Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Becky Does Orlando: Part Three

Day Three (pedometer count:  13,172 steps)

It's always been something of a point of pride for me to be able to say I'd never been to Disney World.  So when this trip was being planned, I had to make a decision:  should I see Disney World just to see it?  Or should I refuse to go so I could remain that anomaly who had never been?

I decided to see Disney World.


Every other day, Sam and I went down the hall and knocked on Alex's door a few minutes before our pre-decided morning meet-up time.  Today, Alex didn't wait for us.  He was at our door thirteen minutes early.

I've spent a lot of time over the years teasing Alex about certain people he's dated in the past (really, it's a wonder he still talks to me) and since one ex-girlfriend of his is a big Disney fan, I knew he'd been to Disney World more than once before.  But it wasn't until he showed up early, backpack on and sunscreen already applied, that it clicked:  Alex had not been dragged to Disney World in the past.  Alex liked Disney World.  In fact, Alex had probably been whiling away the first two days of this trip specifically so he could get to our Disney day.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we piled into his car and to Disney we went.  We had one day and a ticket for one park, so it was communally decided we should see the Magic Kingdom.

It was like a pilgrimage from the parking lot.  We piled out of Alex's car and joined a growing line of people marching toward the shuttle that took us from the parking lot to the monorail, which took us to security and the gates, and finally, after the obligatory fingerprinting and ticket swiping, we were solidly inside the grounds of Disney World.

And what do you do when you first step foot inside Disney's Magic Kingdom?  Why, you gawk at Cinderella's castle, of course, and take multiple pictures of yourself in front of it.

"It's pretty impressive," I said.  "Not as cool as Hogwarts, but as far as fake castles go, it definitely ranks up there."  The look of death that Alex gave me in return was enough to cease all further Harry Potter-related comments from me for the rest of the day.

Disney World was more crowded than Universal, and larger.  Though we'd gotten an early start to the day, it was already around 10:00 and we had a whole park to get through and a show to catch at 6:00 that evening.

"Let's just pick a direction and start going," said Alex.  So we did.

We started in Tomorrowland and the first ride of the day was Space Mountain.  I'd learned early in the trip that a ride that required you to put your belongings in a locker beforehand was a more serious ride than one that didn't.  Alex was mum on what Space Mountain was like but Sam reminded me that it didn't require a locker and so it shouldn't be that bad...


"At least you're smiling in this one; that's progress," said Alex, while inspecting the obligatory mid-ride photo after we got off.  Indeed I was smiling.  I was smiling because I was laughing at how horrifically I had misjudged the ride and I was pretty sure that I was going to be the first person in history to die in the middle of Space Mountain.  Jesus Christ.  All around me, kids no taller than my waist were skipping around like they'd just had the time of their lives.  I was a hundred percent positive that if I'd gone on that ride as a child, I would have freaked the fuck out and screamed bloody murder until the ride came to a stop.

And that might just be why I never went to Disney World when I was younger...

Sam was thirsty so we hit up a soda fountain where she tasted root beer for the first time.  Then Alex, with the glee of someone who's about to do something he really likes doing, informed us that our next stop would be one of his all-timer favorite rides:  Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

Personally, I didn't find it to be as great as the Men in Black ride.  I did not tell Alex this.

Stitch's Great Escape was next and it was...long and confusing and not actually a ride.

In Fantasyland we had a specific goal in mind:  It's a Small World.  I noticed that - mercifully - the song was not audible to any of the workers who were loading people into and out of boats.

In Liberty Square, I suggested we see the Hall of Presidents because it was something I'd heard a lot about.  And leave it up to me to want to do the one Disney attraction that even the hardcore Disney fan had never heard of.

"What is it?" Alex asked.

"I really don't know," I said.  I refrained from telling him that I'd generally heard the words "weird" and "creepy" associated with the Hall of Presidents, and after watching eerily lifelike (and life-sized) animatronic replicas of all 44 U.S. presidents shift in their seats as Morgan Freeman's booming voice introduced them one by one, I'd have to say those would be the words I'd use too.  But I'd also use the word "cool" because seeing a robotic Abraham Lincoln stand up from his chair and deliver the entire Gettysburg Address is just not something one sees every day.

Switching to a different kind of creepy, we hit up the Haunted Mansion, which I was interested in because of the failed Eddie Murphy movie it inspired (in the post-Pirates of the Caribbean days when Disney was thinking it had hit the jackpot in turning rides into films).  And when I say "failed," I mean it, because I haven't seen it personally and Sam and Alex didn't even know what I was talking about.  The ride was fun, though, even if I was expecting it to be a lot scarier...

