Thursday, June 16, 2016

Disney World Or Bust!

If you're going to do an all-out Disney World or Disneyland vacation, I have three pieces of advice:

1) Don't do more than three consecutive days
2) Avoid the Fourth of July and the surrounding dates
3) Eat breakfast, for cryin' out loud

Our family failed to do all three of these in 1986, doing a marathon stretch in Florida where we needed a vacation from our vacation. The Royal Father insisted we get to the gates right at the opening. That's a good strategy, but not on an empty stomach. You can swing that as an adult, but as a 14-year-old, it stinks. A boy's gotta eat. So does his younger brother. And have we told you the food inside Disney is crazy expensive?

Dad wasn't fazed. We took on Epcot our first day, starting off with the Journey into Imagination, followed by the 3-D movie next door before moving onto the World Showcase in the back lot. It's around the world in a day: Mexico, Italy, England, Morocco, Canada, Norway, Japan, and Colonial America. Much to see, much to buy, much to eat (if you can afford it), and much music to listen to. We ended up at the World Showcase theater that night before the fireworks show watching a Disney orchestra in a performance that crossed "Evening At Pops" with "Solid Gold."

On day two, we took in those parts of Epcot we couldn't cover in Day One before moving on to the Magic Kingdom and more rides: Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (now defunct), Pirates Of The Caribbean (before Jack Sparrow), the famous Jungle Cruise (with ageless corny jokes), Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the spinning teacups... and not, NOT, NOT It's A Small World. That theme music burns itself into the brain and cannot be expunged quickly enough.

We had to compete with a Venezuelan youth tour group for space in the lines. You could recognize them by their orange shirts. Once one person ran for a ride, the others followed like a school of fish. The fast-pass system hadn't been invented yet. You had to wait. Strollers and wheelchairs dotted the landscape, even among those who didn't need them. We spotted a few people jumping out of a wheelchair and swapping with the person who was doing the pushing. Perhaps it was a ruse to get priority line position.

Day three finished up those rides in the Kingdom, on the Fourth of July, and in a marathon stretch of time and endurance, the Royal Father insisted we stay through not one but two performances of the Main Street Electrical Parade. The loop of "electro-syntho-magnetic sound" etched into my consciousness. I suspect Dad wanted more videotape time, having just bought a new camera and portable VHS Hi-Fi VTR a couple of months earlier.

(Just a side thought -- doesn't the music remind you of the 1970's theme to "The Joker's Wild?")

He had the toys. I had the runs -- yes, the D-word. It's that Disney food, that expensive and probably greasier than we realize food combined with the lack of breakfast and the constant motion that was wrecking my system. I had to wait past midnight, when we finally got back to our motel room, to reset my system.

The Queen Mother now agrees we should've done it differently. We should've done a couple of days at Disney and taken a break from the people and bustle and gone to the beach or NASA instead of the three-day stretch at the happiest place on earth.

Fortunately, we would spend the next few days in less crowded conditions, venturing up the east coast, pausing at various points in the Carolinas before finally making it to what would be my future adopted emotional home of Williamsburg, Virginia.

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