June 01, 2007

An Open Letter To Tourists

Now that the summer season has begun and many of you look to enjoy time with your family and friends, I feel compelled to offer some advice. I know many of you think that you are top-notch travellers, and this really isn't directed at you. You would be incorrect. I've seen you. And your family. 54 million people visit the Orlando area each year. And 50 million of that seems to come during the summer. I can spot you from a mile away. I can even tell what stage of your trip you are at. If you are all smiling like the Cheshire cat, you just got here. If you are slightly burned, you've been here three days max. If you look like you need a nap and a vacation, you're probably leaving tomorrow. So trust me; I know what I am talking about.

First of all, have a plan. I'm talking about right after deciding where you are going and before you step out the door. What exactly do you plan to do when you get there? I'm not saying plan every minute, but have some idea of what you are going to do each day. Buy a book and study up. Do your homework. No, there are no CliffsNotes. Be prepared to be tested when you get there. Otherwise, it will be your and your family's patience that is tested.

Dress appropriately. It goes back to having a plan. Find out what the weather is like. If you are coming to Florida in the summer, know that it is hot. And humid. To some this is a lethal combination. And don't go around repeating, "Man, it's hot and humid!" Everyone else has already figured this out.
Get sunscreen. If you tend to burn, get SPF 45 or higher. If you are trying to tan, get SPF 40. (okay, SPF 30.)
Also, you will be walking. Quite a bit. A WHOLE BUNCH. Wear comfortable shoes. This is not the time to break in a new pair. The only thing worse than sunburn blisters are feet blisters. You still have to walk to get on the plane.

Strollers. If you are pushing one, please be careful and not run into the person walking in front you. If you are near one being pushed, please do not stop abruptly in the middle of a walkway. You will get clipped, and it's your own fault. Quit looking so wounded.

Theme Parks. Okay, this is common sense stuff. Sadly, many tourists forget to bring that with them.

  • Yes, it is crowded. Did you really think you were the only ones who thought to come to a theme park in the summer, when your kids are out of school?
  • Yes, there are a lot of kids running around. See above.
  • When you are walking to the next attraction, please do not stop in the middle of the walkway. Or at the intersections of walkways. There are several people (read: hordes) that you are now in the way of. Yes, you will get ran into. And by strollers.
  • Do not complain about the prices. You should have been prepared. (See Have a plan above.)
  • Do not complain that the line to the attraction is too long. It's crowded.
  • No, costumed characters CANNOT hold your child. It's called liability.
  • Please do not feed the birds or other animals. Seriously. They become too dependent on handouts. And then they get aggressive.
  • Do not complain that it's raining. Unless it's a hurricane, it is usually a brief event. In 15 minutes, it will feel very nice to be outside.
  • You are supposed to be here to relax and enjoy. Everyone else is here for the same goal. So above all else, do not complain.

Driving. Again, common sense is the key. Do not abruptly stop in the middle of the road. If you miss your exit, relax. There is another coming up soon. And if you ask for directions, but the person doesn't know where you are trying to go, simply thank them and ask someone else. You probably are asking another tourist in the first place.

There is certainly so much more I could go into, but I think you get the idea. Keep a cool head, no matter how hot it gets. And have fun! That's the whole idea for going on vacation in the first place!


Kelley said...

I have a big ol' scar on my left shin from slicing it open on someone's stroller at Silver Dollar City when I was like 10, I think.

And I can attest to the truth of the 15-minute storms. We were in Orlando two summers ago, and my poor anxiety-stricken daughter was quite unpleased with the on-again-off-again storm pattern.

Scott said...

The spark for this came when we went to WDW for Chase's birthday. Some coastal showers went through and it rained off and on for less than an hour. One guy's day/trip was "ruined" and he made sure that everyone around him knew it.
Then another day there (we have annual passes) it was crowded. Yet this guy in front of me would stop in the middle of "traffic" and snap a picture. The second time I ran into him with my stroller, he turned and leered at me. But the next time he wanted to take a picture, he did get out of the way.

We used to go to Silver Dollar City all the time. I remember one time, we saw this girl get run over by a stoller. Her leg was bleeding. She was crying. My brother and I just laughed and laughed about that.