Saturday, November 24, 2007

How to be a bad Disney guest:

1. Walk through a crowded park while looking over your shoulder.
2. Drive your little scooter through a crowded park while looking over your shoulder.
3. Moan Oh, Man! in a loud, creepy voice as you stand elbow-to-elbow at a bank of urinals.
4. Wear a T-shirt that says Female Body Inspector
5. Scream like you’re being raped by a gorilla in the middle of a ride you’re supposed to enjoy quietly and respectfully as though you grew up in a world not marred by penetrative gorilla sex.
6. Bring children. I mean seriously. Who brings children to Disney World?
7. Spend five days at four Disney theme parks and take pictures of only three things.
8. Honestly need to be given these instructions in the bathroom:
When you wish upon a star
Disney is amazing at creating ambience. Everywhere you go you hear sounds that enhance your visual surroundings: banjos in Frontierland, fake crickets at the Wilderness Lodge, screaming children in line at the Snow White ride. But Disney doesn’t stop there! They also pump smells into certain rides to give you Total Sensory Overload™. For instance, the dancing “Be Our Guest” pastries in Mickey’s PhilharMagic ride smell like apple pie. The stinkbug in the “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” 4-D movie squirts what I hope is just synthetic eau de stinkbug in your face. The orange groves you sail over in Soarin’ smell like oranges and the feet of the people hanging one tier above you with their legs dangling in your face. Even Mission: Space has a distinct smell. The claustrophobic little space pods that take you to Mars (but never take you back to Earth, but maybe that’s Disney’s way of managing holiday crowds) smell like farts.

Be our guest
You get valuable perks when you stay at a Disney resort: Fast, efficient bus service everywhere you go on the property. Mickey-themed soap in your room and Goofy sightings in your lobby. Walking access to a private Epcot entrance if you’re staying at the Beach Club Resort. And the parks stay open late just for you—the Magic Kingdom was open until 3:00 am for us resort dwellers one of the first nights of our vacation. And in the wee-hour absence of common folk, the wait times on popular rides drops from 75 minutes to 10. Except for the Peter Pan ride, which always has hour-long waits. That ride will never grow up. We spent our late-night park time running among the three mountains: Space, Splash and Big Thunder. And for a thrilling six-ride run, the line gods always deposited us in the front seat. Which clearly means Walt likes us best.

Speaking of Mickey-themed soap…
I love the art direction on this label. Sorry the pic turned out so blurry:
It’s a big world
While holiday crowds (including all those rude little bastards who obviously grew up in freakin’ gorilla caves) are never the best way to take in a park with any hope of efficiency, we were sometimes unable to enjoy the parks for an entirely different reason: We’d hear on one of Disney’s self-promo TV spots, for instance, that it would take 70 years to sleep in every guest room on Disney property and we’d suddenly lose ourselves in the mental gymnastics required to comprehend the ramifications of that number. How many bars of Mickey-themed soap do they have to keep on hand to stock 25,550 rooms? How big a building do they need to store it all? How many miles of wiring does it take to light everything in the parks and resorts and access roads and parking lots? How many toilets do they have? How many people does it take to set up all the fireworks displays every day? We produced X number of dirty napkins or wet towels or poops each day, so how does Disney accommodate the X hundred thousand daily guests who eat and dry off and poop on their property? Of the hundreds of park employees we see every day, how many do we not see who assemble our sandwiches and purify our water and keep our roller coasters from crashing and make sure the audio-animatronic chickens at the end of the Splash Mountain ride keep lifting their skirts in time to “Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah” so we can catch a glimpse of feather pie before the ride ends?

Speaking of wiring…
Cinderella’s castle in the Magic Kingdom is currently draped in billions of tiny lights that glow and twinkle and change color. The effect is quite spectacular, even in a blurry camera phone picture:
Hi-ho! Hi-ho!
We experienced a spate of broken rides this trip: Splash Mountain’s audio-animatronics did indeed crash just as we were about to claim one of our front seats, and we waited a good 20 minutes for the ride employees to get all the bunnies hopping and the chickens lifting their skirts again before we gave up and rode the front seat of some other ride. The sound dropped out halfway through Ellen’s Energy Adventure and we had to abandon the ride and come back later. And the tumble monkeys—four hunky little gymnasts in orange Spandex monkey suits in the “Festival of the Lion King” show—mysteriously ran off the stage in the middle of their performance and the tech crew had to come on and awkwardly strike their set for them. Only three tumble monkeys came out for the finale, so I assume that one of them got hurt. And that the show doesn’t keep a stock of standby tumble monkeys waiting in the wings. Maybe because they’re too busy counting all that soap.

I just can’t wait to be queen
While we toured a cool exhibit on Walt Disney’s early years at Disney-MGM Studios, a wispy little park employee named Shaq repeatedly (and clumsily) propositioned us. We put up with it for a while because there’s this Year of a Million Dreams promotion going on where random employees can give random guests fabulous prizes like gift cards and free FastPasses and even a night’s stay in Cinderella’s freakin’ castle. So we were both hoping this dude’s come-ons would pay off in tiaras and sparkly bedsheets (just not with him in them). But he was working us solely for something decidedly not sanctioned by the Disney marketing department. Which was primarily inappropriate because Shaq was working us while he was working as an employee of Disney. Where nobody has sex ever!™ But it was just as inappropriate because he did it in front of the fiancé’s developmentally disabled brother, who lives with us and who was on our vacation with us. And while he understands that we’re gay, we’re not sure he understands much of anything about sex. And the last place he needs to learn about it is from a clumsy little Disney employee.

We almost came home with a new son
As we were taking in a character breakfast buffet one morning, we saw a painfully shy little boy returning from the buffet with his little muffin and his little bowl of fruit. He walked up to the empty table next to us only to discover that it was not, as he was expecting, his family’s table. He craned his little neck looking around for his family, faint traces of panic beginning to show on his little face. But he didn’t see them anywhere. He looked back at the empty table, hoping to find some clue to let him know he was indeed in the right place. But he didn’t find anything. He looked around at the people at neighboring tables, but he didn’t recognize anyone. He looked back at the table again, this time lifting one of the placemats as if perhaps he’d find his mouse ears or his mother’s purse or his little sister hiding underneath. The look of worry on his face was priceless, and we were just about to get up and see if we could help him find his family—or adopt him if they had indeed abandoned him—when he grabbed a waitress, who took him off to what we hope was a successful family reunion in the correct seating section.

My money is still wet
We rode the Kali River Rapids—which drips with as much ambience as it does water—twice in a row Wednesday morning. We got so soaked that the leg bands in my underpants were still moist—and my underpants area was more than a little chafey—when I crawled into bed that night. And yesterday when I reached in my wallet to pay for lunch at the airport, I pulled out a $20 that I could have easily wrung water out of. The Sbarro clerk, for the record, didn’t flinch when she touched it.

Disney DILFs
There was a dearth. It was a disappointment. But otherwise the trip was spectacular and the weather was ideal and Pirates of the Caribbean has been perfectly updated to include some of the characters in the movie franchise and the Haunted Mansion has been filled with even more cool stuff to look at and we were able to eat pretty healthily every time we got hungry and we’re already planning our return trip in 2009. Because we are Disney dorks. And this time we’re staying in the damn castle.

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