More Disney Drama

You can blame this post on my friend and frequent commenter Caroline, who linked in comments to yet another blogger hot take on Disney’s announced new Genie+ system. I wasn’t going to inflict any more Disney on my few and loyal readers, but my response in comments sorta became an essay. 🙂

First, for those of you who don’t know what this is about: Disney has abandoned the former Fast Pass system, where you could make a reservation for a shorter line for a ride for free, for a new Genie system, which charges a flat $15 per person per day for the ability to make short line reservations.

Paying for a faster trip through the line is what the other theme parks do to manage crowds – Universal and Sea World have charged to jump the lines for YEARS, and their options are more expensive.

From what I’ve read so far, Genie is far more sophisticated than simply “paying for a fast pass,” and I will reserve judgment until I see it in action for a few months. From the description, it’s designed to provide advice to help tailor your visit as well as manage crowd flow on rides. Again, I want to use it before I roll on my back kicking and screaming about it.

I will speak heresy: The old fast pass system didn’t work all that well. Local passholders could set multiple fast passes from their couch with little intention of using them, just playing around on the app, and any guest could set them intending to use them and not release them when they no longer wanted them.

Disney had no way to know who would and would not use that hard to get FP for Peter Pan or whatever, so while it somewhat helped with traffic flow, it was easy to game the system. The fast pass lines would be shorter than the regular, especially at peak times, but “fast” was often relative. Disney is an expert at moving huge crowds of people efficiently, and I’m willing to see if the Genie system helps traffic flow.

As for the cost, yes, as the other blogger pointed out, it adds $60/day to a family of four’s cost, IF THEY CHOOSE TO USE IT. It is not required. If the entire system works to smooth traffic flow it’ll help even the people who don’t want to pay.

But honestly, after the first rage and tantrums on the Disney boards I follow, they kinda shrugged and went back to planning their multiple sit down dining options, where a family of four usually can’t eat for less than $100 without alcohol, and discussing whether Old Key West is better than Saratoga Springs resort.

Disney is very expensive. So is Universal, so is Sea World. There are ways to do it slightly cheaper (stay offsite for sure, bring a damn water bottle instead of paying $4 for shitty Desani water, bring some snacks in a backpack so you aren’t paying $20 every time your tummy rumbles). But it’s expensive. No way around it.

Disney did not just whip this system up during COVID “to gouge people to make back what they lost”, they’ve used it in France and I think in Japan? Or Hong Kong? and even in California for a while. Disney has been collecting this sort of traffic data for years, and I’m confident they’ve figured out that this is the best way to make sure fast passes actually get USED and manage traffic flow, which at peak times is tens of thousands of humans.

Before Fast Pass went away, the Disney boards online were full of weeping and wailing about being unable to get any fast passes! OMG, why is it so hard to get Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? And let’s not even talk about the daily drama of the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance.

There are ways to manage it if you still want to save the $$. Pick a day or two of your stay where you’ll pay the Genie for your favorite rides, so you’re sure you’ll get on them, and do it for just a day, or two. The rest of your stay, wing it, you’ll still get on a lot of rides and maybe find other things to do that you’d otherwise sprint by as you’re racing to a ride.

Disney is a corporation, and the primary function of a corporation is to provide value to shareholders. I’m not sure why anybody is shocked that they have re-evaluated their systems to try something new. If it doesn’t work, they’ll watch the numbers and change it again.

And if all the people on Facebook actually follow through on their threats to cancel their passes because Disney is just greedy and OMG, Walt must be spinning in his grave now (because Walt was not at all a shrewd businessman who bought a huge swath of Central Florida via shell companies and built an empire), and if all the other bullshit 48 hour hot takes come true, well, that’ll also thin the herd. I’m betting, and obviously Disney is betting, it won’t.

41 Days Until Forced Unemployment*

*See earlier post for explanation.

