So I finally relented. Yes, I would go to Walt Disney World with the whole clan. Yes, 17 hour drive with 6 people in the car. Yes, we would add 6 more to the group once we got there. Yes, twelve people ranging in age from 7 to… well, older. What? Am I crazy? Yes.
Now don’t get me wrong, Disney is an okay place that I visited several times in my youth. I remember running back and forth between Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion all night back in the summer of 1976. I’m also a ride junky with no sign of slowing. I also knew that a trip to Disney World meant rides like It’s a Small World, Peter Pan and Snow Whites Adventures. Not exactly heart stopping. I did look forward to Rockin’ Roller Coaster, The Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest which didn’t disappoint.
But the high point may have been one of the most unexpected things of the entire week. Some of our group were going on Splashdown Mountain over in Frontierland. Some of us had gone a couple of nights before (when it was cold) and although the ride has a great final drop on it some of us were a bit done with the kitchiness of the ride. So we waited patiently with some ice cream hoping to catch a photo of the others as they took the final plunge.
Now one cool thing about Disney World is how much natural wildlife there is. This is central Florida, home to many animals. When I was very young we lived in Orlando before Disney came around. The area that the park is in was a chain of lakes called the Butler chain. My dad would take us in the ski boat through these lakes. We would see all kinds of wildlife including alligators in the channels between the lakes. We would water ski out in the middle of the lakes staying away from the edges where the real wild things lived.
Even back then the White Ibis (pictured) was all over the place. Today they are all over Disney World. Of course you don’t see too many alligators now.
While we were waiting to take this great picture of the rest of our group we noticed an otter in the water near the ride. The ride is next to the lake that is home to Tom Sawyers Island, a good size body of water that the steamboat goes around. I hadn’t thought of otters around here before but since the park had been around for about 35 years I figured that some of the wildlife was trying to take parts of the park back. They had even learned to adapt to the new environment. Who knows what they eat now. They looked something like this. How cute.
Well, as I stood there waiting on our group, I noticed something move out of the corner of my eye. I looked up just in time to see the otter grab one of the white ibis’ off the bank of the lake and drag him into the water. We watched as the otter took the unlucky bird underwater and swam with him right under the bridge we were standing on. Nature continues to happen. Even in the make believe world of Walt Disney.
The whole event was a reminder to me that as much as we build and plan out our world around us we still have things happening around us that are part of the natural world and if we watch closely enough we can still be awed by something that man had nothing to do with.