I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been coming to The Happiest Place On Earth since 1972, and every time I see the exit signs on I-4, I’m still that 10 year-old boy who couldn’t sleep the night before his first visit. It’s why I finally moved to Orlando – it was cheaper to move here and go all the time than it was to visit here every couple of years. This is my happy place, and I make no apologies for refusing to stop being a kid at heart.
When I visit the theme parks, not only does simply being there give me a sense of joy, but I feel a deep sense of gratitude to all the Cast Members (employees) who work to make my experience as magical as possible. That’s not to say that I haven’t had difficulties with some Cast Members in the past (usually the ones whose training was not completed or who have no prior experience dealing with my mobility issues); I’ve visited the parks hundreds of times, so it’s inevitable that I would eventually have a less than perfect experience from time to time. But I try to be calm and polite when faced with these situations, and more often than not, my issues are resolved well – sometimes I get what I want, sometimes my expectations are adjusted, but there is a resolution nonetheless.
Much of my time at the parks these days is spent watching the tourists, and I must say that I just don’t understand tourists these days. Coming to The Happiest Place On Earth is not cheap. It’s one of the more expensive vacations you can take – especially if you have children. People save up for years to afford to come down here and experience the most unique vacation a person can have. So why, when they come here, are they so grumpy?
This place was created to create joy, but these people seem impervious to any attempts to make them happy. They complain… loudly. They treat the Cast Members like dirt. They walk around with a chip the size of Mount Rushmore on their shoulders. They yell at their children and spouses constantly. They litter everywhere with no regard for what it takes to keep the place clean for all guests. And they take every opportunity to ruin the vacations of others with their attitude and their behavior.
I understand that vacations can be stressful. The logistics alone of getting the family, and their luggage, from Point A to Point B can be daunting. But once here, what is there to be so stressed about? The resorts cater to every conceivable need, and the parks are designed to create a relaxing environment for all. So why can’t these people be happy when they’re here?
I’ve spent years trying to figure this out. All I can conclude is that, either they don’t know how to be happy, or their happiness is achieved by treating other people like dog poop. Nothing else makes any sense to me. For those who don’t know how to be happy, I suggest saving your money and taking vacations closer to home so you don’t have to spend so much to be unhappy. For those who can only find happiness by making others miserable, I suggest therapy and request that you stay as far away from Central Florida as possible. While we want your money to help our economy, we don’t want you ruining things for the rest of us.
I have family members who are Cast Members at The Happiest Place On Earth, and I get to hear about the guests they have to deal with. Some are awesome and a pleasure to work with. Some are holy terrors. One of the reasons I always try to be polite to Cast Members – especially when the children were younger – is because I wanted to show my children the right way to deal with other people. I wanted to set a good example. Some of the tourists who visit the parks these days are setting the worst possible example for their children. They try to lie and cheat their way into the parks, they steal, they throw tantrums when they don’t get their way, and they yell at the Cast Members so loudly that it scares the other guests. What does this teach their children? What will their children grow up thinking is reasonable behavior? I shudder to think what tourists will be like ten years from now!
Tourists, and locals like me, need to remember that, while the parks are designed to be a happy place, you bring your happiness with you. Happiness is a choice. No place can MAKE you happy, just as no person can MAKE you happy. You choose to be happy, or you choose to be unhappy. If you can’t choose to be happy, why spend a fortune to come to Central Florida and be miserable? Stay home and be miserable. Let the rest of us enjoy our happy place in peace. After all, it’s a small world, and terrible attitudes and bad behavior make it all too small. Be aware of the impact you have on others before you decide to spread your unhappiness around. All you’re doing is sharing your personal manure, and while you probably think it promotes growth, it really just stinks.