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Notes on surviving a Disney vacation

It's a sport and you will lose every time, parent.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

You travel as the concierge to narcoleptic, emotionally unstable, untitled aristocrats. Every vacation with children is escorting King George III on his daily routine. King George III was the jerk king with porphyria who, when ill, took to sudden flights of fancy, argued with everyone in sight over absolutely nothing, and occasionally just had to lie down for a while when it all got to be too much.

This is traveling with two children five and under to Disney World. Someone will cry. Someone will make insane demands. Someone will want mounds of overpriced plastic crap. If they do not get it, there will be emotions, and someone will wind up weeping on the floor until you distract them with something else. I recommend a promise of "More and different overpriced plastic crap around the corner." It works every time as long as you do this until they fall asleep, and may be removed unconscious from the park without protest.

Florida has completely reversed American traffic patterns. "No one in Florida knows how to act" is a general rule for a lot of reasons. The reason the left lane in Florida is now the right lane is simple: old people who believe the left lane is not based on speed, but on accumulated merit from repeated tax-paying in some other state. Throw in a few other convenient idiot people who believe BIG DOGS ROLL IN THE LEFT LANE, and you've got your classic thing ruined by the Sunshine State's toxic cocktail of belligerent, underbrained youth and entitled cranky imported senility.

This turns the middle lane into the passing lane, and the right lane into a fast lane interrupted frequently by semi-trucks. If this sounds stupid and poorly conceived, it is, but there's a Quebecois guy who's just convinced his Buick Rendezvous going 73 mph deserves express status. Three inches from his bumper is a goateed redneck from Lake County in a Ford Raptor flashing his lights and honking. They've been doing that for 35 miles now, and will continue to do it until it results in gunplay or an accident. Just pass them in the right lane, and abandon the idea that anyone in the state knows what they're doing ever.

People on vacation also enjoy making statements on T-shirts they have no ability to validate. Every man wearing a t-shirt saying "GO HARD OR GO HOME", "TACTICAL AS F*$!", "TRY AND KEEP UP", or "UNLEASH YOUR ALPHA" appeared to be someone who was going home immediately, was not tactical to any degree of any profanity, could be caught easily on foot, or was currently holding the leash of their alpha firmly. The man you do not want to fight at Disney World is wearing a "PRINCESS BREAKFAST 2014" shirt and he had a more sensible breakfast than the beignets you ate at the Port Orleans buffet.

Brazilian dads are the real MVPs. They wander in their tour groups in athletic shorts and sleeveless shirts like they just fell out of bed. They are not yelling at their kids to get out of the gift shop and put down the goddamn make-your-own lightsaber. They come in two body types: beer and recently retired MMA fighter. They wear their sunglasses everywhere and find the beer first. They say there is no beer in the Magic Kingdom but I saw a Brazilian dad tapping Dumbo's trunk for pint of Yuengling. He did it because Brazilian dads are chill, wear whatever the hell they want because they know how to dress for warm weather, and can tap random objects for beer. It's their superpower and I want it more than any other dad superpower in the world.

The French on vacation are human cholesterol. Clogging up lines, taking 25 minutes as a family to build their own salads at lunch, and becoming paralyzed by anything involving more than two options at a time. They're pleasant, sure, but they do not move quickly under the best of conditions, and will not move at all if considering more than one thing. Something in American gluttony stupefies the French, and when they're in clumps they simply freeze up and block every major artery in the park.

Even simulated privilege turns you into a monster in minutes. Disney has an option to schedule certain rides ahead of time: The Fastpass, your ticket to understanding just how rapidly even a purchased and inconsequential piece of privilege can mutate you into an aristocratic ass-person. You just get to stroll right in, flash your band pass a sensor, and then skip giggling past proles waiting in a 45 minute line. The first time you are slightly embarrassed; by the third time you openly taunt and bare your ass at total strangers who foolishly did not schedule ahead of time. Fastpass turned me into a monstrous human in the course of a few hours; I cannot imagine what horrors a lifetime of private school and an Ivy League education would have wrought. It will turn you into an investment banker in seconds. (P.S. The next time I do this it will be in a powdered wig dressed exactly like Hugh Laurie in Blackadder.)

Beer. You will need it. The World Showcase exists solely as a booze carousel, so use it. Germany has a zillion good beers you can purchase in very large containers that you may bring anywhere in the park. They also sell shots of Jagermeister and Barenjager because Disney has sort of given up on the concept of Epcot/World Showcase being anything but "Sponsored Corporate Pavillionland/International HoochMart." In eight years when weed is legal in Florida the vape shop will open in Morocco first.

Japan offers little half-pints of Kirin for sustenance, while Morocco has bottles of Efes. Efes is bad Turkish beer, but you have to make a few stretches when stocking the bar at the only Muslim country in the lineup. France has Gray Goose Citron slushies, and the Little Britain-looking England section has a pub in case you just want to give up, abandon your family completely, and just get genuinely hammered in a supremely fake English setting. Everything is overpriced except the alcohol, because alcohol in a moment of need can never be overpriced.

Canada has the sneakiest deal: three Unibroue beers on tap at a cart with no lines. Their hokey nationalistic show is also hosted by Martin Short. Canada, based on Disney World alone, is the greatest fuckin' nation on the planet. You should not be drunk at Disney World, but a good working buzz does help when you're pushing a double stroller loaded with children and facing your eighth road-blocking Frenchtourgroupberg of the afternoon. Pardon, madames et monsieurs.

Pay whatever they ask. Your children will get tired and then you will realize what a perfectly conceived fascist trap of a wonderland Disney is. There is a pool if you cannot muster the energy to get more than 500 feet from your hotel room and there is a bar there to make sure you stay there. If you are too tired to even do that they will set up a movie on the courtyard of your hotel and pipe Tinkerbell films directly into your child's eyeballs while you drink tallboys of respectable craft beer.

This is how total the control at Disney is. You can lay on grass without a single biting ant, cat-sized cockroach, or a single mosquito touching you. It's unnatural and wrong and it is wonderful because, after a few days of this, your children may sleep as late at 7:45 a.m. Pay them for these miracles. Pay them and smile, because if you have children you will end up paying them anyway.