Shannon S. (NDM#174) (5 Posts)

Shannon Sullivan, creator of MeltdownFreeDisney, is an early intervention specialist for children with special needs and writes about assistive technology, parenting and education by day (or whenever the house is quiet). She has 2 young princes (or pirates) and lives in the metro DC area. She is NDM # 174.


My husband has been asking me to write about what happens when things go wrong on a trip to Disney. Just as I like to cover my head with a blanket if I am forced to go off-property during a vacation, I generally choose to discuss more pleasant things than little speed bumps along International Drive.

However, we underestimated the amount of time it would take to get from point A to point B on one “non-park day” and almost missed the even that was to be the “build the day around” activity. It was late breakfast at Cape May Café, with characters.

We were coming from Caribbean Beach Resort and planned to take the bus to Hollywood Studios, walk down to the dock by Epcot, and take a leisurely boat ride to the Yacht Club.  I was told we could have gone through Epcot to save time, but this was not an option for us, since we had not budgeted park passes for the day.

With well-rested toddlers in tow, the fact we missed several Studios-bound buses was not so stressful. I was happy for the six busloads of people headed to Magic Kingdom, even if they were all in a row.

Similarly, our wait for the next boat was a pleasant one, as we interviewed the waterfowl we saw along to the way to see if they knew Donald. In giving thanks where it is due, I must say that my kids did NOT fall in the water as we waited.  A genuine concern, as my kids have fallen into potholes, rivers, lakes, and once, a cactus display, at Christmastime, in Washington, DC.

I realized that my overall lack of stress was due to three facts.

1. I was not in control of the transportation system

2. I had not promised my kids they’d meet the characters that I knew were waiting across the lake, so they would not know what they were missing.

3. I wasn’t actually wearing a watch.

In total, it took us 95 minutes.  I knew this, because they were closing down breakfast when we arrived.  My husband said, “Try.”

A challenge.  A goblet was thrown down. I did what any good mother would do.  I did not bargain. I did not cry. I picked the cuter of my two kids (at that moment) and put him on my hip, and quietly begged to say hello to Pluto before they turned us, who have very low expectations of what breakfast should be and will eat any leftover eggs we find in the chafing dish, away.

The manager whose name was in the letter I wrote, let us in anyway, and we got a coveted group shot with our friends Donald, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto.  Donald did, it turns out, know those ducks by the dock, and he had to go meet them for lunch.

My rookie mistake was that I picked route that was scenic, and optimistic, when there are choices.  I took the route that, according to the app I know have, takes 42 minutes.  If I had taken the bus to Epcot and walked, it would have been 28 minutes.  Adding to my shame is the fact that we DID have a car. If we’d driven, it would have taken us under 10 minutes from door to door.

If you do carry an iPhone or an iPod Touch, I suggest you download the app from Our Laughing Place called Transportation Wizard, so you can come up with a B plan, in the event that someone has a breakthrough in their potty training that day, a member of your group needs some sugar ASAP, or you find out the hard way that boats (or trains, or buses) are too smelly, fast, slow, windy or bumpy for someone in your circle.

If you are a super star planner, and you just may be, the Transportation Wizard is online, so you can take notes before you go, as well.

Having a backup plan won’t pave every highway and byway, but it just may help you choose a better path, even if that means “for next time.”


Contributed by: Shannon S. (NDM#174).  Shannon is our resident special needs specialist and parenting expert as well as creator of Meltdown Free Disney.

2 thoughts on “GETTING THERE CAN BE LESS THAN HALF THE FUN

  1. Well I know the potential pitfalls of Disney Transportation. But I also love the lack of stress included with parking your car at the resort and never visiting it again until the end of your trip. Sounds like you made the best of the situation you were in!

  2. Well I know the potential pitfalls of Disney Transportation. But I also love the lack of stress included with parking your car at the resort and never visiting it again until the end of your trip. Sounds like you made the best of the situation you were in!

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