45 Days until Disney Blockout Ends. I’ve made three park reservations already – you can only make three at a time – I may mess with these between now and then, but right now the lineup is Animal Kingdom the day blockout ends, then Hollywood Studios, then Epcot. Right now I’m planning two days a week in the parks, because that’s probably the realistic number of reservations I’ll be able to score as the dates get closer. I can throw in some park hopping with that, like, start the day in Epcot and hop to Magic Kingdom for fireworks. Park hopping is changing parks on the same day, which Disney makes seem so easy! Disney World is huge, you can’t just pop from park to park, it involves transportation. It takes time, and it’s entirely impractical to “hop” from Animal Kingdom to anywhere, and that’s probably TMI here.

So I have plans for my month off. Cue the tropical storms! That would be my luck, right?

Seriously, I’m getting jazzed about this. I choose to see it as an opportunity to test my planned retirement gig/my tolerance for the worst of the heat and humidity, as well as a test of a funny blog idea I came up with while texting with my daughter. I’ll keep that under wraps for now, though I did splurge a big $16 on a domain name I was shocked was available. I have work to do before this adventure begins.

So here’s a question for the few and the faithful readers of this blog: would you like me to post Disney content here, or put it somewhere else, or cross-post in both? I have no intention of abandoning Bossy Little Dog, it has been my little shack on the interwebs for too many years, starting on Blogger, but I don’t want to drive off my non-DisNerd readers with too much Disney, so I’m toying with a separate Disney focused blog. What do you think?

Nothing Focuses the Mind Like a Deadline.

I’m going to be out of work effective August 1.

Not permanently. Just for 30 days. Let me attempt to explain how this works.

I am a contractor at the place where I work, not an employee. This is a very common situation there, it’s how they run their business, with many, many contract workers alongside employees in the same roles. I’ve been there nearly 6 years. I doubt I’ll ever be offered a permanent position at this point. I’m not really complaining, because after the year we’ve all had, I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to have stayed employed, been able to work from home, and generally was able to continue my semi-normal life without major hardship.

I came very close to major hardship. I transferred positions within the place where I work at the end of 2019. When 2020 hit the fan, my prior contract position was eliminated. So, though I may complain about the gig I have now, I know I dodged the disaster of being over 60 and unemployed during a freaking pandemic. It doesn’t make what I’m doing now any less aggravating, but I’m very grateful for the paycheck, such as it is.

So my supervisor at the place where I work told me my contract was being renewed for another year on Wednesday. On Thursday, he IMed me to tell me that I had to take my 30 day break this summer. Maybe someone who understands the legalities of this can explain the why, but basically, as a contractor, every three years you have to take a month off. I last did this in 2018, so yes, this would be year three.

I was somewhat prepared for this, I keep a month plus of living expenses in a separate account for it, BUT when had I asked the company that pays me when my break would be due, they’d told me 2022. Apparently they had started counting from when I took the new position in my current department, instead of the date of my original contract. Oopsie.

Good thing I didn’t dip into this account for the auto maintenance and home repairs I need, right? I was thinking about doing precisely that, figuring I’d have time to replenish the balance before 2022. Once again, my natural gift for procrastination saved my ass.

So, instead of being able to plan my break for when the weather would be nice, like, April or May, I am now involuntarily taking the month of August off. Although I have money in the bank for the month of unemployment, I don’t have any spare cash to travel, so I’ll be staycationing.

After a few minutes of panic, and a lot of internally screaming “FUCK!!!” I realized that this is actually an opportunity.

You all (my few but loyal followers) know by now that I’m a hardcore Disnerd. Disney World is my happy place, and I hope to work there as my retirement job, because I’ll never be able to completely retire. I have a silver level Florida resident pass to the parks. It’s one of the less expensive options, and because I renew it annually, it costs about $40 a month.

It has what Disney calls “blockout dates”: this year it’s the months of June and July, then a couple of weeks around Christmas and Easter/spring break. The blockout ends on August 5th. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

I’m going to do a Disney immersion experience for the month of August. Heat and rain be damned, I will be at the parks whenever I can get a reservation. I will use myself as a crash test dummy for surviving Disney in the “worst” month. If I really do want to work there in “retirement” (always in quotes for me) I need to see if I have what it takes to keep smiling through August.

