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Old 08-22-2008, 04:59 PM   #1
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As your kids are growing up, your money is usually limited but you still try to go on trips by cutting corners on some luxuries and even necessities. However, cutting corners can often reduce certain accepted areas on comfort and hygiene.

When you have kids, there is tremendous pressure to be the GREAT parents and take your kids to the Mecca of childhood, DISNEY WORLD. Try standing on the sidelines of a soccer field and admitting that your 4-year-old has never been to Disney. Stares of disdain and contempt. Other parents cut conversations short and move off. A sudden drop in ˜play dates' is noticed.

Not wanting to fall out of grace with the toddler-parent sect, we made plans to pull off a Disney vacation that on the surface would have all the trappings of luxury, but still be on our limited budget. Remember some purchases at Disney can rival our government's purchases of $1000 toilet seats. Our plan was to:
- Stay at Fort Wilderness
- Spend nearly a week at Disney
- Celebrate my son's 4th birthday at a breakfast with the Disney characters (take that Soccer Moms!)
However we would accomplish this trip by:
- Driving non-stop from New Jersey to avoid any overnight expenses
- Buying a 10x20 foot, 3-room, 10-person tent to sleep in
- Cooking our own meals on a Coleman stove

The tent was brand new and, due to a late season snow storm, I did not have the opportunity to do one very important task – WATERPROOF the tent. But no fear, we were going to SUNNY Florida. Come on, doesn't Florida sunshine go into every glass of OJ?

As we drove through Fort Wilderness on our way to our $62 per night site, we noticed one peculiar thing. NO ONE had a tent. We saw trailers, 5th wheels, tent-dwarfing motor homes, even pop-ups, but NO tents.

We found our site between two behemoth motor homes with wind chimes, Chinese lights and quadraphonic stereos. However the vegetation was pretty thick around the site so we thought we'd be OK. Soon the new tent went up, queen sized air mattress was inflated, folding bed for little Tommy was set up, and porta-crib for baby Matty was assembled.

With the long drive, we looked forward to an early bedtime. As it still gets dark early in March, we got the boys in their PJs, said their prayers, and put them to bed. Upon shutting off the flashlight, I noticed that one helpful component of sleep was missing – DARKNESS. The motor homes had their Chinese lights beaming and, what was that, a street light? Turns out right on the other side of our barrier vegetation was the MAIN road in Fort Wilderness.

Nylon tent material can block wind, but it does not do a dang thing about stopping light other than giving the entire innards of the tent a green glow. To make matters worse, my ears received a double whammy – thunder in the distance and bus air brakes from the road. Crash-boom lighting and thunder. PSSSSSSSSSST, PSSSSSSSSST of the air brakes. Add ˜sound' to the list of sensory items that nylon tent material does not block.

As the torrential rains started, I learned other aspects of my tent's manufacture. Based on the dripping of every seam above me, the tent company makes no effort to seal those seams and actually may use a wicking agent to help propel the rain through the seams. Conversely, they take great care in waterproofing the FLOOR of the tent so that any rain that enters is quickly pooled with no hope of escape. Adding to my anger was that no one else in my family seemed perplexed by our situation and was sound asleep.

As I monitored the water depth in the tent and reviewed the evacuation plan in my mind, I heard my son Tommy's voice call out for Daddy. I quickly waded over to his folding bed to see what was the matter.

Tommy: My bed is wet.
Dad: Tommy, did you pee-pee in your bed?
Tommy: NO, Dad. It's raining in here!

I moved Tommy to a dryer area of the tent (at 10x20 feet, I had a number of options!) and went back to ˜bed'. The rain and thunder stopped allowing the bus air brakes to take charge. The Disney bus system is all about convenience and that ˜convenience' allows you to hop a bus every 5 minutes until 2 AM!

After 2 AM, I must have dosed off only to realize that bus service starts promptly at 5 AM. Thanks for the 3-hour break, Walt!

As my wife woke up, she was not happy with the tropical swamp-like conditions in the tent. Malaria, trench foot, perhaps even a ˜gator. As I drained and disinfected, the rain began to fall again. Not knowing what to do, I searched out on foot. At the local comfort station, the house phone caught my eye. Under the listing of phone numbers, I saw my salvation - *77 EMERGENCY GUEST SERVICES.

Operator: How can I help you?
Dad (without taking a breath): I'm in a tent that leaks and we have two inches of water in the bottom. My wife is ready to divorce me. My kids are growing fins. What can I do?
Operator: We have Wilderness Homes at Fort Wilderness that are actually mobile homes. They normally rent for $150 a night but since we have vacancies, I can rent them to you for $75 a night.
Dad: (Running the calculations through my head with the speed of a Cray computer. $75 Wilderness home minus $62 campsite. Hey, that's only 13 bucks more than I'm paying for a gravel pad!): I'll take it!

With the speed of Mercury, I ripped down the sponge (a.k.a. tent) and threw it in the back of the truck. Before they knew it, the family was in the Wilderness home with a kitchen, Murphy bed and even BUNK beds!

As I lay there in bed that night, and every other night of our vacation, and listened to the thunder and rain (but NO buses), I thought, "In this land of $4 water and $30 Mouse ears, this is the best $13 I ever spent!"
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:59 PM   #2
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Freightliner Owners Club
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Florida Keys
Posts: 2,163
As your kids are growing up, your money is usually limited but you still try to go on trips by cutting corners on some luxuries and even necessities. However, cutting corners can often reduce certain accepted areas on comfort and hygiene.

When you have kids, there is tremendous pressure to be the GREAT parents and take your kids to the Mecca of childhood, DISNEY WORLD. Try standing on the sidelines of a soccer field and admitting that your 4-year-old has never been to Disney. Stares of disdain and contempt. Other parents cut conversations short and move off. A sudden drop in ˜play dates' is noticed.

Not wanting to fall out of grace with the toddler-parent sect, we made plans to pull off a Disney vacation that on the surface would have all the trappings of luxury, but still be on our limited budget. Remember some purchases at Disney can rival our government's purchases of $1000 toilet seats. Our plan was to:
- Stay at Fort Wilderness
- Spend nearly a week at Disney
- Celebrate my son's 4th birthday at a breakfast with the Disney characters (take that Soccer Moms!)
However we would accomplish this trip by:
- Driving non-stop from New Jersey to avoid any overnight expenses
- Buying a 10x20 foot, 3-room, 10-person tent to sleep in
- Cooking our own meals on a Coleman stove

The tent was brand new and, due to a late season snow storm, I did not have the opportunity to do one very important task – WATERPROOF the tent. But no fear, we were going to SUNNY Florida. Come on, doesn't Florida sunshine go into every glass of OJ?

As we drove through Fort Wilderness on our way to our $62 per night site, we noticed one peculiar thing. NO ONE had a tent. We saw trailers, 5th wheels, tent-dwarfing motor homes, even pop-ups, but NO tents.

We found our site between two behemoth motor homes with wind chimes, Chinese lights and quadraphonic stereos. However the vegetation was pretty thick around the site so we thought we'd be OK. Soon the new tent went up, queen sized air mattress was inflated, folding bed for little Tommy was set up, and porta-crib for baby Matty was assembled.

With the long drive, we looked forward to an early bedtime. As it still gets dark early in March, we got the boys in their PJs, said their prayers, and put them to bed. Upon shutting off the flashlight, I noticed that one helpful component of sleep was missing – DARKNESS. The motor homes had their Chinese lights beaming and, what was that, a street light? Turns out right on the other side of our barrier vegetation was the MAIN road in Fort Wilderness.

Nylon tent material can block wind, but it does not do a dang thing about stopping light other than giving the entire innards of the tent a green glow. To make matters worse, my ears received a double whammy – thunder in the distance and bus air brakes from the road. Crash-boom lighting and thunder. PSSSSSSSSSST, PSSSSSSSSST of the air brakes. Add ˜sound' to the list of sensory items that nylon tent material does not block.

As the torrential rains started, I learned other aspects of my tent's manufacture. Based on the dripping of every seam above me, the tent company makes no effort to seal those seams and actually may use a wicking agent to help propel the rain through the seams. Conversely, they take great care in waterproofing the FLOOR of the tent so that any rain that enters is quickly pooled with no hope of escape. Adding to my anger was that no one else in my family seemed perplexed by our situation and was sound asleep.

As I monitored the water depth in the tent and reviewed the evacuation plan in my mind, I heard my son Tommy's voice call out for Daddy. I quickly waded over to his folding bed to see what was the matter.

Tommy: My bed is wet.
Dad: Tommy, did you pee-pee in your bed?
Tommy: NO, Dad. It's raining in here!

I moved Tommy to a dryer area of the tent (at 10x20 feet, I had a number of options!) and went back to ˜bed'. The rain and thunder stopped allowing the bus air brakes to take charge. The Disney bus system is all about convenience and that ˜convenience' allows you to hop a bus every 5 minutes until 2 AM!

After 2 AM, I must have dosed off only to realize that bus service starts promptly at 5 AM. Thanks for the 3-hour break, Walt!

As my wife woke up, she was not happy with the tropical swamp-like conditions in the tent. Malaria, trench foot, perhaps even a ˜gator. As I drained and disinfected, the rain began to fall again. Not knowing what to do, I searched out on foot. At the local comfort station, the house phone caught my eye. Under the listing of phone numbers, I saw my salvation - *77 EMERGENCY GUEST SERVICES.

Operator: How can I help you?
Dad (without taking a breath): I'm in a tent that leaks and we have two inches of water in the bottom. My wife is ready to divorce me. My kids are growing fins. What can I do?
Operator: We have Wilderness Homes at Fort Wilderness that are actually mobile homes. They normally rent for $150 a night but since we have vacancies, I can rent them to you for $75 a night.
Dad: (Running the calculations through my head with the speed of a Cray computer. $75 Wilderness home minus $62 campsite. Hey, that's only 13 bucks more than I'm paying for a gravel pad!): I'll take it!

With the speed of Mercury, I ripped down the sponge (a.k.a. tent) and threw it in the back of the truck. Before they knew it, the family was in the Wilderness home with a kitchen, Murphy bed and even BUNK beds!

As I lay there in bed that night, and every other night of our vacation, and listened to the thunder and rain (but NO buses), I thought, "In this land of $4 water and $30 Mouse ears, this is the best $13 I ever spent!"
__________________

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Tom and Katharine
'07 Winnebago Tour 40TD, 400hp Cummins
'17 Winnebago View 24V, '02 R-Vision B+
RVing for 19 years & 150,000+ miles
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:24 PM   #3
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Old 08-25-2008, 09:08 AM   #4
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Fondest memories of my youth, were those times when "things did not go as planned". This will have more "staying power" than had the trip gone perfectly. Disney has it's place & I have gone to Fort Wilderness some 20 odd times. Very much enjoyed every visit there. Thanks for sharing your tale. Took me back down memory lane some 40 years ago...
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Old 08-25-2008, 05:52 PM   #5
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Reminds me of my childhood! Your kids will never forget...I haven't that is why I am camping with my family to give them many memories as well!
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:05 PM   #6
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Tom and Katherine,
I would agree that was the best $13.00 ever spent! I remember the looks we got when we would say that our kids had only been to WDW one time. They are grown with kids of their own now. Evidentally, some families go EVERY YEAR. We will take our grandson to WDW for his 6th birthday (we will go the day after Christmas in 2009) and we will stay at Fort Wilderness. WDW is so much fun, especially with a child!

Safe Travels!

Don and Vicky
Daisy - our furkid
2002 Fleetwood Revolution
2002 Tahoe Toad
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