Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Escape From Discatraz

A few weeks ago, Francine, Alexander and I spent a marvelous week at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  We stayed right on the resort at the Yacht & Beach Club Resort area -- arguably the finest resort pool setup in the entire Disney area (sand-bottom pool, a fantastic water-slide, a lazy river, a pool volleyball area, hot tubs, waterfalls, the whole nine years).

The most magical place on earth is anywhere I go with Alexander & Francine

The setting was ideal.  Our room at the Yacht Club was at the farthest end of the resort, offering the best view across the lake of the nightly fireworks at Epcot (which was a 5 minute walk away).  The next closest resort was Disney Hollywood Studios, a short ferry-boat ride away, which we went to for 3 of our days there, due to the Star Wars themed attractions there. 

Fran and I took advantage of the path and boardwalk around the lake (about 1.4 KM around) and the various paths that led around the resort, enjoying morning jogs before heading off to the theme parks or relaxing by the pool.

Our room location at the Yacht Club

It was a glorious and wonderful vacation -- and unlike anything we'd ever done.  For the most part, prior to this, our idea of a vacation had been taking 2 days and going overnight somewhere that was typically within driving distance.  Going for 7 days and staying at a fancy resort was a definite first for us.  And it won't be the last.

However, there was one thing that was a but of a challenge for me. I'm a gum-chewer. I always have been. I enjoy chewing gum (subtly) after a snack or meal as a way of freshening my breath - it stems from a lifelong habit begun in childhood of using gum (usually spearmint gum) to settle an uneasy stomach.

I usually have a pack or two of gum on me.  But when I arrived at Disney, I had just a couple of pieces left in a single pack.  So I set about trying to find a piece at the Yacht Club gift shop. Then the Beach Club gift shop.  Then at the various gift shops at the Magic Kingdom. Then again at the shops at Downtown Disney.  No dice.

I thought I would be smart and check out the hotels across the street from Downtown Disney -- after going to three of them, I found out we were still on Disney grounds. One of the ladies working there explained that gum was not to be sold anywhere on Disney property. I asked her how to get off Disney property. In my mind it was a bit of an attempt to Escape from Discatraz -- yes, it's the most magical place on earth, but part of me, even at that early point in our trip, just wanted to step into a non-controlled part of Orlando, a normal, open and regular place - nothing magic, just mundane and real, bugs, scratches and all.

And I really wanted to get some gum.

She pointed out that there was a way out, but it was about a ten minute drive from where we were.  So I set off on my journey, late at night.  When we had finished at Downtown Disney and Francine and Alexander were waiting for the shuttle bus to take them back into the heart of a magical place, I was planning my temporary escape from Discatraz.

Let me pause for a moment to talk about the gum thing at Disney.

I completely understand, and strongly agree, with Disney's policy about gum. In general, people are pigs and will thoughtlessly spit their gum out wherever they are and have other people stepping in it and ruining their shoes. Just like some smokers will careless toss their butts wherever they please (typically out car windows on the highway), believing that the entire world is their ashtray. It's really too bad that thoughtless and selfish people like that ruin it for those who actually take responsibility for their own actions and behaviour. 

Yes, I chew gum practically all the time -- but when I'm finished chewing I either swallow it or spit it into a napkin to be deposited into a garbage can.

In any case, I respect Disney's choice, and I'm glad they have that policy.  But it did make my little venture a challenge.

My "Escape from Discatraz" jog-hike

Fortunately, I had changed from the sandals I had been wearing during the day and into my running shoes.  The walk was about a 1.8 kilometer hike from the shuttle buses at Downtown Disney -- it was out at the end of Hotel Plaza Blvd and out to a gas station/convenience store at S Apopka Vineland Road (on the way to Highway 400 - Interstate 4).  It was a hot night (temperatures near 100), and I was already tired from a long day exploring Magic Kingdom.  But I half-jogged the route, made it to the gas station, purchased a few packages of gum as well as some cereal bars, beer and other goodies to snack on.  By the time I got back to Downtown Disney to take the shuttle back to our resort (the last one of the night, I might add), my shirt was entirely drenched and I was a little exhausted.  I was perhaps even a little smelly -- but not my breath. Because I had my gum.  ;)

Fran, of course, was a little worried about me, since I didn't end up getting back until well after midnight.

But the task was complete - I had escaped from Discatraz, then made it back.

And while I chewed gum for the rest of my time at Disney World, I ensured that not a single piece of it ended up careless spit out onto the grounds, but rather properly disposed of. 

I think Walt would have been proud.

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