Disneyland, Part One: The Alarm Goes Off

I am in beautiful Southern California, at the happiest place on Earth. Disneyland.

But this is the story of what happened before we even made it inside the park. This is the story of our first day in our hotel.

We had decided to take it easy, because we’d spent 10 hours the day before trapped in a car with two small children. We went down to the beach, where Chewey threw himself to the ground in a fit something like four times, because he was tired and cranky and has entered the fearsome fours. It was super.

But that wasn’t the capper of my day.

What made a generally crummy day that much worse is what came after we got back to the room.

It was ten PM. The kids were in bed, sound to sleep. Husband had gone to the roof to watch the fire works, leaving my friend and I in the room. I was just starting to wonder where he was when it happened.

The fire alarm went off.

The kids began screaming, having been awakened from a dead sleep by the blaring of fire alarms. Sea Monkey jumped up and tried to run from the room. Desperate, I tried to get Chewey into pants–of course, he’d decided that THAT night was the one where he’d refuse to wear pajamas.

He fought. I wrestled him into his pajamas like I was wrestling a freaking alligator. Tied Sea Monkey’s robe around her and we took off down the hall to the stairs. Chewey, who is sensitive to loud noises, was covering his ears and upset, but holding his own.

Then Sea Monkey began running down the stairs. Calling after her didn’t work, so I left Chewey with my friend and chased after her. I should’ve let it be the other way around, but I didn’t.

When I caught up with her, we had made it down to the sixth floor (down from 11. That’s right. Eleven). I pulled her aside to wait for Chewey and my friend, and that’s when it happened.

Sea Monkey got set off.

So now I have a boy I can hear screaming, and a girl who is now wailing like a fire engine herself. And a wall of people between me and my hysterical son.

I could hear him screaming, but I couldn’t help him. Not standing there, anyway.

And that’s when I notice it: there’s people evacuating and the occasional employee, but no one’s directing us as to what we should do. There are no firemen. There is no smoke. The alarms have stopped.

In short, I believe there is no danger.

Sea Monkey begins yelling at me that she needs to get out. I know she does. But I can hear my son shrieking in fear. If I had thought for a moment there was actual danger, I would have found the first parent there and asked them to take her.

Instead, I yell at my poor kid, who is only trying to do what she knows she has to–get out–and tell her to stay put for as long as she can hear me. I run back up two flight of stairs, pick up my now hysterical son (who was having trouble navigating the metal stairs in his bare feet and was too heavy for my friend to pick up), wrap him up in my sweatshirt, and carry him down the remaining flights.

I meet my husband in the lobby.

My kids are hysterical. The boy is saying he wants to get into the car and drive ten hours so he can go home. He refuses to go back up to the room.

I don’t particularly blame him. After all, this same thing (alarms going off after they’ve gone to sleep) happened when we were in Vegas a month ago. One more outing like this, and he’ll turn into a freaking shut in. Before these last two months, we hadn’t gone anywhere as a family in almost two years. Now THIS.

We tried to comfort him. An employee apologizes, and says it was burning food. But there are no firefighters. Not one. There’s no way they’d leave that hotel without making sure everyone was safe.

It was a fucking drill.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the employee lied to me, like she thinks I can’t read. After all, they’d posted that there was the potential for a drill on the wall. But I never would have thought they’d do it after hours. They don’t let me run the damn dishwasher in our unit after 10, but they can do a fire drill?

I’m not just upset on my own behalf, but I saw parents carrying their disabled adolescents on their backs down all those stairs. My boy is 50 pounds–heavy but manageable. What about them?

I was up until 3:30 trying to quiet him. I finally had to wrap myself around his little body and hold him close to my chest so he would settle enough to actually sleep. It was horrible.

They called at seven that morning to make sure I was coming to their presentation. Um… Let me think…



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