I hadn't been there since I was like a year old, so my memory is fuzzy when it comes to the finer points of Disney travel.
For some reason, I assumed that the entirety of Winter Gardens, etc., would be just as beautiful as the Disney property. In my true naive fashion, I assumed that Florida's Welcome Sign was a cardboard set of Mouse Ears that said, "WELCOME, Y'ALL."
Not the case.
Now for those of you who have never been to Disney, I'll paint this picture for you. On the way to the park, you go down this highway that is lined shoulder-to-shoulder with the skeeziest, most awful stores imaginable. For some pictures of the skeeze and just how awful one's experience can be, check this blog entry from a Disney traveling blog. Big garish wizard heads, ugly plastic giraffes the size of apartment complexes, and big yellow signs reading CHEAP TICKETS CHEAP TICKETS.
Leeches flocked to the gates of Disney.
This was even sadder when we had to drive through it again to get back to the hotel. It was sad, because for those of you who haven't gone to Disney, the Magic Kingdom re-instills your faith in humanity. Cast Members are paid next to nothing, but they still work at the park because they believe in Disney's message of hope and kindness. The Imagineers believe in creating a home we all miss but never really knew. The whole resort revolves around pushing themselves so hard that you as a well-paying guest can come in and really get whisked away to a dream world.
There is a great give-and-take in the business of Disney World. You pay the money, they give you what you paid for. They are honest and true and classy when it comes to their product, and they uphold everyone on property to that same standard.
The highway outside does not. And the realization that people would set up faux ticket shops in the shadows of such a magical place just made me sad again. As soon as we exited the resort property, we were slapped in the face once more by cynicism, deceit, and all around shadiness.
I guess what I learned from this experience is how to carry my own "business" in the world. For anyone with a twitter account, you know there are legitimate people out there who try their best to gain followers, connect with other writers, and share their thoughts on a wonderful social media platform. Then there are others who don't know how to conduct their business. They spam you with automatic DMs, they promote their books with enough hashtags to break the pound sign on their keyboards, and they buy followers.
If you are a writer, be Disney World. Don't be the creepy plastic wizard store five feet from Disney. Believe in yourself, hold your head high, and conduct your business with class. People will recognize it, and people will follow you and buy your product.
I know a lot of us are still learning, and I think we shouldn't be hard on ourselves when we mess up, but we need to push forward to make our social media persona as good as possible. Let's all help each other out, let's all learn from each other, and let's be the good in the world.
Stay classy, internet.