Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Postcards from The DW

This is a Business - The Dodos (mp3)
Johnny Quest/Stop That Pigeon - The Reverend Horton Heat (mp3)

My family spent last week at DisneyWorld in Orland -- er, Kissimmee, Florida. We stranded my not-quite 2-year-old son with my in-laws and headed for warmer climes equipped with passes to all of the Disney parks as well as a day for SeaWorld. It was my third experience and the second for both of my daughters, and the entire trip was fantastic. This was true mostly because I don't handle our day-to-day finances, so I have no remote clue how much the trip cost us.

Were I to even try and guess how much money was involved, I would begin to ratchet down my concept of a "fantastic" trip and start nickel-and-diming every minute. Was that dinner really worth $200 for four fucking people? Why did we buy a 7-day pass and only use five days, and how much money did we throw away? Each day at a park cost us HOW much?? Why the hell are we buying all of these $10 pins? This luau cost us how much?!

But I don't do that. Not really. And even if I started to add the numbers in my head, I have no idea how the cost of that trip relates to our current financial situation. It's possible the trip crippled us for years and will force my children to go to trucking school instead of college, or it's possible we had saved up so much vacation money that we could go again in the spring if we really wanted. (And, well, if we could find someone else foolish enough to watch our whirling dervish of a toddler for a week.)

Still, in the hopes of squeezing out a few more dollars' worth out of the trip, I thought I'd share a few observations I made over the course of the week:

The Woman Who Talked to Her Stuffed Fox

Last day of the trip. We've just entered the Magic Kingdom as a part of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which is just an excuse for Disney to close the park early and charge an entirely new group of a bajillion people for the "exclusive" rights to the park for six hours. We totally fell for it. Because we're gullible.

Anyway, we're walking down Main Street -- they brilliantly force you to enter and exit past a quarter-mile of commerce options -- towards our first destination of TomorrowLand, and I hear this woman's voice right behind me.

"They're waiting for us!" she says excitedly. I look around at her. She's a forgettable bespectacled lass clad in all black and sporting heavily dyed maroonish-colored hair. She's got one of those long-strap bookbag-type thingies hanging around her neck and dangling to her side, and this smallish reddish stuffed fox has its head and front paws sticking out of the front. She is otherwise alone and walking not two paces behind my younger daughter.

I turn back around, and she immediately says, "Ohh look! Isn't that adorable?!?" Being a moron, I turn back around, and she's stroking this stuffed fox's head and pointing towards a mascot cat -- I think it was that white cat from The Aristocats, but I'm not too familiar with that one, so I could be wrong. Pulling my daughter to my other side, I slide over and just make sure she doesn't have one of those damned BlueTooth devices crammed in her other ear.

Nope. She was talking to the fucking fox.

She's alone. In her late 20s. Talking to her stuffed fox.

God bless the U.S.A.

No One Cusses!

Maybe it's just me, but the absence of foul language is not something that you immediately notice. I mean, in my daily life, it's not like I hear people dropping F-bombs left and right. I'm more vulgar when I'm writing these BOTG posts than I am in 97% of my everyday life. When it comes to the complete absence of cussing, I think you only notice it when that streak is broken.

We'd been in the Land of Disney for five days, including an adult night out on "the town" (Universal's CityWalk, which on a Sunday night ain't all dat). We were in Epcot on a Wednesday night, and there was this couple arguing in Norway, and one of them dropped the F-bomb. And then the girl dropped it right back on his nasty arse. And then a few more words went flying left and right.

Jenni and I actually found ourselves looking around, waiting for Disney mascots dressed as UN Peacekeepers to come and escort the couple off the premises. I'm totally not kidding. I figured they have microphones and cameras covering every damn inch of that property, and I figured they have the mikes trained to pick up foul language, with cameras trained to hone in on the human origin of such trash talk, with security detail on hand to beat those fucking bastards into a greater respect for G-rated communication.

But no security came. The couple argued for a few more minutes and then commenced making out like some bad scene from Top Gun. Maybe the Disney powers that be knew how this particular story would end. Point is, everyone in our group left the scene commenting on the fact that this couple had spewed out the first and only cuss words we'd heard in five consecutive days of Disney life. That must have been how Eve felt when she realized she was nekkid.

Families that Disney Together, Scream Together

While Living In The DW apparently enforces this mysterious censorship over the foul language of its adult guests, no power in the universe can prevent marital spats, and we saw more inter-spousal warfare while on Disney property than I've every witnessed in such a short time in my whole life. While they almost always did with some attempt at maintaining dignity -- you'd be amazed at how mostly civil spouses can be in serious spats when they don't want to cuss a blue streak at each other -- anyone with eyeballs could see couples in the midst of warfare. The glares, the raised language, the hands coming down on the stroller or the bench or the knee, the hands through the hair or pulling down on the ballcap, the turning and huffing.

I think it's in the very nature of a Disney vacation. You've got the types who plan out every minute of a trip like that, hoping to squeeze out every penny of value and, accidentally, also squeezing out any chance of spontaneity or enjoyment. Then you've got the dolt of a spouse who hates to even plan where to sleep that night. And they might hold these opposing philosophies in check for a day or two, but eventually, when also battling the whiny and ungrateful nature of small children who are supposed to be incapable of wiping that ohmyGodI'minDisneyfuckingWorld! grin off their faces, these forces collide and ill will and conflict ensue.

This isn't to say these weren't normal or happy couples. It just seems to be the nature of a vacation where the very point of going is to be moving non-stop. Families who go to the beach don't argue half as much. (Yes, they argue, because couples argue unless one of them is dead, but they don't argue as much at the beach.)

Epcot Is No New Orleans, and CityWalk Ain't The French Quarter

Getting a 5'10", 170 lb. male sufficiently intoxicated in Epcot costs roughly $100, which is roughly $80 more than it costs in almost any other place on the planet.

Oh yeah, and when you're eating the buffet in Germany, no matter how completely intoxicated you are, and no matter how soon it is after encountering the cussing couple from my No One Cusses! section, it is incredibly insulting to ask your German exchange student-slash-waitress whether you spell it "feck" or "fech." Asking that question makes young German ladies in DisneyWorld cry. There's a special place in hell for me for that particular act. And I thought I was being cute.

I blame the fechen Spaten.


Bob said...

Hmmm, Billy, I'm not sure this is a ringing endorsement of DW--1)it costs an arm and a leg, 2) it's populated with people who think cute stuffed animals and Disney characters are real, 3) you can't swear, even at your spouse, as the stress level continues to rachet up on what is supposed to be a vacation , 4) a Major League Baseball beer sounds like a bargain, compared to DW, and 5)stupid American tourists are an insult to foreigners, even in our own country!

BeckEye said...

I have a story that will trump all of your DW stories. I puked on the monorail when I was 10. And believe me, no one in my family has forgotten it or will ever let me forget. My Dad even made up a song about it once.

Billy said...

Bob and Beck, I wonder if it's human nature to need to find the flaws in such a carefully-constructed artificial world. Entire shelves of great literature are inspired by this need, no?

Besides, when everything about a place reeks of "It's a Small World," it's those moments of vomit and foul language that can't help but maintain their salience!

Bob said...

I've just finished teaching a novel called "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom," if you have any interest. Futuristic. Entirely set in Disney World. Also, the Umberto Eco essay "The City Of Robots," about America's artificial cities.

cinderkeys said...

I liked Disney World when I was ten. Then I grew up and never looked back. I am not, I promise you, the most mature individual on the planet, but nobody has ever been able to explain the appeal of a Disney vacation for adults.