Sunday, April 02, 2006

Road Closed

Ah, the never-ending entertainment of the Disney area at peak season! It's spring break, so the roads are packed with tourists putting on a continual road show on 192. One of the best spots to witness the amusement is on a neat little shortcut road from World Drive to west 192. I'm withholding the name because I'm well aware of the internet's reach and my blog's large readership numbers. If you're ambitious enough to do a little research and find the street, then you deserve to use it...but I'm not going to hand it out on a silver platter.

It's an obscure-looking little road that runs between a cow pasture and swampland. Natives know its value, but visitors tend to avoid it because there is no signage to declare its status as a quick and easy way to Disney World (us locals have to keep some secrets or we'd never get anywhere in the summer). Better yet, as you make the turn from 192, there is a sign stating "Road Closed." It frightens off a lot of the more adventurous drivers looking for shortcuts.

Unfortunately, now that I-4 is under construction, the secret road is an official detour to get to the expressway. When I first saw the giant flashing sign directing traffic onto the secret street, I cringed. Now people would find out about it and carry it with them in their memory banks, clogging it up for years to come.

But interestingly enough, even with the detour sign, people still seem to avoid it like the plague. It looks so obscure that they seem to think it's some sort of trick. Better yet, the "Road Closed" sign is still there; its mixed message blows the circuitry of their already overloaded minds, which are filled to capacity with commando theme park touring plans.

Over the past week, my husband and I have seen several amusing entertainment spectacles on our little road. The two best were two separate carloads of people who were both flummoxed by the discrepancy between the flashing detour sign and the ominous "Road Closed" that came into view as soon as they made the turn. The first occured one afternoon as we waited to make a left onto 192. A rental vehicle came whipping around the turn off 192, then screeched to an adrupt halt before swerving off to the side of the road. The dust cloud they kicked up bore a swirling testament to Florida's month-long drought.

Since it takes forever to get a green light to make the turn, hubby and I had a while to observe which sign the tourists would decide was the true gospel. Apparently, they weren't gutsy enough to see if the road was indeed closed, as they whipped around and made a right onto 192, driving off for parts unknown. Where was their sense of adventure? Didn't they want to see why the road was closed? Did they fear that it was infested with man-eating gators? Did they think they might hurl off a bridge that would suddenly disappear beneath them, plunging them into a bottomless swamp? Were they afraid that it might lead to a secret backstage area of Disney where they'd catch a quick glimpse of a headless Mickey before Men in Black descended on them and turned them into Audio-Animatronic figures for the revamped "Pirates of the Caribbean"?

In Chicago, "Road Closed" signs are view not as a warning, but as a challenge. In my old hometown, shortly before I moved, a road along the railroad was shut down for reconstruction. I could see it from the company where I worked, and I lost count of the people off-roading on the jackhammered blacktop, dodging chunks that stuck up like boulders, to save the whole extra minute that a one-street detour would have cost them. On closed-down expressway lanes, I've seen vehicles nearly plummet off missing overpasses because they didn't heed the twenty or so signs proclaiming "Bridge Out!" "We Mean It!" "We REALLY, REALLY Mean It, You Idiot!"

But I guess that the stress of a family vacation negates an adventurous streak. And besides, here in Florida, we can shoot anyone who we feel poses a threat with impunity. Natives like myself might view those who learn about the shortcut as a threat...after all, they do threaten our ability to get around traffic jams in the summer. For all the poor tourists know, a tribunal of armed natives could be waiting at World Drive with their rifles. "You know too much!" BLAM! Any judge who lives near a theme park would let the shooter off with a slap and a wink.

The second occurrence was at night, as I turned onto the pitch black road from 192 to return to Celebratation from a Red Lobster dinner. That in itself was quite an adventure; when we pulled up, the dozens of people milling out front with menus and pagers almost made us bailed. But at the check-in podium, they said they could seat us right away. Turns out, we were the only party of two, and there are a number of booths that are only large enough for a couple. We were probably done with our meal before the people we had passed on our way in had even ordered their drinks and appetizers.

Back on the secret road, a carload of people in front of us hit the "Road Closed" sign with their headlights and panicked. I knew they were going to do something dumb, so I was well prepared to avoid them, but I still gave them a taste of the horn when they slammed on the brakes and spun around in front of me. I figured they were already so befuddled that they didn't even see me behind them. In the blackness, they probably thought they were about to plunge into a river or a quarry. With any luck, that honk was the final straw to make them lose bladder control.

Most of our encounters are nowhere near as dramatic. Most people simply pull onto the median in the middle of the road, consult a sheaf of maps, and then turn around and drive off more confused than ever. Hopefully they eventually make it to their destination, albeit by a more circuitous route.

Meanwhile, even though the theme parks will be far too crowded to enjoy, with average wait times of an hour or two, I know I'll have plenty of entertainment. No need to wait 180 minutes in the midst of a travel group comprised of the National Association of Deodorant Boycotters to see "Festival of the Lion King." I'll just zip off to the secret road, pull off to a side, and watch the show.

Click here for my Life Coaching website.

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

No comments: