Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Part II

When I last left you, my family was racing from Ft. Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom for a day of rides, shows, and way too much junk food. We were now standing behind the rope waiting ever so impatiently for it to drop. “Stay together,” Mom would order, “and don’t run.” However, she knew the minute that rope showed the least bit of slack we would be off faster than Kirstie Alley to a bag of Doritos, and probably wouldn’t be seen again until the money in our pockets ran out. So there we were, waiting in anticipation.

Then there it was, the famous spiel that instructed the CM’s to “drop the rope”, and before I knew it we were off. Back then the big draw was Space Mountain, and that’s where everyone headed. I, being the youngest, found it hard to keep up and I had to consistently yell to my siblings to wait up. Not wanting to wait in line for more than 30 seconds, my oldest brother would throw me on his back and off we would run.

Upon reaching the megalith known as Space Mountain I was instructed to sit on this bench and not move, as I was much to short to ride, (Mom never knew this ride had a height requirement, or maybe she thought that someone would watch while the others rode, not bloody likely). So off they would all go to have fun zooming and zipping across the cosmos. However, in my best “Screw this” mentality I have adopted through my lifetime I would take off on the WEDWay Peoplemover for my own journey through Space Mountain. The WEDWay, known for its short lines was always a fun ride for me, as it was this elevated taxi through Tomorrowland. I would look at all the rides and mentally make a “Ride it”, or “Don’t ride it” list. I always figured nothing was going to happen to me, after all I was 6 years old and at Disney World. I’d come back to my assigned bench and of course there were my siblings half pissed I took off, and half relieved they weren’t going to have to go back to Mom and Dad sans 1 child. I’d usually get a punch in the arm as brothers do and off we would go about the rest of the park.

After they would ride their big thrill ride, then it would be my turn to hit the fun rides. I generally loved every ride except 1: The Haunted Mansion. It would scare the bejesus outta me, and I wanted no part of it. Funny, because today it’s one my top 3 favorite attractions. Anyways, the rides I had to hit were 20k, Mr. Toad, the Star Jets, the Jungle Cruise, and Pirates.
I really enjoyed Mr. Toad, because it’s a ride the whole family would ride. I usually would ride in the front seat with my Mom. She would always be overly enthused at my ability to a) drive a car b) seem to narrowly miss all the characters. Funny thing about Toad was that in the last scene, you know, when you go to Hell, I never realized you die until I was older.

The other fun ride for the family was 20k. I actually thought you were completely submersed and visited all of the locations portrayed in the ride. My siblings helped with the freakiness of it by asking, “Hey, is that a leak in my glass?” or “Too bad you can’t swim”. I always loved the lost city of Atlantis scene. I don’t know why, just always have.

Around noon we’d all gather on Main St. for what Mom called “Hot dogs on main”, and then in the blink of any eye gone in a flash. I’d usually be tired by then so Mom and I would hop on the train and ride it for an hour or so while I napped. My rejuvination would hit and I’d be ready to go for some more excitement.

Adventureland was always a good place to run around, and for whatever reason it always seemed like it was separated from the rest of the park. I think my whole family loved Pirates of the Caribbean, I especially love the queue. Talk about a well themed queue; it had skeletons, and cannons, and overall just this mystique of a Caribbean themed fort. Has anyone else ever thought that Pirates had a certain smell? Hard to classify what it was, maybe some kind of crisp, damp odor? I dunno, but when go to Pirates I always smell it.

The other fantastic rides in Adventureland were the Tiki Birds and the Jungle Cruise attractions. I hated the Tiki Bird show, but loved the music, and so the rest of the day I’d sing “In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, in the Tiki…..” much to the annoyance of my brothers and sister. The Jungle Cruise was fun as I loved going into the Vietnamese temple, it had this eerie music that was so spooky. I never really got the jokes, but played along anyways.

We also enjoyed the Dole Pineapple Whip, I mean who hasn’t. That still is one of my favorite stops in Adventureland, although A-Land just doesn’t have the same feeling since they added in that God awful Aladdin attraction.

The day would end with us watching the fireworks. I remember one time my sister jumping into my Disney stroller (remember the light blue ones that were more shopping carts than strollers) and getting stuck because she was too tall. So my brother grabbed her and rolled her all around Main St. with her screaming bloody murder. After the fireworks we would take the boat back to Ft. Wilderness with me usually falling asleep.

(End of Part II – Look for Part III “Epcot” soon)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monorails with buttons on the outside of the cab to open the doors, a live steam train in Ft. Wilderness, the StarJets, and of course If You Had Wings

First off, there are numerous accounts on the internet that are impeccably written and go into great details of all things WDW. Discussions on X. Atencio and Buddy Baker, Mary Blair, and the great Marc Davis. I love these blogs, and find a lot of them inspiration; however I try to write mine from a first person perspective of how I either remember or choose to remember my trips to WDW. So, please bear with me if I can’t remember all of the car names to Mr. Toad, or if I mention the asteroid in Space Mountain as the big cookie.

I am lucky to be the youngest of 5 kids, each of my siblings having some type of influence on me as they were quite older. Their sole responsibility in life was babysitter, while sometimes they would actually watch me, most of the time was spent trying to terrorize me with Muppets and stories of the man with the hook who would kill me if I stepped outside my room. However, generally we all did okay, especially on family vacations.

My folks used to love to vacation all over, I thank them now for the experiences, but those car rides of sitting in between Mom and Dad in the front seat “hump” for hours was never fun. (Back then if you owned a station wagon those things were like tanks and child seats were something of a fad). Anyways, more times than not we would get called to the office at school around noon, and there was mom. She and my dad would have the car packed and off we would go on another adventure; my older siblings grumbling about being too cool to go, the younger ones gearing up for game “are we there yet?”.
My parents were great in that about 4 times a year we would truck from the Midwest to Orlando to go to Disney World. Most of the time we would rent a cabin at Ft. Wilderness. My mom thought Disney was nice as she could basically turn us loose and not have to worry much about how we’d get home. During this time there was no Sea World, Universal, no nothing, except WDW.

I don’t remember my first trip to WDW, I was a toddler and my mom swears that someone kidnapped me at the Contemporary. She claims Security looked for hours only to find me traipsing the monorail queue looking quite flustered. My only thought was that I wanted to get to MK so badly I said “screw this” and looked to the shiny train to get me to the castle. However, I recall none of it, and wonder if it ever even happened. I do, though, remember taking the small boats from MK back to Ft. Wilderness and seeing the Water Pageant. To this day when I hear Handel’s Water Music, I immediately regress back to the days of light up sea monsters and U.S. flags. To digress one second, anyone remember those old brown busses in Ft. Wilderness?

Anyways, our day would begin like this 5am, Mom’s up like a rocket, kicking us out of bed. Peter and John on the bunk beds, Missy on the hide-a-bed, Paul on the couch, and me, curled up on the hide-a-bed cushions with a blanket. We have our Fruit Loops which was already a vacation to us as no sugared cereals unless it was a) Christmas or b) we were at Disney. Next step would be mom putting out our clothes in order from tallest to shortest, all outfits looking the same so we could we be identified easily as the nerdy family from the Midwest, all the long while Dad just drank his coffee. Next, out the door for the mad dash to get to the boat dock, this was quite a sight to watch 5 kids with bowl cuts wearing the same clothes, screaming and yelling at 6 in the morning. Dad, well he just drank his coffee.
We’d get to the MK and wait in line for what seemed an eternity. I could barely hold the anticipation knowing that just behind this flimsy rope was an adventure filled with ghosts, pirates, giant squid, and oversized animals waiting to inadvertently scare the bejesus out of me. While we waited would mom pin our tickets to our clothes (which now seems really odd), and go over her “if we get lost spiel”. My mom was cool in that even in a park of 30,000+ people you could always find her: either at the hot dog place on Main St. now known as Casey’s or at the Tomorrowland Terrace watching Michael Iceberg and his incredible synthamagnetic musical device; “The Iceberg Machine”. All of a sudden the P.A. blared, “To all who come to this magical place…” This was it, it was go time.
(End of Part I)