Book Jeff

Catastrophe Canyon

If you were a guest at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios back in the day, you no doubt remember a section of the Backlot Tour called “Catastrophe Canyon.” There you experienced an elaborate special effects show in which Disney simulated a disaster scene.

I loved it. Partly because the Backlot Tour was the park’s signature opening day attraction but mostly because I grew up watching disaster movies. Airport, The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and Airport 75were my favorites. Catastrophe Canyon took me back to a younger time when madness and mayhem made for a great ride at the movies.

Sadly, the Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon have been gone since September 2014. Today, Toy Story Land stands in its place. But is it really gone?

I ask because I had an interesting experience last week at Walt Disney World. Lyndsey and I took her mom for her first visit. She was nearly killed on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Not really. But for a split second, she thought she was going to die! While rolling through the rocky wetlands in our safari vehicle (a disguised Ford F-650), the driver drove into a rock and blew a tire. The jolt was jarring, but the worst part, at least for my newly minted mother-in-law, was the loud hiss of air audibly escaping the tire. “That could be the gas tank!” she exclaimed before quickly realizing it was just a flat tire. Soon enough, the safari resumed, and the tour finished, fortunately, without further incident.

How many times have you done that? Immediately assumed catastrophe only to discover there is no disaster. No need to fret. No need to worry.

Hi. My name is Jeff. Welcome to Apocalypses Anonymous! I can have a cough and convince myself I have lung cancer or have an unplanned expense and suddenly fear bankruptcy. Such is life in Catastrophe Canyon. At such times, we need to take a ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat. We also need to remember Mark Twain’s words, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

The first-century Stoic philosopher Seneca referred to how too many times we suffer what he called “imagined troubles.” Yes, bad things can and do happen. But worry has never stopped them. Not once. Instead, spend your time staying in the present. Focus on what you can control versus what you cannot. Stop exaggerating or anticipating sorrow. Don’t be unhappy before the crisis even comes.

MJY, aka my mother-in-law, loved her first trip to Florida and Walt Disney World. Better yet, Lyndsey and I loved showing her around The Most Magical Place on Earth. And to be fair to her, she wasn’t the biggest worrier we saw last week. Not even close.

We took a Friendship Boat to Epcot. One young woman who boarded immediately started freaking out. She was terrified of both boats and water. To calm her, I offered up my seat and then tried distracting her with questions. Once she was settled and it was clear she would be okay, I asked her one last question.

“Ever see Titanic?”

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”

— Seneca

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