Thursday, March 21, 2002

Last week, gracious Natalie and I decided to take young Jake on his first adventure to Disneyworld here in Orlando. We figured Ooo, Monday afternoon, nobody will be there. just goes to show how fucking little we locals know. It turned out Monday was not only the first day of Spring break, but it boasted some of the best weather in weeks. Thus, our trip trip turned out a bit differently than expected.

This is the 11:00 am ticket mob at the front gate. We waited about 55 minutes to crawl through this maze and plunk down $314 for three 4-visit passes (special rates for us Florida idiots - we can't figure out a ballot, but we get discounts at Disney!).

This snug little cruise across the lake turned out to be the least-crowded ride we would visit all day. At least there was a breeze.

Security was air-tight at the Magic Kingdom's Main Entrance. Many, many Disney cops. BTW, did you know that if you dial 911 on any Disney property you are routed to a Disney employee? Besides owning their own city, Disney also owns their own police force.

For amusment (or perhaps a secret Disney code), this guy kept a loud running count of every banana found in a guest's backpack. He was up to 35 when we passed by.

Jake knows nothing about most Disney characters (Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story is an exception). Even so, he instantly embraced any and all large felt creatures we encountered. I give them credit - the Disney folks know more than anyone about what's attractive to kids. We waited on a line for 15 minutes for this shot. For most of that time, Goofy's Handler kept shouting Goofy must leave in two minutes to perform at Cinderella's Castle! Just when we were next in line, some bitch of a 65-year Midwest tourist hag jumped the line in front of my three-year old son so that she could take a picture with Goofy. Ahhhh! I wanted to punch her. Goofy wanted to punch her (I could tell, even if his expression never changed). Happily, Goofy's Handler had him stay and pose with Jake before sending him off to dance and mime in front of the castle.

As you might guess, the park was packed beyond all belief. Jake announced he wanted to visit Mickey' in Toonland (probably the least interesting Land in the Magic Kingdom). We agreed, as we figured the rides would be packed at Noon. We fought the crowds, walked all the way to the back of the park and found Toonland was also mobbed. Jake discovered a playground and dissapeared inside this cave structure. We waited about 35 minutes for him to emerge.

In the meantime, I paid $3.25 for this massive hot dog that was as big (and tasteless) as my forearm. In a marketing screwup, the Toonland Hotdog girl doesn't sell beverages. For that, you're supposed to wait on another line. Fuck that. I did without a $2.25 can of soda.

Finally, Jake was ready to visit Mickey in his "house." This adventure started with a scrum moving through Mickey's rooms then out into the garden, where the real line began.

The garden line led to Mickey's Judge's Tent. What was Mickey was judging. Beats me. Perhaps he's counting number of idiots who will stand in the burning sun to visit him.

Here's Jake about 20 minutes into the Visit Mickey line, still in the garden, after he demanded that Natalie carry him. I felt about the same as he looked.

Finally we got out from the scorching sun and inside Mickey's Judge's Tent only to find...yet another line. This one was slightly better due to A/C and cartoons playing on screens, but I'd had enough and left. I'm too old to stand in line for an hour, or so I thought.

After about 65 minutes of waiting, Jake and Natalie enjoyed a brief session with Mickey along with another 6 folks. You see, Mickey stands in a room and they bring in 8 to 10 people at a pop for photos. Again, Jake spontaneously hugged the mostly felt character. Photos were like $15 bucks each, but the staff was kind enough to take this picture using my camera.

After all the fun and excitment of waiting on line for Mickey, we took the long train ride around the park in a half-successful effort to cool off and avoid crowds. After that, it was a 35 minute line for the Jungle Cruise, which kinda sucked because the "Captain" of our boat was obviously counting the seconds until his next smoke break. When I was a kid, I did this ride and the Captain said To our left is Livingston Falls, named after the famous explorer who discovered it, Dr. Robert Falls To this day that joke cracks me up, all the more so since it was obviously not on the Disney script.

Inbetween the Captain's droning comentary, Natalie snapped this shot of Jake and me. I'm the one on the right.

We next attended the Pirates of the Carribean, following a breath-takingly short 20 minute line. It might be 40 years old, but I still like this ride.

Following the traditional ride theme, we next hit the Haunted House. Even though we had Fast Pass tickets for this one, we wait for more than 30 minutes. I guess greeting the dead takes time. This ride also remains excellent, despite it's age. Jake was scared but hung on and made it without a tear.

The line for Winnie The Pooh's Adventure was a mind-boggling 65 minutes (at 6:00pm!). Luckily, our Fast Passes reduced that to less than 10 minutes. The ride was a silly line-up of pictures and figures, but Jake dug it.

We capped off the day with the Buzz Lightyear Adventure (wait time 30 minutes). I'm sure I took a picture on line, but I can't find it now. Anyway, the ride itself was a lifesize video game. Each cart had two light guns and a control shift that allowed the driver to point the cart. Points were awarded for "shooting" various elements of the displays. It was okay, but made me long for the days when Disney put in the effort to give their rides a special story.

Following Buzz, we fled the park before the evening parade started and trapped us all like rats (as Don Brody used to say). The crowds stayed with us all the way through the monorail ride back to the Main Gate and the tram back to our car. Fun? Well, sometimes. Next time, we'll check to see if school is in session or not. There's no way I'm gonna pay $35 to mingle ass to ass with 100,000 sweaty tourists for 8 hours ever again. If I ever make noises like that's my plan, please club me to death.

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