Several weeks ago we here at Disney Dining made the decision that we would not publish an April Fools’ Day joke this year. I want to state that right off. There is no “the joke’s on you” at the bottom of this page. This is just not the right time to try to trick everyone.
When we first made the decision, there was no hint yet that the parks would soon be closed until further notice. People were talking about how Walt Disney World had added more hand sanitizer and handwashing stations. Vacation plans were still being made, and while some people were canceling or changing plans, for the most part it was still business as usual. We nonetheless realized that things were uncertain, and thought that the last thing that people needed was a prank.
I love writing our annual April Fools’ Day piece. I have an oddball sense of humor, and our annual joke gives me a chance to use it. Most people who read it tend to enjoy it as well, although I have had a few people curse me out. Having our joke about Cinderella Castle being turned into Elsa’s Ice Palace make it on the local news is one of my favorite moments from my writing career. I appreciate all of the support that I’ve been given each year, and I love seeing how many people fall for the joke, or when they first realized that it was, in fact, an April Fool’s piece.
I’m local, my family and I live just a few miles from Walt Disney World. Since tourism is the main industry in the area, right now people are hurting. Orange and Osceola Counties are both under stay-at-home orders until April 9. (Walt Disney World is located in both counties.) Many tourism jobs can’t be performed from home, so people are out of work. An area that was thriving just a few weeks ago is struggling at the moment.
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In the midst of despair, there have been plenty of stories of hope. First Responders are finally getting the recognition as heroes that they’ve always deserved. Medical personnel are as well. People have been donating to food banks so that those who are suddenly without work can still feed their families. Others are leaving tips when ordering takeout (which is still allowed) to help local restaurants that are struggling to not lay off more members of their staffs.
Instead of a joke this year, I urge you to show compassion. Hold your tongue if your family members are driving you crazy during your stay-at-home order. Donate to a local charity if you are able. Watch your favorite videos from your past Walt Disney World vacations, and dream about the future. Reschedule, don’t cancel. Keep in touch with your family and friends who aren’t in the same house (phone calls or video chats, not in person), and let them know that you love them. Support local musicians who hold concerts online. If you need to venture out, thank the cashier or other essential worker who is risking his or her health for you. Follow CDC guidelines, because that is the best way to end this. Let me rephrase that, that is the only way to end this. And stay safe. We will make it through this. That, my friends, is no joke.