Sunday, May 12, 2002

Since we bought a four-visit pass that expire June 7th, it only makes sense that we return to DisneyWorld (as we will two more times). Jake was excited about the Buzz Lightyear Ride, so off we went. This time, it was on a Wednesday afternoon (arriving around 3:00 pm). This is a much more civil time to visit the Magic Kingdom. Fewer kids, fewer people, the sun is cooler and the lines are shorter (especially during parades). All good, except for the bitch of an old lady working the parking lot who insisted we park a 1/4 mile away at the end of her parking row. I ignored her, parked next to the tram and got into a wee bit of verbal exchange with her. Other guests who overheard the discussion sided with me.

I really like the way Disney has updated Tomorrowland, giving it a retro-futuristic feel (as opposed to the Jetsons vibe of its earlier incarnation). Too bad some of its attractions are undergoing renovations.

A detail I missed last trip - before the Buzz Lightyear ride, as Buzz does his spiel for the que, he is assisted with visuals by a giant Viewmaster. Nice touch.

My God...Room To Move! The best thing about Magic Kingdom parades is they pull many people away from other parts of the park. That's the time to hit as many rides as possible and avoid the two hour waits. It's A Small World No Wait. Buzz Lightyear Five minute wait. Jungle Cruise Three minute wait. A lovely experience for all.

Speaking of Jungle Cruise, we were blessed with a hilariously deadpan guide (Chris) who, when the crowd grew a bit unattentive, actually pointed out a boulder on the river and announced Hey look! A rock!. Before the ride, he asked a little kid in front What's your favorite ride so far? Buzz Lightyear said the kid. Mine too said Chris. And you know what? In 12 minutes, when this cruise is done, Buzz Lightyear is still going to be your favorite ride.

Honest and funny. What was he doing here?

High points of Chris' spiel - noting that the Hippo attack was a lot more intense when the Guides had guns (they used to be armed with fake weapons to play act with the robotic animals), announcing the two docks ahead of us was a pair-a-docks (say it faster) and recycling that classic bit I mentioned last time, Asperganny Falls was named after the scientist who discovered it, Dr. Bob Falls.

Jake sported a new pair of shades which gave him the look of Suggs, from the English band Madness (who, BTW - put out an excellent live CD recently).

We ate at Artist Pointe (my fave Disney restuarant) located in the Wilderness Lodge (above). The Wilderness, themed as a Northwest forest retreat, always reminded me of the Ewok Village in Star Wars. It has a magical ability to feel 5-10 degrees cooler than the rest of DisneyWorld. How they do it? Giant fans? Outdoor AC? The convincing power of a well-designed theme? Beats me.

All through dinner, I starred at this couple sitting behind Jake. Older. My guess is from the Midwest (they sounded that way). Barely spoke to each other. The reason for my fascination was the woman. We're eating in a fairly fancy place (a $75 bucks head is not unheard of) and she's drinking a tall glass of Orange Soda.

Maybe there's a fine reason. Maybe she owns the company and only drinks orange soda. Or maybe she a former drunk and that's how she stays sober. Maybe. But here's what I think. I think she's been drinking orange soda since she was 10 years old. She orders it everywhere and drinks it with everything. And that made me sad. It made me sad because that woman and her husband look like good, solid American citizens. Republicans, Fox news viewers, Bush supporters. The kind of folks who vote, who demand tax breaks for their dairy business but hate welfare, the kind who support any bill with the word America in the title. In short, the kind of Ma & Pa, average Americans who run this country. And yet, with all that power, she is so sheltered that she drinks the same Orange Soda she's been drinking since the age of ten. It doesn't seem right.

Look, they don't need to be wine snobs, but I'd like some little bit of proof of a sophistication worthy of their age. Proof that they've learned something since their teen years. Do we really want to be led by people who haven't changed their drinking habits in 50 years? I don't. It almost makes me envy the French.

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