Ah, Walt Disney World. The theme park that loves to give me the big ol' finger every time I decide to visit. The last time I set foot on Magic Kingdom grounds, I got sick and projectile vomited in the parking lot. The trip prior to that, which just so happened to be my very first visit (I was four), I crapped my pants on the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. And while this latest visit saw neither projectile vomiting or crapping in pants, it did see every possible way one could get screwed over by The Mouse.
Earlier this year, my sister and I did some volunteer work in order to get free Disney tickets, and we decided to use them when she came down to visit Memorial Day weekend. We decided to go to the Magic Kingdom because Laura was hell-bent on seeing some Disney characters. The fact that she never saw "any good characters" (her words, not mine) on her prior visits coupled with the fact that I saw every major Disney character within thirty minutes of stepping foot inside the theme park on my last visit drove her insane, and she was determined that, come hell or high water, she would see some good characters. So on Saturday, armed with my camera, we made the trek to Orlando to experience some good old-fashioned Disney magic.
The day started off promising...
The day started out promising. We arrived right when the park opened, and it was sunny and clear. We started off in Fantasyland and got in about two good hours of riding attractions before it started to rain. But even then we got lucky because when it first started raining, we were in line at the tea cup ride (which was under cover), and after we were through riding it the rain had stopped. So we ventured over to Tomorrowland and got in line for Space Mountain, and afterwards emerged into a downpour. Since neither one of us had an umbrella or a poncho, we at first decided to wait it out. But after a few minutes, the rain showed no sign of letting up, and we were really itching to ride the Buzz Lightyear ride, so we decided to chance it and darted out in the mess. By the time we got in line for the Buzz Lightyear ride, we were water-logged. Our clothes were soaked and our feet were cold and wet because we managed to step in two of the deepest puddles on that side of the park. And the bad luck just kept coming.
Soaking wet after getting caught in the rain
On our way to Adventureland to get some Dole Whip later that afternoon, we made a pit stop in front of Cinderella's castle. It was 2:10, and at 2:15 a performance of "Dream Along With Mickey" was scheduled. Since my sister was so determined to see some "good" Disney characters, she wanted to stay for the show, so we parked ourselves right up front, got the camera ready, and waited for it to begin. By this point it had stopped raining again, but it was still overcast, and I jokingly said, "Watch, the show will be cancelled because of the weather." No sooner had the words left my mouth when the announcer came on and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, due to the inclement weather, this performance has been temporarily delayed." My sister gave me the stink eye as I started laughing, and I assured her that there were two performances scheduled for later and we'd just go to one of those.
After our rendezvous in Adventureland, we decided to get an early dinner (it was around 4:00 by this point, and we hadn't had an actual meal since breakfast). After consulting the theme park map, we decided to eat at Cinderella's Royal Table, since the Disney characters were guaranteed to make an appearance there. We trekked back over to Fantasyland and got in line at the restaurant when the question of reservations came up. I whipped out my BlackBerry to look it up and was disappointed to find out that not only were reservations required, you had to make them a whopping 180 days in advance. We ended up eating pizza at some hokey Pinocchio-themed restaurant, and by this point, my sister was walking a fine line between being disappointed and fully pissed off at her failed attempts to see Mickey and his friends.
After dinner, we went back to Tommorowland, and ended up getting stuck on The Carousel of Progress. If you don't know what The Carousel of Progress is, I recommend watching this somewhat crappy quality video to familarize yourself:
As you can see, it's a pretty cool attraction, but it's also one that has the ability to make you want to kill yourself if you get stuck on it, like we did. We were watching the very last scene--the modern-day scene--when the announcement came over the loud speaker: "Please remain seated, as we are experiencing technical difficulties." The animatronic family wrapped up their little spiel about progress and started to sing about the great, big, beautiful tomorrow, as the room rotated to take us away to the end of the ride. But it didn't rotate. The family kept singing. We stayed still. The family finished the song. We still hadn't moved. The family started their spiel all over again, and we were forced to watch it a second time.
When we finally got off The Carousel of Progress, we went to ride Space Mountain for the second time, where we endured a sixty-minute wait. When it was finally our time to board, I noticed an eerie silence. The ride had suddenly gone quiet. I remarked to my sister, "Watch, I'll bet the ride broke down," and again, no sooner had I said it when the lights came on and the announcer said, "Attention, space travelers, due to technical difficulties, the ride has been temporarily delayed, which might add to your wait time." Again, I doubled over in laughter as my sister glared at me and said, "You just need to shut your trap. You keep jinxing us!" Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long before the ride was fully functioning again.
After our second foray into Tomorrowland, we made it back to Cinderella's castle just in time for the final performance of "Dream Along With Mickey"-- which ended up being cancelled because it started to rain again. At this point, my sister had given up all hope of seeing the "good" Disney characters, so we decided to do some souvenir shopping, get a treat at a bakery on Main Street and call it a day. Laura originally wanted to stay for the fireworks and light parade, but decided that with our luck, both would probably be cancelled because of the weather. And good ol' Disney World, not quite finished with screwing us over, put the icing on the frigging cake as we were driving out of the park--fireworks that illuminated the night sky while simultaneously flicking us off.
You know what though? With everything that happened, this was still one of the most fun trips to a theme park I've ever been on. Our luck was so ridiculously bad that we couldn't help but find it amusing, and by the time we left, my stomach was hurting from laughing so hard. And even though my sister labeled the trip a "Disney disappointment," I knew she had just as much fun as I did, characters or no characters.
Additional Amusements We Saw
1. I counted a total of six leash kids while at the park, three at the Dumbo ride alone. I'm not sure what it was about that particular ride that parents felt the need for extra restraint, but it was hilarious (and a little sad) to see those poor little tykes on leashes. Some parents were up front about the fact that they were leashing their kids and used the straight-to-the-point, no-frills wrist models:
Other parents, however, utilized harnesses shaped like animals (monkeys were a popular choice), as if the cutesy animal somehow made up for the fact they were leashing their kids. I hate to break it to you, but if it looks like a harness, functions like a harness and fits your child as snugly as a harness, it's a fucking harness, NOT Mikey the Monkey, your kid's jungle pal. And just for the record, a harness is only cute if it's on a puppy or small dog like this:
NOT on a human being, like this:
2. It's always funny to see a Disney cast member get aggravated yet try to restrain him- or herself because they have to maintain that cheerful, sunshine-out-of-my-ass Disney attitude. Laura and I witnessed this firsthand on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. We were on a boat with a group of teens from either Spain or South America--they were clearly not from this country, and this was made blatantly obvious when they didn't understand a word the man operating the ride was saying. It went a little something like this:
Flash (one of the teens took a picture)
Man Operating Ride: No flash photography!
Man Operating Ride: (getting a little frustrated) No flash photography!
Man Operating Ride: (visibly aggravated, yet trying to maintain his Disney composure) PIRATES, NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY!
3. My sister did end up seeing some pretty decent Disney characters, even if they weren't Mickey, Minnie or Cinderella: