Travel Advisors & Credit Card Forms: A Parent's Disney Booking Experience
In April 2023, an unsuspecting mother took her daughter to Disney World. While based on a true story, this post is mainly fiction for your reading pleasure.
How did a trip to the “happiest place on earth” end in a tear-soaked princess dress and being asked to leave the Magic Kingdom? You guessed it: credit card forms.
At first, I thought it would be easy. With Google and endless resources at my fingertips, how hard could planning a Disney World trip be? Well, mix in a Type A personality with a penchant for frugalness, and you’ve got yourself a whole lot of stress. Peter Pan had it right: it’s way easier being the kid at times like these. All they had to do was show up with clear heads and full hearts.
I quickly sought an insider – someone who could “hakuna matata” the heck out of this situation – and found a reputable travel advisor specializing in all-things Disney.
Chatting with her was breezy. She had such a bubbly personality the head mouse himself must’ve hired her. She rattled off detail after detail and was extremely patient answering my endless supply of questions. I finally felt that sense of childlike excitement building.
She asked if I had any special requests. “Just one,” I said. “We’d love to have dinner at Beast’s Castle. My daughter is obsessed with Beauty and The Beast.”
“No problem,” she exclaimed. I heard some typing and clicks, and she was excited to let me know there were still reservations open. “But we’ll have to move fast,” she said. “These things book up quickly. All I’ll need to book everything is your credit card information.”
Now, the process for getting her that information was certainly easier than me flying down to Florida and handing it over to her in person, but it wasn’t much better. Apparently, this particular travel advisor was still living in the 1990s era of Disney.
Paper authorizations: the last thing you want to hear when time is of the essence.
“Just print this out, fill out the form, sign your name, and fax or email it back to me,” she said. Suddenly that chipper voice was grating. She made it sound easy enough, except I got rid of the family printer around the same time I packed up all my Disney VHS tapes, so I grabbed the keys and raced toward the nearest FedEx store.
Traffic, of course! Why would this be any easier? I got stuck behind someone convinced the speed limit is 10mph. I gave a knowing nod to the traffic cameras and accepted the ticket I’d soon find in my mailbox. I spun the steering wheel, slammed on the gas, and floored it like the Indy 500. I thought I was getting dizzy with madness but realized the blue and red lights glimmering in my rearview mirror were real. The buzzing got closer and closer and an unmistakable siren song sounded in my ear. Think of The Beast! Do I just keep going? I was only one exit away.
Cooler heads prevailed, and I pulled over. At my speed, the officer asked me to get out of the car. I begged for mercy and pleaded my case. I braced myself for cuffs and an unfortunate collect-call to home. Needless to say, I was shocked when the officer urged, “Follow me. I’ll give you an escort.” Turns out he had been in my shoes just months ago and knew all too well that you have a strong case for an insanity plea when dealing with planning a Disney vacation. We rolled out, lights and sirens blaring, and I followed close behind.
We made it to the FedEx in record time. I tipped my hat to my new partner and headed inside where I found… a line of seven people waiting to use the printer. Is everyone going to Disney? Why are we printing so much in 2023 anyway? Won’t someone think of trees?!
I couldn’t wait a second longer. I didn’t care what it cost when I announced to the line, “$10 for anyone who lets me cut!” $70 later I was at the front. A calm washed over me as I had finally made it. All I needed to do was click “print,” and then the thinkable happened: paper jam.
I was immediately reminiscent of that classic scene from Office Space. You know the one…
But let’s stay on track here. This story’s about Disney.
Perhaps sensing my impending nervous breakdown, the machine mercifully had second thoughts and kicked back into gear. The form, hot out of the printer, was in hand. I feverishly filled everything out and scanned it back in to email to our travel advisor. She clearly knew who she was dealing with, because she promptly replied to confirm she received it and was going straight to work.
By the time I got home, she called me. The tickets and hotel had been booked, and I was one step closer to making my daughter’s dreams come true. “There’s just one thing…” she started sadly. “By the time I got in, all the reservations for Beast’s Castle were taken. I’m so sorry.”
She offered up other options, but I knew none would hold a Lumiere to dinner with Belle and The Beast. My daughter would be devastated (and anyone who has kids knows one thing amiss can spoil an entire experience for them). Refusing to give up, I tried my chances at the internet again.
Flash forward a few months, and the day finally arrived. My daughter danced into Beast’s Castle donned in her Belle dress, and I swear cartoon birds held her dress up and escorted her in. We glide up to the hostess stand only to find our reservation was nowhere to be found. Apparently, Honest Rudy’s Disney Reservations isn’t the reputable proprietor I was led to believe.
A twitch in my right eye re-emerged as I felt my quelled nervous breakdown making the journey back up. Dejected, I finally accepted I’d lost and turned to leave, but my daughter had other ideas. She saw The Beast stroll by, and she was off like a flash before I knew what was happening.
The hostess yelled after her, and I rushed to grab her, but I lost my footing on the antique rug and hurdled forward out of control. I reached to brace my fall and tumbled directly into The Beast, careening him back toward a fireplace. He immediately re-emerged with the tails of his blue tuxedo aflame.
Twisting and turning viscously, he tried desperately to put out the blaze. I looked for anything I could find to help (aside from my daughter’s tears), then spotted the oversized character head that had fallen off in the commotion. I started hitting him with it, everyone in a full-blown panic now, including my daughter balling in a puddle of yellow silk on the floor.
A waiter mightily threw a pitcher of water at him and thankfully got out the mess. The restaurant manager promptly got out the other mess and escorted us outside, saying we were lucky we weren’t getting kicked out of Disney World completely. We slowly and solemnly headed for the park entrance, tired, hungry, and shaken up. My daughter was still crying uncontrollable, accusing me of attempted murder. Then a thought crystallized in my head…
What if that travel advisor had just used a better method to get my credit card information?!
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