Hi everyone. I know this is a break from our usual policy of sticking to theme parks and other travel destinations. However, the tragedy that occurred in Orlando over the weekend hit us all very hard–we have employees, researchers, and many friends that live in the Orlando area. Beyond that, I feel that it is all our duty as Americans, as people, to do whatever we can in the face of these acts of hatred.
Our community of readers, fans, and subscribers has always been friendly, inclusive, and helpful. This is the time for that to continue and strengthen. Both of our current authors of Best Week Ever–Julia and Dani–are Orlando locals and both contributed to this post.
After this, we will mostly be returning to our regularly scheduled theme park and travel items. We have always treated travel as an adventure and escape, and continuing to discuss it is one way we can help, however slight that help may be. Be excellent to each other.
– Brian McNichols, Blog Manager
For my Best Week Ever article that would have run later this week, I spent the past couple days enjoying the amenities of a Grand Villa at Saratoga Springs, exploring Disney Springs, and living the laid back Florida life that so many of us know and love. With my in-laws on the way to the airport, I opened my laptop to start writing up that Best Week Ever, only to be stopped short by the headlines, tweets, Facebook notifications, and more all jumping to the forefront on my Sunday morning computer screen.
By this time, there will be so much said about the dozens upon dozens of vibrant lives cut short or altered forever due to the act of a hateful murderer at the Pulse, and yet no amount of words can ever truly be enough to ease the pain of those who are grieving and hurting. We say (and we do so with deep conviction) that our thoughts and prayers are with those families because we wish we could make it better, and because we don’t know what else to say, knowing we can’t make it right.
Some of the lives lost were tourists, seeking to enjoy a night of fun in The City Beautiful. Some were our friends, family, loved ones, co-workers, and more, relaxing from another week of Florida life. Every single one has loved ones. Every single one has a story. It is my hope that those stories can be shared as a celebration of life far more powerful than the tragedy of their deaths.
For those who will not live to see another sunrise, their best week ever is one in the past, shared and talked about and remembered by those who love them.
For the rest of us, once we have been able to grieve in our own way and in our own time, we honor the memory of those lost by bringing joy and magic back to the World and our world.
This week was not the best week ever for many people in the Orlando area, because it is impossible to say “mass shooting” and “best week” in the same breath. And yet, even in the midst of the tragedy, we saw people in all walks of life coming together to show that Orlando has some of the best people ever. First responders, medical professionals, and regular citizens on the street providing immediate care for those in need. A reporter holding a mother desperate to find news about her child. Social media filled with phone/Twitter/Facebook trees and prayer trees to help people find out about their loved ones. Lines at blood banks that stretched hundreds deep—so many that most were filled to capacity and had to turn away donors for that day. People who came out to those blood drives to provide sunscreen and water and other supplies for those waiting in line. Local businesses rallying support for everyone from the affected families to the first responders and beyond.
Cast Members are often reminded that they make the magic for the guests. In this town, where the Cast Member spirit extends far beyond those who work at Walt Disney World or in the tourism industry, we know that we all have an interest in making the magic for each other.
The Best Week Ever series will return next week, as we continue to find ways to make and share magic with readers far and wide. In the meantime, wherever you are, take some time to make magic for each other.
For more information about how to provide tangible help to those affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting tragedy, here are some resources.
Counseling resources are available by dialing 211 or through the Orlando LGBT community center at 407-228-1446
And to report suspicious activity, call Florida’s See Something/Say Something hotline at 855-FLA-SAFE (855-352-7233)