Welcome back to Not Club 33, the new home of the Disney Cynic!
Last weekend my wife and I hosted both sets of parents for Mother’s Day brunch, which of course is the meal of choice for white people celebrating a holiday. Eggs and breakfast meat was consumed, discussions were had, our adorable Goldendoodle was the center of attention, and overall the entire afternoon was a rousing success. Which reminds me, happy belated Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!
*Please note: By extension, I’m including Dog Moms too, but not Cat Moms. Get a pet that requires more attention than the occasional feeding and clearing of a litter box, then we can talk.
One of the discussions was about our upcoming trip to Orlando over Independence Day week. My wife’s side of the family have rented a VRBO not far from Disney property. I will join them mid-trip, as my day job is seasonally driven to an extent and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity during one of the hottest times of the year. Rather than make the drive to Florida in a caravan of in-laws, I’ve booked a first class flight to Orlando for the evening of July 3rd. Here’s to hoping I won’t be frisked to hard by the TSA the day before we as a country celebrate our freedoms. That said, the first-class flight includes free drinks. That should help the pain of probing.
This family-in-law vacation will be a lot different for me, and not just because I don’t get to watch Stacey on a loop in the room. This is my first trip to the Orlando area where we’re planning on busting the Disney bubble. I have literally stayed all of three nights off property since the year 2000, two of them with my then-fiance where we went to Epcot and Disney Springs and the other because a room wasn’t available over Memorial Day after I graduated high school.
My parents being DVC members, we rarely sought outside the bubble accommodations when I was a kid. If we did, it was because we were hoping to extend the vacation by a night. When no rooms were available, we chose the Marriott over the minivan. When I started traveling as an adult, I would first try to bum DVC points off of my parents. If none were available, I’d pay cash at one of the moderate resorts. Either way, I was always on property. It took my wife booking a hotel to look at a wedding venue for me to first stay off property as an adult.
My wife and nieces are planning on going to see Harry Potter World at Universal, something I have absolutely no interest in seeing, prior to my arrival. She’s a former cast member, and though she lived in Orlando for nearly a year, I’ve never heard of her making the drive up I-4 to those other parks. I’ve been hinting, and by hinting I mean bluntly saying, that I’d like to make the 45 minute drive south to the Seminole Hard Rock so I can play some poker. Neither of these ideas would cross our minds if we were staying on property.
In spite of us busting out of the Disney Bubble, we’re still going to Disney World. We’re getting a two-day park hopper and we’ll absolutely get as much of the magic in as we can. That said, we won’t being relegated to purely Disney transportation or having extra magic hours. Sure, it’ll be July and Fast Passes will be hard to come by. Perhaps this will be that chance I’ve been longing for to indulge in some whimsy.
It’s also a chance for me to flex some of my “Cheap-Ass” skills. Just because you’re staying off property doesn’t mean you have to pay for parking. Get a breakfast ADR at one of the resorts, and walk/take transportation to the parks. Head over to Disney Springs and hop on Disney transportation to the resorts. Have an old Magic Band in case an industrious cast member questions why you’re going to the resort. Many workplaces offer a discount program to their employees. AAA members can get discounts on tickets or vacation packages. There’s many ways to get around extra charges for staying outside the bubble.
Perhaps this trip will give me a new perspective too. I’m certainly curious to find out if part my cynicism about Disney is rooted in being spoiled. I’m at least open to the idea that this trip will show me just how good I’ve had it when I go on vacation. Then again, maybe it’ll make me more cynical. I could find out that there are others out there who do things better, thereby fueling the monster within and souring the Disney experience for me even more.
I say that because I had the opportunity to travel a little more often recently. One such trip was last November to see my Florida Gators (go ahead and @ me) play South Carolina. Thankfully, the game wasn’t as much of a Cock fest as it looked like in the first quarter. For those clutching your pearls, South Carolina’s mascot is the Gamecock. Rather than wake up at 4:00 AM for a Noon kickoff, we decided to drive down the night before.
That night we ended up booking a hotel in Alachua, FL while driving down. It was literally the most comfortable night of sleep I’d had in months. It was so comfortable that we got a new mattress because until that night we didn’t know how much better we could sleep. I’ve since had a couple of disappointing stays in other hotels too, don’t get me wrong. However, that albatross of a night opened my eyes…anything is possible.
So, Not Club 33 readers, in the spirit of “anything is possible”, I’m asking for your help. I’d like to know what all I can do outside of the Disney bubble. Obviously gambling in Tampa is on the table, so I’m willing to do a little driving. Sea World is not on the table, but not because of some moral objection. I’ve just been told that Holy Land is a better experience due to dwindling investment in Sea World.
Please leave a comment below with what else I can do to bust the bubble, or send me your suggestions on Twitter or Facebook (just search Cynical Disney and you’ll find me). You’re welcome to troll me too, but if you’re going to troll me at least be funny about it. I’ll be sure to write a first-hand account when we get back and let you guys know. Until next time!
-The Disney Cynic
“I’m all beers!”