Clear Signs Your Husband Is a Disney Dad

in Walt Disney World

Guests at opening day of Guardians of the Galaxy

Credit: Walt Disney World News

In 2018 we had just returned from our first family trip to Disney World and my husband was cornering anybody he made eye contact with to share EVERYTHING. He couldn’t say enough about the parks and experiences we had. I went into the trip with the expectation that I’d be dealing with what I call a “vacation dad.” You’ve seen them, usually looking annoyed while they drag an exhausted, sweaty kid behind them. But something happened to my husband during our five days in Orlando that I can’t really explain.

We were about three days into our vacation and had consumed just as many days worth of Dole Whips and Lapu Lapus (see: boozy drinks in pineapples). That night we attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and took full advantage of the short lines that come with special events. We collected more Christmas cookies than we could consume and had just watched the most fun parade down Main Street. Fully exhausted and ready for some downtime, we were hanging out on the People Mover just enjoying Magic Kingdom in its Christmas glory. The Mover was cruising along and cut through Space Mountain as the ride was blaring Trans Siberian Orchestra’s, Carol of the Bells, and it happened. I was fully anticipating the “we will never do this again” look. Instead, my husband looked at me and said, “We’re doing this again, right?” I was Nick Cage to his Pedro Pascal.

I love Disney as much as the next kid at heart, and I’ll never turn down an opportunity to go. The time had come: He had become a Disney (Dis) Dad, and outside of the financial impact my husband’s newfound appreciation for the Most Magical Place on Earth would cost us, I was thrilled.

My husband and kids; Credit: Katie Hernke

Dis Dads are exactly what they sound like: a subgroup of Disney Adults that love Disney as much, or more, than their kids. They even have a Facebook group for sharing hot tips about traveling to Disney World. My husband, with his aversion to spending large amounts of money, theme parks, heat, walking a lot, and other people’s children, is perhaps the least likely candidate for a Dis Dad.

In the early days of the trip, I sat in wait, anticipating “vacation Dad” to make an appearance. We stayed in a hotel room that was a long walk from the check-in desk, and I braced for the complaints. Instead, he was blown away by all the fun decor and details of the resort, as he and the kids eyed the giant Ursula and ran through the Timon and Pumbaa logs. We had a couple 80-degree days spent wandering Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, and he suggested we walk around the world and check out all the different food and drink stops. Nobody wants to do that with their kids in tow, but around the world we went! Who made us stop at every photo pass stop in every park? Him. Other kids losing their minds in lines and around us? It was like he didn’t hear them. I waited for the big sighs and eye rolls, but they never came.

Our own children melted down multiple times from hanger and fatigue, and my husband handled it with more patience than I could ever muster. In fact, he was first to wake up every morning and check wait times for rides. There was a 50-minute line to meet Chewbacca and the other Star Wars characters and he jumped right behind the last Guest. At one point, there was a dad with his young daughter, who was decked out in a Darth Vader sundress, in front of us. She went in to meet Darth Vader and the dad was so emotional. My husband whipped out his phone, snapped multiple photos of them, then approached the Darth dad to get his number so he could send him the pics. My husband had taken two photos of his own family over the course of the entire trip.

My kids; Credit: Katie Hernke

We’d been married for a decade, but I’d never seen my husband act like this before. He was waking up early without whining or his usual “just 10 more minutes” anthem, so we could get to the parks sooner. He was tolerating our kids being overstimulated and did a better job calming them down with pool breaks and downtime than me. He didn’t whine once about the temperature or logging 30,000 steps every day.

At the time of writing, we have plans for another Disney trip during Christmas—at his request. When we told our kids we will give fewer gifts because of the trip, there were threats of not going. To which the Dis Dad said, “That’s fine, your mom and I will just go without you, drink Lapu Lapus and eat where we want.”

Of course, the kids weren’t having any of that, so now they’re invited again. My husband is spending his time reading up on how to get into Wookie mode for Smuggler’s Run and watching YouTube videos for other Disney hacks. I’m not sure if he’s an active member of the Dis Dad Facebook group, but his social media algorithms suggest he frequents the posts.

What I thought was going to be a one-and-done vacation for our family turned into somewhat of a tradition. I haven’t even gotten any dirty looks or eye rolls as I coordinate our family T-shirts for our Christmas trip. My children will soon age out of Disney’s magic, but maybe they’ll take the cue from their dad and realize that the fun can last. Maybe the Dis Dad will join that Facebook group and learn how to plan a trip on his own. Anything is possible when you believe in magic.

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