The world is coming to an end. That must be it. There is no other reason to explain the strange feeling that has suddenly overcome me. I am afraid to go to Walt Disney World. Surely it is a sign of the apocalypse.
Now that all my weeks of hyper-focused energy have landed us a stay at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, I am paralyzed by the thought of actually going. This happening is absolutely bizarre, but there is some method to my madness.
We entered the realm of “special dietary needs” years ago, and it has imprisoned us ever since. Our children haven’t eaten a meal prepared outside of our kitchen in two years. And since their entire diet is composed of perishable, whole food, this has meant that we have never been away from home for more than 18 hours. It has not been easy. It has not been pleasant. But my children have made great strides in recovery because of it, and we have grown accustomed to it. Now I realize that I am terrified to go outside of these boundaries that have been a means of protection for so long.
There are only a handful of specialty meats, fruits, and vegetables that my children can eat. Most of them can’t be found in grocery stores. It has taken me years to search out healthy, organic farms that raise meats and grow food that my children can eat without negatively reacting, and none of them are located in Orlando. What if we run out of food while we are there? What if the food goes bad en route? What if we have a dietary infraction and undo all the progress we have made over the years? What if I forget to pack a critical supplement? What if we need our specialized doctor? What if Mickey is ill-equipped to handle the delicate natures of my angelic spawn and the frazzled nerves of their bewildered Neurotic Disney Mom?
These are not the only things to consider. The preparations of this trip will be the likes of which I have never seen before. As I gnaw on my fingernails, I acknowledge that I was not raised to vacation this way. I have no experience as a traveling “special needs” mom. The modern conveniences of drive-thrus, restaurants, and pre-packaged foods have always played a dominant role in my vacation training, and I feel quite out of my element as I look to what lies ahead. A normal trip to Walt Disney World already necessitates a great degree of detailed planning, and this “abnormal” trip will require even more. Since I cannot avail myself of the common luxuries that most utilize when on vacation, I will have to do a lot of “out of the box” thinking in order to avoid disaster. The pressure is intense. What if I am caught unprepared? What if I fail? What if my family is permanently damaged in some way by my inability to rise to the occasion?
The “what ifs” won’t leave me alone. They attack my imagination from every side and grow more horrific in nature. The last fingernail is ravished, and my cuticles become the focus of my crazed oral fixation. I envision a hundred dreadful Disney scenarios in my mind. Each one features starvation, a fatal bacterial infection, a life-impairing accident, an acquired disease, or a brain-eating amoeba. I can’t do this. We can’t go. We will never survive.
My fingertips have transformed into bloody stumps and no longer satisfy my need to nibble. I look at my toenails and wonder if it is possible to somehow bring them to my gnashing teeth. I am in between a rock and a hard place. I must get to Walt Disney World for my 10th anniversary, but I cannot go because it may kill my family. As I look for a corner to curl up in the fetal position and bang my head, I realize that I have somehow lost the endearing “Disney” factor of my esteemed title. I no longer resemble a Neurotic Disney Mom. I have regressed to the state of just Neurotic Mom. The revelation is enough to scare me more than my Disney paranoia. I need professional help. It is time to call Bill.
Bill, being the knowledgeable Disney man that he is as well as a father of a kid with ”special needs”, is uncommonly compassionate while I expel the barrage of irrational notions in my mind. He gently reminds me that his son’s medical condition is akin to the one my children have, and his son has survived every year that they’ve gone to Disney. He declares that not once has his son ever contracted the West Nile Virus from a rabid mosquito roaming Lake Buena Vista, and he is doubtful that mine will either. I find comfort in his soothing words and begin to relax.
As Bill expertly executes his therapy session, he even goes so far as to suggest that my family could possibly dine in a restaurant due to Disney’s expertise in accommodating dietary needs. I gasp in horror at the thought. Going to Walt Disney World is one thing, but entrusting the preparation of my children’s food to another individual is an entirely different matter! It took me a great many months to get a handle on all the particulars of this restricted diet. I find it incredulous that a chef who is preparing meals for an entire restaurant simultaneously can give the meals of my little digestively-challenged kiddos the specialized attention they need. But Bill is insistent, and begs me to at least consider the notion. With this, he passes on the contact information for Brenda who is the primary supervisor of the “special dietary needs” department in Disney. I am doubtful that I will actually reach out to this woman because I have no intention of allowing anyone else to take on the serious responsibility of feeding my children, but I record the information “just in case.”
I thank Bill profusely for his time and patience, and I hang up the phone. He has gone above and beyond his call of duty as Disney Vacation Club reservationist. It is certain that providing Neurotic Disney Mom counseling for panicked vacation planners is not in his job description; however, he did not shy away from the task. In fact, he managed it quite smoothly and took it in stride.
I am feeling more at ease about the monstrous planning project that I face. In fact, I can see that taking on this new level of Disney vacation preparation is an absolute necessity. Clearly, in the last 24 hours something tragic has occurred in my composition to cause such Disney dysfunction. It is absolutely unacceptable for a Neurotic Disney Mom to be Disney-phobic, and this must be corrected. So for the betterment of my own mental health, I resolve to move forward with the trip and push through this temporary malaise to find my zippity-doo-dah, Neurotic Disney self once more.
*Contact information for Walt Disney World special dietary requests: