Going to Disney World

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Snow White and friend

Children drumming at Disney's Animal Kingdom

"We're taking the kids to Disney World!" But when they get there? Parents with strollers trundling dazed too-young children who can't comprehend it all and demand immediate gratifications. Older children racing about intent on the next thrill. Self-conscious teenagers trying to look cool.

Near the theme parks In Orlando there are themed hotels and resorts: Caribbean, Western, Italian, and the like. People enjoy the themes but no one seems to take them very seriously. They inflect the experience but get overshadowed by the drama of the parks. Outside Euro-Disney near Paris, on the other hand, the hotels are American-themed and designed by "star" architects. There the themes do seem to have more influence on decisions about where people stay.

When I was exploring Disney World I stayed in a rented home in a development in Kissimmee, near Celebration. It felt themed as "Florida retired experience," but of course that was the daily life all around me.