Planning the Normandy Invasion

Ever have one of those moments when you think to yourself, “What was I thinking when I suggested THAT?” Yeah this is definitely one of those days for me. At some point of my youngest daughter Whitney’s high school years I suggested that when she was a senior I would let her choose where she wanted to go for her graduation trip.

Beginning with my oldest daughter I had instituted an incentive where the graduating senior would be allowed to pick where we went for family vacation the summer before they went away for college. At the time it seemed like a good idea to help them gain a few more memories before leaving the nest and starting their new chapter in life.

Of course I was also banking on the fact that my kids are level headed and would not select something outrageous. So far I had not been disappointed. Ashley had selected going back to Idaho to see her grandparents. Mallorie was a bit more adventurous and chose Walt Disney World. This of course tipped Ashley over since she didn’t know Orlando was an option. She demanded a mulligan so when she graduated from college she requested a trip to Florida.

Tiffany chose southern California and in particular Disneyland. Her theory was that she would then request Walt Disney World for college graduation and get Disney parks on both coasts. This brings us to Whitney and the question of where she could choose.

It’s funny how much sibling pressure there is when a 17 year-old girl has an opportunity to impact the family vacation. My son Dakota was pushing hard for Europe, which I have no idea why since I seriously doubt he could point out Europe on a map. I say that because he had an opportunity to go to the Netherlands to play soccer. Our agreement was that he could go if he could tell me where the Netherlands were located to which he replied, “In Epcot?”

Mallorie was campaigning for Mexico and the cultural diversity of a foreign country where she could use her Spanish degree. A couple of well placed newspaper articles about the drug wars in that country made Mexico a long shot.

Ashley thought Hawaii sounded like the perfect destination. While I loved Hawaii when Trina and I went some 20 years ago I still could not shake the reminder that it is an island that you can completely drive around in less than half a day. To this day I have not figured out why Hawaii has an Interstate. By definition interstate means between states and I could never find an off-ramp that would take me out of Hawaii.

After much consideration Whitney chose Walt Disney World. It was far enough away to feel like a trip yet still close enough that we wouldn’t need vaccinations, spend days on an airplane, or be required to learn a foreign language.

At first glance I thought I had dodged a bullet. I was sure she would suggest Africa or Antarctica or somewhere crazy like that. I cannot even imagine taking my family on safari or on a boat to watch penguins huddle together on a sheet of ice.

What I did not realize was how difficult it would be to actually try and plan this vacation once the destination was identified. Almost as soon as it was announced that Whitney had selected Walt Disney World the kids quickly began inserting requirements into the travel plans. Everyone of course wanted to go meaning that our traveling party would be nine.

Trying to make travel plans for a party of that size is the family equivalent to planning the Normandy invasion during World War II. First we are dealing with scheduling between three school districts, four schools, and finals. Add into that potential summer school for Dakota, and the fact that we wanted to go before the large summer crowds at Disney World. Then of course there is the Arizona Diamondbacks schedule. We definitely don’t want to schedule this thing when the D-backs are in town.

It literally took me three days of back and forth negotiations between various members of the family before we were able to find a set of dates that would work. Just when I was about to celebrate that fact we were sent back to square one when we found out Trina’s family would be coming to visit the day we were planning on leaving for Orlando. A few more iterations and we finalized the dates.

I thought once we had the dates that the hard part was over. I could not have been more wrong. The next step was to determine which Disney resort we would be staying at. It’s not as simple as pulling up a directory of hotels in the area. Each resort offers something a little different than the others. I have to believe that there was less debate by the founding fathers when they were writing the United States Constitution.

The “Great Resort Debate” as I now refer to it lasted a week. Everyone stated their case and made compelling arguments as to why we should stay at a particular resort. Once we had agreement the next step was to actually place reservations.

I thought this would be simply filling out an online form at the Disney web site and give them a credit card; yeah not so much. The web site only handles a party of up to five so I needed to call to make a reservation.

The phone system Disney employs is pretty good. I felt magical just being on hold. When I finally reached someone (I was going to say human but I could very well have been talking to an animatronic, I can’t tell the difference) I gave them my dates and the resort I was interested in booking.

The silence on the other end of the phone should have given me a clue that things were not going to go well. It seems the resort I wanted on the dates requested was not available. This may be the first time the Disney operator actually heard a grown man cry on the phone. I tried to explain how painful this first part was and begged for help.

After a few minutes of being on hold I was able to secure two rooms at the Port Orleans Resort in the “Princess Rooms”. I have no idea what that meant. I secretly had a fear that this meant I would be spending my entire vacation wearing a tiara but at this point that seemed like a fate I was willing to accept just so I didn’t have to go back and find another date or resort.

I thought the worst was over when I finalized the hotel arrangements. Little did I know that my problems were just beginning? I was transferred from lodging to dining where a very friendly young lady attempted to help me arrange dining reservations.

Ten days, nine nights, four parks, three meals a day and countless dining options. I was pretty sure my head would explode before I got through this ordeal. To my amazement it only took me three hours of being on the phone to have a place to stay, admission tickets to the various Disney parks, somewhere to eat, and flight numbers for actually deploying my troops.

I can’t be certain but I think this little vacation is about the same amount of money as the United States spent deploying soldiers during D-Day. So while I am lamenting about what this is costing I have a family dancing around the living room praising my name in song. I guess I can live with that. After all, how often do you actually get an opportunity to invade Florida with a crack team of vacation commandos?

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