As I promised in my last blog, I wanted to provide my impressions of Walt Disney World park in Orlando, Florida.  We’ve done this trek to Orlando three times as a family now — something I never thought we’d ever be able to do even once because of the expense.  If you go every year, you can ignore me because you know more than I do.  But if you are saving up money to go for the first time, pay attention!

I thought I’d quote Mr. Disney along the way….

“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park (Disneyland). I want to feel they’re in another world.”

I suspect that Walt Disney didn’t mean that the prices were so outrageous that you couldn’t believe it, but that’s exactly what they are.  You pay at least $20.00 for parking.  I don’t know how anyone struggling financially can afford a vacation in these theme parks.  Perhaps a trip to Disney World will become the next entitlement.

Coronary-inducing prices aside, Disney accomplished what he set out to do.  It is indeed another world filled with wonder and excitement.

“We believed in our idea – a family park where parents and children could have fun together.”

If Disney accomplished nothing else, it was this.  He created rides and shows that the entire family from 86-year-old Grandma to 4-year-old Cindy can enjoy together — assuming that they can make it through the parks and the heat.  That’s the only drawback.  Even in May, the heat was high, the lines were long, and the crowds unending.  A trip to these parks is not for the feeble.

But for every child who was melting down from having too much fun, there was another hopping with excitement or skipping in front of his parents so he could get to the next ride faster.  And the grandparents are smiling when that happens.  Well, they might be smiling weakly, but they’re still smiling.  Disney rides are (for the most part) less intense than Universal or Sea World rides.  Disney World can be enjoyed by everyone.  It’s an experience that you should consider if you can afford it.

“Disneyland is the star, everything else is in the supporting role.”

Well, the Frozen girls seem to be pretty popular, too.

“It’s no secret that we were sticking just about every nickel we had on the chance that people would really be interested in something totally new and unique in the field of entertainment.”

“We did it (Disneyland), in the knowledge that most of the people I talked to thought it would be a financial disaster – closed and forgotten within the first year.”

Well, if the nay-sayers had only known, they would have done it first.  We all know (now) how popular Disneyland and Disney World are.  Everyone is copying their formula.

“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.”

One of the biggest problems with Disney World is the aging animatronics.  These figures were very amazing in their day, but they are less striking in our era of computer-generated special effects.  Even when my children were young, the “It’s a Small World” ride was completely boring for my children.  Some rides do not seem to have changed since the last time we were there.  This is fine for nostalgia, but I can’t help but feel that if Walt were still alive, he’d be thinking of ways to improve the experience without sacrificing the park’s G-rating or the family experience.

“Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.”

Walt knew it.  You know it.  I know it.  And the Hollywood producers inserting profanity and sexual situations into movies and TV shows aimed at younger and younger children know it, too.  (They just don’t care.)  Disney World proves that entertainment can be rated G and still appeal to young and old alike.

Additional thoughts

If you can only go to one park …

Go to either Epcot or the Magic Kingdom.  Both have more rides, and Epcot has the advantage of exposing your family to a taste of foreign countries.

I was surprised

At one point entering the Spaceship Earth ride, I saw empty bottles, wrappings, and other detritus dumped by patrons along the walk leading up to the entryway.  It’s sacrilegious, but people even litter in Disney World!  This didn’t surprise me so much as the fact that no one in Walt Disney World had picked the trash up!  Unlike the last times we were there, some of the “cast members” seemed less enthusiastic than normal.  Are Disney standards beginning to slip?

Donald Duck still delights

Even in a 3-D movie, Donald Duck is still a riot.  (The Muppets were pretty good in 3-D, too.)

Go see the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

You simply must do this.  These monsters are hilarious, and each time you go through, the jokes are different.  The monsters interact with audience members, and this makes each time a new, fresh show.

Do NOT procrastinate

Buy your tickets to the park early.  Set up your three FastPass rides immediately.  Yes, it’s a pain for those who, like me, have a phone that doesn’t do apps well, but someone in your family can do it.  Do it now.  Do NOT delay.  Because we didn’t set up our three FastPasses immediately, we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do — and that was with us staying all day!

