A Disastrous Day At Disney Yields A Special Souvenir I Hope I Never Get Again

Sorry for the extended absence from the blog this week.  I’ll share with you just a bit about why it’s been so quiet.  If you’re not a Disney fan, this may not be the post for you.  That is, unless you think you’ll get a chuckle out of an unbelievably painful story that even I can laugh about a few days later.  I’ll leave out as much of the graphic details as I can.

It started on our “emergency” Disney trip.  I caught a bit of flack for calling it that from a few folks, but it was my cheeky way of labeling our trip.  We had a great time on the first two days of our 3-day trip.  Charlie was a bit under the weather on day one and Michelle was a bit more under the weather on day 2.  See where this is going?  Brief aside, I have tremendous respect for my wife’s ability to be super mom even when she’s feeling bad.

Our final day was going to wrap up with us watching the Wishes fireworks show one more time. Catherine and I would be belting out the song.  I’d be the one singing off-key.  If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you’ll see families walking around with matching t-shirts.  It’s something I’ve always chuckled about a bit. Definitely not my style.  And yet, because my daughter was into it, she and I were wearing matching “Wishes, Fireworks Farewell” t-shirts.  Boy, Disney knows how to make money!  Our plan was to get a picture during the fireworks show to preserve the memory.

The kids took a nap late afternoon as I started to feel bad.  I took a Tums, but that didn’t work.  Two Pepto pills a bit later didn’t touch it.  We were hanging out inside the store behind Space Mountain (pro tip, there’s air conditioning, a place to charge your phone and some seats in the back).  I told Michelle I was walking outside to get some air.

A few minutes later I was on my hands and knees behind a pillar trying not to make too big a mess in Disney World.  I was utterly shocked when a woman walked up out of the blue and offered me a cold bottle of Powerade, asking if I was okay.  She wasn’t an employee, just a parkgoer who was concerned by my, ahem, current condition.  That was genuinely nice of her to do, and especially helpful given my condition.  She told me to stay hydrated and left when 3 Disney employees showed up to try to help me.

They offered assistance.  I told them I thought I’d be okay, and that my wife was nearby.  They walked me to her and left me when they were sure I was okay.  The kids were stirring a bit, and I needed to walk outside for more fresh air.  I found a corner over by the Carousel of Progress and sat for a bit.  The family found me and asked if I was okay.  I thought I was, and even managed to score another FastPass for Tomorrowland Speedway.  While I can be pretty aggressive about having fun at Disney World with my kids, I was smart enough to know I wouldn’t be riding with them.  I excused myself to the adjacent restroom and managed to make it into a stall before worshipping the porcelain gods.  This wasn’t getting better.

I regrouped and walked to the Speedway with the family.  They knew I’d be sitting in the grandstand while they raced.  I didn’t make it more than a minute or two, ending up in the restroom closest to the Speedway.  I locked myself in a stall and the process began all over again.  How could there be anything left in my stomach???  Oh, if only it ended there….

I texted Michelle and told her to take the kids on to more rides and activities.  I would hang out until I was stable and we’d figure out what to do next.  Except, I couldn’t get control.  About every 15 minutes for the next 2+ hours, I had to throw up.  It wasn’t even close to pretty.  I called Michelle and asked her to find a Disney cast member who could help.  I asked her to have them send someone with a wheelchair who could take me to first aid.  Letting the kids have fun was my biggest priority, I didn’t want to ruin their day at Disney.  But they were all worried about me.  15 minutes later, I stumbled out of the restroom to a nervous family and a waiting manager.  The manager got me into a wheelchair while Michelle worked to get the kids fed real quick.  They met us at first aid shortly after.

Things calmed down a bit when I got there, though there were still occasional trips when my stomach just wouldn’t cooperate.  We had told Cat that we could FaceTime while Wishes was performed that night.  She’d be out in the circle watching and I’d be laying down in the air-conditioned (thank goodness) first aid station.  Even though she knew that was the right decision, she was emotional about missing the last night for her and I to sing along.  She wasn’t quite crying, but there were red eyes and some tears.

What does any good crazy delusional father do in that situation?  He promises his daughter he’ll make it outside for fireworks.  In 20 minutes.  While he’s still throwing up about every 30 minutes.  Mind over matter, right?

Well, the look on the face of the nurse when I told her what I was doing was priceless.  If Disney employees were allowed to drop F-bombs at work, this would have been the instance.  After a tense back-and-forth, an agreement was made that she would allow me to be pushed out in a wheelchair to the courtyard by the door to watch the fireworks.  I agreed I would come right back after Wishes was over.  No problem there, I was physically spent.  And, I was pretty sure my stomach wasn’t done ruling the day.

I rolled out 2 minutes before the fireworks started and we staked a small spot where we could see the show through the trees.  Cat grabbed my arm and started crying uncontrollably.  We asked her what was wrong.  She said she was so happy she couldn’t stop crying.  It wasn’t the way I’d envisioned our last night watching Wishes, but she was as thrilled as could be.  I admit, her tears lead to a few of my own.  That might have been the only moisture left in my body at that point.  I was a complete, hot mess.

Somehow, I didn’t yak during the fireworks.  I have no idea how.  They rolled me back into first aid after it was done.  I still wasn’t going anywhere.  How the heck was I getting in a taxi back to our hotel when I couldn’t keep my lunch down for more than 15 minutes?  The kids had one last Fastpass for Charlie’s favorite ride, Pirates of the Caribbean.  I encouraged Michelle to take them, quickly.  They loitered a bit, and I urgently told Michelle to go.  I knew what was coming.

My stomach decided that was a good time for me to pay the price for being audacious enough to go watch the fireworks.  Thankfully, the kids left before that episode.  My daughter has found plenty of ways to deal with anxiety, but throwing up is about the scariest thing in the world to her.

Things started to calm down a bit after that.  I was laying down, relaxing, and my stomach had decided it might be done waging war on me.  20 minutes went by with no issues, then 30.  Dare we try getting back to our hotel.

Side note: I never thought I’d be posting a review of the Disney World first aid center.  For those keeping score, it’s clean, comfortable and staffed by an amazing group of folks.

Disney Special Souvenir

Disney Special Souvenir

A Special Cast Member Makes The Day

Throughout this time, Shannon, the nurse at Disney World, was an absolute gem.  We were now laughing about me being nuts enough to go watch the fireworks with my daughter, especially since I pulled it off without, ahem, adorning the flower beds in the garden outside.  The kids were making her laugh.  And, at one point, she had the kids rolling with laughter.  In the politest bedside manner possible, she offered me extra blue “Goofy hats” (Charlie’s nickname for these little buckets they gave me if you can’t get up to lose your lunch) and even an, er, um, adult diaper, just in case.  Catherine got a kick out of that, pronouncing I could be an astronaut.

Shannon made a huge difference.  She kept the kids calm and giggling.  She took care of me, piecing Humpty-Dumpty back together long enough to get me out there for fireworks, even with a disapproving shake of the head.  Her attentiveness and spirit made a huge difference in a bad situation.

As we left, all in better spirits than when we arrived, we discovered the special souvenir.  Shannon told us she had a limited edition Minnie Mouse sticker that you could only get if you came to first aid.  The kids were full-on excited to see “Nurse Minnie”.  It was a cute ending to a crazy day.

Disney Special Souvenir

Disney Special Souvenir

Oh, and Catherine and I finally got that “twin t-shirt” picture.  I’m sitting in a wheelchair with a decidedly uninspiring background.  Memorable all the same.

Disney Special Souvenir

The post A Disastrous Day At Disney Yields A Special Souvenir I Hope I Never Get Again was published first on Pizza in Motion



  1. You’re a good Dad. Sorry for your horrible experience, but it will be a great memory nonetheless. In a few years… “remember the time Dad couldn’t stop throwing up at Disney?” followed by huge belly laughs. Priceless.

    1. Lee, we already are getting some good chuckles. What else can you do after lying on the floor of a public restroom for 2 hours? Even in Disney, where they do a better job than most, it was a pretty bleak place to hang out while throwing up.

  2. Have been to a number of First Aid stations in Disney World. Amazing staff and facility! Glad you are feeling better!

  3. Oh Ed, you are a rock star dad. I hate the story, but love that you made it outside with her for a few minutes of wishes. So glad you are now on the mend!

  4. I’m glad to see you were still able to make some “magical memories” on this trip. Working in healthcare here in Orlando, I can tell you that you are not the only one who has experienced the parks this way. This would be right after sun poisoning and “swimmers ear”, I’m glad you were able to avoid a visit to the Centra Care or Celebration Hospital (which are both very nice facilities but not so nice for your vacation).

  5. I’ll be looking up sun poisoning! We traveled on our 1st family vacation in March. We arrived on a Thursday and everything was great. Early Sunday a.m., daughter was throwing up but everyone else was fine. Early Monday a.m., husband had his go, early Tuesday a.m., my son got it, early Wednesday a.m. (day of departure) I got it. We had housekeeping bring us towels, toilet paper, sheets…absolutely awful with 4 people and ONE bathroom. We weren’t sure what had hit us being we all ate different things.
    But yes, a trip NOT to remember and at one point could’ve cared less about going back but now I want a do-over!!

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