Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Memories for sale

I am presently in Florida on a trip with my husband, teenage daughter, five year old grandson and a sweet niece of twelve. We are in Orlando where the magic is supposed to happen and the purpose of the visit was to visit the parks for the kids, do some shopping and relax. So far we have been to a mall or two and to Disneyland, our grandson‘s and first visit to this park as well as my niece‘s, while my daughter is more jaded and me and my husband could work as tourguides atfer a lifetime of such visits.

Disney is expensive, they do not give away the tickets even though now three of their main attractions are under repair and many of the buildings are hid behind canvas painted to look like what they did before, hiding what is probably refurbishment. Closing up for a period of such work is probably not an option so we remained understanding while trying to explain to our grandson what was going on after he pointed out one such house and exclaimed that it was a cartoon. We managed to keep our cool upon exiting one ride after another into strategically placed gift shops where pirate swords and laser guns from outer space were pointed in the direction of our grandson. Even when we were completely ripped off buying a 50 dollar photograph of the kids's heads placed into a Star Wars background.

We have Seaworld and Universal to go and it will be interesting to see if our calm reserve remains intact to the end. I am not so worried about Seaworld since animals do not awake the same annoyance as grown-ups dressed as rodents with big white glove-clad hands. But Universal I worry a bit about, it will be our last park and there instead of the rodents we will have grown-ups dressed as superheroes. The only similar figure I like is the Lego edition of Darth Vader. It makes you wonder if there might possibly be an evil race on a planet far away where all the evil guys are tiny like the Lego figure. It would completely ruin their evilness.

But I think we will be OK. Bring on the superheros. You see, we have been through the ringer and managed not to scream or lose it completely.

Ususally when we travel we stay in regular hotels. But this time around we needed something bigger and did not feel comfortable in taking two rooms because of the kids ages, so we booked at a resort. This we did through Travelocity and while booking there was nothing to suggest anything out of the ordinary. Turns out this is some sort of timeshare hoohah. Regarding such dealings, being from Iceland we are complete babes in the woods. There is no such thing as timeshare at home and the only mention we had heard about this was from a relative of my husband‘s who inherited two such slots from her brother who had lived in the States for a time and has now spent years desperately trying to get rid of them. Last I heard she was thinking of faking her own death.

A call from the lobby asking us if we would like a tour of the resort for an hour and a half in exchange for discounted park tickets sounded like a wonderful idea to us. Little did we know. We lost five hours of our vacation watching a stupid advertisment about the founder of this resort and how no one can take away your memories, walking into model apartments and being pretty agressively pushed into signing up for something that was such a ridiculously bad deal that you have to give them some credit for even trying.

The tactic was boiler room – first someone sweet with a crazy offer that only the drunk and otherwise thought impared would fall for, then a tall guy in a suit that joins the table and has a very special offer that just came in. When this does not work yet another with something less expensive and a new round of figures involving points, weeks and dollars. And the deal had to be signed that morning, no going home to mull it over, no google-ing or getting outside advice. How fishy can you get? When we asked why the put this pressure on people they said it was the law of Florida, they had to do it this way because of legislation. If we did not make a deal that same hour they would not be allowed to meet with us for two years. We must have looked particularly stupid. All other questions were answered akin to this: Question: „How do you get ut of this if you don‘t want to own a timeshare anymore?“ My husband‘s cousin buying fake blood made us think of this. Answer: „Why would you want to stop having vacations? Do you foresee in your future that you will want to stop enjoying life?“ Oh please.

For the two bedroom apartment they wanted us to finance for them, we were to recieve 200 000 points. These we could use at the resort or change over to hotels in other locations. When we asked how many nights this would get us for example in NYC it turned out we could stay 2.5 nights. Great deal right? To say nothing of the financing they offered. Sixteen point nine percent interest. Highway robbery. I am upset at myself for not standing up and yelling to all that were huddled around on the other tables to think about this figure. Makes me almost want to go back, just to throw that wrench into the cog. But the law of Florida prohibits me from doing so. Maybe in two years time.

But what was most amazing was the fact that five hours passed and that we did not walk out at any point. I have no explanation for this other than these people knew what they were doing and we did not. We were also too busy refusing to sign and pointing out that as soon as we knew what was going on we let them know we were not looking to buy anything off them. And then there is upbringing, you do not want to be rude. So we are now the proud owners, not of a timeshare but five hours of bad memories. Just the opposite of what they kept promoting as if they had the franchise of remembrance.

No one needs a resort or a timeshare to obtain cherised memories. My favorite one from this trip so far is my grandson asking us if the voice on the GPS was reciting news. He hates news.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. We spent much time at Disney World when my children were young. There is almost nine years between the oldest and youngest, almost six between the oldest and the middle child. Disney and the nearly yearly trips to Washington were designed to help them build relationships that would carry them through adulthood. The expense seems to have been worth it. Now, as they are in their mid to late twenties and mid-thirties they are close and they know they can count 0on each other no matter what happens.

    We got caught in the time share web at a ski resort so we knew to be careful at Disney.

  2. After this, I think you need a vacation.

    My son lived in Orlando for a half-dozen years and was a Disney freak. He and his wife and kids had season passes available to FL residents, and for a big birthday (to him, not me) we went swimming with the Dolphins at Sea World. It was fun, but not my preferred cup of sea.

    I long for the fun you found. Tiny, crowded rooms filled with pushy, boiler room types trying to sell you ice in Iceland. They key to dealing with them is to realize that you can say absolutely anything that comes into your mind (except YES or I AGREE), and they will not blink. The bigger the scam, the less they care what you say.

    It's a free shot at venting. Insult their dogs, their dress, their mothers (big assumption), and they will just keep on pitching. It's free primal scream therapy. JUST YELL and get it out! Where else can you have such fun that's legal?

    By the way, my son was a Deputized Chaplain with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. That would help if I misjudged and had to call for the cavalry. Or EMS.

  3. I worked hard for you to see it, Beth.

  4. I think you should have told your grandson that the GPS was doing something much better than the news - something useful!

  5. I am sorry how long it takes me to reply to comments - but I did see the pun....

  6. I feel better now, sniff, sniff. Hope you do, too:)