Disney World, Traveling, Electronic Devices, PSP, Nintendo DS, Gameboy, Space Mountain, Adventures, Family, Church, Indian Food, Smoothies, Waiting In Lines, Hope, Losing Things, Finding Things, Spirituality, Good Deeds, Tipping, Laptops
With Easter upon us and a renewed hope and outlook on life at heart, I was reminded of a resurrection experience that JP, our 13 y/o son, and I had a few years ago at Disney World. And it was neat to see last week in the Palm Sunday Advocate Vacation Travel supplement about the new Star Tours Disney attraction that we'll certainly have to check out, since we are great fans of Star Wars!
In late July of 2008, JP, our then 10 y/o, and I got to take a 6 day vacation to Disney World – just before his school was beginning. My wife and I had taken our other two children in the past to Orlando but this was to be JP’s first adventure there – and how true that turned out to be the case! While my wife was unable to attend this time, it gave a chance for us two boys to have some fun.
It was neat for Maria and I to convey to JP how great it was on one of our previous Disney trips (in the early 1990s) with the other children to stay in a tent at the Fort Wilderness Disney area. Besides being right on the grounds and in walking distance to the monorail, it was neat to be allowed to get in the parks a ˝ hour early as a perk to staying there. We only paid about $ 35/night for this wonderful place that included evening story telling/roasting of hot dogs and marshmallows around a campfire and a “drive-in” like outside movie.
Like most people, I spent some time planning out the trip for JP and me as best as possible to be sure to mark out what we hoped to be able to see. And going to Disney in July was probably one of the worst times to go as far as the size of crowds, but we had to take advantage of an opportunity that came up in between when JP was not in Summer Camp and when I had the chance to take some time off of work.
I was able to book a decent hotel not too far from the Disney Resorts for about $ 50/night for JP and me! While I rented a car for next to nothing to get around and spend some time going to the Cocoa Beach on the last day of our trip, I knew that we would be able to use the free bus transport to and from the Disney theme parks.
We were also excited to hear about the “Fast Pass” concept – which allowed one to better plan for getting to see or ride on popular attractions by checking in early to go with a timed entrance later that day through the faster lines that are set up next to the regular ones.
So we got to Orlando on a Wednesday afternoon and got settled in at our hotel and surroundings. I was so glad to find that the hotel had a restaurant with Indian cuisine, since I love curry! We spent every night on our returns to the hotel from Disney parks at that restaurant for snacks and for JP to play “RuneScape” and other computer games, since they had poor Wi-Fi in the hotel rooms. They named a non-alcoholic strawberry smoothie with ice cream the “John Paul,” since he enjoyed that every night! I was able to try so many variations of curry and other spicy Indian food.
On our first day at Disney, we spent the day at the Magic Kingdom. JP and I had our little backpacks for snacks and other travel day essentials. My knapsack and fanny pack were very helpful for some PBJ (Peanut Butter and Jelly) sandwiches and other goodies. I was reluctant to allow JP to bring his electronic stuff in his carry bag, but figured it would be helpful when we had to wait in those expected long lines.
We took the free hotel bus to Disney as everything seemed to go clockwork as we headed out in the morning to try to see some of the great sights including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hall of the Presidents, Splash Mountain and a Fast Pass to Space Mountain for around 5 PM. So after a great day going to those aforementioned rides – with some of the expected waits - as well as to other sites like the Enchanted Tiki Room, we looked forward to the fast Space ride; we had heard that it has a speed of about 50 mph!
We quickly got on board to the ride as I carefully put my knapsack under my seat and hooked it onto one of my legs. I thought JP had heard me about carefully securing his electronic bag but was unsure as all the riders were excitedly screaming! We flew off on the ride and had a blast as we took those fast turns but I could faintly hear JP trying to tell me something about half way through the ride – which I thought was a “Wow” kind of yell.
As we exited the ride, JP hurriedly told me that his carry bag had flown off during the Space Mountain ride. We quickly told the Disney staff about the situation, and were told to contact someone from the customer service team at the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom. JP was understandably bummed out. He lost his PSP, Game Boy and other electronic games. It was hard to do more rides but we did a few more before heading back to catch the last bus to the hotel.
