I just returned from a last minute solo trip to Disney World.
And the entire world says, “What, why?”
I’m not going to go into a lot of details, but ultimately, the last couple years have been mighty stressful for the Oster family. And after utilizing the opportunity to take a trip sans family for herself, my wife suggested I do the same.
So, I slowly began the process of trying to determine where I might go, who I might go with, and came up with a few options, and also a few bites from friends/family who were at least mildly interested in taking a trip with me. I was working through the process slowly, not feeling too rushed.
And then something happened. Something I can’t quite announce officially yet. Something which meant I couldn’t wait any longer.
If I didn’t do it right away, it wasn’t going to happen.
So, after a great deal of hemming and hawing and keeping my finger hovered above the PURCHASE VACATION button, I made the decision to take a solo trip to Disney World. Two days of traveling, one day in the parks.
Reason for Disney World?
The simple answer: I love it there.
The slightly longer answer: Places like Las Vegas, Memphis, New York, or many other options I considered just felt like they ran a high risk of not being nearly as fun as a solo traveler.
The ultimate reason: To strike off my bucket list item of Drinking Around the World Showcase.
Drinking Around the World Showcase (which we will now abbreviate as DAWS), entails having a drink at each of the eleven countries held within EPCOT’s World Showcase over the course of one park operating day.
As a Wisconsinite, the idea of having eleven drinks over the course of approximately twelve hours didn’t sound all that crazy. The only reason I had never completed it on our previous trips was because I had kids in tow.
So, I figured in order to make it a real challenge, I should up the ante a bit. I looked around and found that the restaurant within the Germany pavilion serves liters of beer and quickly came to the final details of my challenge.
I would have my first drink with breakfast at France at around 9am. Then, after doing some rides and whatever else, I would get to Mexico at approximately noon and make my way around the other countries, winding up at Germany at 6:30 for dinner and a liter of beer.
Now, outside of the breakfast mimosa, I was looking at 9 drinks over the course of six and a half hours, followed by an incredibly large drink.
That felt a bit more challenging. Not quite imposing, but definitely something to put my talent for alcohol consumption to the test.
I got into Florida around 3pm on Sunday. With little else to do, I decided to stretch my liver and kidneys a bit by checking out a few of the bars hiding outside of the parks. Specifically an Indiana Jones themed bar at Disney Springs called Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar, a magic-themed bar at the Boardwalk Inn called Abracadabar, and the well-hidden, yet beloved treasure at the Polynesian Village known as Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
Things were actually going fairly well at the Hangar Bar. I had a couple of drinks and a late lunch, but since there wasn’t any space at the bar, I was seated alone at a table and they rushed me through my meal and I was out the door within an hour.
I then went off to do some souvenir shopping for the family and by the time I had arrived at my second location, I was still feeling quite clear-headed.
At the Abracadabar, I actually managed to find a seat at the bar itself and since I was being amused by my fellow bar patrons, as well as the bartenders, I actually found it difficult to want to leave, meaning that by the time I actually forced myself off the bar stool, I had already managed to consume over half of the number of drinks I intended to drink the following day.
I finally managed to get extract myself from one bar to reach my final destination (easily my new favorite place to drink in the world…well…not the world…but the Disney World anyways), Trader Sam’s.
Here, the bar was full as well, so I sat down at a table and ordered my first drink and some food.
Once I completed that, a spot at the bar opened up…and then bad decisions happened.
You see, I looked over and saw the guy who was sitting next to me nearly on the floor. Not because of alcohol consumption, but because the bar stools were trick chairs, and the bartenders had decided to lower his as far as it could go. This moment is when I first got to talk to Morrie, the man who convinced me to drink The Nautilus (a drink to be shared between at least two people) by myself…The man who almost killed my chances at completing the DAWS challenge.
These two drinks were not, in any way, necessary. Before I had even arrived at the bar stool, I could have just gone back to the hotel and gone to sleep in preparation for the coming event. I also have to admit that I’m not completely certain these two are the only drinks I had once sitting down next to Morrie, as we closed out the bar (a Disney first for this guy).
So, it’s obvious. I consumed much more than I had intended to (should have) that night. Even worse, due to my want to showcase my DAWS successes to the world, I posted each drink I consumed to Facebook, meaning my friends and family were all aware of the bad choices I was making that very night.
So when I posted this picture the following morning:
Everyone understandably believed me to be quite terribly hung over.
It’s a fair assumption, but I was actually feeling mighty amazing. I had woken up an hour before I had my alarm set for and was out of my hotel room by 7:30am, ready to take on the day. The face in the picture was merely to mimic the intensity of the main man himself, Donald Duck.
At this point, I was confident. I knew I was going to kick this challenge in the nethers and come out the other end feeling absolutely fine.
I arrived at EPCOT fifteen minutes before the park even opened (another first for me), got myself a coffee while I waited for things to open up, took a trip on the new Frozen ride (yeah…I know…but the effects are amazing, seriously), and then finally made my way to France for breakfast and some champagne-laced orange juice.
And that’s where things started going south.
I can’t specifically say that this attempted hair of the dog was the culprit, but I know that within an hour, I began to feel the effects of a terrible hangover.
I wasn’t too concerned, as I had scheduled some time on some rides between this drink and the rest of them, so I was certain the feeling would pass.
As I climbed into the seat of my last ride before heading to Mexico, I knew the challenge was going to be a real struggle. It probably didn’t help that the ride was Mission: Space, a simulator which rockets you into space, around the moon, and finally lands you on Mars, all through the power of spinning you around really really fast.
I didn’t end up needing them, but I definitely had my eyes on those special bags they leave in there for those who might have trouble with their lunches attempting to reach escape velocity.
I got off the ride, grabbed a bite to eat (delaying things), and went to Mexico. Then I went to ride the ride in there (further delaying with a slow, dark, boat ride) before finally heading to their Margarita bar. I looked at the menu with a fairly green face, which is probably why the bartender suggested an avocado margarita.
I’ll be honest with you, this seemed to help. I didn’t feel amazing and I was definitely taking it slowly, but it caused me to feel better. I’m chalking it up to the fatty nature of avocados.
So, I hopped over to China where I changed up my plans from a rather hefty sounding drink called Tipsy Ducks in Love, to a rather tame sounding Cantaloupe Vodka.
It was good, but my stomach began churning yet again. Three drinks in and I was already doubting whether I wanted to complete this challenge. I was an hour behind my original schedule and couldn’t envision drinking another eight drinks.
I came to the America pavilion and found they were offering a new drink which consisted of sipping chocolate with a shot of Chambord. I had high hopes the chocolate itself might soothe my stomach’s woes.
I even chased it with a nice bready pretzel to try and makes things better. But I simply did not.
This was when I first sent a message to my wife stating how I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to make it.
I wasn’t completely ready to give up yet, so I decided that I’d take a bit of break and head off to ride a few of the rides I didn’t fit in earlier (slow, dark rides…)
I knew the hour or so I was taking off wouldn’t help my cause of actually finishing with a liter of beer at Germany at 6:30, but I would still be able to complete the official challenge if I finished by nine.
I rode the rides and still didn’t feel all that great, but decided to go to Canada and try for a beer and see if I perhaps the added water content might help things.
And it totally did. I still wasn’t feeling amazing, but was feeling a heckuva lot better than before. So, I followed it up with another in the UK.
I was feeling pretty amazing at this point, so I figured now was the time to do the one thing that terrified me the most of the rest of the countries, the Aquavit from Norway.
Yeah, they have beer available, but this shot is one of the unspoken rules of the DAWS challenge. It’s almost like if you don’t do this, you haven’t really done anything.
I downed it…and it stayed down. And I still felt good, so I moved on throughout the rest of the countries, sticking with beer, as any responsible drinking would:
Italy, Morocco, and Japan went down nice and easy, and as I was finishing up my last sips, I saw it was time for dinner.
I had made it!
And as I headed to dinner, this sense of accomplishment washed over me. I knew I could fit one more beer in me.
But I didn’t believe in myself for a whole liter of beer.
In retrospect, I probably would have been just fine if I had gone for a whole liter, but I don’t feel any less of a success without it.
I managed to make it all around the world. And it all stayed down. And I didn’t even get picked up by the Magic Police for doing something completely inappropriate or illegal or whatever…I’m pretty sure that’s because I didn’t do any such things.
After I finished my dinner/beer, I wandered around EPCOT for a few more hours until they closed, made my way back to the hotel, and put myself to sleep…
And honestly, although I wasn’t feeling amazing the next morning, I wasn’t feeling as terrible as I probably should have, considering how I had consumed 20 alcoholic beverages (if you’re counting the nautilus appropriately, it’s at least 22) over the course of approximately 27 hours.
I arrived home about eight hours after I woke up and was greeted with my own very special medal!
It says, “You drank all around the world”.
And I did.
But I don’t think I’d do it again. I’d much more prefer sipping and enjoying just a few drinks over the course of a long period of time than what happened over the course of my 2-day binge.
However, I did just learn about a challenge to ride all 47 rides at Disney World over the course of one day…