A curmudgeon’s view of the happiest place on Earth | Mark’s Remarks


Now listen, I am not one to gripe and mope around for long periods of time.  OK, maybe I am.  

There are times I get in quite a rut and have to give myself an attitude adjustment.

I don’t know what it is, exactly. Perhaps it’s the pandemic, perhaps it’s that I’m nearing retirement, or perhaps I’ve always been this way a little.  I’m beginning to think I’m possibly a closet introvert who has been masquerading as an extrovert for about 50 years.

I mean, there is a big part of me who wants new experiences, spontaneity, a lot of human interaction, and throwing caution to the wind.  

But let’s face it, even if we want that stuff a big part of the time, we want it when we want it. And for sure, we want it on our own terms.

We have not been to Disney for about 12 years.  Back then, we scraped together the money to visit all of the parks and rent a house with a pool. It was a great time – one that my kids still talk about.

But to tell you the truth, they talk more about the fun we had at the little house we rented and the pool that we had all to ourselves. There is little they remember about Disney.

Off we went again this summer. Since our last trip, three of our kids have grown up. One got married, so our new daughter-in-law came along, too. We also added another child of our own, turning 11 soon.

We thought we owed our youngest a trip to this fabled land, just so she wouldn’t feel deprived.  Also, we didn’t want her antagonistic older brother to keep torturing her with  comments (in jest) like “We went to Disney before you were born.”

This trip, we had a little more money to spend but still made sure we budgeted and set aside money all year. We opted for fewer parks, which our youngest complied to after advice from her friends and older siblings. There was also the bonus of spending the night halfway at the cool apartment of her oldest brother and new sister-in-law, who happen to have two cats she adores.

I remembered very little about the first trip. Like the other kids, I remembered the fun we had at the little house and a quick visit to Cocoa Beach, rather than the parks. There were a few memories of nearly losing my head on Space Mountain, and trying to embarrass my boys by screaming while we rode the Test Track at Epcot.

Twelve years makes a big difference. I remember being skinnier 12 years ago.  I also remember not being fazed by spending most of the day at the parks. Plus, I wore flip flops last time, because I clearly remember taking them off when we rode the Soarin ride at Epcot (which still remains my favorite ride, by the way).

After our big day at the Magic Kingdom, I realized my sock inside my sturdy tennis shoes seemed to be bunching up. I’d sit down periodically to smooth things out, only to feel a bunched up sock sensation again.  Later, I realized the beginning of a small blister, caused by newer tennis shoes and getting used to some new orthotics, prescribed by my chiropractor.  

How I ever wore flip flops for four full days of trudging around, I will never know.

Not to be deterred, I soldiered on for a second day, cushioning my feet with a second pair of socks.  

We were bound and determined to make it to every nook and cranny of Epcot, just like we’d done at the Magic Kingdom.  Clad in $12 ponchos and with umbrellas in tow, we even braved a rainstorm to get to every country.

At the end of the night, we stumbled into our quarters damp, tired, but victorious.

Blister No. 2 was beginning to form on my other foot, and I felt about 110 years old as I hobbled to the showers.

Here are my negative observations of traveling to Florida. 

I think it’s a bit hyped.  Everything is too stinkin’ expensive, adding to the luxurious gas prices. The traffic throughout Tennessee, Georgia and Florida is hellacious. (Insert people with more money than I have to “tsk tsk” and ask why we didn’t fly there; go ahead, I’ll wait.) 

The parks, the shopping areas, Walmart, and even the mini-golf place we visited are too crowded and there is always someone getting in your way. You are either always in someone’s way or someone is in yours. People invade your personal space, stop directly in front of you, or almost knock you down. 

 In such environments whether in the amusement parks, the grocery stores, or the highway, you are reminded how ignorant and self-centered people can be.  

And, have mercy. Everything south of Illinois requires you to wait in some sort of line for long periods of time.

Positive observations?  Way more than negative.  

The humidity and heat in Florida are not always unbearable. My daughter has overcome her fear of roller coasters. We saw the remarkable and always wonderful ocean. 

Lovely, friendly, generous southern folk shared tips on special parking places and time savers.  

We had “fast passes” which helped us get into some rides faster without waiting in lines.  Even with waiting in lines, we met and visited with some remarkable people from highly diverse backgrounds.  Meeting them enriched us and reiterated how there are so many people who share the same needs and wants; people who are interested and interesting, and who want to be accepted and have a good time.

So, overall, we had a great time. If I had my way, I would design the trip with rest days between park visits.  

I’d also make sure I was proactive about my disappointing feet – or maybe I’d just see if I could go on golf-cart week.

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