By "Rat Race", I mean Disney World. This is the third year in a row that we've gone to Orlando with our kids. Each year we question why we keep coming back. It's not that we don't like Disney, it's just that we don't find it "magical" as other people seem to. Sure, it's nice and clean, and all of the Cast Members (Disney's fancy name for their workers) are friendly and smiling, but after all, it is just an amusement park. (Ok, I just imagined that I heard about a hundred people gasping in surprise and indignation at the "just an amusement park" part. Sorry! Maybe.) I suppose a lot of it has to do with the fact that my kids have very little interest in dressing up in costumes, or greeting the characters, and they aren't very brave when it comes to riding rides.
Or, it could have something to do with my tendency to get annoyed and anxious in crowded places. Seriously, what is the deal with the Moms with double wide strollers and five whining/crying/snottily sneezing, loud kids stopping smack dab in the middle of very crowded pathways to look at their park maps, talk to a friend, or chat on their phones? Do they think they are the only people in the park, or what? In the midst of a very crowded section of Hollywood Studios-crowded as in shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet-happy music suddenly could be heard. I was filled with a sense of dread, and overheard someone angrily say "If that's a parade coming this way, I think I might punch somebody!" Oh, wait....I guess *I* might have said that. Sort of loudly. That must have been why my husband looked at me in shock....
Maybe it's the cattle herding aspect-you know, walking slowly through intricately designed queing lines, or worse, being crowded into an open space, shoulder to shoulder with strangers, waiting to enter an auditorium or ride, while Cast Members with microphones cheerfully command you to move closer together. "If you can see carpet between your feet, then you aren't close enough!" or "If you can't smell the person next to you, then you aren't close enough!", they sing out with a smile on their faces, as they usher in even more people to add to the herd of tourists speaking a wide variety of languages to their whining and crying children. Then, the theater doors are opened, and suddenly, a swelling sea of humanity is pushing their way towards them, competitively squeezing out the less determined or organized among the herd. I'm always afraid I'll lose a child in the charge, and I get a bit panicky. And grouchy. I'll admit, Mickey's Philharmagic was pretty entertaining the first couple of times, but I really don't think it's worth all that stress.
Anyhow, we spent our first vacation day at Magic Kingdom. The park wasn't too crowded yet, and most of the lines weren't too bad. My kids, however, kept asking when we would go back to our rental house and swim and at least one of them complained everytime we got in line for a ride. I found myself telling them "This is the Happiest Place on Earth, so smile and have fun, dangit!" Isn't this supposed to be a kiddie Mecca? Each year, we take them back, thinking that it will be different, and each year it is the same. Sure, we do have some fun-it's not all whining, and crowds and complaints-but to them, Magic Kingdom is all about riding the Tea Cups, buying souveniers, and then going home to swim or play mini golf. I guess my kids are cheap dates. Forget Disney, we should just rent a room at a local hotel with a pool, take them to play Putt Putt, and buy them a new Webkinz at Walgreens and be done with it for just about $100.
After doing other activities in the area for a few days(the beach-cold but fun, the Orlando Science Museum, visiting relatives, Downtown Disney, etc.), we went to Hollywood Studios. It was crazy, can't move, can't stop and look at anything crowded. We managed to have some fun, but many of the rides we wanted to do had lines with waits of two hours or more, and were out of Fast Passes, so a few meltdowns were had (the kids may have had a couple themselves), and we left the park disappointed.
The next day we went to Epcot. I love Epcot, and apparently, so do my kids. The rides are pretty much all hits with everyone, and they seem to enjoy walking around the "world", eating Churos, listening to musicians play in each country, and looking in the gift shops. My daughter even had her picture taken with Mary Poppins-she loves that movie. "Mary" was very sincere, she bent down to my daughter's level, put her hand under her chin and spoke to her very sweetly. Then, she came over to us, and shook our hands. It was all very convinving. My husband kept saying with wonder, "Mary Poppins shook my hand!" To which my daughter would reply, "Dad, she's just an actress!" A lot of people were there too, but it seems that there is more room to spread out at Epcot-something my sanity definitely requires.The weather is always glorious whenever we are at Epcot-I guess it's just "our park". Still not "magical", but good.
Anyhow, despite the crowds and chaos, we had a good vacation. We do enjoy the Orlando area-I guess that's why we keep coming back. Magic Kingdom may never seem "magical" enough for us, and Hollywood Studios is much more fun when there are fewer people there, but the sunshine, palm trees, and blue skies keep us coming back year after year.