On Thanksgiving, after we sat through one of the shortest timeshare presentations on record, after mofongo and pernil at a local Puerto Rican spot, and after I had spent about an hour or so working on my first post-Disney recap, we headed out for dinner. And by the time we finished with that, took the Kid to dance off her Thanksgiving burger at Disney Springs, and then returned to the resort, I was too tired to finish writing all of my assorted gripes about our first venture to see the Mouse.
(So I will give you an out right now. If you are looking to read a heart-warming account of our wonderful and magical trip to Disney World with three generations of happy, grateful people, you can go back to watching whatever sticky sweet powdered sugar-covered holiday movie currently airing on the Hallmark channel with Candace Cameron Bure. I've got none of that for you here.)
I have posted the pics to the Busy Black Woman Facebook and Instagram pages in case you are interested. As is always the case with what gets shared on social media, those are the good pictures of us having a good time. Here, because I see no need to offer any pretensions, is the postmortem of our #BusyBlkFamTrip:
1. Tiring. It was the equivalent of a military exercise that required about 20 pounds of gear and rations for half a day at the amusement park. So by the time we made it to our destination, watched one parade, and then stood in line for one attraction, it was time to feed and maneuver the troops to another park. And by the time we arrived just on time to see the closing fireworks, I was so very cranky and salty and disappointed by all of that effort. Only to wash, rinse, and repeat all of that for a second excursion on Friday minus my parents (we brought them back to another park later that evening). I am still sore and exhausted.
2. Expensive. So I knew this from the outset, but when I tell you that it is easily an entire month of salary just to get into the park, I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. The happiest place on earth is also the most costly entertainment racket on the planet. There is no cheap way to do Disney, which means that you are going to pay one way or the other. Our punishment was that early morning timeshare presentation, which saved us $150 (even though they authorized nearly $600 extra on my credit card to ensure that we would show up). Yeah.
3. Time-consuming. Disney is most proficient at creating the illusion that they are efficient. This same illusion is also effective at building anticipation for rides and attractions that last two minutes, at most. We stood in line for 45 minutes to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean, and during that wait, I attempted to use our Fast Passes to schedule other attractions, which only worked time-wise for us once. By the time we made our way from Adventureland to Fantasyland to ride in the Tea Cups for 90 seconds, we thought that maybe we would have time to ride something else before making our way to the castle for the parade. Wrong. EVERY attraction had a 65 minute wait or the Fast Pass options were unavailable. Even the Dumbo ride. And the parade, which was scheduled to start at 2pm, began at 2:20. So by the time we left the park, caught the monorail, found the car, drove back to the hotel, ate mofongo leftovers for lunch, gathered my parents, returned to visit a different park, found a parking space, and made our way to the entrance, it was dark outside. And everybody stops pretending to be happy once the sun goes down.
4. Expensive. Yes, I know I addressed that previously, but let's revisit that topic for a moment. Because these folks really know how to make people want a lot of unnecessary isht like this and this. And these headbands that practically everybody was wearing. All of the cheaper/generic trinkets like tee shirts, postcards, and keychains were sold elsewhere in stores off-property like Walmart and at these tourist trap superstores that function like outlets where you could buy authentic outdated merchandise at half-price. Or, you could just buy whatever you want from your local Disney store at your local mall and save a month's salary.
5. Inadequate. Which is why going to Disney is a lot like eating potato chips. You can't go just once. You will never see everything in one trip, even if you get the park hopper passes and spread your visits out over several days. We made it to three of the four parks, but didn't get to see much at Epcot or the Animal Kingdom. We rode three rides at the Magic Kingdom in two visits. Obviously, we could call it done and let the Kid get back to Disney on her own because there is no rule of parenting that requires multiple trips. I was in law school the first time I went to Disney World with the Hub when we were first dating. I went again ten years later while in Orlando for a sorority convention. In all honesty, I had a lot more fun going there without the pressure of having to create memories.
6. Artificial. Judge me for feeling manipulated by aspects of this experience. Judge me for complaining about the admission cost. Judge me for recognizing the elaborate con of building excitement by having each transition point to the park spaced to draw out the experience of 'arrival'. Judge me for not wanting to buy stuff after disembarking from a ride, especially when said ride lets me out inside of an appropriately-themed gift shop. Judge me for refusing to stand in line to take pictures with furries. Judge me for my frustration with the Kid for still not wanting to wear that damn Uma Halloween costume.
Go on and judge me, because God-willing I would do it all over again. Not because of the memories that I'm pretty sure my Kid won't form because she is three. Not because my parents were good sports and paid for half of this trip. Not because the Hub has the patience of Job. And not even because this Busy Black Woman now believes conquering Disney is her great white whale. I would do it all over again because life is short and imperfect, and sometimes even pretend magic can produce real joy.