The Happiest Place on Earth |

The Happiest Place on Earth?


For nearly 45 years, I have managed to avoid it.

As a child, it was easy. My father wanted no part of it, therefore my sister and I were denied any opportunity to experience it.

We wanted it, back then.

All the other kids got to see it.

We were The One Family in America that never did.

We were outcasts. Freaks.

What kind of American child grows up without seeing it?

The anger grew as I did.

As a young man, the anger turned to bitterness. Why should I go? Why should I see it? It’s too late now. I don’t want it! My life was full of other pursuits, and I put it out of my mind for decades.

As a married man living overseas with a young stepson, it was never a concern.

We were there. It was here.

Out of country, out of sight, out of mind.

But then we moved back here, to America, and suddenly the thing I had repressed, the thing that I had grown to despise as much as my father before me, was now confronting me.

Disney World.

The name made the flesh on my arms crawl.

Handan started asking for it. It was a life-long dream for her, and by extension, Barish.

I put it off as long as I could, really I did. When the conversation would stray too far over there…there, where Disney lived…I would re-direct the conversation back over here.

Wouldn’t a fishing vacation on a lake be great?

Turkey is just gorgeous this time of year, isn’t it, my babes?

Vacation? We don’t need no stinking vacation! We live in Connecticut! It’s like a super-fun, never-ending fairy tale! *

In the end, though, my defenses weren’t strong enough, especially when the Turkish grandmother threw herself into the mix. My walls crumbled, and I had to agree to a vacation in Orlando this summer.

I smiled and put on a brave and indulgent face.

“The Navages are going to Disney World!” I shouted to the world.

But not just Disney World, oh no, but Universal Orlando as well.

Handan was jumping for joy, and Barish showed the appropriate level of enthusiasm for a 13-year-old boy.


But inside, I’m quivering.

The lines!

Hours spent in slow-motion death marches with great throngs of sunburned dudes in neon tank tops and Oakley Blades sunglasses, their zinc’d noses glaring in the relentless sun as they shuffle alongside gum-snapping floozies stuffed like liverwurst into leopard-print-bikini casings, their hot pink fingernails twirling bleach-blond curls.

Eternities trapped in a sea of undulating adolescence while cacophonous waves of preteen screeching crash upon my eardrums.

The prices!

Thousands of dollars torched on bloated admission tickets and then hundreds more for deep-fried and sugar-injected fare from the Diabetes Express.

But I hear that the water is free.

This is smart business.

They need to keep their patrons alive so they can squeeze every last penny out of them.


Jeezum Crow, didn’t anyone think of the heat?? Summertime in Florida? Isn’t the whole state shut down and cordoned off after May? Doesn’t the sun reach down and scorch the very earth and all those foolish enough not to flee?

Let me conjure up an image of our impending holiday:


Good lord! Is this to be my fate?

Scrub that mental image, and let’s find another.





GAH! I’m a goner for sure!

Okay, so maybe it will be a little hot. But I’ll survive, right? I mean, how hot can it be?


Okay, okay, look, we’ll be staying at a resort with a large swimming pool. If I get too hot, I’ll just disrobe and roll my carcass into the cool, chlorinated water.

My brain:

Dammit, brain, if you’re not going to help, then just shut the hell up! I’m taking my family to Florida, whether you like it or not, and we’re going to have the best vacation ever!

We leave tomorrow.

Pray for me.

You can read all about our Universal Orlando and Disney adventure here!

*BWAHAHAHAHAHAH…Connecticut! Fun!! LOLOLOL! Phew, sorry, I almost couldn’t hold on to that one. What a crock of baloney-flavored malarkey!!

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  1. Wow, someone else that feels the same way about the Big “D”. Luckily, the grandparents live in Orlando, and have vowed when we return to the US, we can hand the kids over to them for a few days. Thus dodging a bullet! Have fun, stay cool, and drink lots of martinis!

  2. I’m going in 2 weeks. It’ll be my 4th trip there and I can’t wait. Like you my parents didn’t take me when I was a kid, but I’ve more than made up for it as an adult. Love it. Have a great time. L think you’ll enjoy yourself.

