Learning My Lessons The Hard Way

James D. (NDD#152) (8 Posts)

A happily-married father of 4 children, James is a lifelong Disney nut. Ever since he found a map of the Magic Kingdom on his aunt's refrigerator over 25 years ago, he has been obsessed with planning trips to Walt Disney World, whether those trips were for himself or for others. This obsession led to the founding of MousePlanning.com which provides concierge-level custom itineraries for people traveling to Walt Disney World.


The other week I had a chance to do something I haven’t done since 1992.  I went to Walt Disney World by myself.  That’s right.  No wife.  No kids.  No taking my mother.  Just me.  The trip was an eye-opener for me and I learned some important lessons.

Lesson #1: Butter up your spouse before you ask for permission.

How did I manage to convince my Reluctant Disney Wife to let me go?  Ah!  Therein lies my genius.  Her younger sister (who lives on the other side of the country) graduated last May, and I made sure that my wife was able to visit her for a few days.  Of course, my wife was ecstatic to get a few days away from me and the kids.  While she was still smiling, I innocently asked if she thought it would be okay  to go to Disney World for a few days for the 40th anniversary celebrations.  She considered it for a few seconds and then declared, “Sure. Why not?”  Within 4 hours I had my flight booked and sent an email to my Disney travel agent.

Lesson #2: Continue to butter up your spouse up until the minute you leave for the airport.  Don’t mention all the fun you’re planning on having.  Don’t talk about all the friends that you’re going to meet up with.  And do not let your spouse know that you organized things like going with those friends on the Grand 1 for a Wishes cruise.

Of course I caught some flak from the kids when they found out, but I expected that. Really, everything was fine.  Or at least I thought it was until the night before my trip.  I was all packed and ready for bed extra early because I was waking up at 3:45am in order to catch an early flight.  My wife seemed a little upset, so I inquired as to what was wrong.  I spent the next hour and fifteen minutes listening to her spew forth vitriol about how I cared for nothing but this solo trip I was going on.  It seemed that everything I did wrong the two weeks prior to the trip, whether it was letting the kids watch television on a school night or forgetting to turn on the dishwasher, had its root in this solo trip to The World.  Fortunately a thunderstorm came along and the cat started meowing to be let in, providing me with the opportunity to end the one-sided conversation.

Lesson #3: Give no indication to your family back home that you’re having fun.

While I only ended up getting two hours of sleep (and would not get any sleep at all until 22 hours later), I still managed to do all the things that a good Neurotic Disney Dad is supposed to do while he’s away — post frequent status updates to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, as well as texting pictures of his adventures to the wife and kids.  Imagine my surprise when I found that my wife considered my frequent updates to be “gloating.”  That’s right, friends.  She wasn’t living vicariously through my tweets.  She wasn’t even thinking, “well, at least I know where he is and who he is with.”  She was thinking, “That scruffy-looking nerf herder is really rubbing it in my face!”

Lesson #4: Don’t expect gifts, even good gifts, to get you out of the dog house with your Reluctant Disney Spouse.

Finally, the day came for me to depart The World and return home.  Like any good Neurotic Disney Dad, I brought home souvenirs for the family.  I even remembered to follow my wife’s instructions. “If you bring home anything, it needs to be something that will be used. No more junk that just sits on a shelf!”  T-shirts for all the kids, a Coonskin Cap for the son, a magic wand for the younger daughter, a music CD for the older daughter… and a Food & Wine Festival Cookbook along with a Mickey-shaped carabiner keychain for the wife.  (Yes, she loves to cook.) Everyone was happy with their gifts… but my wife’s anger was not appeased. In fact, it’s been about 3 weeks and I’m still on her bad side even though I am sending her on a cruise to Alaska with her sister next summer!

Contributed by: James Dolan (NDD#152) James is the DDL Travel Tips Blogger. He is also the creator of Mouse Planning.

James D. (NDD#152)

A happily-married father of 4 children, James is a lifelong Disney nut. Ever since he found a map of the Magic Kingdom on his aunt's refrigerator over 25 years ago, he has been obsessed with planning trips to Walt Disney World, whether those trips were for himself or for others. This obsession led to the founding of MousePlanning.com which provides concierge-level custom itineraries for people traveling to Walt Disney World.

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