Tag Archives: Disney World

Costume Characters Just Made My Children Crazed

20 Apr

I know that people have the best times taking photos of their children with big costumed characters.   Not just the Easter bunny or Santa Claus, but also characters like clowns or at Disneyland and Universal Studios. This did not go over well in my family for several reasons.

First, since we are Jewish, I never took my children to have a photo with Santa or the Easter bunny. But that does not mean that we did not have encounters that shook us to the foundation. Second my daughter, and then my son, were petrified of costumed characters. Just seeing their oversized heads could start a squall! Finally, both of my children were shy.

When my daughter was three, we were walking though a mall’s lower level, a few days before Easter. Along came the Easter bunny and his helper. My daughter was the only child around, so the Easter bunny decided to walked over to say hello. Ad my daughter looked up, I noticed you could see a man’s face through the mouth in the costume.  I had a bad feeling.

My daughter started screaming, “The Easter Bunny ate someone!” Full out screaming. Needless to say the Easter bunny ran away as quick as he could, while I was left with a screaming traumatized child. True story. 28 years later. I still can hear her screams in my memory.

When she was young my daughter had panic attacks whenever she saw a clown. This was unfortunate, as her great-great Uncle Mike worked hard to make her a beautiful ceramic clown. It was lovely and colorful. However, she would not sleep at night with the clown in the room. I had to put it away, in another room. Eventually, the fear abated. But when she was small, clowns were an emphatic NO.

Our Santa experience was less stressful in some ways, but more in others. We have all seen and spoken to the many Santa’s who collect money for the Salvation Army.   We always put money into their collection pails whenever we could. And at first this created no problems. As long as they did not speak to her we were fine.  She would shyly walk up and drop the donation in the slot.

But when she was about six, she had an epiphany. “Mom,” she asked as we drove away from the mall, “How can there be so many Santas in one place?”

I was not thinking. I just told the truth. “Honey, there really is no such thing as Santa. He is a made up character. “ I immediately knew I had made a mistake. Her best friend was Greek Orthodox. Her quick response was, “I have to tell my friend.” That would not be good! OY! Dilemma of high magnitude!

Quickly I came up with an answer. “Wait. Not all Santa Claus’ are fakes. These are really Santa’s helpers. The real Santa Claus cannot do everything. So he has helpers.” Whew….that seemed to help. And I hope she never said anything.

With my son, I was no longer surprised by any fears.  I just avoided the malls during the heavy holiday season. Or at least I did not take my son there. But then came an experience I did not expect. When my daughter was 5 and my son was one, we went to Disney World. My parents came along. I expected a fun-filled adventure. But no!

I had booked a special Goofy breakfast with some of the Disney characters. But it did not go as planned. My son was petrified of all the big characters: No Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, or Donald for him. They could not come near him without screaming emanating from his little body.


A breakthrough! My son allows the Dream Finder a high five as my daughter looks on.

We had a minor miracle in Epcot with Figment and the Dream Finder, when my son was three. Thank goodness the Dream Finder looked like a real person, without a big head. Figment, of course, was cute and adorable. My son and daughter came home with their own Figment plush toys.

But the fear does eventually end. Years later we went to Disney World again. My children were older and ready to meet all the characters. My son even got an autograph book for all the characters to sign. We still have it. He ran up to the characters and led the way to the autograph areas. I am glad the childhood fears are gone.

Taking Trips Sometimes Bring Back Memories of My Parents

6 Nov

When I was a child, we never really traveled anywhere, except the Catskills. When there were school vacations, we might go visit an aunt and uncle in New Brunswick, but going on a trip that included a plane ride or a long car journey was unheard of to my family.

Each May we would go up to the Catskills for the Memorial Day weekend and get our bungalow open, aired out and ready for the season.   But then it was back to school for a month until the end of June when we journeyed up 17 to exit 104 and our summer home. But that was it.

My father traveled for his business. He went to Europe and California several times a year. He usually went to Milan and Como, Italy on business. Milan was/is the center of the fashion industry, and my Dad was in the textile/fashion industry.

Once in a while my Mom would travel with him, but not very often. She was a teacher and could not leave her class. She also did not want to leave us. But she did go to California and Milan several times.

When my parents were stilled alive, I went to Milan with my husband and son. My husband was speaking at a medical meeting there. My Dad told me in advance that I had to go to Como. He said it was a jewel of a city.

When we were asked if there was anything I wanted to do while there, I mentioned Como and the silk trade. I just wanted to find out how to get there.


Next thing I knew, there was a private car with a driver/guide, as well as a translator, to take us to Como for a day and visit the Silk museum and school. This was the center of silk and textiles in Italy for many generations. I think they were amazed I knew about silk and Como. When most people mention Como they also mention George Clooney. But not me, for me it was all the textiles.

It was wonderful. The driver/guide had actually studied at the university there. Our interpreter really did not need to tell me what the guide was telling me. Once I got into the museum, I knew all about it from my Dad’s businesses, first his embroidery shop in New Jersey and then his textile firm where I had worked when I was in college.

The guide and I had a great time examining every machine and the display case. My son and husband walked around with the translator, while the guide and I bonded over textiles and jacquard embroidery machines.

That was many years after my father took his last trip to Italy. It had been years since his retirement and the closure of his business. I bought him a book about the museum. When I got back we spoke about Como, that jewel of a city. A day was not enough. I could spend a week or more there. It is lovely.

I remember my first plane journey. It was with my family. We used to get dressed up to fly in those days. No sweats and t-shirts! The winter break of my freshman year of college, my family went to Florida and stayed at the Fontainebleau in Miami. It was the vacation of a lifetime for us. We had never journeyed so far from home before. My sister, brother and I had a wonderful time just relaxing on the beach.

I do have one regret. My sister, who was a sophomore in high school, wanted to go to Disney World. There was a bus trip we could have taken. But I did not want to go, and my parents would not let my sister go alone. My sister and I finally did get to Disney World together and spent a day at Epcot. I felt like I had redeemed myself. I loved it! We had a wonderful time. I had been to Disney World many times with my husband and children. But going with my sister was special.

Forty years later I went back to the Fontainebleau with my husband. I stood at the pool and I told concierge that it had changed so much since I had last been there. He was so impressed with how much I remembered from the trip when I was 18 that he gave me a copy of a small book written about the hotel’s history as a gift. I was thankful. The photos in the book brought back so many memories of that earlier trip with my parents and siblings.

My parents’ biggest trip, without us, was when I was a senior in high school and they went to India for three weeks. They never forgot that trip. The highlight for them was going to the Taj Mahal, the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of a Shah/emperor.   I saw the photos and remember my Mom’s telling me it was the most beautiful building in the world.

My husband has seen the Taj. He told me that the Taj Mahal was the most breath taking building he has ever seen. That even when he was leaving, he kept turning around to look at it again because it was so beautiful and amazing. His descriptions matched those of my parents’ recollections. And my interest in the Taj Mahal became more intense.

I have never gone to India, even though my husband has been there twice. But I made him and myself a promise. If he ever had to go to India again, and he was going to Agra where the Taj Mahal was located, I would go with him.

Later this year I will follow in my parents’ footsteps once again. I will walk up the path to the white marble tomb and see the building that fascinated my parents and my husband. I am going to see the Taj Mahal.