to see and do. Having this to refer to is helpful for the planning process and can save you some money. This trip we almost purchased more park passes than we could use in the amount of spare days we had (after all the other things we want to squeeze in). It is so very tempting though, to add on Disney Park days as they are so much less expensive the more you add. Again, because I am obsessive, I made that calendar I told you about and used images for the potential plan of the day. Here’s a mock one because anyone will tell you that you should not post vacation information ;-)

Well Disney friends. That’s all for now. Until next time….

Well Disney friends, we are getting so excited in this household as we have begun the countdown until our next Disney vacation. We began hashing out our lists. We have the “must-do”  and ”could live without”  lists.   I won’t tell you which list Animal Kingdom was on but I figured I’d pull this article out of the closet for those who missed it. As you’ll read, I LOVE Aninmal Kingdom. Let me know what Disney Parks will make your must-do list on your next trip.

Let me start this right off by saying that Animal Kingdom is the park at the top of my favorites list. Yes, there are times when you visit and sadly the array of beasts out and about is dismal. But, many more times are the fantastic encounters with many a furry friend. I could just get lost watching the gorillas interact with each other. I can’t tell who is sizing who up, us or them. My son Jacob will tell you he enjoys watching them eat certain things they ate once already (check out his article under the Kidz Corner tab). Me, I will always be in amazement gazing at all the primates – so many species. The lemurs and cotton-top tamarins could keep me entranced for hours - that is until reality sets in and the family is tugging at me to move on.

On our most recent visit, the kids were thrilled because we finally had time (ok, made time) to trek over to DINOLAND U.S.A. You see, it is not my favorite area of Animal Kingdom. Wait, I have to back up,  it WAS not my favorite area…that has now changed. It’s moved up a couple rungs on my ladder. I had a blast chasing Cait and Jake around in the Boneyard area. The tunnels, the slides, the nets, the caves – I just loved it!!! Oh I bet  we covered every square inch of territory playing hide and seek and sliding and running. Please, please, if you have not done so in the past, go there with your kids. (The grown up one too).

One caveat is that they both wanted to play all the “wonderful” carnival type games while we were in Dinoland (quickly overruled by Dad once we found out the extra cost to play them). And of course it didn’t help that we chose the picnic tables centered in the carnival area to sit and have our packed lunches. Oh well, life is full of lessons to learn though right?  Well, I cured the anti-carnival game hum-drums with a well recieved trip back to the Boneyard after lunch. Sometimes you have to stop and give yourself over to an new experience to find those special magic places that hide  in all the parks at Disney.

Until next time…..Melissa

With all of the end of the school year goings on, it sure has been busy. We are looking forward to the upcoming holiday weekend as are many of our friends and family. As nice as it is to enjoy an extra day off for some of us, we must also remember WHY we have that holiday. Take some time to reflect on members of the military whose lives were lost. I was reminded of Sea World as I reflected on Memorial Day. When we saw Believe,  the members of the audience were asked, at the beginning of the show, to stand up if they served or had a family member in the military so that they may be honored. It was a heart wrenching moment as 85% of the crowd were at their feet.  It indeed brought many to tears.

Next month, we will be visiting a wonderful aquarium and are so excited to do so. This got me thinking…hope the smoke smell does not bother you…how the heck is Sea World doing these days? I have to tell you we enjoyed our last visit several years ago. As much as I love to admire the sea life, that darn Sea World mime is hysterical. The mimes actually have a fan page on Facebook now.

It’s very fun and innocent to view the world from a child’s eyes as many of you well know. You’re thinking, where’s she going with this, right? Well, one of our son’s favorite things is scat, yup, scat. Animal’s eliminate it and he loves seeing it. Might be bold and a little TMI (too much info) but hey, he’s not touching it! Second to scat would be anything else gross on the ground. Hence, the picture to your right. This would be the remnants of an ice cream cone that was knocked off by a looming fine feathered friend. Don’t worry, I’ll get back on topic in a moment. I just enjoy a good bit of humor occasionally, well frequently really…

Blue Horizons is an immensely colorful show that we all enjoyed. Yes, I loved it more than the kids but they were younger when we made our first visit to Sea World. I enjoy birds, always have. I feed a great deal of birds at home and I get so excited when a new bird stops by my drive thru. Face it, birds don’t really need us to feed them. We are a quick stop, a Seven 11 if you will. Anyway, the Blue Horizons show features birds, and acrobats and dolphins…beautiful costumes too. I would say to go and see it at least one time if you visit Sea World.

The Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island  show is a wonderfully corny, funny and silly show. These remarkable animals are most often right on cue but when an ever so infrequent miscue occurs, it adds so much more humor which generates a ton of laughter from the audience. Again, this show was amusing. My son, Jacob would call it predictable but we realize we’re not on Broadway here people. It’s another don’t miss show.

Of course you can’t talk about Sea World and not mention Believe. We were able to take in a show that featured the late Dawn Brancheau. There was certainly evidence that she held more than a job at Sea World. That was her passion. So many were saddened by her tragic death. I don’t really want to go on about that but rather share with you how much we loved that show. Many times throughout the show, tears were flowing from my eyes like the Falls of Niagara. I’d love to hear about the differences in the show from anyone who has seen it prior to the changes recently made. How does it compare? Is there still a large audience or has attendance dropped. Tell us your thoughts and help out our readers who may be planning a trip to Sew World after they go to Disney World of course!

On a final note to end this with humor…I call this one…”OHH, OOOOOOOHH, WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS IT???” Take notice or the pursed lips if you would.

Until next time…Melissa