If you haven't noticed by now, this blog series may seem a bit "scatter-brained". I'm trying to relay my Asperger's related fears and problems in the way I actually feel them...all of which are on overdrive when I'm outside my comfort zone (which is anytime I'm outside my house). My brain runs a million times a minute with all the "what should be's", the "what's actually happenings", as well as the "what ifs". I'm also hyper-aware of my surroundings, clocking everyone and everything around me...making sure no one is too close or that I don't make eye contact with anyone (because they seem to think it's OK to talk to you then). In a way, all this "thinking" is actually a good thing because it keeps me busy and not focusing on being terrified (which I would be if I thought about it). And when I say terrified, I mean terrified to the point of falling in the floor and crying uncontrollably (which has happened a couple of times in my life).
I did most of the driving last year, so the route to Disney World shouldn't be too much of a problem, however, I didn't do any of the driving around Disney World itself. But for the "getting there" part, I should only have issues driving through the cities and their traffic. When I have to switch roads, I will also feel the pressure pretty strongly. I plan to stop in Ocala the first night, saving me from having to leave home extremely early to arrive to WDW before dark, paying for a full night's stay and only getting a few hours out of it. It was just cheaper that way. Plus, we stayed at the exact same place last year (for the same reason), so it's familiar enough for me to manage. I will leave Ocala early the next day and drive straight to the Yacht Club!
Here is where the major issues begin again. Granted, I will only be driving my vehicle directly to the resort and parking her for the week, but parking was another large deciding factor in determining which resort I picked. I studied Google Maps incessantly trying to evaluate building/room/parking lot entrances and exits for all the resort choices. I wanted to make sure that the resort I chose would be Asper-friendly.
Usually, when you arrive at a hotel, you pull under the cover and one person goes in and checks in while the other sits in the car (which is me). You park as close as you can in the safest zone you can find and go to your room. At Disney, you first have to go through a gate and explain to security who you are and why you are there. When you actually get to the front of the hotel and pull under the cover, numerous cast members come running...one opens your door, another starts collecting your bags, yet another is filling out your baggage claim ticket and taking your information, and, if you're not careful, another is taking your vehicle off to valet parking. All the while, there are dozens of other guests waiting to leave or just arriving standing all around you. That is WAY too much interaction for me (and way too many tips - I'm too good of a tipper and it tends to cut into my budget significantly, plus, be it their job or not, I can't help but feel guilty for "burdening" them with my stuff). Then there are the reverse conversations of getting the bags from bell services retrieved (and tipping again), getting my vehicle out of valet (and tipping) because I was too scared to stop them, etc.
I want to be able to park my vehicle myself, walk to the front desk, and check in all on my own. Then, and only then, if my room isn't ready, I'll go retrieve my bags from my vehicle and take them to bell services. If the room is ready, I'll get to go straight to the room - which means I've only had conversations with three people by that point; the gate security who let me into the lot, the greeter who "welcomed me home", and the front desk clerk who checked me in (and maybe bell services if the room isn't ready).
But once I'm checked in, I have the overwhelming burden of trying to find my room on my own. I've only ever stayed at Wilderness Lodge by myself and have stayed there several other times with my sis, so I'm very comfortable with it. Sure, I've walked through the Yacht Club (in 2006 to see the Christmas decorations) and have walked around the lake a few times, but never in the guest room areas. I'll have to try to find my way back out and locate the bus stop. Then, I have to keep repeating these steps over and over for the next couple of days (you'd think eventually my brain would record the route, but it never does).
Once I'm there and settled, I don't plan on driving around Disney World at all. Disney transportation is my friend (in some ways). But there may come a time (especially on departing day when I have to go to Earl Of Sandwich at Downtown Disney to get my "stash" to take home), when I have to try to find my way around...here we go again with the terror! Some people find Disney's signage very useful, I just find it confusing! Signs only seem to pop up right before you have to turn and you are in the farthest lane away in full traffic. Then there are the weird turns (aka into the Magic Kingdom) that I much prefer a bus driver to handle. Throughout the years of riding Disney busses, I have always tried to make a point of sitting close to the front so I could see the route the driver was taking (not that my sense of direction could repeat the process in my own vehicle). Besides, I have this thing about "watching where I'm going". I do the same thing on planes...I need the window seat so I can watch the ground. It's the only way I can control my feeling of not having control of what is happening. I'm afraid I may not do some of the things I want to do because I'm scared of driving around.
Everything I worry about may seem silly to a normal person, but if I let these feelings overwhelm me, I will have a meltdown. Meltdowns are not pretty...think of a 3-year old having a temper tantrum. Can you imagine seeing an adult behave that way? I have done it more times than I am willing to admit. Because ultimately, all roads lead to "what if I have a meltdown and embarrass myself in public?". Everything I do, think, and way over-process is to keep meltdowns from happening. It's taken me an entire lifetime to perfect the level of control I have now (and numerous embarrassing failures along the way) and it's a never-ending burden trying to keep control. Some things are worth sacrificing my comfort level for (well, very few things actually), but I do believe Disney is my #1 sacrifice (in more ways than one!).
So next up, it's time to go to Part 4: Park Touring and General Day-To-Day!