Disasters at Disneyland – Laugh and Learn

Many people know my family as a comedy of errors and I make no efforts to hide our insanity.

So, today I thought I would share some of our disasters flying to Disneyland, visiting Disney World and our experiences at the parks in general.

I hope you learn a little and laugh a lot.

#1 Disaster:

En route to our first Disneyland trip in 2003, Delta Airlines spilled jet fuel on every bit of our luggage, ruining everything we had packed for our 11 day tour of southern California. I had spent months buying clothes for 5 theme parks, professional photos, swim suits, etc, etc. It was our first family vacation and we were in full panic mode.

#1 Solution:

The airline reimbursed us – after a day of begging negotiating – a decent amount of money to replace some of what we bought and we settled up with the remainder months later after returning home. Still had to spend a day plus replacing everything we lost and there are some things you simply cannot replace – like perfectly broken in Birkenstocks. (A moment of silence, please.)


#2 Disaster:

While sitting with my sister and pre-teen son, Carter, we witnessed the most epic make-out session that (I hope) has occurred on a Disney property. The back of Toontown seems to provide the safest distance for a young, anxious couple looking for some alone time. However, they are nowhere near alone, as plenty of spectators were mere feet away. Awkward doesn’t cover this one.

#2 Solution:

Beware of teenagers in Toontown.


#3 Disaster:

While celebrating Christmas at the parks with Aunt Caroline, my 8 year old son enjoyed a Hershey bar about the size of his head while on a break. Caroline and I sneak in as much sister time as possible during hotel breaks and since the kids were quiet with their Christmas candy, we were in the next room catching up and talking about boys like sisters do.

Upon walking into Adventureland, Jack turned green and I somehow saw this in the dark and took swift action, directed him away from people and into landscaping. We now refer to a certain palm tree as the “Chocolate Tree” since Jack threw up into that flower bed and onto the tree. Side note: Sorry to the family sitting on the bench right next to us.

#3 Solution:

Beware of my family at the park.


#4 Disaster:

My daughter, Lainey, had a meltdown so epic that people started video taping her with their phones. She screamed bloody murder, thrashed around the stroller and eventually slithered out of it. Caroline stood in front of the scene, hoping to deter any more spectators than necessary and certainly the video crew.

#4 Solution:

Try to prevent meltdowns by knowing how to deal with disappointment at Disneyland. Study some other mistakes I’ve made. Beware of Lainey at the park.


#5 Disaster:

After arriving early to meet Anna and Elsa in the spring time, our annual passes didn’t work upon entering because of the Target credit card fiasco at that time. (Our account number changed and I forgot to update it with DLR.)

We had to scramble with a cast member to allow us in and promise to fix it later. They checked our history, saw we were long time pass holders and granted entry. We still made it in time for a mere 15 minute wait to see the dynamic duo and then……..Elsa wasn’t there.

#5 Solution:

The pass issue was a unique situation, so a solution isn’t totally necessary there. Regarding Anna and Elsa, be prepared. Your only hope in seeing them is serious preparation and planning since the return ticket system started.

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#6 Disaster(s):

Twice, while entering the parks (literally, just past the turn stiles), I’ve had a pair of flip flops break. There are no repairs for flip flops, so I had to purchase new shoes. Once, I headed gleefully to Frontierland to buy my beloved Minnetonka Moccasins (that they no longer carry). Another time, I headed to Downtown Disney to buy some Sanuks.

#6 Solution:

I don’t recommend packing extra shoes because this was just a (twice occurring?) fluke, but you should know a bit about Downtown Disney in case you have a similar wardrobe malfunction.

Side note: The husband now thinks this is a clever way for me to buy new shoes.


#7 Disaster:

On our mega-Disney World trip in July, we had 5 days planned with the help of WDW Prep School, of course. Started day 1 at Animal Kingdom and returned to the hotel to nap and then were slated to visit another park that evening. Upon waking, Aunt Caroline got tangled up in the bedding that fell to the floor and flew head first into the bureau holding the TV, resulting in paramedics, an ER trip, a rather impressive gash in her forehead and 18 stitches.

#7 Solution:

Take good care of everyone in your group, provide ample time for rehabilitation and then rally to make the best of your trip. Tie a cute scarf to cover the bandage and return to the parks. My sister is a rock star!


#8 Disaster:

During the same WDW trip, I myself had a meltdown leaving Hollywood Studios after my three darling children started acting like the worst possible version of themselves, complaining about needless things and acting ungrateful. I completely lost my cool and spent the 20 minute drive back to the hotel mimicking a breakdown only Clark Griswold could appreciate.

#8 Solution:

Deep breaths. Anxiety meds. Maybe a cocktail upon arrival back to the hotel and some distance from your party.


#9 Disaster:

Finally, we arrived at the end of our epic Disney World trip and I had planned to attend the last Electric Light Parade, that was 30ish years in the making for me, as I saw it as a child at Disneyland. I wanted to end on a good note and this was my dream departure. We had reserved seating and were ready to go, when 5 minutes prior to start time, my son had a bathroom emergency. I raced to the bathroom, helped him, and swiftly dropped my new Iphone in the toilet.

After drying what I could, grabbing paper towels and nearly sprinting back to see this finale to our trip, I might have actually jumped over the rope barrier with a hurdle (I ran track in high school) while my son scurried under. Made it just in time.

#9 Solution:

I’ve got nothing for you here.


Some Final Thoughts:

I’ve screwed it all up, too. You can prepare, pack, plan, and perfect the ideal Disney trip and there will still be disasters. I hope you can laugh at each one in time and remember your trip with a smile.


Got a disaster of your own to share? Find me on Facebook. I want to hear it!

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  1. On our most recent WDW trip in September, we finally arrived at the hotel after over 14 hours in the parks… only to be locked out of our room. For 4 hours. That was a real disaster!

    On that same trip, we accidentally put all our FastPass times in my phone on MOUNTAIN time, our home timezone, instead of Eastern time. Imagine our shock when we showed up for our first FastPass of the day at Spaceship Earth and discovered that it had expired… three hours ago! Whoops! We raced across the park to catch the last 10 minutes of our Soarin’ FastPass and were 15 minutes late to our lunch reservation at Via Napoli, which they graciously held for us. What a disaster!

  2. Oh Sweetie! Your entire post has me smiling and cackling out loud! And realizing that I could also write an entire blog post about the disasters that have happened on our own 3 trips to DL/DW!!! There is something totally baffling about the fact that of all of our vacation trips – these are the one’s where all the disasters occur! Yet, we are gluttons and keep going back for more (we have another trip planned in September of this year!) I was so inspired by the disasters on our DW trip that I suggested writing it as a blog post to one of the main travel guide sites I follow (they published another article suggestion I made, when I didn’t have any photos of the actual disasters we accrued!)
    I would so love to sit down with you and tell you sometime! I’m sure we’d have a great laugh!

  3. Those Disney hotel rooms are dangerous! My son was supposed to napping on our Trip last May and dropped a toy off the bed and when he reached down to grab it he fell and hit his head on the night stand! The front desk offered to call us an ambulance but I decided to patch him up myself with a first aid kit I had packed. (At most he would have needed 4-5 stitches and I didn’t want to traumatize him with an ER trip 1000 miles away from home) Then we headed into the Magic Kingdom for dinner and the Electrical Parade.

    It also thunder stormed most of our first afternoon there closing a lot of rides and cancelling the afternoon parade making causing my son to cry and ask if we could go back to CT.

    I guess it happens to all of us!

    • Those Disney hotel rooms are dangerous, how? Because they have nightstands? Um, you are aware that nearly all hotel rooms have nightstands?