Recently I went on holiday with one of my best friends. To her, holidays mean Disney, so off we went for 10 days in Florida, staying in one of the Disney hotels.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I had a lovely holiday, it was fantastic to enjoy the sunshine and I relaxed, rested, got a holiday cold, got a bit brown – all the things you would expect from a great time away. We visited all the parks, rode the rides, ate our way around the world and shopped until we dropped. But, something just kept jarring with me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something wasn’t working for me.
I thought at first it was my discomfort at the way some of the staff were attired at the hotel we were staying – and definitely this left me feeling awkward. My friend had chosen the Port Orleans Riverside hotel – based on the theme of the deep South, the ladies all wore a very traditional ‘bustled’ dress which I found difficult to see on non-white staff. Overtones of days when the world wasn’t as equal as it is now, which jangled.
I thought about this a lot, and whilst it did make me uncomfortable, I worked that one through. But I still couldn’t quite shake off this feeling of discomfort – until my friend and I had a conversation on one of the last days of our holiday. She made a comment about something being ‘A bit Truman Show‘, recalling the film starring Jim Carrey which chronicles the life of someone who is unaware his whole life is a fabrication for a TV show. It hit me square between the eyes – that’s what I was uncomfortable about. The whole of Disney is like a giant Truman Show set – nothing is real, everything is fabricated, artificial… I realised that flying in to Orlando airport and spending every moment of our 10 days in the States in Disney just wasn’t the sort of holiday that I relish. When I travel I like to connect with the culture and life in the country I’m in. I’ve been to Florida before with my kids as a family, but we stayed in a villa and just travelled in and out of Disney for a couple of days, and made sure we did a number of other things including going to a Rodeo, and visiting other parts of Florida as well as Disney. However, on this occasion I spent my whole holiday in the Disney bubble – and whilst I love the parks and ethos, I do need more from a travel experience.
Never again will I spend so much time in plastic reality. I have no desire to be an extra on the Truman Show.