One of my favorite and funniest Disney memories of the past is probably one of Beloved’s absolute worst.
She was a toddler about three years old and not a rookie. Living in the Sunshine State, she had a handful of visits to the Magic Kingdom under her belt. Where she had previously been content to ride around in a stroller, on this particular trip she ventured out into the park via sneakers. She was so enthralled with the lights, sounds and smells of her adventure that her every sense was on overload.
It didn’t take long before she pooped out and we were carrying this tired little sweaty baby everywhere. And by “we”, I mean Just Plane Dad. For those that haven’t been here, Florida is hot, very hot, and sticky in the summer. You “pre-cool” your car before getting into it. Yes, that hot. Just Plane Dad had been carrying Beloved for a while when I finally took pity on their poor steamy souls and we searched for air-conditioned shelter.
One of the coolest spots at Walt Disney World is the tent where you wait for autographs. It’s a large building made to look like a circus tent with ice cold a/c pumping throughout. Not only is in cool inside but they have dim sconce-like lighting that offers a cozy tent-like feeling. Revived a bit from the blast of cold air, we decided to “chill” for a bit and get in line. Meet and greets are usually done outside where you wait in the sun for a gloriously long two hours, so we’d never even bothered. Cooled and happy now, we fatefully make the decision to attempt our first character autograph. How bad could it be?
Mickey and Minnie
Inside, we get our pick from several different characters. Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Pooh are all thrilled to see us…well maybe they were thrilled to see our beautiful blonde haired, blue-eyed cutie. Either way, we head on up for our signature and gratuitous photo op. Beloved takes one look at her “friends” close up and lets loose a wail that could be heard throughout the park. In true Helicopter Mom fashion, my instincts take over and we run back to the line. “No problem, Just Plane Dad can get the signature while I hold you from afar.” More crying and outstretched arms for Daddy who’s getting the moves put on him by Minnie. “What? That won’t work either, darn. Ok, we’re intelligent adults, we can figure this out.” Solution, I will place you over my shoulder, face buried in the nape of my neck and just slowly back up until we’re close enough for the picture. Then poof! We’ll shoot it.
What is Goofy?
Feeling triumphant that I’ve come up with the perfect solution, we reach Goofy. Beloved is calming down, so trusting she was, and we slowly sidled up beside him. Ready, say cheese, and poof…no poof. Beloved makes the fatal mistake of opening her eyes and sights up Goofy; all 7 feet of him. I have to admit, I never noticed how big Goofy really is; like really…tall…big. She starts failing her arms at him with a precise boxer-like back hook, if that is such a move, and it’s a continuous stream of hits. We have never laughed so hard in our lives and I’m pretty sure I peed a little. I can guarantee that Beloved did. Now before I lose my hover status, yes, we did move away quickly and exited the character hut, never to return. Our girl did calm down and didn’t seem any worse for the wear due to the incident. We still laugh about how she kicked Goofy’s butt that day.
Chuck E Cheese
Time passed and you would have thought that we’d learned our lesson, but unfortunately, Chuck E Cheese suffered the same ill fate. Poor mouse came over to the table to wish a happy birthday to the kids and Beloved lost it. We no longer frequent that establishment.
To this day, over 13 years later, we have only a small handful of character photos that don’t appear to show our kid as a blur leaving the photo. Funny enough, the photos she tolerated are always with small cute characters like Stitch and Piglet; both of which happened when she was a teenager taller than the character. She’s never been photographed with Goofy that I’m aware of. Funny how those cute little Disney characters are so incredibly scary in person.
Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad