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The Spontaneous "Not So Secret" Monorail Ride: Why Stories Like This Matter

Photo by Heather Maguire on

It started out innocently enough.

Ten of us were on an "Ohana" (family) vacation in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We had started the day at the Animal Kingdom park. After a wonderful character breakfast, we set out to explore all the fun things to do.

By mid-afternoon some of the family decided to ride Kali River Rapids, a water ride in a large round raft, that's (almost) impossible to experience without getting quite wet! While the Dads took the kids to ride, the rest of us lounged at a nearby patio area to wait for them. The area had tables with umbrellas, restrooms, and a fun wall feature that shot out a stream of water.

The water feature with Pop-Pop posing for a silly of our fun traditions.

After the ride, the kids noticed the water feature and my father-in-law, a.k.a. "Pop-Pop", having a little fun with it. So since they were already wet from the ride, my daughter (6) and nephew (7) decided to play in the water fully soaking themselves from head to toe!

Normally this would have been no big deal, but it was October and when the sun goes down, the temperatures cool down quite a bit... even in Florida. On top of that, we had dinner reservations at Epcot and, anyone who has visited Disney World can tell you that the air conditioning in the restaurants is no joke! Add two wet kiddos and it doesn't make for a fun evening. So, my sister-in-law and I decided that we would take the kids back to our resort hotel to change clothes and meet back up wit the family at the restaurant.

During the bus ride back to our resort, somehow we started talking about riding the monorail. My nephew was eager to ride as this was his first time visiting Disney World. But, we also knew that Pop-Pop was anxious to ride as well. However, we concocted a plan to take it to Epcot and keep it as our "little secret" and the kids agreed not to tell.

Well... you know the saying "best laid plans"?? Yep exactly that!

I had been to Disney before, so I thought I was pretty familiar with the monorail system. I told my sister-in-law that we could just take the bus from our resort to Magic Kingdom and hop on the monorail to Epcot. Easy peasy!!


I didn't account for the fact that is was late-afternoon by this point, and that we might have to wait longer than normal for a bus to arrive to take us to any of the parks. Clock starts ticking...

Then, once we finally got to Magic Kingdom, we had to wait for the monorail to arrive.

Fifteen or so additional minutes added here...

It was at this point that I also read the sign and realized the "not-so-little" detail that I'd overlooked in this grand plan of mine... that it takes 2 monorail rides to get from Magic Kingdom to Epcot. The first ride is to the main parking area known as the TTC (Transportation & Ticket Center). Then, you have to switch lines to a different train to get to the park. Yikes! Now even more time added waiting for the second ride...

Meanwhile our family had no idea why it was taking so long for us to meet them or what we were really up to. This was in 2005, so while we did have cell phones, we didn't carry or use them like we do today, so it wasn't like they could just call or text us to check in.

We finally arrived over an hour later! Fortunately the restaurant had been very busy, so even though our party had reservations, the rest of the family hadn't been seated too long when we got there.

When we sat down, we were, of course, bombarded with questions, "What took you so long? What happened?" My sister-in-law and I held a straight-face and told a good story about how the bus was taking forever, the lines were long, yada-yada. But, somehow they knew (or suspected) that something else was going on. As she and I gave each other the eye and held-in giggling, one of the kids gave in and told the whole story. BUSTED! We thought we might just get away with it, but should've known better.

Needless to say, they weren't very happy that we had taken so long to return. And, if this story ended here, it would have been quite a memory.

But part of what else makes this even more memorable was the fact that Pop-Pop was crushed that we'd ridden the monorail without him! He was less upset about us being late than he was about feeling left out of the experience. {Que the guilt!} He did forgive us, but, the fact that a 60-something year-old man had such a visceral reaction was truly memorable! And yes, we did all ride the monorail together another day.

So why share this personal story here?

On the Home page, I note that photo books are a great way to collect, curate, and share all those "trivial tidbits" that might otherwise be lost with time or never known at all. And, I think this particular story is a perfect example of what I mean when I say that they are far from trivial.

At the time of this trip, my niece had just turned two and it was a first-time visit for her, my nephew and brother-in-law. It was also the first and only "Ohana" vacation we'd take as my father-in-law passed away a few short years later.

Luckily, before he passed, we were able to share many fond memories and laughs from our trip. One way we did this was by looking through the photo "scrapbooks" I made for each family.

Share the full story

Page from my personal album about this story.

Being able to add lots of "little" details - more than a single caption or two - ensures that these cherished memories are fully documented; going beyond the basic information that usually fails to tell the complete story.

For all four of the grandkids, who were still quite young when my father-n-law passed, it is a way for them to revisit our fabulous trip along with remembering just how fun, lively, and awesome their Pop-Pop was.

THIS is why stories matter...

I hope this has inspired you to write down and share some of your not-so-trivial "trivial tidbits". I'm here to help if you need it because...

The impact, power, and magic they hold is immeasurable! 💖


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