Those words echoed through my brain many times over the last few weeks, followed quickly by… Once upon a time.
For the last two years or more, my family and friends had planned a great trip to Disney World. We saved our money, joined blogs and daily watched videos and sought advice from the ‘experts’ on travel to the land of the mouse in sunny Florida. We held planning meetings on zoom across the state and prepared lists and due dates and watched the calendar days move as slow as snails. Then, the month came, then the days turned into hours, and the excitement was incredible. And then… Mother Nature has a nasty sense of humor and rotten timing. The day we left headed from the high plains of Texas to the central city of Austin in order to catch our plane to Florida, we were hit an hour from our home by ice and snow. Seriously. But we kept on. Reaching our destination, we checked into the hotel to wait for our flight and the others to arrive. Three days later…we were still there. Yes…iced in, snowed in, stranded by the airlines and at the mercy of the weather. We watched the clock tick away our vacation time. Part of our group, who had driven their large van to Florida to use as our vehicle for the group, had arrived and was enjoying the lovely, large vacation home we had rented for the ten days. The rest of us, were being told by the airline that we needed to make our way…through ice and snow…to Dallas, some 4 hours away to the north. So we had a choice to stay and miss another day of vacation or head to Dallas and catch a plane that could get us to Orlando. We hit the road…and the ice. White knuckle driving…tense nerves…pleas that the planes would be flying.
After a five hour wait, in a major airport with NO food places open after five due to Covid and the weather taking tolls on workers, we boarded (literally ran down the jet way) to the plane that would whisk us away to the land of sunshine and warmth and fun. Silly us. We landed after midnight…got to bed about two am and were up and in the van ready for our first fun day at Universal Studios at 7 am. Two and a half hours later…having been submitted to layers of security, and then herded into long waiting lines, under dark clouds and misting rain…and temperatures in the upper forties…we were still clinging to hope. Fun had to be coming our way.
Our first ride was one I had studied with intent each day for months, watched and rode the virtual rides along with screaming passengers. And I was ready…to meet The Velocicoaster. Yes, this mature lady of some sixty-plus years and good sense joined my younger son and daughter and friends and sat down next to my brother-in-law, who should have also known better, and then in less than five seconds, we were launched to 50 miles mph and left the bounds of earth to hurtle toward another launch at 70 mph. Forget a ride for thrills, as we were faced with one that wanted to kill. Being slammed into metal and taking air at least seven times in the 140-second ride made me realize that I should just climb on the back of a tough Texas bucking bull and have better chances. But…I SURVIVED. Where was my shirt with that emblazoned across it? This old lady had lived to tell about it…and NEVER do it again. Thus began our vacation which found us immersed in crowds that Disney claimed it never anticipated because this was their ‘slow’ time of year. That was the reason we had planned our vacation at that time. We had studied and listened to the cast members we knew…Early February would be perfect. Well, someone forgot to tell the many thousands of people that fact because they must have confused the middle of summer with winter. The weather was wet and dismal, offering a day and a half of semi-warmth. Before plunging us into coats and gloves. This did not deter the crowds from growing each day. And this meant that the parks were understaffed; food booths were closed; mobile ordering was being pushed but then the wait for food stretched to hours; rides were becoming unavailable and there were not enough people to keep them moving.
We purchased the Genie Plus…to get us through the lines faster. We purchased the same ride a third time to get through the lightning lane…and we still waited. One ride gave us three hours to stand and watch the people around us. Parents so busy glaring at their cell phones to book the next ride or buy the next food or run to stand in the next line, that there were no smiles, no laughter, only angry words and glares. No sign of happy to be found. And that was saddest truth. The Disney World and its magic that a man and mouse created long ago, is no more. It imploded under too much greed and the entrusting of it all to those who never understood the dream at all. And we were just a few of the thousands who spent literally thousands to make the pilgrimage to the land of make believe in hopes of finding something from our pasts, which no longer exists. This magical icon is fast becoming a myth only accessible to the elite with bottomless pockets. Walt’s world was a place for ALL to afford to come and believe in magic and laughter and happiness for one and all...young and old. Well, we won’t be visiting the mouse again. At least not for a very long time and in far better, quieter times one can only hope where smiles make a comeback, and all can afford the price of make-believe if only for a little while. Perhaps in a galaxy far, far away… On my next visit with you, I will let you in on current projects and plans for the rest of 2022! Take care and happy reading! Debra P.S. There's a new series in the works! But until it's time to tell you about that, check out an old favorite, the Blood Brothers series.