That’s right, folks, I said it: I hate Disneyworld. “The happiest place on earth,” they call it.
Has anyone who believes that actually ever been there? Most months, it’s hot. H.O.T. HOT. Some days, even those of us used to the Florida heat and humidity can’t stomach more than five minutes in one of the parks. And it’s crowded. Even when it’s not crowded, it’s crowded. And when it’s really crowded, you can barely move, you can’t find a table in any of the restaurants, you have to wait an hour in line just to eat and the rides are impossible to get onto. I mean, 100 minutes’ wait for one ride or wait six hours with a FastPass. Uh-uh. No thanks. Not I.
I actually enjoyed Disney the first time I went, and even the second and a little less, but still enjoyed it the third time. After that, my enjoyment level dipped more and more with each visit. Besides the reasons listed above (which really suck, but aren’t really why), I couldn’t figure out what I didn’t like about the place. But now I know.
We went to Disney last week: Chris, his daughter, stepson and me. I couldn’t stand being there. At all. I dreaded going to the parks each day and couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel. I had no interest in the fireworks or the parade at Magic Kingdom. I was kind of disgusted by both. I did enjoy the ride back from the park to the buses on the ferry with a cool breeze kicking up from the water.
So, I thought about it. I asked myself why I was so unhappy there. And I came up with this: It’s commercial, fake and it negates every bit of fantasy that I grew up loving.
I watched the movies, read the books, believed in the magic. It was real to me, even into adulthood (although by then, it was far more tempered). But you go to that place and it’s all “brought to life,” but it’s so obviously not real. And it’s so obviously about making money and trying to force something that can’t be forced. Getting up close to the actors dressed as Disney characters reveals way too much stage makeup; fake, plastered smiles; , wigs; and unnaturally high voices. I can see that these are actors in costumes. That means the characters aren’t real.
While this is a rational thought it my mind without actually going to the parks, it’s still a blow to the little girl still living somewhere in my psyche. When children play pretend, they can build their own pretend places and imagine in their minds what those places look like. They’re real. They are not plastic replicas that look fake and ridiculous. I don’t like having those images forced upon me. At the end of every single ride, you come out into a gift shop with a bunch of overpriced junk that keeps with the ride’s theme. And despite its billions of dollars and ridiculous marketing machine, Disney raises its admission prices at least every three months.
And then there’s Epcot Center. It can be fun. There’s some good food and dessert in this little a la carte place in “France.” But again, it’s nothing but someone’s idea of something that is not necessarily true and is definitely not my idea of that same thing. I’ve talked to people who believe visiting the countries in Epcot is as good as actually going to those countries for real. Many people have lectured me about how Disney hires the best chefs in the world and has the best food that can be found, even if you were to travel to those countries and eat the authentic, local cuisine.
Well, I can tell you that most members of my family are better cooks than the “chefs” at Disney. The food just isn’t that good. It’s OK. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t inedible or anything. But it’s not that great, either. And for what it costs to stay in a hotel and get into the parks (thankfully, Chris’ father is retired from there and gets us in free), I could go somewhere much more culturally rich and a lot more fun.
The one redeeming quality of Disney? The water parks. Well, I haven’t been to Typhoon Lagoon yet, but I’ve been twice to Blizzard Beach. It’s a blast. I highly recommend it.