The process of getting from the parking lot to Disney World itself is rather excruciating, due to the transportation. First, there’s the tram. The tram is basically a poor amalgamation of a trolley and a golf cart. Sitting on the end where you step on is oddly frightening, because it seems like you could easily fall out, and sent flying towards the ground at speeds upwards of three miles per hour. After the tram, you now have a choice: the ferry or the monorail. The best way to decide which method to use is to run a quick comparison. The ferry is very slow, and the monorail is slow. Hm, a draw. We’ll go for the tiebreaker. The ferry is out in the hot open air, and you are packed on the deck like cattle. The monorail isn’t too spacious either, but who cares? It’s AIR CONDITIONED. And like everything Disney, the air conditioning was done to ridiculous proportions, which meant a nice cold ride. So the choice was clear. And thanks to the monorail’s futuristic technology, we were sent rocketing towards the Magic Kingdom at the approximate speed of fingernail growth. We soon purchased our tickets, which the counter girl stressed we needed to hold onto in order to take advantage of “Fast Pass,” which allows you to bypass lines. Luckily, the tickets were made out of thin, durable paper so we were all set. It’s time for fun!
Oh, hmmm…wait this isn’t fun at all. What is this? Oh yes, it’s Main Street, USA. There weren’t any decent characters walking around the area, there were just 4th rate crap characters like the son from Goof Troop and probably one of those mushroom people from Fantasia.
We were smart enough to quickly ditch this scene, and head to the most macho of Disney areas: Tomorrowland. What strikes you immediately about Tomorrowland is that nothing makes any sense. Why are the trees made out of metal? Maybe they’re reasoning that we will have made trees extinct by then, but what would be the point of building them at that point? Surely not for aesthetic appeal; I don’t think many people were enraptured by the beauty of Mach 3s placed sporadically throughout the grounds. These trees are completely useless. Besides, won’t we need oxygen in the future? I guess there could be the explanation that there will be pure oxygen pumped into the atmosphere, but I’m not looking forward to that. I don’t want to walk around all day mildly high, like I just got dental work done. Also, why is the car driving ride located in Tomorrowland? They’re just normal cars, and they’re not going at any futuristic speeds; the brochure says they top out at 7 MPH. Strangely enough, this is probably the most accurate depiction of the future I’ve ever seen. Cars are never going to fly. People are too dumb to be orderly going straight and side to side; let alone up, down, diagonal, et alia. No big loss for me, I always sucked at Descent.
Anyway, at this point we figured we should probably go on a ride. I can mock my surroundings for free any other time; if I’m going to pay $50 for a ticket I’m going to at least try to get my money’s worth.
We came upon what was apparently a fairly new attraction, some “Alien Encounter” type ride. Here’s a little traveling tip: when you’re in a very crowded Disney park, avoid the rides with no line whatsoever. That is bad sign, no two ways about it. We didn’t know that at the time, and figured, “Hey, no line…awesome.” The ride was divided into two parts: an awful presentation, and an awful ride. The first part involves a robot telling you about how they have technology to transport solid objects through the air. What a rip off. They’ve had that technology for a long time. Wonkavision, anyone? The robot then demonstrates this technology by transporting a small creature (who despite looking exactly like him, isn’t Gizmo from Gremlins) from one tube to another. I kept hearing a faint noise in the background near not-Gizmo, which I assume was the sound of Steven Spielberg filling out a lawsuit. After this presentation, we were herded into a room, which contained rows of chairs with purple shoulder harnesses, arranged in circular rows. This would actually make a pretty good classroom. Probably the most interesting part of the whole attraction was when I took a picture, which apparently isn't allowed, and caused a huge uproar. During this ride, an alien breaks loose and starts harassing people. Actually, calling this a “ride” is being very lenient, as you don’t even move the entire time. So the alien is running around, or flying, or using whatever method it felt comfortable with, and attacking employees. You hear a man get attacked by the alien, followed by a tearing noise. At this point, the crowd gets splashed with water, which I assume is supposed to be blood. This is really quite repulsive, especially factoring in that this is Disney; but given the circumstances of how bad this ride is I was taking any slight bit of joy I could. Mercifully, the ride ends shortly after, and you leave the room to enter…a themed gift shop. We’ll be doing this a lot here, as well as at the other parks. Not the same gift shop, mind you. Different ones.
One point of interest...look behind me in that first picture. What is going on with the person behind me? Disney has animatrons everywhere, even in the seats of the attractions. That person can not be real. No one has any right to be that happy...ever. Besides, even if such a person did exist, this ride would have sucked the smile right off their face. The only reason I look mirthful is because I'm causing mischief and mayhem with my picture-taking antics. I'd probably feel bad if this person saw this, but I'm doubting she and her pod people have time for browsing web sites such as this one.
