As I write this, I’m sitting by a large swimming pool populated with tourists. My son is taking numerous trips down the waterslide that towers above the pool while my daughter and her pal rest upstairs in the hotel room.
The locale is Walt Disney World, and after trudging through post-Independence Day crowds on days well above 90, days where the bottle of sunscreen was consistently forgotten and left unopened in the room, days where I received blisters on areas of my feet I didn’t even know I utilized, it suddenly hit me: Dad was tired.
Oh, and one more thing: Dad was broke.
Welcome to summer vacation 2010.
Obviously, Walt Disney World offers an enormous variety of supremely fun opportunities for kids of all ages.
It’s also going to force me to take another job.
Now, before I go any further, I’m not some Scrooge trying to suck the fun, the appreciation, the blessing of being able to let your kids enjoy time at Walt Disney World. The endless smiles, laughter and companionship unquestionably trump any type of monetary sacrifice made.
No, my point is the Disney folks know how to make a buck.
In “Atlantic City,” Bruce Springsteen sings of a man being forced to carry “debts that no honest man can pay.” Well, brothers and sisters, Rev. Rob is here to tell you that a trip to Walt Disney World will make you dearly appreciate the low-cost amusement of armband night at the county fair.
Am I going to have to resort to some sort of criminal activity to help pay the debts Mickey and Donald have forced me to carry?
Because before you even arrive, it seems Mickey and Donald -- with ski-masks tight over their familiar faces (Mick’s mask has holes cut out for his ears while Donald’s has a huge hole cut for his beak) and holding sawed-off pump shotguns -- have already plopped themselves at your proverbial doorstep when you’re booking the reservation.
“Hey there, son,” says Mickey under the mask. “You’re gonna want to splurge a little extra if you want the hotel with the water slide, heh-heh-ha!”
“Oh,” says Donald. “And since you’re too cheap to purchase the Disney Dining Plan, guess what? You’re gonna pay out the wazoo when you come eat at our restaurants even though the cuisine is about as tasty as airplane food! Hahahahahaha!”
“You see, son,” says Mickey. “The overhead at Walt Disney World is really big! Did you know we have an entire underground city under the park that we have to maintain for our operation? It has offices, locker rooms, cafeterias and lots of departments to make the magic of Disney come to life!”
“That underground complex takes a lot of money to maintain, let alone the stuff above ground like the rides and park maintenance!” says Donald.
“And,” says Mickey, “in addition to lodging and dining, expect to pay a lot of money on cheap souvenirs that we’ve marked up 500%, on irresistible overpriced photos we take of you and your family every time one of our rollercoasters makes a drop, and on those watered-down cocktails you’re gonna need at the end of the day when you realize how much money you’ve spent in the past 24 hours!”
“We’ve gotta satisfy our Disney stockholders!” says Donald.
“So,” says Mickey, as he shoves his shotgun in my side, “why don’t you just sign over your next five years’ earnings right now, and just get it over with, you cotton-topped, pot-bellied mousketeer, before your guts splatter all over your wallpaper?”