I don’t like to go into debt to feed my Disney World addiction. I like to plan my trips with a good budget and stay within that budget. But this past trip, on our last day in the Magic Kingdom, I threw the budget out the window and don’t regret it a bit.
My daughter is 15 and as is typical for that age, thinks her mom and I are exceedingly stupid and at times embarrassing. When I ask how her day has been at school, I get a one-word answer – either “Good,” or “Awful.” When she wakes up in the morning, my “Good morning” is answered with “Unnhh.” She would much rather spend her time with her friends, either in person or over the cell phone, than with her family.
But when we go to Disney World, she loses five years of age and cynicism. She laughs with us, holds her mother’s hand to avoid getting separated in the crowds, holds my hand when I’m scared on a roller coaster, and hugs her brother. She smiles and gets excited at the opening of the parks. She engages with the rest of the family, and to use a cliché, it’s magical.
My wife and I were enjoying having our little girl back on this last trip. We were in Fantasyland, getting character autographs near the Castle, when my daughter asked about going to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. She had done this a couple of years ago at the Downtown Disney location. We considered it a one-time splurge, something to check off the list of things to do. We never dreamed that our teenager would want to be made over into a princess again. But when she expressed interest, I didn’t hesitate.
I broke out of the line and ran into Cinderella’s Castle.
“Any chance of getting a walk-up appointment?” I asked the lady at the check-in, thinking that there was no way we would be able to get in. “We have one in about ten minutes,” she replied. Perfect! I ran back outside, and as soon as we had the autographs, my wife and daughter went into the Boutique while my son and I did more manly things in Fantasyland, like sit on a bench and have a drink. Later, my daughter came out looking even more beautiful than usual and sporting a tiara and big smile, with glitter in her hair.
We continued our tour of the park. Since this was the last day of our vacation, we skipped our usual mid-day break. We sat down for lunch in El Pirate y el Perico, a favorite counter-service restaurant (when it’s open). Earlier in the trip, my wife had expressed interest in a pirate makeover from the Pirate’s League. Since I like to make my wife happy, and since a pirate makeover is only $30, I crossed the street to the Pirate’s League to try my luck again at a walk-up. Again, it was no problem.
As she was considering her options, my wife asked our 10-year old son if he’d like to get a pirate makeover, too. He thought about it, and I could see he was wanting to, but was hesitant. Noah turned to me and asked, “Would you like to get one, too?”
“Sure,” I replied. “That sounds fun.”
It wasn’t long before the three of us were in chairs being made up while my daughter, the princess, took pictures. I was amazed at the change in my son. He has an anxiety disorder. When someone who’s not a close friend or family member talks to Noah, he usually gives a one-word reply, with his head turned down or away. But he was engaged in full conversation with the pirate who was painting his face to look like a skull. When he finished and came over to my chair, he made up a story for the makeup artist about how I got the black eye and scar she was applying to my face.
Later in the afternoon, we came back to Adventureland for the Pirate Parade. There was my son, marching and singing with everyone else, in front of all the strangers in the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop. After the parade, all the children who had been made up that day got a special Pirate Tutorial from Captain Jack Sparrow. Noah will usually watch something like this, but when I’ve tried to get him to participate in Turtle Talk with Crush or the Jedi Training Academy, he refuses. This time, though, he was yelling out, “Yo ho!” while giving the pirate salute. He raised his hand to get up on stage with Captain Jack. And after it was all over, he mentioned possibly wanting to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, a movie he’s always considered too frightening.
We returned to our hotel at the end of the last day of our family vacation, three pirates and our captive princess, singing “Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me” and laughing as we relived our day. The makeup has long been washed off, but we’ll have the memories and pictures forever.
All told, we spent $171 on makeovers for our whole family. Was it in our budget? No. Was it worth it? Every penny.
Contributed by: Mark (NDD #102). Mark is our resident “how to save money while living the Disney Driven Life” expert.