Nearly August.

I’m sorry about my failure to keep up with this blog; every day is just so boring, redundant, and depressing. Florida is in deep trouble, thanks to the Fucking Republican governor and Fucking Republican legislature. If anyone ever, ever, “Oh, but it’s both sides” at me again EVER, I may choke the living shit out of that person. And that’s all I have to say about that.

So, it’s almost August. I will be working from home at least until after Labor Day, and at the rate Florida is imploding, I’m wondering when we’ll ever see normal.

I set some August Goals for myself, and then got depressed AF because the goals are all chores and drudgery. Yes, I really do need to clean out the closets and clean the baseboards, but when that is ALL you have for weekend plans, it’s incredibly depressing.

Disney World has reopened, and the people whose opinions I trust are very happy with the way they are handling social distancing, cleaning, and enforcing masks. I would feel more comfortable there than I sometimes do in Publix, especially when a Maskhole performance artist shows up.

I was in Publix a few days ago when a couple entered – in their 50s, he’s in a HeManGunzEagleFlag t-shirt – no masks, and they’re walking slowly through the store, sashaying, really, eyes sliding side to side, waiting for someone to say something. Nobody did, so their performative freedumb shit was wasted. We generally have a very high level of mask compliance in the few places I go, so performative mask defiance stands out as the childish crap it is.

I also play this private game on Facebook, where when someone in one of the boards I follow gets all outraged/whiny/claims they can’t wear a mask for medical reasons/shares “true stories” about the danger of masks, etc., I click through to their main profile, and yep: Flag, Eagle, Jesus, GOP. Every. Fucking. Time. These people are plague rats at this point.

So that’s a very sweary way of saying I would not be afraid to visit Disney World, because Disney knows how to do is crowd control and sanitation, and they don’t hesitate to eject miscreants. Even before this, their cleaning game was above and beyond, and they’ve stepped it up from there.

They’ve also instituted a “park reservation” system to restrict access to a limited number of guests each day, and changed a lot of other experiences to make them socially distanced.

I definitely would not make a special trip from out of state to visit Disney right now, especially if it’s your first visit or a once in a blue moon trip, because things are different and limited, but all the reports back from my trusted sources say they felt perfectly safe with the distancing and masks and hand sanitizer, and had a good time. I still won’t visit until it’s not this blazingly hot, but Disney also extended all the annual passes very generously and my family all got what added up to an extra five months.

And hell, for those of us who already live in a disastrously failed state led by Gov. Delusional, Disney would be the safest place we go all week.

So, in other utterly mundane news, I am finally wearing my new glasses, which took over two weeks to come in, and my breezy young Doctor of Optometry with her magenta-streaked hair was correct: I am wearing my new glasses as I write this, no computer glasses needed. My sunglasses are equally perfect. As they should be, because they cost an arm and a leg – not the frame, my prescription.

I went with the same frame for both my regular glasses and my sunglasses, classic ladies Ray-Ban frames. I did this because Facebook shared an old picture of a trip to the beach, and I realized that the Ray-Ban prescription sunglasses I was STILL using were SIX years old, and had survived the ocean, swimming pools, theme parks, etc. I’ve had three more expensive frames turn to crap on me in the last six years, while these remained like new (except the prescription did need updating). As the optician who fitted me said, they’re the Timex of frames.

My old glasses were total crap and aren’t even fit to keep as an emergency backup pair, as they are on the brink of falling apart, so now that I have a new, GOOD prescription, I’m going to try buying glasses online, just because. I’ve ordered some try-on frames from Warby Parker. I should get my five free try-on frames on Monday. I’ll share that experience, because I’m definitely intrigued. I’m blind as a bat, and emergency backup glasses are a basic survival thing. I don’t have any old glasses that I could wear to identify my granddaughter, let alone drive or work, so let’s see what Warby Parker can do. They say they can do progressives; I’ll give them a shot.

