Last May, we went to Disney World. While we were there, we let each kid pick a souvenir. Jack built a light saber, Nora found a handmade necklace, and Ann Marie chose one of those two-sided dolls that was Rapunzel on one side and Tiana on the other. You know the kind; one head is hidden under the skirt of the other head, and you flip it upside down and reverse the skirt to switch characters.
We bought the Rapunzel/Tiana doll, henceforth known as “Tinunzel,” on our first day in the Magic Kingdom. And while the double princess dolls could be found in tons of shops all over the park, the Tinunzel doll was only in the shop right by the park entrance on Main Street. This became an issue later, when Ann Marie woke up that night and barfed on it. She was fine; it was “too much theme park fun barf” not “gravely ill barf.”
Fortunately, we were planning a second day in the Magic Kingdom, and my friend Jen is a Disney World expert and had told me that you can exchange anything at Disney World for any reason. She lives about twenty minutes from the park and has exchanged many items, even ones obviously broken by her children. She says it’s included in the outrageously high prices. You’re paying for 100% satisfaction!
So when we went back to the Magic Kingdom for our second visit a few days later, I wrapped Tinunzel up in a plastic bag and stashed her (them?) in the bottom of the stroller. We were borrowing Jen’s BOB Revolution stroller, which she had kindly stocked with a cooler and 5 disposable rain ponchos. We were very glad of the ponchos on our first Magic Kingdom day when it rained that afternoon.
When we got to the park, we went to the shop right away and I told the cast member working the register that my daughter had thrown up on the doll that we just bought, and could we please exchange it for an identical doll? The cast member said we’d need a receipt.
Let’s break that down: Either I can exchange a doll that was damaged after purchase or I can’t. The receipt merely serves to prove that I bought the doll at Disney World. Given that I was exchanging the doll for an identical doll, what is the point of proving I bought it there? If I were asking for credit, I’d understand. Or if she had said she can’t exchange it because the damage occurred after purchase, I’d also understand. But no exchange without a receipt? What?
I of course did not have the receipt, so I took Tinunzel and left, figuring I’d try it in one of the other 10,000 shops in the park. That is how I know that Tinunzel is only available in that one shop. I checked.
Happily for me, my friend and Disney expert Jen and her kids came to join us at the park later that day. Jen was stunned that the cast member wouldn’t exchange the doll, and she agreed to help me try again later. So on the way out, Jen and her kids headed to the shop with me and Ann Marie, who was very very cranky. We parked the strollers outside, and I grabbed the plastic-wrapped, barfed-upon doll and went in.
“Hi, my friend’s daughter was sick and threw up on this doll. A cast member outside said you’d be able to help us out in here?” said Jen to the guy working the register. I held up the plastic-wrapped doll and the new doll with a hopeful expression on my face.
“You just want to exchange it for the same doll?” said the cast member.
“Right,” I said.
“Heugghhaahhh!” said Ann Marie, as she chose that exact moment to barf on the floor, demonstrating exquisite timing.
So then there was a flurry of activity as Jen hustled her vomit-suggestible kids away, the cast member called maintenance, and I guarded the soiled area to keep customers from accidentally walking through it. While we waited for maintenance, I handed the wrapped doll to the cast member and he gave me a new doll to replace it. Eventually they brought a “wet floor” thingy and we took the new doll and left.
That night, Andrew unpacked the stroller, and he found something interesting. He found the plastic-wrapped, barfed-upon Tinunzel doll still in the stroller basket.
You see, in the flurry and rush of activity, combined with the fresh barf, I had accidentally exchanged the bundle of our used rain ponchos for a brand-new Tinunzel doll. Basically, we ran a complicated con job to score a free princess doll. And we couldn’t have done it without Ann Marie.