An overall cynic gets a taste of some Disney magic....
I’d never really believed in the whole Disney World “thing”. To me, it was a far too expensive theme park that promised far from what it could deliver. So, you can imagine my… surprise… when I found out that not only would I be spending 4 days of my precious summer vacation there, but that those 4 days would be spent not attempting to enjoy myself, but doing what my family thinks that I exist for: babysitting all 10 of my cousins. However, this information was apparently classified, since I didn’t find out about my new summer job until the last possible minute.
“Karalynn, come here hon.” my Aunt Eleanor (the woman who had taken over raising me after my mom left) yelled to me as my family and I approached the crappiest little excuse for an that airplane I’d ever seen. “Some of the adults were wondering if you’d be up to-“
“Watch the kids in the park.” My less than-caring Aunt Sarah interrupted, practically shoving me onto the sardine-can that was our aircraft. “And make sure that they don’t bother us.”
Upon our landing (which has never made me happier to see solid ground), my duties began. Thus, it was my responsibility to make sure that 1) Everyone had their luggage, 2) Everyone went to the bathroom, and 3) everyone was suitably entertained, so as to avoid the destruction of the nauseatingly adorable Disney Store, cleverly nicknamed the “Ear” Port.
By the time everyone was ready, we had almost missed the last shuttle to our hotel. Excuse me, “resort”. Luckily, the flight and the promise of seeing Mickey Mouse in person was enough to cause all of my “charges” to fall asleep within minutes of entering their music-themed rooms. And, as I lay in my overly comfy bed listening to my 3 roommates (again, cousins) snore, I PRAYED for some fun the next day in the park.
“I have to go to foofy-princess land first?!” I exclaimed in dismay as I saw which shuttle my family was headed towards the next morning. “Don’t we at least get a day to get used to the whole Disney thing in a… cooler park?”
“NOOOOO!!!” all of my cousins screamed, undoubtedly waking up anything within a 5-mile radius. “Magic Kingdom first! Magic Kingdom first!”
“Alright, alright, I give!” I said quickly, not wishing to have the whole resort on my butt about the early wake-up call. “Hurry up and get on before the shuttle leaves!”
After 5 hours of cutesy rides and souvenir breakdowns, I had had it. I was so tired of my family that they could’ve destroyed the entire Cinderella’s Castle and I wouldn’t have even cared. Seriously, God must not exist. Maybe I should try Buddhism...
I was contemplating my possible religious conversion while watching my youngest cousin, Eva, throw bread off of the bridge we were standing on, when everything behind me got suddenly, mischievously quiet. Not a good sign, considering that my cousins believe solidly in “outside voices”. Next thing I knew, I was tumbling towards the murky Florida water, cursing myself for having worn a white shirt.
“Hey, are you OK?” a strange voice asked. I opened my eyes a fraction of an inch to see an obviously, though blurry, male figure bending over me.
“Shhhhhhhh. If they think I’m dead, they’ll leave me alone.” I answered, referring to those who had thrown me off of the bridge.
“Nice.” The guy laughed. “Faking death to get out of baby-sitting?”
“You should try it sometime.” I answered, sitting up. That, as it turns out, was a huge mistake.
“Don’t try to sit up!” The guy (who I had finally gotten a good look at before almost tossing my breakfast into the river with Eva’s bread) warned, practically shoving me back on the ground.
“If I can’t sit up, then how am I going to get back up there?” I asked pointedly, gesturing to the bridge above me.
“I’ll take care of that.” My mystery man said slyly. I was about to question him further, or at least protest to his taking control of what was obviously my problem, when he did something straight out of a one of those gushy romance movies: he picked me up and carried me not only out of the water, but all the way back onto the bridge.
“Okayyy.” I said, a little overwhelmed by the gesture. I was about to thank my mystery rescuer, but his outfit completely silenced anything about to come out of my mouth. He was dressed, full out, as Prince Philip from the movie Sleeping Beauty, my favorite as a kid (AKA before my brain started the independent thought process).
“Oh. Yeah. The costume”. He said, blushing profusely. He actually blushed! That was so… Ok I can’t believe I’m going to say this…CUTE! God, I’m getting soft.
