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An Orlandian nerd who writes about pop culture, theme parks, and the autistic experience.

The Meltdown

The most embarrassing moment of my life took place on a carribean cruise. We were just about to arrive in Jamaica, and I had spent the past 24 hours getting told horror stories by well meaning relatives about how dangerous ports could be and how we had to stay together. Problematic advice aside, this was on top of a full week of being confined in a crowded, loud, overstimulating place with no normal coping mechanisms.

So I broke. Repeatedly. In front of my entire extended family. The worst one was when, while trying to get food with my…

A Stormtrooper at Galaxy’s Edge

My first visit to Black Spire Outpost took place within a week of its opening, yet the place felt much, much older than that. Everything looked worn and used, covered in a light patina of grime and lichen. I could see the well worn paths carved by travelers in the stone. People I spoke to acted like they were long time natives of the area, or residents of some distant city I had never been. If it weren’t for the people walking around in mouse ears, I would have almost believed it was real.

Black Spire Outpost is the fictional…

On April 12th, 2015, 24 year old Tavon Watson was set to experience the most extreme thrill available at the Walt Disney World resort; a chance to drive a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera on a closed course. It was part of the Exotic Driving Experience. Under the guidance of instructor Gary Terry, 36, Watson would drive the Italian supercar at speeds over 100 mph; faster than any ride available then or now at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately for Watson and Terry, however, this day of high octane thrills would soon take a turn for the tragic.

During his fourth lap, Tavon…

Photo by Anurag Sharma from Pexels

When I was a child, I was convinced that Crash Bandicoot was going to come out of my TV and kill me. It was the dawn of 3D gaming, and my developing mind had never seen something with the simulation of depth before. It wasn’t a stretch of my young imagination to think that a shirtless marsupial, or any creature in that world, could cross the boundary of our big screen TV and spin attack me into oblivion. I outgrew that fear, of course… but wasn’t alone in having it. Far from it.

If you’re active on social media over…

World of Disney at Disney Springs — Photo by Austin Lang

Just getting into the complex was an ordeal. A medical tent had been set up outside the entrance with mandatory temperature screenings. As I approached, I saw a family get turned away because their youngest had refused to wear a face covering. I overheard people arguing over the merits of neck gaiters as a disease prevention measure. I was beginning to wonder if going through all of this trouble was worth it for an order of chicken tenders.

Disney Springs, the massive shopping complex attached to Walt Disney World, had just reopened after months of silence. It was Disney’s test…

Image courtesy of blueberry Maki

There is a story that’s been passed down between employees at Universal Orlando for years as part of the park’s quirky history. I first heard it from my brother, one of the last skippers of Amity Island before Jaws was finally slain and Diagon Alley was built on its corpse. Interestingly enough, it also concerns a ride that has long since been slain by the Harry Potter marketing machine… and it highlights a relationship between thrill rides and disability that I had never considered before.

The ride was Dragon Challenge, formerly Dueling Dragons; one of the most intense rides in…

Photo by Pedro Gabriel Miziara

My life honestly didn’t change that much when COVID-19 hit. At least, not at first. As someone with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, I was already a Social Distancing World Champion. Approach me on the sidewalk? Time to walk in the grass! Crowded parties? No thanks! I’d sit a seat away from my own mother at the movie theater. Now my desire for personal space was enforced by law!

It’s kind of amusing just how many of these world shaking changes are things people on the spectrum have been living with for years. Chat services like Discord (which has begun to drop…

Austin Lang

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