If all has gone according to plan – which, if you only knew what I know, you’d know that this is unlikely – I’m currently exploring the wonders of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as you read this post. In theory, my family already has enjoyed the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and we’re at the last of the three parks we’ll be visiting during this trip.
I’m cautiously optimistic.
You see, that lovely storm from Tuesday? Yeah – it caused cancelled flights (for Wednesday), a mad dash of rescheduling flights, hotel, dinner reservations, fast passes, pet/house sitter, and…well, you get the idea. Mother Nature and I are not friends right now.
This will be the first time our family has visited Disney together, and my husband’s first time as an adult. While it’s not our typical vacation (we lean toward tropical locales with fantastic reefs for scuba diving and snorkeling, and lots of beach lounging and boat rides), we’re pretty excited. We’ve very deliberately limited our activities and time, in hopes of keeping the typical vacation stress to a minimum. The weather in Florida is looking sunny and warm, and what’s not to love about the Mouse?
In addition to the sights, sounds, shows, and crazy rides that magically combine (see what I did there? magic?) into a wonderful vacation experience, there are people. LOTS of people. And while I despise crowds (you’re wondering at my destination choice, right?), I also recognize that crowds, especially at a venue such as Disney, create a virtual smorgasbord of character potential.
People watching is one of my favorite hobbies, and where better to see the happy, sad, frustrated, annoyed, overwhelmed, and joyous than an amusement park? Especially THE amusement park? It will be hot, there are lines everywhere, lots of black asphalt and little shade or seating – it’s the opposite of those malls where they pipe in the scent of chocolate and the soothing lullaby of good classical music (or whatever music encourages spending). This is the perfect place to watch how folks behave when challenged by a variety of conditions. Which ones flush and sweat, and which ones look fresh? Who is snippy and rude, and who is kind to the children jostling in line? How does the overwhelmed parent with the cranky toddler fighting the stroller – and a nap – respond?
We all have our ideas on what responses to various situations look and sound like, but we imagine them through the filters of our own life experience. Opportunities like this force us to see without those filters, and perhaps see something new or different. While I’m excited to ride Space Mountain and explore the Haunted Mansion, I’m also eagerly anticipating the wealth of experiences and emotions I can capture as I observe my fellow park-goers.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish us luck!