We have just returned from a weeklong trip to the Greater Disney Entertainment Complex in central Florida having thoroughly “done Disney” and, no offense to Old Walt, it only made us appreciate the values and unique attractions of the Inn on the Alameda. Traveling as a family with a nine year old turning ten was an eye-opening and bracing examination of today’s lodging trends. While we were dazzled by Disney the trip truly brought us a renewed appreciation of our home and inn.
Traveling to Disneyworld is an exercise in corporate homogeneity and the contrast to New Mexico is apparent upon arrival. Orlando International is a confusing labyrinth of poor signage and retail opportunities that must be maneuvered before even setting a foot in Florida proper. The Interstate to the corporate state within a state that is Disney is an endless stretch of billboards and novelty shops. There cannot exist an experience in sharper contrast to the stark beauty and endless views of the drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, as the wide sky rises up to meet you when cresting La Bajada hill and gazing out at the City Different nestled placidly beneath her clean blue skies and rising Sange de Cristo mountain peaks.
Once in the Disney Complex you are in a vast and all encompassing world of orchestrated consumerism where money is abstracted into the form of a “Magic Band “ with which you just swipe your wrist to charge gifts, rides and meals. Disney seems to have found the highest common denominator for all of America in entertainment and lodging. Here one would believe that the food options are limited to just a few repetitive items, with lots of starch and sugar. This is unfortunately for the Disney visitor an unfulfilling, if filling, dining experience, totally different than one’s experience at the Agoyo Lounge at the Inn where we seasonally change our unique regional cuisine, like our Chicken Enchiladas. At the Inn we pride ourselves on a level of personal service and customer engagement which is reflected is our high numbers of returning guests.
It is impossible to not dwell on Disney’s countless differences with Santa Fe. Few locations in the United States are so deeply entrenched in location, place and history. Cultural contexts in New Mexico are deep and wide, encompassing Anglo-American and Hispanic settlers over hundreds of years and Native Indian occupation over thousands. To travel from the Inn on the Alameda to the Plaza is to walk the same byways and streets that have been walked upon for hundreds of years. You will see independent vendors, shops and galleries offering authentic and world class goods. Santa Fe is no fantasist vision sprung madly from the visions and dictates of a multinational corporation, it’s as real and as authentic a location as you’re likely to find on this continent. We can truly say we’ve “done Disney”, and we are now done with it. What we see when we look at the Inn on the Alameda is authenticity and reality where the guest is treated with recognition and respect, and it is this vision that becomes bracing in its clarity when contrasted with Orlando.