Don't Even Go There—Travel Writing for the Rest of Us

Even if the world is your oyster, you can still chip a tooth on its shell. While travel magazines feature exotic locales of breathtaking beauty, we expose sites so depressing that no traveler this side of Edgar Allan Poe would venture there without a tub-load of tranquilizers. Take Las Vegas (please) and the $5.99 all-you-can-eat buffet line at Sam’s Town. That's the world we explore at Don’t Even Go There.

On this site, we tell of places we’ve visited but wish we hadn’t. We reveal vacation plans gone awry and relate horror stories from the road best abandoned. These true stories reflect where we’ve chosen to go. We only have ourselves to blame. We rarely needed to exaggerate—the truth really is stranger than a Dan Brown novel.

Don’t Even Go There: travel tips for those of us who aren’t escorted by security guards, pampered by wealthy benefactors, or provided a generous per diem. This blog is for seasoned travelers and armchair tourists who want the real world first-hand and head-on, with all its drama, horror, and humor. You’ll laugh at us, cry with us, and decide to stay home more often.

25 August 2008

A Cure for Heavy Sweating

Don’t believe everything you hear or read about a destination (even if you read it here). Do your research and do it before you travel. Don’t make the same mistakes we did. Here’s more advice you can’t get anywhere else. —MB & JS

Why do we always accept that advertisements tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Corporations spend billions of dollars to persuade us to buy their brands or use their services. And it works: we always believe them.

Disney is one such corporation. No longer a friendly, mouse-eared, family-run business, Disney spends millions advertising its theme parks. They gear their message towards children, of course, but they’ve billed it as a vacation destination for the whole family, which begs the following question: Who was sick the day they decided to put Disney World in one of the hottest, buggiest, most uninhabitable summer sites in the world?

You would think a smart company like Disney would plan for every eventuality. You would think they’d build an amusement park with the summer months in mind, when kids are on vacation and parents take time off from work. It’s a no-brainer.

So why would anyone with a globe and a high school education decide to build an amusement park in Orlando, Florida? Maybe they were thinking about the five months of the year when the summer heat doesn’t make you want to crawl into the nearest body of water, whether it’s a swimming pool or a cesspool.

If you’re in Orlando in the summer, this is the only place to be.

Personally, we think Walt Disney the man—duped into buying Florida swampland—simply wanted a return on his mistaken investment. The alternative is to believe the rumors that Disney executives really do take mind-altering drugs. We’ll never know the real reasons, but there’s no denying the park exists.

While Disney World employs every conceivable technology to thwart Mother Nature for the benefit of its patrons—they spray for mosquitoes, bees, and wasps; they spray for germs and bacteria; they even spray their customers (with water)—there’s no way the folks atop the corporate ladder can win a war against the weather.

Florida in the summertime redefines humidity. The heat turns a mild thirst into a valid reason for panic. Clothes become a second skin and sunblock just another layer of sweat. The climate saps your strength and makes your skin break out in a rash. It endangers the lives of the elderly and children under five. Most Floridians do one of two things when summer arrives: they either flee the state altogether or remain indoors to worship their air-conditioner.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t go to Disney World, but given the extreme summer conditions, consider a visit during the other equinox. Orlando is quite pleasant in the winter. Why spend your entire day under a July sun with its sweltering humidity when you can enjoy the relative comfort of a January gin and tonic? Don’t piss away your children’s college tuition fund on soft drinks and snow cones when you can quench your family’s thirst for adventure with a splash through the Pirates of the Caribbean.

All we’re saying is: plan your vacation wisely. Ask yourself the following simple question to better understand what we mean by all this blather. Answer honestly, and you will discover the truth behind the slick advertising and the reality behind the glossy sales brochures.

Here’s the question: What could be worse than visiting Disney World in the middle of August on yet another blistering day? There’s only one thing: working there.

Little Known Fact: Disney World does a remarkable business all year ‘round, but its concession sales rise exponentially during the summer months . . . which answers the Disney riddle. The folks atop the corporate ladder aren’t taking drugs; they’re actually financial geniuses! Hail to the Mouse!

Lessons Learned: While Disney World remains open all year, don’t even consider a summer visit. You’ll regret it—maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but certainly later, when you develop that rash. By the way, we never worked at Disney World, but we’ve heard the horror stories first-hand. Those poor people have been scarred for life. You would be too if you had to spend your days in a Mickey Mouse suit. In the summer. In Orlando.
How We Saw It
Blight-Seeing: 1
Communication Breakdown: 2
Customer Dis-service: 2
Discomfort Level: 5
Grunge Factor: 1
Inactivity Guide: 1
Rent-Attainment: 2
Spontaneous Consumption: 3
Fun Fraction: 3/5
Vibe-Rating: 2

If You Won’t Listen to Us
Nearest Airport: Orlando International Airport
Native Population: 225,000 poor souls
Normal Attractions: Disney World, Epcot Center, Sea World, Universal Studios, Gatorland, Kennedy Space Center (nearby), Millenia Mall, and much much much more.
Final Point of Interest: The Kerouac House, where Jack lived when On the Road was published, is now a haven for aspiring writers (except us).

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