Any brush with what is hollow in this world leaves me sullen. And sullen I was all the while I was made to endure a stay at the Disney Coronado Springs “Resort” in Orlando, where I traveled this past week for a three-day meeting. The minute my plane touched down, I could feel my mood shift to dark. By the time I arrived at the hotel, after having endured a 40-minute sales video aboard the Disney Magical Express, I was nearly catatonic.
So were the people who worked at the resort, giving lie to the claim that it is “the happiest place on earth.” The woman who checked me in, for instance, could barely look at me or get up from her chair; the same was true of the woman who checked me out. And, the first morning I was there, I passed a small, sad person sitting alone at an even smaller, sadder desk. On my way out in the late afternoon, I passed by her again. She was still sitting in the same position, alone, though I need to believe that she had moved at some point during her day.
“You’re still here!?” I said and asked.
“Oh, yes,” she sighed.
Also there was the solitary gardener, who stood watering the same spot for what seemed like a very long time; the brigade of apron-wearing maids forced to walk beneath the upstretched arms of two cheery supervisors, who touched fingertips while the women ducked under their steeple; and the sour taxi driver who didn’t say goodbye to us, despite a generous tip, and whose antipathy you could eat.
Really, the whole place was creepy, though the scary prize would have to go to my room, wherein could be heard eerie sounds emanating from somewhere within the walls — clanking, pinging, sucking noises interrupted only by the sound of something with tentacles regurgitating in an underwater tank.
More than once while I was there I thought of how my father would check under my bed for monsters and wished he had been alive to take a quick peek.