Almost Losing It All at Disney World...

09:54 July 12, 2018
By: Keith John Paul Horcasitas
As we are in the thick of summer vacations, I can't help but recall a fun Disney vacation that our now 20-year-old son and I took that certainly brings chuckles to our memories . . . even though we went through some trying adventures . . .
In late July of 2008, JP, our then 10-year-old, and I got to take a 6-day vacation to Disney World—just before his school was beginning. My wife and I had taken our other two children to Orlando, but this was to be JP’s first adventure there. And, because my wife was unable to attend this time, it was a chance for us two boys to have some fun. 

It was neat for Maria and me to convey to JP how great it was to stay in a tent at the Fort Wilderness Disney area during one of our previous Disney trips (in the early 1990s) with the other children. Besides being right on the grounds and within walking distance to the monorail, it was neat to be allowed to get into the parks a half-hour early as an additional perk to staying there. We only paid about $35/night for this wonderful place that included evenings of storytelling and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around a campfire as well as an outside movie like a “drive-in."
Like most people, I spent some time planning out the trip for JP and me as best as possible to be sure to mark out what we hoped to be able to see. Sure, going to Disney in July was probably one of the worst times to go as far as the size of crowds, but we had to take advantage of an opportunity that came up when JP was not in summer camp and I had the chance to take some time off of work. 

I was able to book a decent hotel not too far from the Disney Resorts for about $50/night! While I rented a car for next to nothing, to get around and spend some time going to the Cocoa Beach on the last day of our trip, I knew that we would be able to use the free bus transport to and from the Disney theme parks. 

We were also excited to hear about the “Fast Pass” concept—which allowed one to better plan for getting to see or ride on popular attractions by checking in early and then returning with a timed entrance pass later that day for the faster lines that are set up next to the regular ones. 

So we got to Orlando on a Wednesday afternoon and got settled in at our hotel and surroundings. I was so glad to find that the hotel had a restaurant with Indian cuisine since I love curry! We spent every night on our returns to the hotel from Disney parks at that restaurant for snacks and for JP to play RuneScape and other computer games since there was poor Wi-Fi in the hotel rooms. They named a non-alcoholic strawberry smoothie with ice cream the “John Paul” since he enjoyed that every night! I was able to try many variations of curry and other spicy Indian food. 

On our first day at Disney, we spent the day at the Magic Kingdom. JP and I had our little backpacks for snacks and other travel day essentials. My knapsack and fanny pack were very helpful for toting PBJ (Peanut Butter and Jelly) sandwiches and other goodies. I was reluctant to allow JP to bring his electronic stuff in his carry bag, but figured it would be helpful when we had to wait in those long lines. 

We took the free hotel bus to Disney, and everything seemed to go as clockwork. We headed out in the morning to try to see some of the great sights, including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hall of the Presidents, and Splash Mountain. We got a Fast Pass to Space Mountain for around 5 p.m., so after a great day going to those aforementioned rides as well as to other sites like the Enchanted Tiki Room, we looked forward to the fast Space ride; we had heard that it has a speed of about 50 mph! 

We quickly got on board to the ride, and I carefully put my knapsack under my seat, hooking it onto one of my legs. I thought JP had heard me about carefully securing his electronic bag, but was unsure: All the riders were excitedly screaming! We flew off on the ride and had a blast as we took those fast turns, but I could faintly hear JP trying to tell me something about halfway through the ride—which I thought was a “Wow” kind of yell. 

As we exited the ride, JP hurriedly told me that his carry bag had flown off during the Space Mountain ride. We quickly told the Disney staff about the situation and were told to contact someone from the customer service team at the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom. JP was understandably bummed out. He lost his PSP, Game Boy, and other electronic games. It was hard to do more rides, but we did a few more before heading back to catch the last bus to the hotel. 

The Space Mountain staff told us that we would have to wait till the next day for a status on the lost items because they couldn’t turn the lights on brightly at the ride till the end of the day. We went to register the incident and hoped to still be able to make our hotel bus connections, as it was getting late. We headed to the Transit area and just missed the bus! Since a cab would’ve been very high, we got directions and used the regular city transit.
Unfortunately, I missed our bus stop, and we got lost! After some unsuccessful flagging down of cabs and almost getting hit by the very busy Orlando traffic, we were able to finally get a cab to pick us up. We were glad to sit! I quickly took off my knapsack, and we rested on the fairly short trip to our hotel. After giving the cab a tip and hugging JP in thanksgiving as the cab was taking off, I realized that I had left my knapsack in the cab! While I didn’t have a whole lot in it, I did lose some cash, my camera, maps, and books. And I had no receipt from the cab and couldn’t remember the cab number! Now, both JP and I were bummed out.

So we settled in at the Indian restaurant that adjoined our hotel, and I shared with our waitress our predicament. She made some calls, but we ran out of leads. JP got to play RuneScape and other games on my laptop, so he had some distractions. After I enjoyed a few beers with some spicy curry delicacies, and JP enjoyed some delicious chicken fingers and the “John Paul,” we resigned ourselves to hit the sack to be ready for whatever Disney adventures we could try to engage in the next day. Just after I turned off the lights and we got into our beds, the phone rang. The cab driver had come back to the hotel and returned my knapsack without anything missing! I gave him a well-deserved tip. 

We went to Disney’s MGM/Hollywood Park the next day and first went to the Visitor’s Place for a status update on JP’s electronic devices. Unfortunately, there had not been anything turned in overnight. Despite that, we kept our hopes up and did have a fairly good time on rides like Star Tours, The Great Movie Ride, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Lights, Motors, Action—Extreme Stunt Show; the latter was our favorite! Sure, JP couldn’t help but agonize over the chance that he had lost all of his games and that, if they were found, they would likely be busted. At the end of the day, there was still no trace of his belongings. Once again, we retreated to Tabla’s Indian Cuisine at the end of the day—I also let JP play at the Arcade they had there. 

On the following morning, before we headed to the Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach, I called the Visitor’s Station and received some surprising news—they had found JP’s bag! So you can bet what our first stop was that morning, as JP anxiously awaited to check on the condition of his electronic toys. We arrived at the Station and patiently awaited our turn in the long line of others who were doing the same thing. As they say, “Misery Loves Company!” 

Before JP opened his sack, I assured him that we would eventually be able to replace most of the items over time. We both couldn’t believe it when he tried all of his games and devices and not one of them was broken! We carefully brought those items back to my rental car and then had a blast that day on The Oasis Exhibits, Finding Nemo—The Musical, Kilimanjaro Safaris, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Kali River Rapids, and Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain as well as the rest of the trip! We spent the next day partly at Epcot, to see Reimagined—Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Mission Space, and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and then went to Cocoa Beach for the afternoon. At the beach, JP and I had so much fun with much bigger waves than he was accustomed to on the Gulf Coast! 
When we attended mass on Sunday at the beautiful Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, we had many prayers of thanksgiving, including my getting back my knapsack and JP getting all of his electronic devices back in one "piece/peace." Disney, truly, is a place where “When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires [like lost items!] will come to you!” 
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