Circa 2015, as a person big on family I was super excited about the time being spent in Orlando, Florida with my immediate and extended family. We had taken a few days to visit a few Disney theme parks. Our trip was going so well. My cousin Lisa and I rekindled our friendship, we stayed at a beautiful resort, I got to see family I had not seen in a while. It was the perfect family vacation. That is until I got lost in Disney Land.
It is important to note that one of my great fears in life was getting lost or separated from my family. I was so paranoid in my head about getting lost, I remember always making sure to be around at least one person from our Disney group. I could care less if anyone else got separated, as long as it was not me. What are the odds of your greatest fear happening, right?
It was the third day of our trip and we were headed to Epcot Park. I should have known the day was going to have glitches when we almost got arrested for not putting my toddler cousin in his car seat (you can take the people out of Naija but you cannot take Naija out of the people. We did not think it was necessary for a short distance car ride). Jesus took the wheel because we all begged (I am talking “in the name of God, please” type of begging) the officer to let us go and he did. Fast forward hours later, we were having the time of our lives at Epcot. We broke into smaller groups but later reconvened at the food court (which I LOVED because they had themes of various countries in the world and the variety was a lot.) We split up once again because we all wanted different countries’ cuisines. My group went over to New Orleans to sample some Beignets. Fast forward a few minutes later and one of my most traumatic moments happened as I went to use the bathroom. My instinct told me to convince someone to go with me, but no, I told myself I could handle going to the bathroom alone (follow your instincts people!). There was a bit of a line at the bathroom but I was used to it, did not think too much about it, I figured my family would wait for me (no man left behind, right? …… Wrong.)
I come out and I don’t find my family where I left them. I was in shock and denial. There was no way they could have left. Even if they did, they must not have gotten far. I look round, go back to the bathroom just in case they went looking for me but they were not there. I try not to panic (I could not really. I was in a state of shock). Realizing I had left my phone in my cousin’s bag, the only option was to head to the German food court where the other group ate at. They were not there. Now I started panicking! It is important to know that in 2015, I was a super shy, introverted girl who dreaded the thought of disturbing strangers for help so that was the last thing on my mind to do. So many things were racing through my mind that I decided to just sit down at one of the food courts and hope for the best. About thirty minutes past and the best had still not happened. I would say this is one of my first memories of actually applying street smartness to a situation (I was NOT Street smart at all).
I knew the last thing on our agenda for the day was to watch the firework show at the showcase plaza. It was getting dark and I couldn’t just sit there forever. I made my way to the map and spent quite a while figuring it out (I do not get maps! They are so complicated, they really should not be as complicated as they are). It got to a point where I had to put my fears aside and ask for help. I did meet a not-so-friendly lady who exhibited racist tendencies (or maybe she was just genuinely startled by the black teenager who headed her way visibly in a calm non-startling way). Thankfully there was a tour guide right beside her who I ended up asking for directions.
On getting to the showcase plaza, people were just assembling for the firework show. My family was not there yet as it was not too full for them to get lost in the crowd. I (smartly) waited at the start of the showcase plaza for them. A few minutes later, the whole group emerged and boy was I relieved! A part of me felt silly for panicking because what was the worst that could have happened?
The best part of this ordeal was the fact that nobody was looking for me! Apparently, my brother and cousin had also gone their own way and both subgroups assumed I was with each of them. I was just so glad and relieved to see familiar faces and enjoy the fireworks!
Here are some tips for a great Disney experience (just make sure you do not get lost like me)
- Go (and stay) with a group of people
- Have bathroom buddies
- Opt for a guide who would show you where and what to do
- Get a fast track pass if possible
- Share food portions (as many portions are huge and most times would be hard to finish)
- Come prepared if going with a toddler or infant
- Comfy shoes (of course)
- Take pictures (it is so beautiful and you would appreciate capturing the moments)
- If you’re a bit less adventurous, do not chicken on the rides. You would most likely end up having so much fun.
- If you are frugal, do not spend much at the gift shops. You are likely to find cheaper Disney related things at a random gas station store in Orlando.
Fun things that can be done at Disney World
Themed rides: The Disney parks are famous for their exciting rides. A few top ones include expedition Everest, tower of terror, splash mountain, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Kilimanjaro Safari’s, amongst others.
Sight see: The Park is themed and if you’re a Disney enthusiast like me, you would definitely appreciate the themed décor and references all around you.
Eat! : Disney world has a wide variety of character dining and themed bars to enjoy. Some of which include “Chef Mickey’s”, “Oga’s Cantina”, “Docking Bay 7”, “Satu’li Canteen”, “Cinderella’s Royal Table”, etc.
Firework shows: Nighttime at Disney means the beautiful and elaborate firework shows! A perfect way to end your day’s trip.
Magic Kingdom parades: The Magic Kingdom Parade is a big theatrical production at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Concerts and live meet & greets: this gives you a chance of meeting your favorite Disney characters one on one as well as seeing them in action at their concerts.