By Soarin’ Diva
**WARNING: THERE WILL BE A PHOTO OVERLOAD WITH THIS ARTICLE. Be prepared to sit back and enjoy many, many, many photo’s of our experience with Flat Jacob.
My little family of four came upon a little conundrum that had never occurred before. We have always vacationed together, as families tend to do, but this year would be different. My oldest son, you see, is in his freshman year of college. While we are happy for him to continue on into his adventure of becoming an adult and embarking on his college years, this has also totally thrown a wrench into our vacation planning. We can no longer just pull him out of school for a few days, much less a week, to head to our favorite magical destination, Walt Disney World Resorts.
Because of this, for the first time ever, I had to plan our vacation for just three of us instead of four. I know some of you will understand how devastating this was for me, the guilt I felt at making FastPass+ reservations for a party of three. Planning out our dining options…for three. Booking our resort…for just three people. While I was excited about going to Walt Disney World, I still had the mother’s shame and guilt for basically abandoning my beloved eldest child and not taking him with us. I started imagining our family photo’s. He wouldn’t be in any of them. How could this be? It would be horrible, I just couldn’t fathom a family photo at Walt Disney World with only one of my two children in it.
Then I came up with a plan of sorts. A way for me to include my college kid without forcing him to miss classes. It started as kind of a joke. I was teasing him and telling him that I would “draw” him into all of our pictures and call him Flat Jacob (as Jacob is obviously his name), and include the hashtags #theadventuresofflatjacob and #flatjacobgoestowaltdisneyworld. He rolled his eyes at me in irritation because we all know that’s no substitution for actually being at our favorite destination. But then I started thinking…what if I really did take an actual Flat Jacob with us. One we could include in all our family photo’s and ride photo’s. So, all unbeknownst to my real Jacob, I began my extremely talent-limited crafty plot.
First, I asked him to pose for a quick photo without telling him why. I then went online to my favorite close photo printing business and had it blown up to poster size. I chose a 12×12, because I wanted to make sure his face would be visible in all the photo’s. I cut his actual head, neck and a bit of the shoulders out and, because I already have a small laminator at home, I laminated his head. I actually laminated it once, cut around his head again, then laminated him in another layer of plastic again because I wanted him to be sturdy enough to stand up to the rides and attractions. My husband suggested I use one of his gazillion paint stirring sticks to mount Flat Jacob’s head on so we could carry him through the parks. I grabbed some old left-over paint and painted over the entire stick to make it a little more festive. Now it was time to mount Flat Jacob’s head on the stick. This is where we ran into a problem. I needed something that would hold him to the stick no matter what the weather. I knew he would get wet, we would be in Florida after all. I also planned on taking him on attractions such as Everest and Test Track, so he needed to withstand the winds. I tried Gorilla Glue, but the plastic immediately pulled off of the wood. Then I decided to try some of the sticky pieces from some left-over 3M mounts that we had. It worked perfectly.
It was now time to pack up our car and head out to Walt Disney World. I confess, after a seven hour drive down and arriving before 6:00am, we actually forgot to get Flat Jacob out of the car our first day. I know. I’m a horrible mother. I left my poor child in the hot car in central Florida all day while we were off galivanting at the parks. Thankfully, he survived and looked as fresh as a daisy when we finally rescued him. From that moment on, Flat Jacob was with us wherever we went. The best part was, my real Jacob knew NOTHING about Flat Jacob until we texted our first set of photo’s to him.
Flat Jacob was able to ride Disney’s newest coaster, Slinky Dog Dash. He explored all of Toy Story Land before heading over to tackle Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster. He conquered Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. He zoomed around the track on Epcot’s Test Track. He roamed through the countries in Epcot’s World Showcase and even pressed a few pennies. He partied until he couldn’t party anymore at Magic Kingdom’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. He survived outer space on Space Mountain and dug for gems on Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train. He took a boat journey on the Na’vi River Journey and rode a Banshee on Flight of Passage. If we rode an attraction, Flat Jacob was there. If we took a family photo, Flat Jacob was in it.
I have to confess, we had a LOT of fun with Flat Jacob. We enjoyed finding some great photo op’s for him. We also got quite a lot of strange looks. Some people were curious enough to ask us what the deal with the head was, others just looked at us strangely as we walked passed. We also caught quite a few people trying to inconspicuously take a photo or video of Flat Jacob. If you were one of those “sneaky” people, rest assured, we DID see you. It’s okay, we understand. I even caught a Cast Member sneaking a photo.
Speaking of Cast Members, they seemed to really get a kick out of Flat Jacob. One of the Hollywood Studios Cast Members even took him and played around a little with him at rope drop. Another Cast Member at Epcot asked if she could take a family photo of us before loading into our pod at Mission: Space. A Storm Trooper at Hollywood Studios detained him as well. I mean…Flat Jacob DOES resemble a rebel spy. Children seemed to enjoy Flat Jacob as well. My favorite moments were when a boy of about 5 years was being pushed by in a stroller and he started waving and yelling, “Hey Face Guy!” and another girl waiting at the bus stop near us walking up to me and saying, “Um, excuse me..but WHAT is THAT?!?”
All in all, we had a wonderful vacation with our Flat Jacob, but in all honesty, I missed my real Jacob terribly. I would much rather have my real Jacob with us for every vacation. If you are a parent like me, who has an adult child off at college or elsewhere and want a way to include them in your family photo’s or vacation, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box to find a way to do just that. I don’t suggest everyone go storming the castle with their own version of “Flat Child”, because I do see potential problems with some holding their child’s head up to block the view of others without thinking about it, resulting in the banning of flat heads the way selfie sticks were banned. I do recommend that you find a creative and fun way to include your child in your vacation. It truly did help ease a little of the “I miss my baby” feelings I was having.
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