Tag Archives: travel

Happy B-Day WDW!

Distractions, Travel, You Magnificent Bastard 3 Replies

Forty years ago today Walt Disney World opened it’s gates to the world, creating, arguably, the last “greatest American establishment”. Steve Jobs and Apple (inexplicably entwined with Disney) comes close as a corporation but it’s not exactly selling “memories”, per se.

I digress.

Covering more land than they know what to do with (27,400 acres of Florida swamp, or 6.5 square miles), Walt Disney was going to create a utopia (or dystopian to some) of modern living, community and recreation, where Disney himself (without any formal urban studies training) would oversee and maintain the city of the future. But after Disney’s death, WDW thankfully became a near-carbon copy of it’s Californian cousin, but with much, much more room. While his vision of a perfect community may never have come to fruition, he did create the means towards a company that brings happiness to millions of people (as well as bitter fodder for millions of others, and in a way, making them happy!).

I’m saying Thank You, Walt Disney World. And I’m sorry it took me so long to get there.

When I was a kid on a Sunday night, I, like SharkBoy, like so many others, would watch the opening of The Wonderful World of Disney on CBC and marvel at the over saturated video of DisneyWorld shown in the titles. Monorail across a beautiful Floridian sunset! Space Mountain! Smiling kids! Cartoons! GARRRAAAHHH!! I had to go!

Later in life, I chose to make animation my career and took to Sheridan College where somehow I shunned all things Disney, thinking it was too structured, schmaltzy and rejected it’s child-like sensibilities, favouring the insane comedy stylings of Warner Brothers (truthfully I still do but in my older age, appreciate the craft of Disney more).

Then I met SharkBoy – and he taught me that loving Disney isn’t a crime, even at 42 years old. He took me to WDW at a point in my life when I needed to believe in dreams and magic and all that shit. I do believe that if I hadn’t experienced Walt Disney World when I did, I might have gone down a really dark path in my life where I think I would have lost my youth. Truth be told, I *am* a 16 year old kid (emotionally) living in a 46 year old crumbling body but I seriously don’t care if people see that part of my personality as a negative.

In the course of writing this little birthday wishes card to WDW I’ve gone back and re-read most of my pre and post Disney blog entries. And I find they make me happy. Go up into the search bar and look for “Disney” and you’ll see it has more written about it here than gay sex, career angst or robots – and I know robots. You’ll see me gush about the anticipation I felt before the trip, the planning of the suitcase, the trolling for facts and for travel tips inside the parks, the scheming of surprising SharkBoy with a trip there without any fore-knowledge, and you’ll see it all made me giddy as a kid in front of a TV on a Sunday night.

I wrote so much about my experiences there that some days when randomly pick up WDW specific travel books, I think to myself, I could do better than that!

And I may…

So I have to thank Walt Disney World for their little resort they have down in Florida. I can’t wait to see you again, old friend!

My first ride ever, in WDW. And also one of my favorite of SharkBoy.

Finding my first Hidden Mickey! I win!

How long had I waited for this parade??

I didn't know about the Water Parks. Thanks SharkBoy! Beautiful!

I was against it when I first heard of Star Wars and The Mouse merging. Now I love it!

Our First Gay Days

Wearing pictures of each other at 11yrs old. SharkBoy’s Shirt: “I married him!” Mine: A thought bubble of a cheeseburger

Alway perfect...

Added Bonus: CBC’s video effect happy early 80s intro:
Here’s the CBC’s 1984 groovy disco video version:

Return to the World, Part 2

Queer stuff, Travel

I’m not going to sugar coat it, much like Disney would. Here’s your bullet to your brain, Bambi’s Mom: Disney World is very expensive. To put it into perspective: a week at one of DW’s value resorts (basic but fun landscaping, basic room, basic pool, cafeteria type restaurant) equals one month of some poor soul’s HIV medication. Yeah. That much.

When I first realized that Disney wasn’t for the unwashed was when SharkBoy handed me a pamphlet of the various types of park entrance tickets, even before we talked about flights or hotels. I remember it well because after seeing the prices I wanted to run screaming into the mallĀ  (ProTip: there are usually park info kiosks in every Disney store). I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe something around $100 per person for the week because it was Disney and Disney = nice! Not expensive or seemingly greedy. Oh how Disney naive I was. I couldn’t believe the prices for just going into a bloody amusement park.

Of course, it’s more than just an amusement park. If you want that, go get overcharged at Universal (bazinga!). At the time I didn’t know how much more the parks actually were than just rides and carnival. I can say that the entrance fees are steep, but worth it. And with careful planning and knowing what you’re going to do while there and how you’re going to get around you can save yourself some dollars.

Here’s another reality you may have to take a .22 to the brain for: Splurge on the park tickets.

When I opened the pamphlet my eyes immediately saw prices starting in the hundreds. Next to the prices that went up in $50/$100 increments for add-ons and extra days. I went apeshit in my head. Take a look at this US$ screen shot from Disney’s own site:

Yark! That's a lot of candy corn...

SharkBoy pulled me off the ceiling and explained that like all good sliding marketing variables, the price of a daily ticket goes down the more days/options you buy.

