Last week, I went to Disney World for the first time. Stacie, the kids, and I flew to Orlando where we met Stacie’s parents. Our sons had also never been to a Disney theme park, and it was the first time Stacie’s parents had been to Disney World with their daughter in over 25 years.
Disney World was as I expected, but it offered a few surprises. Not once did I see bickering or jostling in lines for rides. I didn’t expect people to be hostile, but I was struck by the courtesy and patience on display. I saw Kentucky fans standing next to Duke fans. I saw Chelsea, Arsenal, and Man United jerseys, and at all times, kindness prevailed.
I was also surprised that I saw hardly any litter. When tens of thousands of people congregate in any location in a single day, littering is contagious, but not at Disney World. I looked for janitors wheeling garbage cans and picking up trash, but I didn’t see any. Either upon entering Disney World, people gain a new respect for the environment, or Disney employs a team of custodial ninjas who keep the park clean without people noticing. I expect it’s the latter, and next time I’m back, I’m going to find them.
From our 15th floor hotel balcony, we could see from Epcot to Space Mountain. When I stared at the Florida swamplands, I thought, “Boy, Florida is flat.” But Walt Disney thought, “This is a perfect spot for a 30 thousand acre resort that will attract millions of people every year.” Disney World is massive, and it’s hard to believe that a mouse built it.
Disney World is not all joy and bliss. Our first day in the Magic Kingdom was on Easter Sunday, and we didn’t have to wait long for rides, even without our Fast Passes. Stacie had once been to Disney World on the 4th of July. The crowds were so heavy that Disney closed the parking lot. “Miserable” was how she described her day in “The Tragic Kingdom.” The weather during our visit was sunny with a slight breeze and temperatures in the mid-80s. I expect that in the middle of the summer in 100 degree heat, patience is the first thing to go when waiting an hour for a one minute ride on a spinning tea cup. At times, I felt like we were on a death march, walking from ride to ride, making sure we hit as many as possible before the day ended. Stacie assured me that our walk in the park was leisurely compared to those she spent with her Dad years ago, when he was in control of the map.
I noticed some people took their Disney vacation too seriously. There must have been a competition to see which group could design the most obnoxious matching neon t-shirts. If so, the family with the cornea scorching yellow shirts that read, “Disney World 2012…We’re Baaack!!!” were the winners.
Walt Disney said, “It is my wish to delight all members of the family, young and old, parent and child.” He succeeded with our family. We met Mickey and Minnie, rode Space Mountain, and flew through the Forest Moon of Endor with C-3PO and R2-D2. My son even fought Captain Jack Sparrow. Walt Disney also said, “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.” My kids felt like they were in another world – they ate ice cream every day and got new toys just because. I guess Disney World is “where dreams come true.”