I was about to reassure my savior about the costume when yet another classic Disney Prince interrupted us.
“Phil! Phil!” A voice rang out across the park, belonging to a skinny guy dressed as the prince from the Little Mermaid. “The parade’s about to start! If you’re not on the float in 30 minutes, you’re dead!”
“Eric, chill. I’ll be there.” “Phil” reassured his friend. “I’ve just got something to take care of…”
“Hey! My eyes are up here!” I joked, pointing to my face, watching with smug satisfaction as Phil turned bright red and averted his eyes.
“Dude…” Eric started in a whiny, practically gay voice.
“Again, chill. I’ll just take her to the break room so she can dry off and change into something not dripping wet and clinging to her like…” Phil answered, his eyes sliding back towards my t-shirt.
“Don’t even go there.” I interrupted, shooting him my best warning glare. The one that usually leads to some running, hiding, and/or crying, but it just made him chuckle and reassure his friend. I don’t know what it was, but he was doing something to me. First the “cute”, and now my glare wasn’t shooting daggers like it was supposed to? Something was majorly wrong, and I didn’t mind. In fact, I kind-of liked it.
Phil lead me to a door marked “Cast Members Only”, which led to just about the coolest break room I’d ever seen. I’d describe how awesome it was, but mere words couldn’t do it justice
“Here” Phil said, throwing a large, fuzzy blue towel and something yellow into my arms. “You might want to change over there.”
He was pointing towards a screen, the kind they use in those old movies for women to change behind. As I went to dry off and change, I saw that the screen actually led to a full-sized dressing room, complete with a vanity and lighted mirror straight from Hollywood. Dang.
10 minutes later, I was mostly dry and wearing the yellow thing, which had turned out to be a really cute sundress. It was something I’d have normally stayed far away from, but, for some reason, I liked it. And apparently, so did Phil
“Nice.” He had managed to choke out. “I’m… glad it fits.”
“Where did you get this? It’s beautiful.” I told him, twirling back and forth. Gahh, I’m such a sissy around this guy.
“Promise you won’t get mad if I tell you?” Phil pleaded, standing up from the couch he had been lounging on.
“Okay…?” I agreed, totally confused.
“It was my ex-girlfriend’s. I bought it for her as an anniversary present, and it was the only thing she returned after we broke up.” He told me lightly, like it was ancient history. “C’mon. You’ve got a parade to watch.”
I giggled at his suggestion. “I would, but I can’t. My family is going to kill me the second they see me. Or at least confine me to the hotel..”
“Why would they- ohhhh. The kids…” Phil said, answering his own question as he led me outside.
The second I was out in the open, I took off. Sure, my cousins were annoying, but I’m sure, deep down (ok, really, REALLY deep down) that they loved me at least a little. Not to mention, I had left them alone in a theme park with no clue where they were, where I was going, or when I’d be back.
“Wait!” a voice called after me. I turned around to se Phil running towards me, his cape streaming out from behind him in that epic, fairytale prince sort-of way. I was so entranced by the moment that I almost didn’t hear the tell-tale screams of my cousins from the path behind me. Almost.
“Karalynn! Karalynn!” my cousins called as they surrounded me, poking and pulling my new (-ish) dress.
“Are you alright?” Eva asked, tugging on my arm. “Prince Philip didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“No, of course not.” I answered bending down “See, he even gave me this pretty dress.”
“It’s nice.” One of the nastiest voices I had the misfortune to recognize sneered. Crap.
“Hi, Aunt Sarah…” I said, turning slowly towards my evil Aunt, attempting to look innocent. Or at least less guilty.
“Don’t talk to me like that. And get away from my Eva, you’re far too irresponsible to look after my little princess.” Aunt Sarah lectured me, swooping Eva up into her arms.
“How dare you leave our kids!” My Uncle Joe exploded, grabbing John and Jake, the twin pervs of the family, by their arms. “They could have been hurt, or worse…”
“Karalynn, thank God you’re alright.” Aunt Eleanor said, pushing her way through the crowd of angry parents. “I was so worried about you when the kids told us what happened. I can’t believe what they did to you!”