In my little screen grab you’ll see that I’ve chosen a Seven Day, Park Hopper with Water Park option ticket, for the grand total of $380US. We always choose the Park Hopper with Water Parks for a couple reasons: As we get old, we like to cut the day in bits: morning at one park, back to the hotel for shower (it is hot muggy Florida, you know) or disco nap or both, dinner at Epcot or Hollywood Studios and off to where the best fireworks are that night. You could say we’re A.D.D. old farts.

I can’t imagine not getting the Hopper option. I would expect if you did then you’re the kind of person who knows EXACTLY how you’re going to spend EACH DAY in EACH PARK without any kind of deviation to your plans. That’s fucking hard core, man. And strangely anal.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re freakishly organized ahead of time. There is an EXCEL spread sheet on SharkBoy’s hard drive that has our days at the parks planned out, but when we get there, we have the option of lighting that list on fire and dancing around it like Lost Boys. We like he liberty that the Hopper option affords. We choose it mostly for another factor, dining, which I’ll get to in another post…

The water parks are something I’d be kind of upset if we didn’t go to because Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are the two best themed, most beautiful landscaped parks I’ve ever been in. I don’t think I would go if I was going less than three days though, because that would cut into park time big time. But they are beautiful, a lot of fun and welcome on a hot Florida day.

I digress. These are the options we’ve always chosen and they’ve always been good for us. You can say we like the structure but yet love the option of veering off the plan to something unexpected. I know I would be seriously disappointed if I discovered after entering a park on a non-Hopper ticket that the fireworks for the night were at another park.

Take into consideration that you’ll probably not use a day in the park on the day you’re leaving Orlando so you can drop a day if need be, but the savings isn’t that much if you’ve been there over 5 days (ooo you got yourself the price of a extra fancy Starbucks coffee!). If you’re around for a half day, that’s a good time to visit Downtown Disney and shop for crap. This isn’t much of a tip, so much to make the pricing scheme less daunting.

Next up, I’ll talk a bit about hotels! See you real soon!

Return to the World, Part 1

Queer stuff, Travel

So new only CGI renderings exist

In less than 80 days, SharkBoy and I will be going on a dream vacation.

Okay not a DREAM vacation, like seeing the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields or viewing a radioactive hole in the ground at Chernobyl, no. We’re going back to the World. That is, Disney World. The added plus for this vacation, the added spin, is that we’re spending 4 days on Disney’s newest ship, The Dream (see what I did there?). Go look at the video if only to see the freaking waterslide that hangs over the side of the ship! (singsong)Awwwesome!(/singsong)

The ship will be literally one month old when we board. The carpet will be fresh. The staff will be sparkling. The linen will be bed bug free (I hope). By the time we get on board, Sharkboy estimates that no less than 8 families/couples will have used our room. I have a good feeling that we’ll be the first queer couple to be in that particular cabin. I’ve been fantasizing that we’ll be the first gay couple to travel on the Dream, too.

Which brings me to my first moment of pre-vacation dread. The Disney cruises are super-“family” orientated. When you arrive at the port, you are called onto the gangplank thusly: a cluster of crew gather at the entrance, shipside, and with microphone in hand, announce your arrival on the ship. Thankfully there’s no real big audience other than staff, since everyone is eager to explore and get to their rooms.

If you’re thinking ahead, you’ve seen my dread. Two 45-something bald guys coming on board together, no kids, get microphoned across the ship’s atrium. While I’m dying to know how we’ll be announced (“Announcing Mr and Mr Paquette-Healey!!”), I don’t do well with everyone looking at my big gay entrance. Well we’ve always said we should live a little more “out and proud”. Not that I’m saying gay people should be seen, not heard. Fuck that. If you can’t handle my “family” then fuck off. No, I’m worried that there is a stigma of pedophilia that surrounds the notion of two middle aged men on a ship where at least half the populace are children. I’ve seen the concern in parents’ eyes before when SharkBoy and I travel to Disney: moms culling their children closer when we join a touring group, or ride, or bus. SharkBoy generally diffuses these situations with a kind word or a joke and we all relax – something he does quite well on DisneyWorld busses for some reason. Which will be a future post.

Despite being reassured from every person who’s been onboard and by Disney’s own marketing materials, the ship isn’t just for kids. There are designated areas for adults only and such. But I know that we’re going to get the questioning looks. Thankfully our last cruise (the one where I was surprised that when you sail out of New Jersey you have to suffer with spending two weeks with people from New Jersey) has taught me not to give one flying fuck what other people think of you and you should be having your own fun on vacation.

Actually I’m not that chuffed. From what I’ve read on various cruise web forums, the Disney ships might be devoid of gay passengers, but the gay crew will latch onto you like cultural leeches. Extra desserts for me!

Curiously inversely, our last cruise was our longest at 12 days, while this one will be the shortest at 4 days, at literally the same price. We board on Sunday, Monday is Nassau, then over to their private island, Castaway Cay, then home. I figure that’s the best amount of time for being on a self contained floating city where 2/3rd of the populace adores Dora the Explorer.

When we get back, we’ll be meeting up with Josh and Sean (of the blogs Grove of Blue and the dusty Fortress of Solitude) and spend a week in the World.

In the next couple days I’ll be writing about tips and tricks for visiting the World. I hope you come back soon and check them out!

Have a magical day!

Update: Thanks to W in the comments, this thread over on DIS makes the p-vacation dread disappear