Going to Disney World is like having a baby. If you know someone who has done it before you, the moment they find out you are expecting (to go), they are going to tell you 300 different things you just have to do to make the experience less painful, um, I mean, even more magical.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the advice is helpful and greatly appreciated, especially to us newbies. But just the fact so many people want to “help” by imparting their knowledge, in addition to the 9,000 blogs on the internet dedicated solely to this, it becomes quite clear that while it might be “the happiest place on Earth” it was clearly going to take a lot of hard work to get there.

I knew I was in trouble the moment my sister-in-law rattled off about five different things we DEFINITELY needed to take and then handed me a pack of moleskin and said, “Make sure you take this or you’ll get blisters on your feet. Lots and lots and lots of walking.”

I don’t think I even knew what moleskin was up until that point and what vacation requires it, for heaven’s sake? Sounds more appropriate for a hard labor camp!

Then I was advised, no, commanded by another friend that if I wanted to get into a certain restaurant or if I wanted my little girl to have a princess boutique experience (which of course I did!), I simply must call EXACTLY 180 days out at 7 a.m. Eastern Time (which happened to be 6 a.m. on a Saturday here) to book it. And thank God I followed her commandment because they were already pretty booked up when I finally got off hold at 6:21 a.m. CST.

And in addition to the dining and special excursion instructions, we received countless tips on how to work the FastPasses, stroller rental (yes, we need one even though our kids are 7 and 5), choosing the right backpack or shoulder bag for the park and utilizing all the planes, trains and monorails it takes to get around. Whew! It’s a lot to take in.

Yes, yes, I will admit this was not a trip I was particularly looking forward to. It should not be an additional full-time job to plan a trip to get away from your full-time job. And moleskin should never, ever, ever be part of the equation. But that’s just me.

And this was about the kids and making sure they made magical memories of the Jungle Cruise and Dumbo that would last a lifetime (or at least until they could magically convince someone else to pay for a new memory-making tour or take their own children there).

And they did have a wonderful time. We all did. I can’t lie. In between ride-food-water-and-bathroom line waiting, stroller parking and reclaiming and moleskin repositioning, there were moments of pure bliss we all shared together.

And also some moments that seemed pretty horrible at the time — ones that may have scarred our children for life. For instance, our 5-year-old, Ellen, who fearlessly rode all of the roller coasters and Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom like a champ, didn’t take as well to the flight simulator at Epcot, “Mission: Space.” Apparently the bumpy ride to the Red Planet was a little too realistic for her, and she screamed and cried real tears the whole “mission.”

“I don’t want to go to Mars,” she wailed. “I want to stay home.” I am not sure if she meant Earth or our house in this particular context, but I did not ask.

Parents of the year, right here, I tell ya!

Luckily, the healing process seems to have begun, so hopefully this will just become part of our family lore that we can all laugh about one day.

But even though we did enjoy ourselves despite the mission to Mars and another small tragedy we will just call “the unfortunate chocolate incident” and leave it at that, there were still some things I found a bit puzzling.

Like, there seems to be a dearth of grilled cheeses in a land designed for children. Is Mickey stingy with the cheese, or what’s the deal?

And there were lots and lots of people who weren’t children or on bachelorette parties or junior high school trips whose groups were wearing matching T-shirts. And these weren’t like little cheapy, family reunion-like T-shirts. They were monogrammed and embroidered in some cases. I did not know this was a thing. Where does one even find such attire?

And most puzzling of all, there were many couples there with really, really small children, even recently birthed babies. I am pretty sure one baby I saw had not yet rid himself of the remnants of his umbilical cord. And there were other people chasing multiple kids around who could barely walk. Whyyyyyyyyyy? I mean, who finds that happy or magical? They can’t ride anything; they will definitely not remember it, so why would any parents willingly do this to themselves? I just don’t get it.

I assume some of these infants were forced to come along because they had older siblings who needed to remember riding “It’s a Small World” so their childhood wouldn’t be ruined. But surely there was a Nana or an Aunt Millie that they could have shipped the tiny babies off to for the week. (If you said no, Gigi, I can assure you there is a special place in hell for you. And that place is called MagicKingdomWithaScreamingInfantLand.)

Even for those of you with horrible Nanas or MeeMaws, I am sure you poor people could have probably dropped your bundles of joy off at your local fire station with a note and there would have been at least one firefighter parent who would have understood and looked out after him or her for you while you were gone. Judging by the number of screaming 0 to 18-month-olds with urine-soaked diapers who were being chargrilled in the sun while kicking and screaming in their strollers, they would have had a better time at the fire station even if the captain would have fed them three-alarm chili all week and the Dalmatian bit them a couple times. Trust me!

But there were also things that were pretty fascinating, too.

I am fairly certain Trump needs to sign an executive order to just let the folks who run Disney World run the entire country. It is a well-oiled machine. The efficiencies are mind-boggling. And I am pretty sure they were tracking our every move and probably even our heart rates and cholesterol levels with our “MagicBands.” Imagine: If they erected one or two federally run mini-theme parks in every state with well-placed gift shops at the exits of each ride, we could probably solve all of our health care, public education and infrastructure issues with gift shop sales alone. The diehard Disney folks could travel state to state to get their passports stamped. It would be Yuge! Someone Tweet this to the president. I think I am onto something here!

Anyway, I am truly happy we went, and it was definitely worth all of the planning and hustling, and it is a trip our little family will always remember.

But I am equally happy we won’t be going back anytime soon, as both the kids expressed they would rather go somewhere new than venture back. Wooohoo! Did I write that out loud? I guess it must be genetic. Or maybe it was that mission to Mars.


Either way, if anyone needs to borrow some moleskin, I have a little left over.