I’ve seen the end of times. It’s Disney World in the summer. Oh, I know right now some of you are thinking, “Hey, you big idiot don’t you know better than to go to Orlando in any season that starts with the letter S?”
The answer to that question would be yes, of course, I know better, but I was there for my daughter’s dance competition. The travel dates were non-negotiable which is why I spent last Sunday (into Monday) at the Magic Kingdom from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. That’s right seventeen hours straight at Disney and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have some crushing PTSD from the experience.
I knew Disney would be thick with humanity and humidity. I just didn’t realize the extent of the thickness until about one o’clock in the afternoon. That’s when the park reaches maximum stroller and scooter capacity. Who knew the double stroller could multitask as a weapons grade battering ram?
I don’t know what happens to parents at Disney World but it seems to me that they become focused on one mission; harming anyone who slows down their forward motion (including their own children). I feared for my life more than once especially when a mom pushing a double stroller was teamed up with grandma and grandpa in scooters.
The mom was in the middle and the grandparents were flanking her on the left and right. The trio was plowing through the crowds at Fantasy Land and mowing down anything that got in their way. General Patton rolling through Europe had nothing of this threesome.
As for the weather, the humidity was so thick you felt like you had been dipped in chicken fried steak gravy and rolled in mashed potatoes. Now, add in the body odor of thousands of profusely sweating adults and you’ve got yourself a crock pot cooking up a simmering stew of gag.
You know what would be really magical at the Magic Kingdom? A deodorant kiosk.
The only way to dress for this kind of weather is to wear your “I’ve given up on life” outfit. Which means your most comfortable, worn-out shoes, shorts and shirt. This was why I was confused by the number of women in heels, full make up and free-range hair.
And by that, I mean their long, unfettered locks were heating up their backs like a just microwaved bag of popcorn. I wanted to reach into my fanny pack (Yeah, I wore a fanny pack, an old school one not one those fancy designer packs that teenagers sling over their chest.)your fashion pride goes right out the window when you’re doing hard time at a Disney Park) and hand them a Wet One and a ponytail holder, but I thought that might be perceived as being a little forward.
The most popular clothing item, by far, at the park was the family Disney T-shirt. This is a shirt with a Disney logo, your family’s name and some other tidbit of information like how many park visits you were currently enjoying. One family was on their thirty-second reunion at the Magic Kingdom. Who willingly advertises this kind of crazy?
After I came to terms with the weather and crowds, I sought to get to know my fellow Disney guests by visiting with strangers standing in a line, that seemed long enough to circle the earth, for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride.
This was where I discovered an idiocy that will haunt me for months, if not years. The family that was in front of me in line lives in Orlando. That’s right, they live Disney adjacent and yet they picked a Sunday and the hottest day of the year (98 degrees with a “feels like 107”) to come to Disney World.
I had to ask them why (this is when my daughter pretended, she didn’t know me). Their answer, “I dunno, I guess we didn’t think about it that hard.”
Who wouldn’t think about that? Who would voluntarily choose to go to Disney on a crowded, steamy, Sunday if they lived right next door?
But before I had a chance to delve deeper into that riveting topic the Mine Train ride was temporarily closed and the line got ugly, like double stroller ugly. It was time to seek refuge in the Hall of President’s, or as my daughter calls it, the empty theatre.
You know your day at the Magic Kingdom has changed course considerably when your main concern is seeking air-conditioned shelter. It’s no longer about the rides instead your focus is on which activities you can pursue that will result in AC blasting you in the face.
This was why the Hall of Presidents became my refuge. It’s an attraction modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia that features all the presidents in “audio-animatronics form” which is Disney speak for robots.
Those Commander-In-Chief droids must require an extremely refrigerated environment because the Hall of Presidents was the coolest place in the park. I could, at max, go on three rides before I had to get back to the Hall for a cool down. I found an AC vent in the rotunda, that if you stood at a 90-degree angle, you could get a rush of cold air up your shorts. It was like oxygen for someone climbing Mt. Everest.
The only problem was my daughter was getting crabby about my need for an AC refresh. She also complained about the time we were wasting having to constantly go back to the Hall of Presidents. This necessitated me finding another chill zone. It wasn’t quite as cold as the Hall of Presidents, but it got the job done. It also had much better people watching.
A Fantasy Land gift shop located right next to the Cinderella Castle was my new air-conditioned retreat. Here little girls for the bargain price of $199 could go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and get the deluxe princess treatment. This means full hair and make-up and the Disney character gown of their choice.
The mothers coming out of the boutique, with their coiffured tots in tow, were their own cast of characters. The most tragic was the Sobbing MOP (Mom Of a Princess).These were the teary-eyed mothers dragging a crying princess out of the boutique. The child was usually having a melt down because her “hair hurt.” Otherwise known as bun head burn.
Each princess got a bun and a crown and let me tell you those buns were pulled back tight enough to withstand the G force of Space Mountain. I got why both the child and the mom were bawling. If I had just dropped $200 on a “Princess Experience” and it resulted in my daughter going full royal tantrum I’d need a box of Kleenex too.
Once the sun had set, I was able to significantly limit my AC visits. It’s not that it was that much cooler. I still felt like I was wearing a Grizzly pelt lined with polar fleece and dunked in Icy Hot, but at least I wasn’t getting a solar bitch slapping. I had hoped that after the 10 p.m. fireworks families would start to clear out of the park. I mean, really who would stay till 1 a.m. if you had small children or God help you, an infant?
Everyone is the answer to that question.
The state song of Florida has to be children crying to the tune of It’s a Small World After All because that melody followed me throughout Disney World and it got cranked up even more at night. You had parents, who had to know better, waking up babies and toddlers to put then on rides. I swear after 11 p.m. Fantasy Land was a sidewalk of sobs.
To escape the screaming my daughter and I fled to Adventure Land to set sail on the Jungle Cruise. We thought we were safe from unhappy children until a dad boarded our boat with a preschooler who was afraid of water. The poor kid howled. The dad announced that he was just going to let the kid “cry it out.”
I gave my daughter the look that said make a run for it and we got off that boat faster than you can say “No more tears.”
After that our strategy was to stay in Frontier Land until the park closed at 1 a.m. That way we could ride the Splash Mountain log plume, get wet and then blow dry while riding the Thunder Mountain rollercoaster. This was a great plan and upping the fun factor was standing in line with people at the Splash Mountain ride who didn’t want to get wet.
There were signs posted all along the line stating that you will get wet. When you step into the log it was wet and people getting off the ride were drenched. Yet, there were still people angry, confused and dumbfounded after the ride was over, that they had just been baptized in Lake Disney.
To make matters worse these are the people who usually want to sit in the front log, known in theme park terminology as the super soaker. Who out there doesn’t know the front log takes the biggest direct hit? It’s simple physics – force x mass x person at the front of a log ride = a 100 percent chance your clothes will be soppy wet.
I think a huge Disney improvement would be IQ tests for certain rides. It would certainly thin the theme park herd.
But no matter the tears, the heat, the idiot quotient I did it. I crossed the finish line of seventeen hours at the Magic Kingdom. Where’s that T-shirt at the gift shop?
Umm, yeah so while we’re on the topic of buying things may I suggest my new book Empty? It’s a fun and fabulous summer read and if you happen to be trapped in a two hour line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train than for the love of that is holy get the book on your phone pronto and start reading. Click here for a lookie loo.
Or if your fingers are just too exhausted to click here’s a teaser to the fabulousness that awaits you. 😉