I think it was George Bernard Shaw who was quoted (or misquoted) as saying “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.” Indeed, this is true. As a Brit who has visited both sides of the USA for holidays, sorry, vacations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, I still find myself tripping up on words, or learning new phrases. So I thought I’d put together a little useful list of some language barriers you might come across if you’re traveling to America from the UK. Or maybe, you’re about to embark on a trip to Europe with Adventures By Disney, or just fancy trying some of these phrases out with British cast members working at the UK Pavilion in Epcot!
Let me start with the obvious, if you’ve been keeping your fluids up and making the most of those refillable mugs on the Disney Dining Plan, you’re going to need the loo/toilet, so you’ll be asking for the restroom/bathroom. Oh, and you’ll be refilling those mugs with soda, not fizzy pop!
On the subject of food and drink, candy floss is called cotton candy, and if you want a packet of crisps, you’ll need to ask for chips! On my first visit to the US, I was disappointed that my sandwich came with a packet of potato chips, when I was expecting a plate of fries. Yes, if you want chipped potatoes/wedges, you’ll be looking for fries (or French fries). Unless you’re getting fish and chips from the Yorkshire County Fish Shop in Epcot, where technically you are in the UK!
When it comes to a biscuit, you’ll be in for a massive shock if you’re expecting an Oreo! What we call biscuits in the UK are mostly known as cookies (or crackers) in America. A biscuit is a bakery item that resembles something that looks like a British scone we would have with jam and cream at afternoon tea in Britain; in America it usually comes with gravy.
Food that is served family style is communal dining, where the food is brought to the table for all your party to share. You’ll find that restaurants such as Garden Grill at Epcot and The Diamond Horseshoe at Magic Kingdom serve food this way.
If you’ve been walking around the parks all day your feet are going to be tired, so you’ll need to wear sensible shoes. So I’d recommend good sneakers (or as we call them, trainers), or hire a stroller for smaller children. (What we call buggies in the UK are called strollers in America, so you’ll notice stroller parking everywhere.) If you do get blisters on your feet, you can get first aid help in all the parks. However, you’ll need to ask for a Band-Aid! I asked for a plaster in a shop in Hollywood Studios and just got a confused look, before I remembered and corrected myself. By the way, in the UK, Band Aid was a charity group who recorded a single in the ’80s, our equivalent to USA for Africa.
After the fireworks (still called fireworks, so we’re okay here), you’ll head back to your car and put all your souvenirs in the trunk of your car (not boot). Remember also, what we in the UK call the bonnet is known in America as the hood.
One more thing to remember, when you’re back in your accommodations, the British 2nd floor is the American 1st floor; there is no ground floor. So please check that on arrival — don’t try and get in the wrong bedroom, you’re not Mr Bean!