Expect problems

When we were there, many rides simply were closed or broken.  Not everything will go perfectly.  Be prepared to shrug the unpleasant off for the sake of the rest of the family.  Be a sport.  Don’t make it worse for everyone else if you don’t get to do your favorite ride.  Everyone will thank you — except for the fact that no one will know you did it.  But you can pat yourself on the back and know you did a good deed that only God will recognize.  And those are the best deeds, after all!

Bring more money than you think you’ll need

Because I guarantee you will need it.  If you only remember one thing I suggest, remember this.

Remember to tell your credit card company you’re going to Florida

It’s hard to straighten it out with a credit card company with the latest Disney theme music playing in the background.

There are water fountains, but …

… the water is so hot, it isn’t refreshing.  You’ll just have to pay $3.00 for a bottle of water.  Well, you can ask for a free cup of ice water, but they won’t give you it in a “big girl” cup.  It’s up to you, but I’d go for the bottle.

Carry as little as possible

If you can put everything you need in one backpack that you share, do that.

If you can’t walk 4 – 6 miles …

You have choices.  Rent an electric scooter or a push wheel chair.  You can rent strollers for the very young, but I would bring your own.  I’ll bet renting a stroller isn’t cheap.

Put plastic ponchos in your backpack

They are easier to carry than umbrellas, and they might come in handy.  You can generally get them at the Dollar store for — wait for it — one dollar.

My youngest daughter desperately wanted to stay for the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  Shortly before the show began, there were flashes of lightning.  They were so far away that we couldn’t even hear the thunder.  The show was delayed.  Some people left.  It began to rain.  We took shelter under a store awning.  More people left.  A pleasant voice kept telling us the show was delayed because of inclement weather (no kidding!) and thanking us for our patience.

Eventually, it began to rain with gusto, and the mass exodus began.  Jagged lightning burned through the sky accompanied by dramatic peals of thunder.  Someone abandoned her scooter in the middle of main street.  Some poor waif lost her Mickey Mouse ears.  But should we leave?  Could it clear up?  We didn’t want to exit the park only to discover that the rain stopped and the show would go on.  The voice kept telling us the show was only delayed, but one store clerk admitted to us that she would keep saying that until 5 minutes before the park closed!

Sadly, after over an hour of steadily increasing monsoon weather, even my daughter gave up hope, and it was time to leave the safety of the store awning and depart without seeing Tinkerbell dodge the fireworks.  I inquired about the price of a poncho.  They were 600% more expensive than in the real world.  ($6.00)  Umbrellas were $16.00.

We decided we’d just have to get wet, and we proceeded to do so.  This might be a lot harder with 86-year-old Grandma walking as fast as she can (but very slowly) and 4-year-old Cindy crying inconsolably.  Our youngest family members were 18-years-old, and it was easier to handle.

When we finally got to the trams that would take us to our car, we had to wait in line for the next tram.  We saw Ariel and Flounder swim past us.  Ursula was laughing maniacally.  (And here I thought she had been impaled with a ship through the chest.)  When we finally boarded a tram, we had to sit in puddles that had poured off of the previous riders.

There was a family who hadn’t been able to board and couldn’t understand that they had to stand behind the yellow line.  If they didn’t stand behind the yellow line, the tram would not move, and they would stand in the rain even longer.  The pleasant voice of the conductor repeated more times than I can count that this family needed to move behind the yellow line.  Eventually someone shouted, “For Pete’s sake, stand behind the yellow line!”  Another woman said, “Maybe we should try it in Spanish.”  Eventually, the exasperated members of the tram convinced the wayward family that it was in their best interest to stand behind the yellow line, and we eventually reached our car.  By this time, the light show in the sky was such that my oldest son asked, “Are we sure the Martians aren’t landing?”

At this point, Disney World shot off a few, sad puffs of fireworks in the downpour and called it a night.  We heard the sound of the fireworks, but we didn’t get to see them.

Bring a poncho.

Our family joke was:

That was scarier than the Haunted Mansion!  (It’s my favorite ride, but the children thought it wasn’t scary enough.)

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