  3. You are hilarious!
    I never got to go as a kid either as we could not afford it. (4 other siblings)
    I was able to go with my Daughter when she turned 5 and I too, kept thinking…What the hell are we doing going to this place to stand in lines with hot sweaty people to ride rides and see shows and all the other attractions with screaming kids and expensive shops and eat places!!! Bah-hum-bug!

    It was great! We all had a great time and well worth all the money spent, time standing in lines and to boot, we met a lot of great people!!
    Go and enjoy yourselves, and take lots of pictures!!
    Have a martini for me !!!

  4. having lived in florida most of my life you forgot so many things to look forward to greg, mosquitos the size of blue jays, rain everyday steaming roads and sidewalks, 203 percent humidity, alligators, blind mosquitos that get into every crevice including your teeth and the radiator of your vehicle causing it to overheat, i could go on and on but i don’t want to scare you too much, get on it’s a small world ride it is the only cool dark place in the d world xx

  5. The one and only time I went to Disney I was 28 years old, childless and it was the end of July. It was over 100* EVERYDAY! I have to admit, the minute I saw the Magic Kingdom I turned into a little girl again! We had an awesome time but swore we would never bring small children in the summer, ever! So many whiny, hot, crying kids convinced us that winter would be our next season of return. I am now 45 and have never returned but my 16 year old daughter would love to go to Harry Potter World. Is it expensive? Yes! Is it worth it? I think so. Your son is old enough that you can say no and he shouldn’t bug you too much but every ride does end in a store so good luck! BTW, the food I need the restaurants was amazing! Not like a local fair at all! Bring water bottles and sunscreen. Enjoy! You will most likely enjoy Universal more, it is for older kids whereas Disney is great for smaller kids and kids at heart! Cant wait to see the pictures!

    1. Hi Giselle – Fortunately Barish is old enough not to want every bauble he sees, so I’m not worried about the stores at the end of the rides. We’ll try to bring our own food and water to keep costs down, but I’ve no doubt they’ve spent millions engineering ways to part even the most tight-fisted parents from their from their hard-earned money. We’ll be hitting up Universal for 3 days and Disney for the same. We’re all looking forward to the adventure!

  6. We live in Winter Garden, well my husband does, most of the time. Long story. Wish we could meet y’all. It is hazy, hot and humid, but the daily afternoon thunderstorms, and I do mean thunderstorms with lots of lightening, cool things off. It’s fun in Florida. You’ll have a blast! Driving around Orlando is tricky and scary though, go early and stay late.

  7. You are so funny. The pictures especially the skeleton is Texas all the way. Omg it’s so hot here.

  8. Disney World? Is that somewhere need Death Valley? Or maybe closer to Venus or Mercury? Never been. The Disney I grew up with (as in watching in black and white tv until about 1967, something foreign to most people these days) was the most wonderful fantasy world ever. I don want to destroy the memory of the excitement waiting for Sunday night to roll around for another episode. So I will likely never visit the commercialized, over priced, corporate expression of someone’s interpretation of Walts big hearted imagination. Yeah. But I still hope you have a blast. And I hope you don’t get sunburned. πŸ˜‰

  9. You are too funny! My daughters (who are currently 32, and 30) never got to go to Disney- and now they feel exactly as you do. However, I have a feeling they will be taking their little ones, once they are of age. Hopefully, you will have an amazing time, and enjoy every moment with your family! I do agree with you though that Turkey is absolutely beautiful, especially this time of year (born there!)- but Connecticut??? Meh- (have lived in West Hartford 40+ yrs) Have a great trip- love your posts.

  10. Oh my God! I died laughing….our entire family, 3 sisters,our husbands, kids, and our granddaughter went two years ago! We were so excited….I was finally taking my oldest to Disney World- he’s 27 now ?
    Well….NEVER AGAIN…. we did our “time haha! We have more fun on road trips and exploring sights along the way. I saved an ENTIRE year of my earnings to take everyone….the most fun we had was at Epcot though.
    Disney is obviously not our thing, the kids talk more about the condo, pool, beach and sightseeing. Rest assured….you’ll survive and can always pull the “Disney card”when the kids start hollering that they never go anywhere! ???

  11. I went to Disneyland 18 times in 9 years while growing up in southern California many years ago. I will never again waste my time or money on Disneyland, Disney World or anything else Disney. It’s all a big rip off.