We all three had chicken nuggets at Columbia Harbor House before heading to Frontierland where we had the longest wait of our entire week:  forty minutes to ride Splash Mountain.

God, the anticipation.  Forty minutes of knowing that at the end of the ride is a fifty-foot drop.  Forty minutes of signs warning about steep drops and sudden stops.  Forty minutes of looking at the family in front of us and the little girl who couldn't have been more than three years old who was oblivious to it all.  'She'll handle this better than I will,' I thought.

I was right.  She was in our boat and she did just fine.  I actually did alright too, and was more unnerved by the strange vignettes we floated through between steep drops than the fifty-foot plunge at the end.  Sometimes life-sized plastic animals are interesting.  Sometimes they're a little weird.

The one final must-do of the day was in Adventureland, and that was Pirates of the Caribbean.  Fiercely loyal to the Pirates brand after seeing the first movie five times in the theater (the most I have ever seen any movie in a theater...and yes that includes Brokeback Mountain where I topped out at four), I was really curious to see the scenes that had been taken directly from the ride and inserted into the movie.

"No, the third movie really isn't that bad!" I said, as we walked in.  "It's the second one that's terrible."  (Though, yes, I own well-worn copies of all three films and can't help but be excited about the fourth one even though it's going to be a train wreck; I don't care, it's Pirates.)

So imagine my disappointment when I suspected and then Alex confirmed that the ride has been changed.  Now there are all sorts of Jack Sparrows popping up all over the place and I only saw a handful of things that were related to the first movie at all.  :(

From there, we did a little shopping back near Cinderella's castle and meant to leave before the daily parade made its way through the grounds but...oops...we didn't quite make it out in time...

Someone once told me that her favorite line in my book was one in the first chapter, where I said that Disney had "instilled in me an unnatural bias toward men who look like Prince Eric" from The Little Mermaid.  "I like that," this person told me.  "Looking for your Prince Eric..."

I meant it in the literal sense, as in Prince Eric has played a prominent role in determining what I find physically attractive about the opposite sex (see my Jake Gyllenhaal period for evidence of its lingering affects into adulthood).  However, I must say...

...seeing him in the flesh wasn't quite the thrill I'd hoped it would be.  Ariel really wasn't all that inspiring either.  :-/

After taking the monorail and then the shuttle back to the parking lot, Alex drove us to Downtown Disney where we had tickets to see the Cirque du Soleil show La Nouba.  We had a couple of hours to kill and still needed to eat, so we walked the length of Downtown Disney, decided to eat at Planet Hollywood (at my request, since I'd never eaten at one before), and then got to our seats just in time for the show to start.

Five out of five stars for La Nouba.

Alex had to leave us then to go back to the "real world."  He dropped us off at our hotel and headed back to Tampa.

But losing one of our travel companions did not stop us!  NEXT TIME...alligators, moon rocks, and the top-notch narrating skills of Leonardo DiCaprio.  Stay tuned...


  1. I went to Disneyland many many years ago. Our first ride was the Pirates of the Caribbean. This was well before the movie and I don't remember much about it. We did go on the Materhorn roller coaster. What was so scary is you zig zag in and out of the mountain and when the car heads out, it looks like its going to head straight out - and keep going! Except it zigs at the last moment so you stay on the track *whew*

    I think we went to the Haunted Mansion but it seems to me it was more goofy then anything. All I remember is a Gypsy hologram inside a crystal ball saying, "Hurry ba-ack!"

    We also went to the hall of Presidents. I agree, it was eerie, creepy and cool. It is eerie how they "slowly" come to life, tapping a finger, turning a head and yes, it seems like a wonder to see Abe Lincoln stand up!

    I have major envy issues about you seeing Cirque du Soliel!! Sounds like no matter what the show, it is spectacular. :-)

  2. I love that you wrote about how excited Alex was and I think the buzz ride
    photo is one of the best we got! although I do think that ride was better than mib!!

  3. ^^^ You had an obscene score on that ride!! I did better on MiB, and I think that was because I could pick up the gun. (And yes, my score was directly tied to how much I enjoyed the ride. :D)

    Leslie, until Sam was telling me about her past theme park experiences, I had no idea that Disneyland and Disney World overlapped. In hindsight, it makes total sense that you'd have many of the same rides both places, but that thought had never crossed my mind...

    I Googled the Matterhorn and that looks like, er, something that would terrify me! And as for Cirque du Soleil, I really can't put into words how good it was. I'm *dying* to see Love in Vegas now!!!