“It’s Ok, I’m fine.” I said, detaching Aunt Eleanor’s arms from around my neck.
“See? I didn’t even need CPR!”
“Don’t joke like that.” Aunt Eleanor said, laughing. “So, where’s this Prince Charming of yours?”
“He’s right-“ I started, turning around to introduce Phil, who had suddenly disappeared. “The parade…”
“Great idea honey, the kids’ll love it!.” Aunt Eleanor cheered, running off to organize everyone.
At the parade, I kept an eye out for Phil, but I never saw him. According to the park employee, the “Prince and Princess” float had passed mere seconds before.
I spent the rest of the day watching my cousins. Well, the ones whose parents still trusted me anyways. I was so busy, I almost forgot about Phil. Still, something in the back of my mind kept pushing him to the front, and I’d occasionally stop and look around for him. But, I never saw him. That day at least.
The next 2 days of my “vacation” went by in a blur. The adults had decided that I was once again worthy of watching their precious monsters, leaving me to fend for myself once again. Our last day, however, didn’t exactly turn out as they (or I) had planned.
“Kara! Karalynn!” I heard a voice yell as my family and I waited to board the EPCOT shuttle. Figuring it was one of my Aunts or Uncles, I was less than pleased as I turned around to receive the orders that were undoubtedly coming my way.
“Yeah? What is- PHIL!!!” I yelled in surprise. He had found me! “How did you…?”
“Some of the resort reservation people owed Eric a few favors. He pulled some strings and found out which resort your family was staying at.” Phil answered, catching up to me. “And guess what! I’ve got the day off!”
“That’s not what I was asking.” I said, laughing at his eagerness. “How did you know my name?”
“I heard your family calling you that on the day we met.” Phil replied, running a hand sheepishly through his shaggy blond hair. He had been cute in his Prince’s outfit, but in normal clothes, he was HOT! Like, surface of the sun HOT. “I hope you don’t mind, but I shortened it a little…”
“No, I like it. “ I assured him, thinking of how no one had bothered to give me a nickname before.
“Good, because that’s what I’m going to be calling you all day.”
“Really?” I asked, excited at the prospect of spending the day with him. “But, what about…”
“Don’t worry Hon, you go ahead. Have some fun.” Aunt Eleanor answered my unspoken question. “Now hurry up or you’ll be stuck here until the next shuttle.”
“You’re the best Aunt Eleanor!” I exclaimed, throwing my arms around her neck.
As it turns out, EPCOT really is the best of the 4 Disney Parks. I may be a little biased, since it was the only park that I had fun in instead of watching my kooky cousins. But, honestly, it was AMAZING. From kicking Phil’s butt at games at the end of the Spaceship Earth ride, to shopping (and eating) our way across the World Showcase, the day couldn’t have been more perfect. And the best part? Phil somehow found us seats in a secluded part of the park, right next to the lagoon for the fireworks show. Ahh, the perks of working at Disney World, or at least knowing someone who does.
As we sat watching the sunset and waiting for the fireworks to start, Phil asked me about something that I hadn’t dealt with in a long time…
“What’s up?” I asked, turning towards him.
“I don’t want to be rude or pull up things that should be left alone, but why are you on vacation without your parents?” Phil countered, looking down at me.
“Wow…” I started, expecting something much less… penetrating.
“If you don’t want to answer… it’s OK. I was just curious!” Phil hurried to reassure me.
“No, it’s cool. It’s just that no one’s asked me something like that in a long time…” I said. “Long story short…”
“Great, I love Cliff’s Notes!” Phil joked, instantly lightening the mood.
“Anyway…” I continued, more amused than annoyed “My mom comes from a rich oil family in Texas, my dad from a farm in West Virginia. My mom’s dad wasn’t happy about her marriage to my dad, so he cut her off financially, and had my dad, who’s in the Marines, stationed somewhere overseas. After he left, my mom, who was too pregnant with me to travel with him, started hating life back on the farm. So, pretty much the second she was able to, Mom packed up and went back home, leaving me in the care of my Aunt Eleanor.”
“Wow.” Phil said looking at me with a confused look on his face. “So, you’ve never even seen your parents? Never talked to them?”
