Sunday, April 5, 2015

On the Road with the Class of 2015 - Part 2

Easter Sunday

Three days of keeping up with members of the Lee High School senior class has caught up with me as I write, read, re-read and then fix the many mistakes in this post that keep me laughing this morning. I’ve run ultra-marathons but nothing prepared me for the mental and physical challenge of three sleepless nights complimented by non-stop days with thirty-one teenagers.

This is Easter morning and in a couple hours we’ll be loading up our bus and heading to a full day at Universal Studios. The kids are tired for sure but that doesn’t seem to reduce their appetite any. I got a Facebook message sometime around 1:15 this morning that read:

Can we have a pizza delivered to our room??? Were really hungry. Pleaseeee
Or they can deliver to ur room and u bring it to us. We dont really care we just want food lol

That about sums it up – they’re hungry. All the time, it seems!

Not unexpectedly, some of the kids are dragging a little and showing the fatigue (they have the luxury of doing so, while chaperones do not). It manifested itself in a bit of grouchiness yesterday but that’s to be expected. Most have never experienced Disney’s Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center so this was their first time to literally “drown” in all of the sights, sounds and smells that overwhelm your senses while acres of walking and waiting in lines in hot Florida weather saps your strength.

We put in a thirteen-hour day at the two Disney parks capped off by an amazing light late evening light show that seemed to continuously transform the magic castle right before or eyes, and colorful fireworks complete with a real-life fairy escaping the top window while “flying” off over our heads. After a little wait that allowed mostly families with young children to depart from the park ahead of the masses, our day ended with Disney’s now-famous electric parade.

Getting a little time to reflect on the way back motel and while waiting for the kids to settle in for the night, I thought back over the day and some of the reactions voiced by a handful of the seniors. Remembering my first time at Disney as a young adult in the pre-computer and video game days (well, Pong was around but that’s about it), I recall the wonder of some of the simplest technologies that undergirded most of the Magic Kingdom attractions. Life was definitely simpler at the time, so it was rather fascinating to listen to our kids concerns yesterday that there were no “big
roller coasters” and that most of the riding attractions were “lame.” They added a few more colorful words to their descriptions but you get the point.

It made me wonder how the explosion in technology and expansion of thrill-ride amusements over the past decades may be raising the bar for these parks. Today’s kids seem to want faster, higher, scarier thrills that do things to you rather than require you to participate in the creative simulations. Take EPCOT’s Space Mission shuttle simulator for example. While the “ride” can be intense, it is primarily a simulation of what it might feel like to blast off into space, journey to Mars, and (crash) land on the surface. While it does strange things to your body, you know you are in little danger. That was fine for me but didn’t seem to do much for the kids. I got the impression they would have preferred the “real thing” to a simulation.

This morning we headed to Universal Studios under overcast skies and threat of rain. It’s a shorter day as the park closes at 7 and I detected a bit of relief on the part of the kids (and chaperones). An early night, reasonably-priced dinner, and perhaps a relaxing swim will help prepare us for a couple of very long days coming up next.

Well, guess I'll catch up with the group and hit the thrill rides.

Happy Easter!

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