The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From 12 years ago...


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Doin’ Diznee

I sit behind my computer, glad to be back among the land of the living, the real and most importantly, the sane.

As some of you know, I spent the majority a week in Florida. Much of this was also spent in Central Florida in the Tourism Despot Capital of the World on a media trip/vacation. Thanks to many newspaper connections and some furious letter writing two weeks before I left, most of the trip was paid for by other people.

If you ever plan to visit Disney World, Universal Studios, the Kennedy Space Center, Sea World and the rest of the stuff down there, I highly recommend you too get someone else to pay for it. This will save you a lot of money, which you will probably need to buy souvenirs which are not given away to media types. Dangit.

I also recommend that you take my family, if at all possible. This will allow my daughter to ride “Dumbo” again and I won’t have to experience the bouncing that goes along with having a three-year-old handle the rapid-response elevation controls on the ride. Susan thought it was quite funny when I turned green. By taking my family, you will allow J.R. to again flee the massive wave of 54-degree saltwater hurling into the stands at Mach 12 at Sea World as Shamu waves goodbye to the crowd.

Disney World is everything it is reported to be. The magic really is there. I don’t care who you are, when you pull into that front gate and see the giant Mickey Mouse waving a greeting, you are instantly hurled back to childhood when meeting the world’s most famous cartoon character was your goal in life. If you are an adult, this euphoria wears off quickly as you realize your options for entering the park are to pay the full-cost ticket prices (really it is worth it) or listen to a nearly homeless person expound on the virtues of a time-share condo in exchange for getting free or reduced-cost tickets.

Here too you must hedge your bets. Capitalizing on capitalism, the people responsible for the theme parks realized some time back they could split things up and charge admission to each park. So, instead of visiting Disney, you have the option of visiting The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Studios, two others I can’t remember the names of and several parks at Universal Studios. Chances are excellent that you will pick exactly the wrong park to visit to see a specific attraction, unless you visit one of the single-park parks like The Central Florida Sports Hall of Fame.

I also recommend if you head that way you pack along a 300+ pound redneck with a festering leg wound and 20 feet of 1,500 pound test rope wrapped around his waist. (Just don’t ask me to go, I’m booked that week). I found that by wearing shorts to emphasize the cut across my leg, a T-shirt and straw hat with “Grumpy” the dwarf on it, while leaving a significant length of rope trailing at my side, crowds parted as I approached as if I were Moses at the Red Sea. Small children did approach me a few times, thinking I was one of the theme parks “characters” perhaps for a new movie due out any time now. As the parents caught my eye, I twirled the rope purposely and made a quick hangman’s noose. The parents gathered in their children and rushed away to pose for pictures with “Shrek.”

This did not stop people from other countries stopping me and asking me all manner of questions about the park we were in. I felt horrible when a young Japanese couple asked me to direct them to a place on their map. As I patiently explained I had no idea what to do, Miriam, who is originally from Brooklyn and is employed at Universal Studios in the wheelchair distribution center, came to our aid. Miriam is deaf.

I am not making this up.

Through dint of much sign language and me speaking in slow, low tones, we managed to convince the couple their best bet was to head into the park and look for one of the multi-lingual signs or a park employee who spoke their language.

I don’t care who you are or what language you speak. Sooner or later, you will find someone else down there on vacation, or employed there, who speaks your language. You could be only one of two people on the planet who speaks Tomoloka and sooner or later, that other person will show up. The two of you could then debate the merits of a $5 bottle of water to your heart’s content.

This part of Florida is a shining monument to capitalism. Everything is for sale. Communist and socialists who venture into the region shrivel, die and crumble to dust like a vampire exposed to sunlight. The number of shops inside each of the Infinity-Minus-One theme parks is mind boggling. Bill Gates would spend his entire fortune and not make it halfway across one park if he stopped and bought everything for sale in the stores.

Kennedy Space Center made me feel at home. As I headed across the lobby, a guard carrying a full-auto HK 9 mm assault rifle was strolling across the floor casually. It was like attending a family reunion.

Kennedy is a working NASA station and they are SERIOUS about security. Every place was serious about it. All our bags were checked each time we entered a park. Rather than explain why I carried 20 feet of 1,500 pound test rope, each time I was asked I simply grabbed a few passing toddlers and hogtied them to a table leg.

“Cheap child care,” I said as the toddlers’ parents looked at me awestruck by my genius.

I’m told the hardware stores down there had a run on rope as I was leaving.

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