And the steps we’ll take to keep our family safe in the Magic Kingdom
Undeterred by worldwide panic over the Covid-19 Coronavirus, we don’t have any plans to curtail our first family trip to Disneyland next week. Unless Disney shuts down the park or the CDC prohibits interstate travel, we will be there with smiles on our faces, freshly washed hands, and possibly a wheelchair for me, enjoying the happiest place on earth. There may even be a silver lining of less crowds than usual.
She’s Just the Right Age for her First Disney Experience
Our daughter Arya, almost 4, has been dreaming of visiting the Magic Kingdom ever since she first started noticing the tantalizing Costco Travel display ads that entice us each time we stand in line to have our items counted and our $300 receipt marked off with a smiley face before exiting the store.
My husband, Michael is thoroughly guilty of fueling her excitement. He’s been telling her stories of all that she’ll see there and making sure she sees every major movie on Disney+ so she knows all the characters. I’m not sure which of them is more excited to finally be headed there next week.
We started talking about making the dream a reality a few months ago, and we figured with Spring Break for our older girls falling just a few weeks before her fourth birthday, the timing was perfect for a road trip to California, a special birthday celebration and some family fun for everyone.
At 13 and 11, Camryn and Kate are old enough to really enjoy the big kid fun, and Arya is just the right age to be enamored with everything.
Our Biggest Worry Was Whether I’d Be Up for It Just Two Weeks Post-Op
I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in September 2019, had a bilateral mastectomy in October and then a second surgery to complete my reconstruction just last week, on February 25. We did worry about planning the trip so close to my surgery, but figured if I was too weak or sore to do too much walking, we could always rent a wheelchair. Maybe being handicapped would even help shorten our wait time on rides. We were ready to focus on the positive and enjoy a few stress-free days in the happiest place on earth.
Money is tight, but there are great deals to be had
We first checked Costco’s website, since they were the ones who put the idea in our heads, but we found the website difficult to navigate. Calling their reservations department was even less helpful.
But we found a great package deal including a hotel right across the street from Disneyland and park passes on GetAwayToday, a discount travel company that donates to local schools.
And by choosing the one park per day option instead of park hopper passes, we were able to save hundreds off the three-day trip, keeping it affordable, even on our tight budget. With everything we have been through, we figured we deserved some fun and this was our time.
Previous Disney Adventures
Those of us over 4 have been to Disneyland before, but not all together. Living in Arizona, Disneyland is easily accessible. Mike and I have each been there – as children, then teenagers, and even as young adults. And my ex-husband has taken Camryn and Kate twice. Mike and I did take Camryn and Kate to Disneyworld six years ago – one very long day before embarking on an amazing Spring Break Disney Cruise out of Orlando.
A Marriage Proposal Rebuffed
In fact, Mike’s first attempt at a marriage proposal was that night at Disneyworld – just after the electric parade, following a whirlwind 12-hour day dragging two small kids around the park’s vast expanse. I was exhausted and irritable after the long day, much of which was spent encouraging the girls not to be scared of the benign rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Tom Sawyer’s cave, lots of walking, too much junk food and… all the things.
The crowd was breaking after the parade and I stood up from where we had perched to watch the show. Mike stayed on the ground and rose up on one knee, reaching his hand up to me, as if he needed a little pull to help him get up off the ground. I grasped his hand and started to pull, but instead of getting up he started proclaiming his love.
“No, no, no, no! Not here, not now,” I exclaimed, realizing he was about to propose marriage to me – with the kids whining, a million people clamoring about and me feeling sweaty and gross and in no mood for romance! I was not at all in the right frame of mind to make a life-changing decision, even though in truth the decision had already been made – we had picked out the ring together and both knew I’d say yes.
A Magical Marriage Proposal
Thankfully, he got over his initial annoyance at being rebuffed and crafted a magically dramatic and successful post-dinner proposal a few nights later on the cruise.
The girls and I were dressed in pink princess dresses and Mike wore a silver tuxedo with pink accents. He planned it all out and got the entire restaurant crew involved. They arrived at the table with great fanfare, the engagement ring hidden ring on a silver dessert platter, along with two plastic rings for Camryn and Kate. It was over the top amazing!