After that, we headed over to Space Mountain. Space Mountain is one of the select rides that offer Fast Passes, which really is an ingenious idea. Basically, you insert your park ticket at one of the Fast Pass vending machines, and out pops a voucher. You can use this voucher to go on a special line, which is usually about twenty times shorter than the regular line. The only catch is, you can only get a certain amount of Fast Passes per day, about one every hour. But that is way better than nothing, as anyone who has waited in line for Space Mountain at 3 PM already knows. Actually, other people would know that also. Pretty much anyone who has waited in a line before knows that a shorter line is better than a longer one. I just thought that since I started on the “going to Space Mountain” topic, that using it as an example would be clever. Anyway, both Disney and Universal offer this express ticket service, although I don’t know who came up with the actual idea. Okay, now we’re going to back it up about three minutes, and steer back on topic. We picked up our Fast Passes for Space Mountain, and wandered away until it was our turn to go on the line.
After getting our very first Fast Pass, already the idea of waiting on a line disgusted us. We roamed around, looking for a ride with a short wait. Eventually, we found that ride: “It’s A Small World.” We were glad we were waiting on the line, because it was starting to drizzle out, and we figured the rain would have stopped by the time we left the ride. However, the wait for the ride wasn’t long at all.
It’s amazing, Disney changed around the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, in order to make it more politically correct; and yet this ride remains intact. Why is that so surprising? Because this ride displays every racial stereotype ever. Well, maybe not every single one. I can think of a few it doesn’t show, but I’m not going to list them because I don’t want to get beaten up. The ride is basically made up of two main parts: the part that stereotypes, and the part that doesn’t make any sense.
Look at this, why is that there? And why is only one of the clowns sad, and in need of help? Why isn’t the other clown doing anything besides mocking his troubled compatriot? I think this scenario took place in what was supposed to be Iceland, but it more resembled Heaven. I guess this is where all the dead little children go.
At the end of our ride, we discovered a drowning Mickey doll, floating helplessly in the dirty water. At the time, it seemed really symbolic, and as a result, really funny. It still seems really funny, but more in a “someone spent $20 on a small Mickey doll, and now doesn’t have it anymore” kind of way.
According to the brochure, the official title for the ride is, “it’s a small world,” in all lowercase. I’m surprised they didn’t attribute this grammatical faux pas to the Polish children or something.
Our theory on waiting out the rain was half right. When we got out of the ride, it had indeed stopped drizzling. Unfortunately, it had started pouring. Yes, the color for today was definitely going to be yellow. Nearly every single person in the park soon was wearing a bright yellow Disney poncho, purchased for the reasonable price of six dollars. That’s not to say there weren’t a select group of rebels strolling through the park. There were those who were going on without a poncho. Fools. I don’t care how much of a jackass I look like; there is nothing more miserable than the feeling of being rained on. The other rebels were those not wearing yellow, but blue ponchos, from Universal Studios. It wouldn’t be long before these people were hauled away by the Disney Gestapo, as there were definitely less blue ponchos as the day went on. That isn’t even an attempt at humor, either; I’m quite serious. Don’t forget, Disney is the corporation that has sued children’s hospitals that had Mickey Mouse painted on one of the walls. I wouldn’t put it past them to have some hired goons put the squeeze on those foolish enough to advertise Disney’s direct competition in their own park.
Rain or no rain (not that we had any choice but “rain,”) we persevered on. Adam and I were the smart ones; we knew that joining the poncho posse was inevitable, so we purchased ours right away. Josh and Mike’s apparent goal was to look and smell like wet dogs, so they battled fate by not buying one. We all were desperate to stay dry, so we went to the “Hall of Presidents.” Even that plan didn’t work out, as the next showing of the thing wouldn’t be for a long while.
We headed over to the one ride that I was really looking forward to, the Haunted Mansion. It’s always been one of my favorite rides at any Disney park. Unfortunately, half of the wait for the ride was left exposed to the elements, so we continued to stand in the rain. Even in the ponchos, comfort was impossible to achieve. Even though we were at a higher level of dryness, it was still torture inside those things…they were hot. I guess it’s not surprising that wearing a layer of PVC is going to make you warm; however I was beginning to weigh my options as to which was worse, the heat or the rain.
The Haunted Mansion was our first experience of something we would be running into many times during the day… ride malfunctions. The first time we went on this ride (that’s right, that does imply going on it more than once,) the ride stopped; which, I assumed, wasn’t supposed to happen. Luckily, the ride wasn’t broken; there were no technical malfunctions or anything of the sort. Rather, “playful spirits” had entered the ride, and were wreaking havoc. These breaks in the action gave time for Josh and me to discuss death, and the positive aspects of it. For those that can recall any of this ride, think about it. These lost souls weren’t roaming around, held down by their misery and despair. These ghosts were downright jolly. Their daily routine is quite enviable; they hang around their kick ass pad all day dancing, boozing, or playing musical instruments. My daily routine is made up of mostly finding out if today’s “Garfield” is going to revolve around either Garfield being fat, or Jon not being able to get a date. According to the mansion’s host, there are 999 ghosts in the house. That’s way more friends than I have.
After the Mansion, we went back to Space Mountain to redeem our Fast passes. There’s something sickly satisfying about strolling past a long line of suckers waiting in the regular queue. At its core, much of the Disney World experience revolves around winning out over your fellow visitors. Things like Disney World really don’t take well to analysis. Theoretically, it is a magical world, where dreams come true and imaginations can soar. However, from Disney, we have learned:
Don't fear the reaper.
Not even the promise of space travel can bring a smile to the face of the soaked and defeated.
For the five or so hours it was raining, smiles were few and far between for the park’s crowd. The predominant adjective for everyone, more specifically my group, was miserable. This isn’t to say we weren’t enjoying the park, it’s just that being soaking wet and alternating between being freezing and sweating takes its toll after a while.
Here it is, friends, the happiest place on earth.
One bright spot was that the concept of Disney World gave us an idea for our future homes. We discussed how at least one of our houses needs to be designed like an amusement park, with each room having a different theme. The dining room is a frontier motif, the living room is the future, the bathroom is Staten Island, etc. However, for this to work, at least one of us will need to grow into a lonely, pathetic and immature bachelor. I’m figuring me.
Frontierland was surprisingly calm. There were still a lot of people there; I don’t know there’s just something serene about cabins I guess. I bet the pioneers thought that too. Actually, probably not. Luxuries such as churros and animatronic old men that play the piano when you shoot them in the head were unavailable to the hardy founders of this land. Suckers. Probably the closest thing to living like a pioneer was the ability to walk around in public eating a GIANT TURKEY LEG. These things were everywhere. I guess some marketing boss saw a severe lack of hand held Medieval Times paraphernalia, and decided to fill that void.
The rides in this area were good; Big Thunder Mountain is always an enjoyable ride. Except, of course, when you are next in line after waiting, and instead of boarding they tell you the ride is broken and you have to leave. That’s not as much fun as riding a roller coaster. During the interim of the broken ride, we went to Splash Mountain. Oh, the irony of the signs that say “You May Get Wet.”
Somehow we wound up back in Tomorrowland, probably just to ride Space Mountain again. After that, we wound up somehow on line for “Carousel of Progress.” The scenario was completely ridiculous. The attraction is basically the slow decay of a man’s home life. It starts off in the early 1900's, and goes decade by decade, displaying how technology pushes families apart. By the 90’s his family is advanced enough to be playing virtual reality games, yet his daughter is wearing an outfit straight out of some sort of 80’s ski academy movie, leg warmers and all. Also, the son is the creepiest little demon I have ever seen. His ghoulish face shows no emotion, it is merely a window into his hollow soul. The show climaxes by having the bumbling old man set the Christmas turkey on fire. Carousel of Progress is awesome.
Eventually we made our way over to Adventureland. Unfortunately, by this point in the day the area just looked depressing. This section had been completely abandoned, as most of the crowd had either left, went to other areas, or sat on benches putting plastic bags over their feet. Well, not the whole crowd; just four stupid girls. I am completely baffled as to why they would choose this time to put on rain gear, after it had been raining for five hours, and had finally started to let up.
The call of the Jungle Cruise could not be ignored. Far be it for me to be aware of excitement and mystery, and simply pass it up. Also far be it for me to pass up a “0 Minute Wait” line. This was insane. I have waited upwards of an hour and a half for this ride when I was a kid, and here I was simply strolling to the front. My childhood continues to unravel.
Next on the agenda was Pirates of the Caribbean. Originally, the only problem I had with this ride was how to pronounce “Caribbean.” Cuh-RIB-ee-an or car-uh-BEE-in. I never know, so I rotate how I say it. Not that that word comes up too often in my daily conversations. However, now I am able to say I have multitudes of problems with this ride. Again, there was no wait for the ride; which is a shame, because this ride has one of the more interesting queues. I already mentioned my biggest problem with the ride…the lame changes that were made to it. Stupid, just stupid. The ride also seemed a lot shorter than I remember it, it just seemed like the boat went really slowly through about three scenes. I might be confusing it with the Disneyland version, which is significantly longer.
Our exit of the park was coming up, so we took the long way through New Orleans Square and Tomorrowland. We went on the Haunted Mansion again, and guess who was there? That’s right, “playful spirits.” Apparently these guys have even more free time than me. This stoppage of the ride was especially long, so we decided to throw water at each other. Whatever works.
For our last ride, we went back on Space Mountain. It was good as usual, although half the excitement came from wondering if I would drop my camera or not. After it was over, we decided to go on one last time, not knowing that it was about to be the last ride on Space Mountain….ever. Well, not forever, but at least for tonight. When we were back on line, all the lights came on, because apparently the ride was broken.
Another happy childhood goes away, as I see people walking on the coaster’s track to retrieve the stuck people. Bleh.
Farewell, my fellow poncho clad survivors.