The Space Mountain staff told us that we would have to wait till the next day for a status on the lost items, since they couldn’t turn the lights on brightly at the ride till the end of the day. We went to register about the incident and hoped to still be able to make our hotel bus connections, as it was getting late. So we headed to the Transit area and just missed the bus! Since a cab would’ve been very high, we got directions and used the regular city transit after getting directions.
Unfortunately, I missed our bus stop and we got lost! After some unsuccessful flagging down of cabs and almost getting hit by the very busy Orlando traffic, we were able to finally get a cab to pick us up. We were so glad to sit, so I quickly took off my knapsack, and we rested on the fairly short trip to our hotel. After giving the cab a tip and hugging JP in thanksgiving as the cab was taking off, I realized that I had left my knapsack in the cab! While I didn’t have a whole lot of things in it, I did have in it some cash, my camera, maps, books, etc. And I had no receipt from the cab and couldn’t remember the cab #. Now both JP and I were bummed out!
So we settled in at the Indian restaurant that adjoined our hotel and I shared with our waitress our predicament. She made some calls, but we ran out of leads. JP got to play RuneScape and other games on my laptop, so he had some distractions. After a few beers with some spicy curry delicacies, as well as JP enjoying the delicious chicken fingers and the “John Paul” non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri drink with ice cream that was named for him, we resigned ourselves to hit the sack to what Disney adventures we could try the engage in the next day. Just after I turned off the lights and we got into our beds, the phone rang. The cab driver had come back to the hotel and returned my knapsack without anything missing! I gave him a well deserved tip.
We went to Disney’s MGM/Hollywood Park the next day and first went to the Visitor’s Place for a status update on JP’s electronic devices. Unfortunately, there had not been anything turned in overnight. Despite that, we kept our hopes up and did have a fairly good time doing rides like Star Tours, The Great Movie Ride, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Lights, Motors, Action – Extreme Stunt Show; the latter was our favorite! Sure, JP couldn’t help but agonize about the chance that he lost all of his games and that if they were found, they would likely be busted. At the end of the day, there was still no trace of his belongings. Like previously, we retreated back at Tabla’s Indian Cuisine at the end of the day – I also let JP play some at the Arcade they had there.
On the following morning, before we headed to the Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach, I called to the Visitor’s Station and received some startling news – they had found JP’s bag! So you can bet what our first stop was that morning, as JP anxiously awaited to check on the condition of his electronic toys. We arrived at the Station and patiently awaited our turn in the long line of others who were doing the same thing. As they say, “Misery Loves Company!”
So before JP opened his sack, I assured him that we would eventually be able to replace most of the items over time. We both couldn’t believe it when he tried all of his games and devices and not a one of them was broken! We carefully brought those items back to my rental car and then had a blast that day doing The Oasis Exhibits, Finding Nemo - The Musical, Kilimanjaro Safaris, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain and the rest of the trip! We spent the next day partly at Epcot to see Reimagined – Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Mission Space, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and then went to Cocoa Beach for the afternoon. At the beach, JP and I had so much fun with the bigger waves than he was accustomed to on the Gulf Coast!
When we attended Mass on Sunday at the beautiful Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, we had many prayers of thanksgiving, including me getting back my knapsack and JP getting all of his electronic devices back in one "piece/peace." “When you wish upon a 'Star Tour,' Makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires (lost items and meaning in life) Will come to you!” Thank you, Lord, for giving us abundant resurrected life! (John 10:10)
Star Trek, another great sci-fi show with deep spiritual meanings, like Star Wars also gave some glimpses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ as in the "Bread and Circuses" episode broadcast on March 15, 1968. This show pertained to a planet in the FGC 892 System that seemed to have parallels with Earth per a Roman Empire mixed with the 1960s era but also with puzzling evidence of "worshipers of the Sun." As Uhura, the Starship USS Enterprise's Communications Officer, explained to Captain Kirk, McCoy and Spock, "Don't you understand? It's not the sun up in the sky. It's the Son of God." Kirk replies with a note of jubilant humility: "Caesar ... and Christ; they had them both. And the Word is spreading only now."
So whatever space trip we may be on in our journey of life and death, may we look to the Light of the Son of God to guide us - especially when we are lost - to be found in His Everlasting Presence.