A few years ago we decided Thanksgiving at Disney World would be a good idea. After all, what better way to give thanks than to avoid cooking, cleaning, feeding people, having people fight over where we were to be and when, maybe having people over to our house, Spending $45 on peanut oil to fry two turkeys, and then having to clean up AGAIN when everyone leaves. Then, the next day, I have to suffer through traffic and the anxiety that goes with after-dinner shopping. Why the Hell can’t the people I know join the present, and shop online? No, they have to spend every weekend between turkey day and the Winter Solstice Holiday in a damn mall somewhere.
If you want a turkey dinner, go to Bi-Lo and get your own bird. I’d rather let someone else do the cooking and the cleaning and just relax and do something different. So, we went to Disney World because my wife always wanted to see the decorations. A good time was had by all, therefore we decided to repeat the event.
There were a few differences this time.
Last time, the economy was just a hair away from teetering over the edge. Gas was expensive, people were losing their jobs left and right, and the idea of blowing a thousand or two over the holiday to ride a roller coaster and see a guy in a mouse suit wasn’t a priority. So, the interstates weren’t so bad, and the crowds were smaller than we expected.
Since then, the government has falsely propped up the economy by printing billions (and I suspect the Bitcoin scam has something to do with it), gas is cheaper because the arabs and the oil companies figured out if they gouge us too much, we may finally push to develop cheap, clean energy and they’ll be out of business, and evidently it was half-price ticket time for the latinos. I’m used to the Brazilian Tour Groups (The Scourge of any Disney Facebook group!) but the crowd of native Spanish-speaking people was unbelievable. I felt like a minority of some sort.
The first indication we may be in for began about an hour into our trip. We left after school, intending on arriving at the House of Mouse around 11:30. The trip to Georgia normally takes about two hours. After coming to a complete stop twice on the interstate, we finally got off I-95 and drove through such hamlets and Hardeeville and Ridgeland. Unfortunately there’s no easy way to Savannah from SC, so we had to brave I-95 again for a few miles.
People from the north talk about hating the Carolinas on the trip to Disney, and I can see why. North Carolina is a LONG way across, and since you follow the coast, South Carolina isn’t much better. Plus, I-95 is TWO lanes all the way through, and somewhere about 60 miles from the border with Georgia, I-26 joins up, so you have northerners from two directions coming in, all trying to go south. The last few miles into Georgia you slow to a crawl, and then it opens up into three lanes, and normally that goes well. Nope. I’ve never seen so many back roads in different places before. It is pretty bad when you spend time looking for country roads so you can go faster.
We finally made it to Disney World at 2:30 in the morning, 3 hours behind schedule. Normally we like getting there near midnight. There’s no one there, and you can whisk through check in. This time? A “Magical Distress” (Magical Express) airport bus dropped off a load as we arrived, so the lone employee had thirty of us to deal with. There’s nothing quite like a ten hour car drive, followed by people that ask stupid questions like “how does the dining plan work?” as kids scream in line.
So, off to bed, early to rise. Disney has automated the A/C systems in their hotels, if you aren’t moving they shut off, or so it seems. I would turn the fan on, to drown out random hotel noises and help me sleep. It would run for 30 minutes, and then switch off. Damn it, if I’m paying for the room, let me control the air. So three times I wake up to shut the fan back on.
Up at 8, we’re off to Hollywood Studios for our first day. We wander through the day feeling hung-over and exhausted, and then back to the room for an early bedtime.
The next day, we get up and hit the Magic Kingdom. By this time I’m still exhausted, and after a few incidents with confusion and misdirection, plus some miscommunication between my wife and daughter, I’m ready to go home. I’d rather be at a shopping mall at this point, suffering through the endless trying on of jeans and ties, than at this crowded, noisy, pushing, shoving, anxiety-ridden introvert’s nightmare. Somehow I get through it without swearing at anyone, and it’s off to the hotel room for more blissful sleep.
Thankfully it gets better over the next two days, and we are able to enjoy all the things we came to do, including the Osborne Lights (xmass lights programmed to dance to music and turn on and off to the songs. really cool), the Lighting of Cinderella Castle (Elsa was supposed to ‘freeze’ the castle, but she was in the bathroom Letting it Go), and the Wishes fireworks display. We also checked out most of the Hotels’ gingerbread houses, they do some pretty nice stuff for “the Holidays”.
We only had to ride one bus back and forth to Downtown Disney, and of course we wound up on the one with scooters. I’m not sure if our planning failed, or what, but it felt like we spent a lot more time in the car than normal. We did figure out a way to use the monorails to our advantage and leave the car at one point, but we almost missed the final tram that evening, which would have led us to a LONG walk.
Sunday morning we had a quick breakfast (Mickey Waffles!) and headed out of town. All seemed fine until about forty-five minutes into the trip when everyone stopped on I-4. Two idiots ran into each other right in front of us, blocking one lane, so it took forever to get by. We saw 8 wrecks on the way home, and several ALMOST wrecks where we all had to stop quickly, and cars were flying off into the median to avoid rear-ending the guys in front of them.
One wreck was really funny, though. This guy in a white SUV almost hit someone, and I said, “That guy is going to crash into something if he doesn’t slow down”. There was a wreck, so we got off the interstate, went around it, and got right back on. ten minutes later we come to another wreck. Guess who’s car was all bashed to pieces? Yep, crazy SUV guy.
We finally get back to South Carolina, and creep along for miles until we can escape I-95. Thanks to side roads we drive along until we hit I-26, and go around the crowd, and for the rest of the ride home, there’s a small crowd, but nothing terrible. In the end, I can say that other than the car ride, we enjoyed ourselves more than not.
But I think next year I’m going for a hike, and I’ll just take a turkey sandwich.