It's been a while since I wrote an Outspoken article and even longer since I last went to America. Previous excursions have been to Los Angeles, Boston and New York and I was not impressed with any of those places. Orlando was different to the above for so many reasons and that was mainly because of its infrastructure which is amazing compared to what we see here in the UK.
On a Disney bus trip to one of their parks automatic sprinklers are spraying the grass by the roads for most of the journey, over in the UK we are facing a drought order because out water companies have never bothered to give us the infrastructure needed to cope with our population and the government continues to allow the building of houses in areas where the current energy and water supplies are already not adequate for their needs. Our water companies lose 30% of water by leakage alone.
No new water is ever created on earth and we wash in and drink the exact same water we did thousands of years ago (learnt that at Epcot:)).
The entire Disney set up is phenomenal- buses flow between each park and Disney hotel every 20 minutes and you never have to worry about getting from A to B. The staff are very polite (almost annoyingly so) and they do everything they can to help if you have a problem. Every person we met was polite and great to talk to apart from the occasional example such as the lady in one of the designated smoking areas who upon realising I was British asked me "If every one in the UK hates their President." My affirmative response caused her to throw her cigarette down and stomp off (well, waddle actually) cursing and swearing...
The designated smoking areas are very annoying indeed. It's quite hypocritical for the largest polluting nation in the world to make such a big deal about protecting people's health when 4 and 5 litre cars are trundling down the roads, at about 10 miles an hour from what I could see, and causing many more times the damage that someone happening to walk past some cigarette smoke could ever do. I understand that people do not like other people's smoke but it seems to be going too far now with regards to the anit-smoking brigade. Of course it kills but it is not illegal- make it illegal and every one would be happy, even us smokers.
America (well, Orlando at least) seems to be heading down a slippery slope with regards to health. I found it offensive when a HUGE person demands to get on a bus first because they are so fat they cannot walk and then claims to have a handicap. We saw a girl of about 13 years old who was extremely overweight with her parents who were both confined to those motorised vehicles Disney hires out by the dozen. What chance does she have? Children of 5 and 6 years old are put in hired strollers and walked around the parks- make them walk for Gods sake! They are children and it is teaching the exact wrong lesson at a very early age. I would guess that 1 in 5 people we saw was pretty overweight with about 1 in 10 deserved their own border patrol...
I know this sounds like I am mocking these people but they have to take some responsibility for this and so do the authorities- a BIG meal of burger and fries in Disney cost $5.00, a healthy small sandwich cost $8.99, a small tub of grapes and water melon was $4.49- not exactly encouraging healthy eating is it? We struggled to find healthy food in the hotel or the parks and carbonated drinks seemed to be the order of the day for everyone- buy a cup for $11 and you can kill yourself with Coke all week long for no extra money.
I can only see this problem growing unless something is done about it very quickly. On another note the TV channels are great- lots of superb entertainment from the likes of Fox and hilarious news coverage. The religious channels out numbered all of the other genres on offer. One phone in made me laugh-
Caller: "My husband has left and I don't know what to do?" Followed by a few sobs over the phone line.
Presenter: "Just think what Jesus went through for you and you will realise it's all OK. Take Jesus to your heart and everything will be OK for you." Followed by false concerned look.
I was in tears... through laughter.
A friend (American) emailed me the following comment- "Never liked the place--too fake and way too sugary. Probably an influence from my mom, she's not a Disney fan. It just reeks of commercialism, as Disney does in general. You have to wonder how the influence of media and entertainment affects the whole of our culture"
I loved the falseness of it- I'm not comfortable in the real world and prefer a place like Orlando.
Everything else about Orlando was wonderful- beautiful weather, beautiful design (if a little man-made) and very friendly people who made the holiday worth every penny. As a general standard of living somewhere like Orlando provides a LOT to a young family and whilst my thoughts will be clouded by the fact I have just returned, the past week made me fall in love with America all over again... If I could get a Green Card I would seriousy consider living there, let's just hope no one in Immigration reads this site:)