Mondays at the Booth: Back from Disney World (review)
Got in late last night. Very late. Am completely knackered, exhausted, wiped out. But it was an awesome week, seriously. We had a great time. It’s really cool to discover that the three people you know with whom you most enjoy traveling happen to be your nuclear family. I’m sure that’ll change as my kids hit teenager-ness, but it was still a wonderful gift for the moment.
So check out my Back from the Mouse House at the Green Phone Booth today–That’s the review of the trip I did from a “green” perspective; the short version is that if you work really hard and bring a lot of your own stuff you can cut a lot of cost and processed-food-eating, but the sheer energy consumption of the parks in general is sort of unbelievable and may kind of blow you away. And at the same time, it’s so spectacularly cool, I found it impossible not to enjoy myself. (I mean, I did mean to enjoy myself, I wasn’t going there to be a green martyr or anything, andI had a great time!)
From a not-necessarily green perspective, just as the mom of a 6 and a 9 year old: it was awesome. I wished that Hollywood Studio’s late nights had coincided with one of our visiting days, because that’s a park I would have enjoyed a few more hours in. Magic Kingdom was somehow less magical for me than I’d remembered; the whole amazingness of the developing technology over the years has bypassed a lot of it, since it’s the oldest park, but they are apparently opening a whole new “Fantasyland” section next year that will be double the size of the one they have now. At Hollywood and Epcot both, with 3d and all the virtual technology they have now, rides can seem to cover a huge amount of space without actually going very far, which is both awesome from a viewing standpoint and consumes a lot fewer resources to create. The Epcot ride “Soarin'” is just this big flying-in-a-swing ride with gorgeous visuals in a giant curved screen in front of you; the Toy Story Mania and Star Tours rides both use a lot of screen time without a lot of actual moving very far (Star Tours doesn’t go anywhere, your platform just bounces around a lot). Being there around Christmastime was neat, with all the decorations everywhere. (There was also some kind of national cheerleeding championship going on somewhere in Orlando. We joked about it–what could possibly be perkier than Disneyworld? Disneyworld full of cheerleaders. At Christmastime. I thought, if we can get us all on the It’s a Small World After All ride together–cheerleaders in Disneyworld at Christmas on “Small World”–that would be the ULTIMATE PERKY EXPERIENCE.) The fireworks were spectacular enough that I cringe to think about the energy and resources expended to create them–but not while I was watching them, because they were amazing. And they can do so much now with projection and lights–those were almost cooler than the fireworks themselves, in a lot of cases. (Like adding meat to mostly veggie dishes–the fireworks are almost becoming a “condiment” for their big expansive high-tech shows. Or heading that way, anyway.)
As anyone who reads my blog regularly at all knows, for me a huge part of health and sustainability is about food, and theme parks in general are really tough places to eat good stuff unless you bring it in yourself, which we did as much as we could; I talk about that a lot in the Booth post linked above. Mostly what’s available there is heavily processed and high in salt and who-knows-what-all-else. But if you look, there are places to find good stuff, as well as opportunities for momentary splurges. (Like ice cream sundaes at Beaches and Cream. Dinner of champions.)
My kids were beside themselves with excitement the whole time. By day 4 they were beginning to flag, and on that day (our last full one) we did bail from the park for a few hours to rest in our hotel room before going back for the parade and final fireworks show, but aside from that they just soaked it all in and had a ball.
Oh, and the other thing I forgot to say at the Booth post–don’t underestimate the “free play” zones in favor of high-tech movies and thrill rides. Especially at Epcot, a lot of the little ride things ended up in a big room where they could run around and just explore various interactive games and stuff–the Imagination Station area was great, and there was a gameplay area outside the Mission to Space ride (another good example of a ride that seems like it takes you really far but actually stays in one place and takes up comparatively little park space), and another just beyond the Spaceship Earth one in the Epcot globe…those are the ones no one ever really tells you about, and they are awesome for kids, especially if said kids just need a chance to move around on their own steam for a bit. And if the parents need to find a quiet spot to sit down and breathe. (We usually found ourselves playing right along with them, though.)
We had an amazing time. It was awesome. We’ll never be a go-to-Disney-every-year kind of family (even if we could afford it, we probably wouldn’t), but to have done it this once was a really wonderful gift for our family, and I’m really glad we went.