The American Way

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Nov 22, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The American Way

America is the most obese nation in the world. And I think the most obese have gathered in the WDW area. There were so many big people getting about that the food vendors would have been rubbing their hands with glee. We headed down for breakfast to the food court area dodging people who were carrying trays of donuts, pastries, plates of bacon and gallon size soft drinks. It seemed the bigger the person the more junk food they had. I know America is the home of the fast food but there was a few healthy options that they could choose from. I wanted to go and tell them off, especially the ones feeding their kids crap. For some reason it really disturbed me. Make yourself fat but at least give your kids a chance.

Contributing to the problem is the refillable cup. When you order a drink in many places in the US they let you refill your cup as many times as you want so that you can drink a swimming pool full of Coke if you like. (I wish they employed this idea at bars. At POP Century they had special mugs you could buy allowing for free refills during your stay. Everyone was walking around with these mugs. Not wanting to be left out we also bought a mug and felt like part of the gang. Every morning people accompanied by their mugs would walk around their resort and we would nod and wave to each other. It gave a sense of real community.

We had three full days at WDW and wanted to see as much as possible. Today we were visiting the Animal Kingdom, the newest of the theme parks, and one that was part zoo and part theme park. One of the advantages of staying at a Disney property is the transportation system they have. Our hotel had regular shuttles going to all the theme parks every ten minutes or so. This made it easy to get around (the parks are around 15 minutes drive from each other) and was a nice touch. It also allows families with young kids to return home during the day for a rest before heading back to the parks again.

At each park you have to be very strategic. There are lots of rides, lots of shows on at certain times and of course lots of people. I was like General Patton as I laid put plans, formulated strategies and tried to maximise our time. Luckily the park wasn't too busy and there was never more than a ten minute wait for any attraction or show. There is also a Fastpass system at the parks, which allows you to scan your ticket in a machine. The machine then prints out a receipt with a time on it, you are then allowed to return to the ride at that allocated time and not queue. You can only get a certain amount of Fastpasses in a day and never more than one an hour so this adds an extra dimension to the strategy. Whilst Fee relaxed I was plotting and planning. Who said theme parks were just fun?

The Animal Kingdom was pretty cool. There were a few rides but the main attraction was all the different animals. There was an African Safari, a boat ride through the Asian Rainforest, animal shows and more. There was a strong focus on conservation and protection of the animals that was good to see and many of the attraction delivered a message.

There were two things about the people at the theme park that really stood out. One was the number of people on motorised scooters. I have never seen so many scooters. I didn't realise so many Americans were immobile and needed help to get around. Again it was the larger ones who seemed to be in these scooters. Now I am sure that most of them had a good reason to be in one (like being able to skip queues) but the sceptic in me thought that some were just too lazy to walk.

The other observation I must comment on is the number of people who really get into the Disney spirit and dress up. I expected to see lots of kids wearing mouse ears or painting their faces but over half the adults had some kind of Disney clothing on. Young couples, grandparents, the scooter brigade- all dressed up. They would be wearing ears, or special hats, or have hundreds of Disney badges on them. We saw lots of couples in the bride and groom outfit. That is a bride's veil with mouse ears and a top hat with the same ears. There seemed to be lots of honeymooners about dressed up. Many people had special shirts made- Bobby Joe and Peggy Sues Walt Disney Trip 2005. Families would all wear matching outfits. Again it was corny but it added to the atmosphere.

Disney do all they can to make you spend money. At the end of every ride is a gift shop. They have stores throughout their resorts. They mention their merchandise as much as possible. To help you spend your money, they give you a swipe card when you check in. This card can be used to purchase gifts and food in any store in any hotel in any park throughout the WDW resort. It makes it easy (we didn't need to us any cash our whole stay) and as a result makes you spend more. When you are not physically handing over cash it doesn't feel like you are spending. Often we would buy food or drinks and not even know the price, as we would just hand over our swipe card. This was a dangerous situation. Mid afternoon the heavens opened up (yes our magical Rain King powers were working) and when my little child started throwing a tantrum we left.

To help capture your night time dollar, there is also an area (serviced by the shuttles) called Downtown Disney. This area consists of lots of shops and restaurants, another small park and Pleasure Island. Pleasure Island is about ten or fifteen bars and clubs as well as a Main Party Street. Sort of like Disney for adults. The clubs all have different themes as well like 8 Track the 70's club and the House of Blues. Much like a theme park you need an entrance ticket to allow access into all these clubs. They are great marketers Disney. Play with Mickey during the day. Dance with Mickey at night.

Day One Disney Debrief:
We are doing well. We have our mugs so we belong. Lots of energy from our unlimited supply of soft drinks to keep us going. The Disney spirit is alive and well in us. Bring on Day Two.
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