Ivy's company sent her out to be trained at the Disney Institute (at DisneyWorld) in Florida for most of last week and I was able to come along. Overall it was a pretty sweet trip and very relaxing and enjoyable. A big perk for me of being able to work remotely is that each day I just fired up my laptop in our hotel room and then joined Ivy at 4pm for dinner and to see the sights and ride the rides.
We stayed in the classy "Yacht Club" hotel and several times (since I had to pay for my own food...) I would walk over to the Epcot park and scrounge together a meal from all over the world: my favorites were sushi from "Japan", some sausage/schnitzel from "Germany" and a crepe from "France." One of the very nice parts of the trip was the inclusion of a "hopper" pass so we could go to any of the four theme parks.
Our first day at Epcot, Ivy impressed me by speaking Norwegian with some young natives from Norway who were selling authentic pastries at a little shop next to a big viking ship. One of Ivy's majors in college was actually Norwegian and she wrote a big 100 page thesis on gender roles in contemporary society all in Norwegian. She's been to Oslo and we want to got there together some day.
The highlight of the trip was seeing a Cirque de Soleil performance--La Nouda-- at "Downtown Disney" on Tuesday evening. We love Cirque de Soleil and have seen a number of these shows the last several years. Our favorite is the water-based show called "O" in Las Vegas. They combine amazing acrobatics (we hear most of the performers are ex-olympic gymnasts from Russia and the Eastern bloc) with beautiful music and surreal costumes and lighting.
We also really liked the Animal Kingdom and saw some amazing gorillas, monkeys and tigers.
After nearly a week in DisneyWorld, however, we were definitely ready to go. The unending crowds, the cheery elevator music blasted from every nearby fake rock and tree and the simple fact that the place exists to please kids primarily--made us happy to wave goodbye early Friday morning. Ivy and I learned a lot about DisneyWorld and had some thoughts of our own:
- the countries that are featured in Epcot actually pay Disney for it. I can see why, the "imax-type" movies we saw on China, France and Canada were all incredibly well-done and made us want to visit there for sure.
- surprisingly, there's apparently a lot of theft in the stores there (which are everywhere; in fact, DisneyWorld seems to be most similar to a big mall). One of the reasons the store workers always make eye-contact with shoppers and say hello is to discourage shoplifting.
- what's up with all the fat people!?... Sadly enough, we were in a bit of shock and awe at the average size of the people there. I felt kind of guilty about it, but I started calling the place "ObesityWorld." All in all, though, it was sad to see all the big people and I wonder what a time traveler from 300 years ago would think if he were transported today to Disneyworld.
- on an extremely positive note, Disney does so much so very well. It is a well-oiled machine that focuses on doing what they do in the best possible way. It's no accident they teach people Quality Service there.
We look forward to taking our kids there some day. Here's some pictures too.