Disney World Is the Real America

I’d forgotten.

Partly because of COVID, but more for budgetary reasons it had been a long time since I left South Florida. These last couple years in fact was the longest time in my adult life that I hadn’t left our very humid bubble. But last month we took our daughter to Disney World.

The second most shocking revelation on this trip beyond how high Mickey Mouse’s prices have soared, was the jarring reminder that Miami is truly not part of the United States of America.

Disney World, now that’s the real America.

The most obvious difference involves the Miami language barrier. There are pockets of Miami where several generations of families have not learned how to speak English. If your knowledge of Spanish is second rate, you can spend most of your life in the 305 feeling misunderstood. But besides Spanish you can also have communication barriers in  Creole, Russian, and Portuguese.

At Disney World it’s English only. With the exception of being allowed to say “hakuna matata”.

And the English that is spoken actually includes words I never hear in my hometown like “please” or “thank you”. The civility blew my mind.  People actually took lines seriously, and not merely as a challenge in how efficiently one can sneak their way towards the front.

The biggest difference though between Disney World and Miami involves an emphasis on “biggest”. Disney World visitors are huge! Before you try to cancel this website for fat shaming, yes there’s plenty of obesity on display at Disney World, but I’m  referring to heights. The average passenger in line for Space Mountain has to duck their six foot three heads or risk decapitation.

But yes, the Disney World citizens are wider than the population I come across in South Florida. When we had lunch I could understand why. I’ve gotten used to these tiny Miami portions of food. When you go to a restaurant in South Beach you have to order three courses to put a dent in your caloric intake. At the Magic Kingdom  the French fries flow freely, as do the potential for diabetes and heart attacks.

I’m grateful that for the low admission price of $149, Disney World taught me that I have been living an illusion.  All this time I’d assumed I was living in America, I was actually living in Miami.

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David Rolland

David Rolland edits the Jitney blog. He is the author of the novels Yo-Yo & The End of the Century.