I don’t know about you but I take a lot of pride in being a dad. In that pride, one of the great privileges and pleasures that I have experienced is the opportunity to share the area theme parks and attractions with my kids. From reliving first time experiences of classic attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight to the whole family trying the VR coaster at Fun Spot and Flight Of passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the first time, the parks have provided some of our favorite memories that have been etched in our hearts. I started thinking.. What if my dad was here?
If My Dad Was Here – 6 Things in The Parks I wish I could have done with my Dad
Now with all that being said, it doesn’t hit me often but every now and again there is a longing that some of these memories could have been shared with my dad. Though I was young when he passed, I was very fortunate in that my memories of my father are all positive. From what I remember he was a tech head before tech heads were cool. Constantly obsessed with computers he took a lot of interest in technology and its advancement.
As such I remember him having a keen interest in EPCOT. In fact, that was the last park we went to as a family before he passed. I was reminiscing about these recently when a question popped into my which sort of triggered this post. What would it have been like to have him with my family and I in the parks? More specifically, what do I wish I could share with him? As always though this list is not exhaustive these were special memories I wish I could have made with my dad.
Family Picture In Front of Cinderella’s Castle, the Universal globe outside Universal Orlando, the front of Busch Gardens or in Front of the lighthouse just outside the main entrance to Seaworld
So this is sort of an iconic moment for a family trip right? In our family, pictures are a priceless souvenir and we can not get enough on any given trip. There’s not a whole lot that I would not give to have one of these shots on my shelf now. It’s also funny how these shots in particular sort of can capture the whole essence of a given trip. For example, in our house, we have something like 3-4 pictures in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Some of them are even the same angle and similar shot but one look at the picture and any one of us can rattle off a story about that trip in particular. To have the shot with my dad, to have those stories, priceless.
Having him watch my child’s first afternoon tantrum from inside the parks
So with this one, I am fortunate in that I have already experienced this with my mom but it would have been funny to watch his take. One story involved our daughter when she was maybe 6 or 7. My mom had left ahead of us to go back to the hotel maybe by an hour. We should have gone back with her. As we were riding the bus back to the hotel you could almost see the switch go off. One minute she was a happy princess, next second screaming banshee.
This one it was our fault as we tried to squeeze those last few minutes in the park but the hilarity ensued as I realized what was happening. “Please don’t be that kid”, I repeated very audibly much to the laughter at the bus, once I realized my pleas were falling on deaf ears I point blank told her after a couple of minutes, “Ah you’re already that kid”’ Though they may have been annoyed much of the bus laughed on the way back.
When we got back to the hotel and relayed the story my mother just laughed. It was at this moment that I realized I had just completed a right of passage of sorts. To have had my dad there would have completed this moment. This is not to say I did not appreciate my mom at this moment, quite the opposite actually, I think I appreciated having her more during this time, but man it would have been fun to share that laugh with him.
Riding roller coasters till we got sick
Tragically, as I have gotten older this threshold has gotten a lot smaller. In fact on some of them like Montu at Busch Gardens and Rip Ride Rocket at Universal Orlando that threshold is really low now. I still love them and can not get enough of the adrenaline that one gets when they ride a coaster but I admittedly “can’t hang” like I used to. With that being said it would be fun to compete and see who could outlast who.
Experiencing food and wine festival
As I have gotten older I have gained a deeper appreciation for food. I have also gotten a little bit more adventurous. As he had a deep love for Epcot, it would have been neat to walk the world showcase and sample all of the different offerings with him. I would have loved to hear what he thought of the different options.
Comparing rides now to the good ole days
Like I mentioned in the opening, my dad had an affinity for technology. Watching the progression of where attractions were versus where they are now would have warranted a strong reaction from him. In fact as I think about it, the opportunity to analyze certain attractions such as the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdoms ability to captivate audiences across multiple decades is really neat and the ability in those cases to intermingle old tricks with some of the new audio-animatronics would have been a great conversation in its own right.
That first time going to the parks with him as grandpa
Though I do not have a lot of memory of dad I know we were loved by him. He took a lot of pride in us. He loved to teach us different things too. I guess this sort of loosely ties in with the Cinderella pic mentioned above but I believe he would have probably more so doted on his grand-kids. Watching his reaction as he got to relive all of the theme park firsts, much like I have had the privilege of doing so with them would have been priceless.
There are other things that I wanted to with him that did not make this list but of all of these this would have been hands down the most fun.
This post is not intended to be a downer of sorts but rather reflective. It’s these memories of my dad and to be honest, the men who served as a stopgap in his absence that sort of fuel the fire to kind of seize each day with my kids. These moments have encouraged us to make the most out of these opportunities and look to create these lasting impressions with my kids. As you go to the theme parks, make the memories your kids would miss one day.
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