Friday, September 25, 2009

We're Going To Disney World!

I am SO excited! My parents, to celebrate their 40th anniversary, decided to take all of us to WDW for a week. A nice condo all to ourselves (for free) and tickets to the park, all paid for. An offer we couldn't refuse, especially since WDW is one of our favorite places ever. Isn't that nice of them?

We leave tomorrow, so today will be a flurry of packing and figuring out what's what. I suspect Brendan will not let me be in charge of packing his things, since I forgot all of his shorts when we went to the beach a month ago. That's okay--I've got enough to pack without his stuff.

It's a fairly easy drive from Atlanta, although the rain we're supposed to have tomorrow might make things interesting. The weather report for Orlando promises mostly sunny, hot days. YAY.

And also a big old YAY YAY YAY for homeschooling, since we can take our vacations any old time we like! If Ryan were in government school, this time off would be unexcused, and so would the time we'll take in just a couple of weeks for my mother-in-law's wedding. In fact, between this trip and the wedding trip, he'd probably be on probation or whatever they do to second-graders who miss too much school for family vacations, or else Brendan and I would be in trouble for his excessive absences.

One of my friends once asked me to explain why we like Disney so much. Because we DO like it. In fact, that's where Brendan and I went on our honeymoon! I've considered this question quite a bit. We're not big into Mickey Mouse or any of the other Disney characters. We like most of them just fine, but none of us here is character-obsessed. We enjoy many of the movies, and watch them with our kids--again, we're not particularly focused on Disney movies per se.

So what is the appeal? I think it's because Walt Disney World represents the Benevolent Universe Premise to us. Leonard Peikoff discussed the Benevolent Universe Premise in his lecture series "The Philosophy of Objectivism" (via the online Ayn Rand Lexicon, my emphasis):

Although accidents and failures are possible, they are not, according to Objectivism, the essence of human life. On the contrary, the achievement of values is the norm—speaking now for the moral man, moral by the Objectivist definition. Success and happiness are the metaphysically to-be-expected. In other words, Objectivism rejects the view that human fulfillment is impossible, that man is doomed to misery, that the universe is malevolent. We advocate the “benevolent universe” premise. . .

. . . You remember when Dagny asks Ragnar in the valley how his wife can live through the months he is away at sea, and he answers (I quote just part of this passage):

“We do not think that tragedy is our natural state. We do not live in chronic dread of disaster. We do not expect disaster until we have specific reason to expect it, and when we encounter it, we are free to fight it. It is not happiness, but suffering, that we consider unnatural. It is not success but calamity that we regard as the abnormal exception in human life.”

Now I understand that WDW is probably not everyone's cup of tea. But it's a kind of FUN I particularly like, and I always enjoy myself when I go. It's a place where everyone is nice and kind, where fun spur-of-the-moment things happen, where we can experience enjoyable things with our kids. There is music EVERYWHERE. People spontaneously break out into song. There are parades and fireworks, and the "Cast Members" (aka Disney World Peopleguys) walk up to you and give you free stuff (especially if you are a cute little girl). The rides are fun and interesting (but also somewhat frightening to young kids and/or people with Enormous Imaginations, so beware).

There's nothing to do all day long except walk around with the ones you love, ride on something interesting, listen to music, eat some yummy food, watch a singing or dancing or animal show, laugh and enjoy. And in EPCOT, they sell margaritas, which of course adds that little something-something to the whole experience!

And to go with small children, who ooh and ahh at every unexpected little pleasure, who get so excited to see or experience something new, who think it's thrilling to see a parade every day or Mickey Mouse "in the flesh"--well, it's just a big old ball of Amazing Cuteness.

Not every second is a thrill, of course, and I see many miserable parents walking around WDW with screaming children, and once I even heard a parent say in frustration "HAVE FUN! You're supposed be having fun, dammit!" I'd say it's important, when going to WDW with small children, to maintain a relationship with Mr. Reality, and understand that tantrums and potty accidents will happen, but not to let those things ruin the entire experience. Just my piece of unsolicited advice.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how WONDERFUL Disney is about food allergies. They train their waitstaff and restaurant managers thoroughly, and while we always need to keep our peanut radar on, I have never felt so understood by an organization that deals with food. They are knowledgeable and kind, and it is a place in which I feel almost as safe as I do at home, which is saying a lot. That kind of peace of mind really adds to my WDW experience.

I'll try to write while we're out of town, but you know how that goes! I'll definitely Twitter, and post some pictures, so follow me if you don't already. Morgan is going to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for a Princess Makeover on Tuesday, which I suspect will be worth every penny (and it is a pretty penny). This is Sean's first trip--I love toddlers at Disney, and I can't wait to see what he thinks. And of course, Ryan, the only one of my kids who can actually remember a previous WDW trip, is PUMPED.

M-I-C, See you real soon!

K-E-Y, Why? Because I like you!


(Sorry, couldn't resist. :D )


Snoopy from SecularHomeschool said...

Have fun! I worked there for 15 years and while I love being a SAHM and homeschooling, I miss my job and being able to go there for free. I hope your kiddos love it too! It IS still hot here these days but it's cooling off a little. I was just checking and they call for temps in the mid 60s at night for next week, which will be nice.

Lynne said...

I feel the same way about Disney World. Some years ago, my parents took us all on a Disney cruise (highly recommended) that ended with a stay in the park and it was fantastic - the best vacation we ever had. Those folks at Disney know how to do things right.

Have an excellent time!

Roberto Brian Sarrionandia said...

I actually might be a cast member next summer. If you go again, watch out for the Objectivist with the British accent!

Amy said...

My parents were cast members 2 winters ago. It was fascinating to hear about all the training they got to make WDW a magical place. (Roberto, I bet you'll have fun!)

Me, I'm not a huge fan, but only because it takes an hour to get anywhere. It's just too big. I felt like I spent the whole trip in the hotel room and on the shuttle bus.

Kevin McAllister said...

Have fun Jenn! Michelle and I also went to Disney World for our honeymoon, I love that place! For many of the reasons you stated.

I'm also fascinated by the management of a place so big. I can't get enough of the tail end of the parade, that is the inconspicuous crowd of cast members who are quickly and efficiently cleaning up at the very end. Taking down the ropes and poles, picking up any refuse, and like magic if you aren't looking hard for those people you don't notice them.

Also the attention to detail in other areas, dinosaur footprints, or fossils, or the spider webs in the lobby of the tower of terror.

Or magic fountains that make water dance across the sidewalk that you just stumble upon, or people dressed up as statues staying still and suddenly moving as you walk past.

Amy, you need to take the cooler forms of transportation like the monorail or the ferries! Although I know I've enjoyed it more when I was able to stay on one of their properties to reduce travel.