We visited Magic Kingdom yesterday for the first time in a while, and in a rare move, hopped on the monorail and did a lap around Epcot for the first time in a month. We inevitably talk to other families while on the monorail or in a queue, and it often comes up that we live just outside of the Disney property. This generally leads to comments like, "You're so lucky," and I refrain from saying, "We all make choices," but as we close in on five years of living in the western part of Orange County, Florida, is it still a big deal to visit Walt Disney World?
Frustratingly, Simon has no idea how lucky he is. He doesn't know how lucky we are to see Toad The Wet Sprocket during the Food & Wine Festival, or that the biggest reason for riding Space Mountain today is that it's Tuesday. Mind you, the ASD colors his perceptions a little differently than most kids, but I'm trying to figure out some way for him to understand that this isn't normal for most people. I think when he gets a little older, getting him into some volunteering at Give Kids The World or United Against Poverty will help. For now, he does view every lap on certain rides as the best time ever, especially Test Track.
The bookends of the year make it special for us. The day after Halloween, the parks are transformed with Christmas decorations. This is about the time we start to have some cooler days, so in lieu of full-on winter, the decorations with jacket weather help us feel like it's Christmas time. We try to make every park once during that period, but this year we missed Hollywood Studios. We didn't get out much at all, relative to previous years. The week after Thanksgiving in particular is typically very quiet and an ideal time to visit. With Simon in regular grade school, it's harder to do it on school nights. Then we hit the two weeks of black out dates for our passes, and we go without for a bit, which makes me appreciate visiting more after that. It was awesome to be in Epcot last night, and hear some live music (Disney on Broadway running right now).
We hit a relative lull in attendance late spring (though Magic Kingdom is rarely not busy any time of year), and then summer rolls in. Believe it or not, sweating my ass off at the parks in summer reminds me of when we moved here, which is a good memory. I don't mind it at all. When we turn the temperature corner in late September, I'm grateful for it, but Big Thunder Mountain on a hot day followed by Dolewhip is a great way to spend an afternoon, even though the crowds suck.
The Food & Wine Festival at Epcot is the best time of year. It's now two and a half months long. Last year it was the last day of August through mid-November. What makes this amazing is the food and beverage, which is actually in reasonable gourmet portions, and then the Eat To The Beat concert series. Sure, a lot of the bands are nostalgia acts, but last year I saw Toad, 10,000 Maniacs, Everclear, Sugar Ray, Postmodern Jukebox and American Authors. I never get out for shows anymore, so this is a great opportunity. I can load up on a cider or wine flight, enjoy a crazy good dessert and hear live music, a couple of miles from my house. Oh, and this is also when we do Epcot lunches, while Simon is in school. When I can make the time at work, we can round-trip it in 90 minutes, and put 7,000 steps on the Fitbit in the process.
So if it gets old, we're definitely not there yet. It's not that I'm particularly huge Disney fan or anything, but I do like good food, drink and entertainment. Despite the increases in cost, I still feel like we get that. I hope that when Simon is an adult he'll appreciate how great he had it. Another great perk is that most everyone we know, from every period of our life, eventually finds themselves visiting here. There aren't many places you can live where that's true.