At midnight on Saturday we finally pulled in to our driveway. 642 miles (give or take) prior we had been in the so called happiest place on earth. The brain child of cartoonist and visionary Walt Disney: DISNEY WORLD! You may have heard of it, quaint little amusement park with a small plot of land with a couple of rides. It’ s made a few bucks in it’s time.
Seriously, for most people a trip to Disney World is a cause for jubilation. It is often the punctuation of some monumental occasion like a honeymoon, a graduation, a major birthday. It is the ultimate cliche in celebrating sports championships. “Cam Newton, you just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do now?” ” I am going to Disney World!”(Hey it could happen!) So obviously I must have been pretty hyped up about this trip, right? Not so much.
It wasn’t that the trip wasn’t a celebration of something special. In fact, what we were celebrating was more special in many ways than the examples I gave. My older brother is a Veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq. While on his last deployment he asked us if we would be interested in all going to Disney World once he was back in the states. The trip would include our parents, his family of five and my family of four. Disney is his families favorite vacation destination and they have even bought into the vacation club there ( If you don’t know what that is, think timeshare only with mouse ears and a nightly fireworks display.) So once he returned safe and sound, and we were able to save up enough, we were off to Orlando for a week of rides, characters, and pricey T-Shirts.
So what is the problem, then? Well, honestly, the problem was me. To start, I really don’t like amusement parks. They are crowded with people who are generally either rude or oblivious to the other patrons at best. Everything costs twice as much as it would outside the park, especially food. To top it off the main point of going to an amusement park is the rides. I don’t like rides. I don’t do upside down, and I have substantial dislike for heights. So unless I really dig waiting in line for 45 minutes to meet a college student dressed up like 5’10” chipmunk, this was obviously not my place.
The trip started as I expected it would. Waiting at the bottom of the rides with my 2 year old in the Florida heat. Everyone around me having fun while I pulled toddler duty. Sure, the other adults offered to hang out with him while I took a turn, but why bother. I wouldn’t have any fun anyway………Then I stopped and thought about it for a moment. I could stew in my own self centered bitterness, or I could actually try to enjoy myself. I could stand at the exit of every ride while my family was having a great time, or I could challenge myself to ride along side them as often as I could. I could choose to continue being a grumbling spectator, or I could actively make memories with my children and my wife. So I stopped being selfish and indignant. I got on that roller coaster, the one that honestly scared the daylights out of me, because I knew my daughter would remember for the rest of her life that time Daddy rode the Himalayan Expedition with her. I stopped being a malcontent about waiting in line, because I knew that at the end of that line there wasn’t just some sweaty kid trapped inside an anthropomorphic duck costume. There was also the silliest smile I have ever seen on my son’s face as he met “Dah-Duck.” I stopped my endless fretting about the cost, and I just let myself enjoy the fancy restaurant my brother made reservations for my wife and I at. She got the 50 dollar steak, and a couple cocktails. We splurged for desert. The chipotle chocolate cake was amazing.
No, I didn’t conquer my fear of heights. I still don’t really care for roller coasters or rides. The people were sometimes rude, and it was crowded and hot. My feet felt like over ripe berries ready to burst. It has been pointed out to me a dozen times that I have a semi circle sunburn on the front of my noggin from where I wore my hat backwards. I also picked up a nasty cold that is currently waging open warfare on my sinuses. Above all else, I had a fantastic time and made some awesome memories.
PS we already started saving for a return trip. I am looking forward to it.