Reflections of Disney World Through Middle-Aged Eyes

0956dc8c1d8c51f1fab033809ce7a99fMy feet  are aching, my wallet is empty, and I have Wished Upon a Star. I’ve had an exhausting, sweaty, mostly wonderful time in the Big D; I’ve learned a lot and observed more. So here, for better or worse, are reflections about Disney and its mystique.

*   The Disney World transport system is a force come into its own. It’s slick, by golly. I hardly had to wait for a bus to go anywhere.

*  On top of that,  I have to stand up and cheer for the way the Disney System takes care of those with disabilities.  The buses are amazing; the entire fleet has wheelchairs down to a science. The drivers are patient and helpful; the rides in all the parks have special entrances and spots just for those who have to use a wheelchair to get around. Disability is just another word around there.

* The Fast Pass is the way to go. I can’t tell you the devilish delight I had passing those who stood in line for an hour and a half for a 1-1/2 minute ride. At 90 degrees, this quick fix beat melting into a puddle.

*  The biggest terrorist threat at the parks are people pushing strollers. Now, I understand that they, too, have little hot potatoes squiggling and crying and being totally unreasonable, but that doesn’t mean they have to run you down in order to get to the next ride/air conditioned show/home. I had my ankles nipped once and nearly pushed off the boat by parents who then look at me like I’m the alien. Steer clear if at all possible.

*  There is a total lack of modesty at the Magic Kingdom when it comes to Mickey Mouse Ears. I saw so many ears in so many colors and styles it made my head spin. Bride ears, groom ears, pink-and-white polka-dot Minnie ears, Minnie ears with Malificent horns, red velvet ears, sparkly silver ears, disco-flashing ears — the variety was endless. And that was mostly on adult heads.

*  It was great that there were 6 adults to one four-year-old. No one individual had the energy to keep up with the little guy. So, if possible, bring reinforcements.

*  I am the first to admit that I don’t get it. There were lots of people there with children under 3. I understand if the older siblings want to go on rides and meet Goofy, but it seems pretty goofy to me to take a 1-year-old on a spinning tea cup or a flying elephant. The kid doesn’t get it, won’t remember it, and will have sunstroke before noon. Plus — just the hassle of bringing your entire changing table everywhere you go. I don’t get it.

*  Every meal was $10+. No matter if it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Every small bottle of NesQuik was $2.79 and every ice cream bar $4.  I know a lot of people bring a lot of their own food, but practicality dictates it’s not worth it. Ask for ice water at any stand (it’s free), split meals, bring snacks. Share, share, share. It doesn’t take the entire bite out of the budget, but the sting becomes more like a sweat bee than a hornet.

*  I used to think I was a people person. Working in downtown Chicago didn’t bother me a bit. Alas, that was 30 years ago. My patience has, shall we say, waned a bit through the years, and my tolerance for stupid people has waned along with it. Sticking to the person sitting next to you on the bus ride back to the hotel just didn’t do it for me. I realize that, in an environment such as that, we all have our limits. I definitely am not a people person. And am glad for it.

*  I also noticed that obesity is rampant in America. I admit I add to that pool; being 20 pounds overweight didn’t help my sweat-energy factor. But there were a lot of BIG people out there — especially kids. I read a note online somewhere to not attack obesity when salads are $7 and burgers are $1, but come on. $1 burgers did not do the damage. Bad eating habits and lack of exercise did. Hopefully walking around the park for days was a start of a new exercise regime. It is for me, for sure.

*  Sun and chlorine are wonderful aging elements. I don’t think I looked this old when I started vacation. But a week in the pool didn’t do much to make me look younger.  Maybe all I need is some Wisconsin weather. And Wisconsin cheese. And Wisconsin beer.

*  And, lastly, bobbing around in the pool or waiting for the kids to get off the ride gave me a lot of time for thinking. For recalculating who I am and what I want from life. Most of what I wanted was right there. But there was something lacking.

When you’re traveling in a group, your say is only one fraction of the whole. In this case, my opinion was only 1/7th of the whole. And somewhere in that percentage I lost myself. Not on purpose — it was just the way of the percentages.

I found that I wanted to be seen and heard and felt in a whole new way. That sharing is all well and good, but I wanted to do something that stood up above and beyond my 1/7th. I’m working on that readjustment this Memorial Day Weekend. I’m working on the reality that I can be 1/7th of an opinion and be 100% of one, too.

You can too. Just find a way to be yourself.

Maybe that’s what the point of all those Mickey Mouse ears was!