That was quite a lengthy, sweary babble, and I didn’t even tell you about Gidget’s agoraphobia. I’ll have to tell that this weekend.

The First Weekend in Captivity.

My downstairs neighbor was sitting outside again, alone, when she called to me. Her company had gone home, and she was visibly more relaxed and pleasant. So I’m going to chalk up her weird behavior to the tension of house guests that overstayed their welcome and were on her last nerve, and forgive and forget.

The work laptop and the Elderly iMac (circa 2011) traded places, and I had my desk back for the weekend. I’ll swap them again in the morning, but it’s important to me to have MY STUFF in its normal place during my personal time. When this is over, assuming there is an “over,” and assuming I still have a job at the other end, all things I cannot count on at the moment, I’m buying myself a new, bigger, better iMac. I have been saving toward one, but under the circumstances I think I’d better hold onto that cash.

I cleaned the house like a madwoman, including deep cleaning Ellie’s bathroom. A large cat with hairy paws tracks litter everywhere, and it’s gross.

Before the virus hit the fan, so to speak, I had started turning my spare room/”office”/general crap catcher into a Disney-themed home office, and finally hung the Disney themed art I’d collected at various festivals.

Snow White is a digital image I got for being a passholder, or credit card holder, or something. The Walt Disney quote actually came from Amazon, which is a surprising resource for cool Disney art.
I bought this print at this year’s Epcot Festival of the Arts. This artist also has a really cool print of Walt and Steamboat Willy. I covet it, but I’m not buying art at the moment.

At the time I had planned to create a Disney blog as well, but that’s on hold.

And we had confirmation that the runDisney Star Wars Weekend has been canceled. Not postponed, not “to be rescheduled TBD,” but nope, it’s not going to happen in 2020, and we’re giving everyone their registration fees back.

That’s both disappointing to me personally, because I was excited about that 5k, but an alarming sign of how long we may be living like this. Although Disney World is officially closed through the end of March, they went ahead and sent the college program kids home when the parks closed, and now the cancellation of a major event in mid-April is a clue that they don’t anticipate reopening anytime soon.

It’s the uncertainty of everything that is the hardest to deal with. I have put the balcony project on hold for the time being. I can’t be sure how long I’ll have a paycheck, so yeah, that nasty old carpet can just stay there for now. If I do get laid off, I may tackle it myself. The idea of ripping up something I hate feels really satisfying and would be a great stress reliever.

In the meantime, while I wait to see what the future will bring, I’m going to organize my photos and plan my Disney blog, because this will be over someday.

I couldn’t find a taker for the old futon, so yeah, I have an office couch.

It’s hard to see the posters over the couch, sorry about the glare, but they were actually quite cheap and cool and from Amazon.

I’m Old. How old are you? I’m old enough to remember Eastern Airlines. And the coordinating Delta poster from 1971? How could I resist?

I’m on a no frivolous spending program for the foreseeable future, but I foresee some classy Disney themed throw pillows replacing the existing ones from Ikea. I think this one and this one would work, and I can see myself knitting a few pillow covers to mix with the Disney-themed pillows.

So, I have some plans to cope with this weird new world. Tomorrow, back to back to back conference calls start at 8:30 a.m., and we’ll get an update on the company’s plan on how we’ll cope, and yeah, it’s all totally fine!!

via GIPHY

So, What’s New?

I’m still here, writing blog posts in my head nearly every day. Yes, I know that’s not how it works.

So, what’s new with me? I’m waiting to find out whether I’ll be going to the office, working from home, or just not getting paid at all. I’m a contractor, and my contracting company sent us an email saying, “Don’t go to work sick,” and “Let us know if you are unable to work,” and nothing at all about giving us any sick days. I’m MUCH luckier than a lot of people; I earn a decent salary and have enough money in the bank to get by for a while, though this means any thought of a vacation later this year is out the window.