“I see them every now and then. Dad’s still overseas, so I can only talk with him by webcam, but he seems pretty cool. He hasn’t forgotten a birthday yet!” I replied, smiling at the thought of my dad. “My mom, on the other hand, prefers just to send me expensive junk every few months.”
“At least you can sell it on EBay.” Phil joked, wrapping his arm around my shoulders, causing me to let out one of those girly contented sighs.
I was about to reply with one of my own biting comebacks when the fire works started, proving once and for all, EPCOT is the king of all Disney parks.
As we headed for the shuttle, I remembered something that had been bugging me since Phil and I had met.
“Phil?” I said, my turn to hit him with a surprise question.
“Yeah?” He answered almost sleepily.
“This may seem weird, but, what’s your real name?” I just had to know.
As I sat there, waiting breathlessly for his answer, Phil seemed to be… thinking of a response. Finally, he turned to me.
“I’ll tell you the next time we see each other.” He said, looking down at me with that perfect crooked grin of his.
“I live in West Virginia.” I protested “After this, we won’t see each other again.”
Phil looked at me for a long time, like he was trying to etch my face into his memory. In the end, he just hugged me tight, not saying a word, not letting go until the shuttle reached my hotel.
The next day was just as hectic as our first, just in reverse order.
“Karalynn, Hon, have you seen my sunglasses?” Aunt Eleanor asked me as we waited in the mile-long check-in line at the airport.
“They’re right here, silly.” I told her as I gently pulled the “missing” glasses out of her hairdo.
“What would I do without you?” she asked me, plucking the sunglasses from my hand. “So, how was your date?”
“Ah-mazing.” I told her, gushing over all of the details, including the conversation right before the fire works and the ride back.
“Aww.” She teased me. “Puppy love…”
“That’s not funny!” I said, even though I was laughing.
“Oh!” Aunt Eleanor suddenly exclaimed, reaching for her purse. “Speaking of your new beau, he asked me to give this to you.”
“What? When?” I demanded, taking the small, flat box she presented me with.
“This morning, while you were trying to keep the kids from starting a dining-room wide food fight. He was trying desperately to find you, and said he had forgotten to give this to you last night.” Aunt Eleanor answered. “Well, open it!”
Inside that small box was the most gorgeous necklace. In fact, it was the exact same one I had been eyeing in a “German” shop the day before.
“Aw.” I gushed as I looked at the perfect present. “Hey, wait! There’s a note…”
If it’s meant to be, then yes, we will. -Love, “Phil”
An answer to the last thing I had said to him. Why did he always have to have a comeback?
“So, Karalynn, tell us all about the guy you met over summer vacation in Disney.” My best friend, Ashley, demanded the second I walked onto school grounds.
“Yeah, we’ve been dying to know since my brother heard John and Jake talking about him!” another friend, Shelby, exclaimed.
“Alright, alright!” I said, pretending to give in. Really, I wanted to talk about Phil as much, if not more, than they wanted to hear about him.
When I was done with my story (no Cliff’s Notes versions this time!), both girls looked like they were about to collapse from the cute-ness of it all. It also didn’t help that I was wearing the dress Phil had given me.
“Do you think you’ll ever see him again?” Shelby asked, looking as though her life depended on that very piece of information.
“I don’t kno-“ I began to say, when Ashley interrupted.
“Karalynn, describe your Phil-guy again!” she demanded.
“Ok…?” I said, and described Phil again.
“Like that new guy over there?” she interrupted (yet again), pointing towards someone who had just walked onto campus.
“Who is tha- OH. MY. GOD.” I was paralyzed. IT couldn’t be… There was no way… But, as the figure walked closer and closer, he looked more and more like Phil until I was certain that it was him. “PHIL!”
“Kara?” Phil asked, stopping in his tracks, looking just as surprised and uncertain as me. “Is it, it’s really…”
“What…? How…?” I asked, just as dumbstruck as him.
“Oh, just kiss already. Homeroom’s about to start!” Shelby interjected, giggling (of course).
As much as I‘ve told you already, I think I deserve to keep what happened next private. Oh, by the way, turns out Disney likes to hire guys who have the same name as the prince they play… funny, huh?