So, we are all pretty excited to enter Disneyland’s magical gates again Monday morning
Mike has been reviewing the rides and planning our days, happy that both older girls now enjoy roller coasters and scary adventures. In addition, we are both eagerly anticipating Arya’s delight at seeing the princesses, the colors, the magic up close. And I have to admit, I’ve always loved seeing hundreds of dolls singing and dancing in “It’s a Small World.”
In fact, the idea of canceling our trip didn’t even occur to me until my cousin who lives outside of LA and has two small kids of his own started texting me the other day, incredulous to hear we were still planning to go in the wake of this pandemic.
At first I thought he was joking. Why would we cancel a trip to Disneyland over a virus? I work in a hospital and regularly take care of people with far more insidious infections. I take precautions, wash my hands properly, and I stay healthy.
We aren’t stupid or oblivious to what’s going on in the world
We’ve been following this story abroad for a while.
My brother-in-law’s business is largely in China and has been deeply affected by the outbreak there.
My beloved breast surgeon was one of hundreds of passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise and endured a hellish quarantine for most of the past month.
I’ve visited the CDC website a dozen times over the past few days and read countless detailed stories discussing the disease’s progression, guidelines, mortality rate, and what governments are doing to protect us. I’ve read tips from my company, our schools, and an old friend who’s a naturopathic doctor in Colorado.
And we choose to remain calm and use common sense to carry us through this scary time
Yes, we will be exposed to people from all over the world at Disneyland, and that is a bit scary at this time. But soap and water are effective at breaking down the viral envelope common to all corona viruses. This virus is basically a bad cold.
I get that it’s highly contagious and can be deadly, especially for the elderly or people who already have heart or respiratory problems.
And I understand that even though we are healthy and may not become super sick if we do contract the virus, we could spread it to others – in our family and our community, whose immune systems are not so strong.
I am in nursing school and I work in a hospital. I know all about infection control, how diseases spread, and why herd immunity is so important. I get that we don’t have a vaccine for this new virus and that scares people. But half the people I know never even get a flu vaccine anyway even though it is readily available and free with most insurance. (I do because you don’t have a choice when you work in healthcare).
I’ve never heard of anyone canceling a trip to Disneyland because it’s flu season. We will be careful, take precautions and stay abreast of the news, but we will not panic or live in fear.
So what steps will we take to protect our family?
Many years ago, I asked our pediatrician how he stays healthy while taking care of dozens of snotty-nosed kids coughing germs on him all day.
I never forgot his answer because it made so much sense.
“I wash my hands a lot and I’ve trained myself to never touch my face,” he said. The average person touches their face many times an hour. I’m personally guilty of this with a perpetually itch nose, but I’ve become hyper-aware since studying microbiology and starting to work in a hospital.
So here’s what we will do to protect ourselves in the park
• We will assume that anything we touch is contaminated with infectious microbes and use universal precautions, just like at the hospital.
• We will be diligent about washing our hands, using the proper handwashing techniques I learned in nursing school, but that anyone can learn on the little flyer they post in public restrooms (rubbing with soap for 20 seconds, hot water when possible, using a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open bathroom, doors)
• We will use hand sanitizer each time we enter and exit a ride, just like I do each time I enter or exit a patient’s room.
• We will have hand sanitizing surface wipes on hand to wipe off the lap bars or any surfaces we must touch.
• I will be vigilant about reminding the girls to avoid touching their faces, especially Arya who has a nail-biting habit combined with a toddler’s inability to keep her hands from touching every surface in sight.
• We will try to avoid close contact with others at the park, staying out in the sunshine as much as possible
• We will beef up our own immune systems, with vitamins, supplements and whole healthy foods.
• And we will trust that the happiest place on earth is also one of the cleanest places we could be.
And that’s it. Unless they close the park, we will be thoroughly enjoying ourselves, perhaps even enjoying shorter lines, less people – and therefore less danger of contracting Covid-19.
“It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears. There’s so much that we share, that it’s time we’re aware, It’s a Small World After All.”