Baby-sitters on Board (& in Disney!)

While I was working on a post for my other blog (Rather Be Reading), I was suddenly hit with some inspiration. Awhile back I started re-collecting Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club series (that my mom had given away!!) and when I started re-reading from the very beginning, I rediscovered Baby-Sitters on Board! – the first Super Special book in the series. In this particular book, the babysitters end up on a cruise to the Bahamas and a stopover in Walt Disney World for 3 days.

That might not sound groundbreaking but BOB was published in 1988 — which means the 3 days in Walt Disney World could only be spent in Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center (yes they used that very name in this book!).

I just had to share some of the fun park moments in the books.

We first see Walt Disney World through the eyes of 6-year old Karen (for all you BSC fans out there… she’s Kristy’s stepsister). It seems the traveling pack (it’s 21 people in all) stayed off property and had to take a LONG bus ride to a parking lot and took the monorail to MK. (“I felt like we were on a flying train.”)

Disney World! Disney World! Disney World! This is my dream! I have always, always wanted to come here. Ever since I first saw a TVย commercialย about it.

Karen is positive that getting Minnie Mouse’s autograph is going to make her famous back home. It’s the first character she meets and she’s a little upset that Minnie doesn’t talk.

One of their first stops is the House of Magic on Main Street (which was exciting because I’ve never been there) and their first glimpse at Cinderella’s Castle. My favorite part about Karen’s experience is how she is POSITIVE a hitchhiking ghost is following her throughout the park after she leaves the Haunted Mansion. Apparently, he accompanied her on every ride after that one.

Stacey on Space Mountain:

Space Mountain is sure the wildest ride at Disney World. It’s a high speed roller coaster through dark tunnels that look like outer space.

Dawn (my favorite babysitter) is a California native and she has been to Disneyland a ton of times. (I think the Disney Hipsters would appreciate how much thought she put into her outfit though… lavender overalls and high tops with little bird clips in her hair.) So, at first, she’s pretty unimpressed with WDW until she rides Space Mountain and dubs it even better than DL’s version. (She almost throws up.) “I felt much more like I was on a roller coaster hurtling throughout space.”

One of the younger babysitters, Mallory (from the huge Pike family), spends most of her time people watching and writing in her notebook. (Something I used to do all the time.) One note: How come all the kids are crying? (Loved that!)

Kristy’s brother, David Michael on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:

That’s my favorite ride! You have to look around when you’re on it. It’s like you’re really in the wild, wild west. Did you guys see the bones? And the possums hanging from the tree? And the chickens and the goat? How about the mine shaft?

See? Someone appreciates the details! (Later, Stacey remarks how she felt like she was “really there” when riding on Pirates of the Caribbean.)

The last morning in WDW was spent at the Empress Lily (named for Walt’s wife) character breakfast (now Fulton’s Crab House) where they gave out Epcot Center comic books: Mickey and Goofy Explore the Universe of Energy!

Unfortunately, there was only oneย chapter dedicated to Epcot Center. Stacey talks about how she is going to look up “prototype” when she gets home. While the kids thought the attractions at the park sounded like school, Stacey assured them it would be fun — could they ride through a land filled with dinosaurs in school? Of course not!

A few other details:

  • Marc, a child they met on the cruise who is in a wheelchair because of a heart condition, meets the girls at Epcot and Stacey finds it remarkable how the park is so accessible for someone in a wheelchair.
  • No one drinks around the world. (Boo. Stacey is only 13 though. Understandable.)
  • The kids thought Captain EO was “deliciously scary”. I thought that was a funny way to put it.
  • They also tried out the Universe of Energy, World of Motion, and grabbed a lunch somewhere in World Showcase.

For the most part, it seems like Baby-Sitters on Board! was pretty accurate, but what hit home the most was a line from little Karen that is all too familar:

I’m so sad. I’m happy… but I’m sad. Do you know what I mean? It’s that feeling you get when your birthday finally comes and you’re really happy that the waiting is over. And you’re going to get presents and a cake and a party. But you’re also really sad that the waiting is over. Because when the day ends, your birthday will end, too. And you won’t have it to look forward to anymore. That is how I felt on our last day at Disney World.

Hey, that kid is pretty smart. (Plus it turns out her hitchhiking ghost was actually friendly and helped her when she got separated from her stepmom.)

All the Disney details made me enjoy this book probably a million times more than I did when I was a kid. Most likely because I had not been to Disney World at the time I first read it.

Hope you all enjoyed this literary trip down memory lane! If you’re interested in picking up your own copy, you can find some used copies starting for a penny on Amazon.


6 thoughts on “Baby-sitters on Board (& in Disney!)

  1. I loved this book and still have it – I read it on the plane to my first trip to WDW! I went for the first time in 1992, and also did a cruise, so it was just so fitting. And I do think that this book is spot on for a lot of the details from back then! I still read it occasionally when I need a Disney World fix, I have no shame!

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