Creative (Travel/Reflection) Editorial Featured FEATURED STORIES Home Verge Voices

The Little Meltdown: Meeting Ariel at Disney World

WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – With spring break always comes serious FOMO – fear of missing out – and for me, this year was no different. Many of my peers went to sun-soaked beaches and posted on social media aggressively about the great time they were having and what drinks they were consuming that hour. I, on the other hand, spent my break in the cold tundra that was New Jersey and lived vicariously through the snapchats of my friends at Disney World. Their trip got me thinking about the last time I was in Disney, where I got to meet my favorite princess, Ariel.
I go to Disney World every year, just for the simple reason that I’m overly invested in everything Disney. In fact, if you play certain Disney songs in front of me, my eyes well up and I lose all my chill. My favorite part of being in Disney is meeting the characters. Realistically I am aware that the characters are just people playing a role but there’s something special about meeting Mickey Mouse or hugging Anna from Frozen.
Now, by this point, I’ve met a plethora of Disney princesses, but never had I met my childhood favorite, Ariel. And when I say favorite, I mean I legitimately wanted to be a mermaid, like I was okay with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to walk on land and would have to grow gills because I would be a mermaid and have that amazing floaty hair that the Little Mermaid and her sisters touted. So, in line I went, surrounded by children and parents who looked like the life had been sucked out of them, even though it was only noon.

Image taken from Corporate Transportation

In the balmy 80-degree weather that seems ever-present in Florida, Ariel’s Grotto is a blessing.  For those who are saner than I and decided not to wait in line for 45 minutes just to see a lady in a wig, to meet Ariel you travel through an above ground tunnel-like system that provides needed shade and cool air. Along the way you get to see the various human things that Ariel has collected over her 16 years of life, like whozits and whatzits galore.
So anyway, here I am minding my own business, bopping along to “Part of your World” and marveling at gadgets and gizmos a plenty, when lo and behold, I see a tiny child grabbing for my attention. As per usual, the friends I make in line tend to be children under the age of nine, and this one was five years old. She was the cutest child I’d met that day; let’s call her Lil’ Bean.
Now, Lil’ Bean introduced herself to me by running straight into my legs, screaming about wanting something to eat, which I understood, because right outside the Grotto was a popcorn stand with a heavenly aroma. So I wouldn’t appear rude to the other adults around me, and more importantly, not to be seen as a predator, I introduced myself to Lil’ Bean and her parents. They were a wonderful family from Montana and, like my family, drove down to Orlando, except their drive took 3 days instead of my family’s 14 hours.
Lil’ Bean had immediately decided that we were best friends, and in order to be her best friend, I had to stoop to her level. Have you ever been kicked in the shin repeatedly by a child that doesn’t know her strength? Here I am, 5’9”, being forcibly made to squat down to the height of this tiny little child, while her light up Sketchers left their marks on my leg.
We were having a riveting conversation about the colors of our hair, while I shuffled along next to Lil’ Bean, when I realized that we had almost made it to the front of the line. Lil’ Bean also realized how close we were, and in her excitement, she managed to punch me in the throat.
How? Why? Who punches people when they get that excited? Apparently, little girls do.
Clutching my throat, I staggered up to my normal height and immediately dropped one hand to my back because at the ripe old age of 21, I have to see a chiropractor.
At this point, I can see the photographer and cast member who usher you the clam that Ariel is flapping her tail on, the same tail I envied for too many years. My hands started shaking. I could hear her voice. Just as I was about to take a step forward to be on deck for this character visit, Lil’ Bean attempted to dart out in front of me and cut the line.
Now I’m generally not an extremely aggressive person and most definitely not one to wish any harm towards children, but when I saw her steal my place in line, I was consumed with rage. Betrayal of the deepest measure burned in my chest, and the urge to kick this child in the back of the knees had to be quelled; I administered some yoga breaths and daydreamed of puppies to bring myself back to Earth. Thankfully, her parents had the decency and sense to bring their off-spring back in line behind me. With Lil’ Bean in her rightful place, my shaking resumed – the cast member ushered me forward, and my mind blanked at the sight of Ariel waving at me. My words were taken from my body just as hers were stolen by the Sea Witch/Octopus Lady, Ursula.
Ariel and I had a long discussion about the matters of the sea and what the Sebastian would have to say about the weather. I mumbled answers about myself back to the youngest daughter of Triton, grand-daughter of Poseidon, and once removed first cousin to Hercules.
Image taken from YouTube

To this day, I could not tell you exactly what I said to her, I blathered on about being a mermaid and loving her hair. To which my new best friend Ariel (sorry Lil’ Bean, you lost that privilege when you punched me in the throat) responded by saying she loved my hair and that it reminded her of Princess Jasmine of Agrabah’s hair. That was when my eyes started tearing and I knew I had to get out of the grotto. As I stumbled off the clam Ariel pulled a rolled parchment out of a hip pouch, handed it to me and said, “Now princess, I need you to do me a very big favor. I need this note to be delivered straight to the hands of Peter Pan, as it is regarding those pesky mermaids in the lagoon. My father is NOT pleased with them.”
I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “I will not fail you my friend.” What possessed me to say that? Was I now a messenger, connecting the sea and Earth?
I turned around and marched out the exit without even stopping and was immediately assaulted by the sunlight. As I blinked furiously and adjusted to amount of light that was not included in Ariels’ Grotto, I stood very still and took stock of what had just happened to me.
I met Ariel, and lived to tell the tale.
Still shaking, I pulled my phone out and attempted to see the pictures that I took with Ariel, but decided that they would never see the light of day due to the tears that were staining my face. While scrubbing off the tear streaks, I felt a sharp pain in my shin. Lil’ Bean had emerged from the Grotto as well. She silently handed me a tissue and skipped away. A toddler handled the meeting ridiculously better than I did, but still, the joke’s on her, because I could go to the nearest food vendor and order myself an alcoholic beverage (which I did, and it turned my mouth blue just in time to meet Peter Pan and have another meltdown).