The theme parks are all closing for at least two weeks, and I think that’s when shit got real for a lot of people around here. Disney NEVER closes for more than a day or so, if a hurricane is absolutely bearing down on Central Florida; and even then they’ll just watch the situation and stay open if possible. The parks are all closing until the end of the month (at least for now) and this is truly unprecedented. I’m wondering what will be going on with the Star Wars Race Weekend, which is now a month away. A week ago I’d assumed it would be happening, now, who knows? That’s the speed of events these days. I’m going to keep training, in my lazy, half-assed way, because walking by myself is a fine form of social distancing.

Schools are closed for the rest of the month. Delaney’s dance competitions are canceled. Everyone is stressed and exhausted, all over the world.

The last three years have been incredibly hard and depressing already, as many of us were forced to confront the reality that a lot of our fellow citizens are actually shitty people. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by the hoarding of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, because no, “we” are not better than this. “We,” are also incredibly fucking stupid: there’s no liquid hand soap available, but plenty of bars of regular soap sit untouched, next to the empty shelves.

Changing the subject: Gidget. I’m working on socializing my shy little dog. She’s getting much better about not freaking out when a neighbor stops to chat, but if I take her out of the security of my immediate neighborhood she still has issues. Yesterday I took her for a walk without Sophie, just around the streets outside my condo community. Quiet, residential, lots to see and sniff, she was having a great time and we made it halfway around the block when: OMG!! A MAN!! DOING YARD WORK!! He was several houses away, but I saw her start to tense up when she saw him, so I decided to cross the street, to put a little distance between us as we passed him. We were on the other side of the street when he paused, smiled and said hello.

Gidget froze, turned, and started dragging me back the way we came, with all the force her little barely 8 lb. body could muster. This walk was DONE. Then, HORRORS! We had to walk past a FedEx truck, and the FedEx man said hi to her and said she was so cute! Well, we had NO choice, we had to flee!

Gidget believes social distancing should become permanent.

One of the “benefits” of this strange new world we all find ourselves in is that it may give me time to finally work on this blog, and on the other blog that, so far, exists only as notes in my journal.

Meet the New Job, Worse than the Old Job.

For reasons I cannot begin to explain, I spent two days last week in FDOT Maintenance of Traffic training. It’s related to my new job; sort of. The instructor was very nice and when I explained what I did, showed me the small amount of stuff actually relevant to my job before the two days of intensive information even began. I still had to sit through the two days of stuff I will never need to know in my actual job, because…I don’t know why.

It was basically like having a high pressure hose of information I never needed to know pumped into my brain at great speed, but the instructor really was great and I’m pretty confident I passed the test. As a side note, I’m also now qualified to stand in the hot sun and work as a flagger on a highway crew, which is of course every 61 year old who spent 30+ years in corporate America’s secret dream! Narrator: No, it’s totally not.

So after a shitty and frustrating week of work and two days of bonus weirdness, the weekend weather was glorious!! What’s a tired, frustrated, pissed off, depressed woman who just wants to be a stay at home dog mommy to do?

I went to Disney World. Specifically, to Animal Kingdom, because it’s one of my two favorite “I don’t need no stinkin’ rides” parks (the other great walking park is Epcot.)

So it was an utterly gorgeous day, and every living soul in Central Florida had the same idea. The park was PACKED. It was also a cheer competition weekend, so there were roaming packs of teenaged girls in matching tee shirts, followed by tired chaperones also in team shirts, everyfreakingwhere.

In case you were wondering, a pack of cheerleaders, when spotting a baby gorilla, emits a simultaneous “Oooh!!” sound that could shatter glass.

My plans of grabbing lunch at Flame Tree or Harambe Market were foiled by the crowds. Yes, both have mobile ordering, which I totally, totally recommend, it’s the best thing Disney has done in a long time, but after getting your food you still have to find a place to eat it. That was going to be a problem. I settled for a huge pretzel.

I only stayed a couple of hours; that’s the great thing about living nearby and being a passholder. The crowds got ever more crowded, and it was actually quite warm for February, so I had no problem with calling it a a day around 2:30 p.m. I’m home doing laundry and trying to get myself psyched for another insane work week.

I really, really REALLY want to be a stay at home dog mom.

Really.