Thursday was set aside for the kingdom. THE kingdom. The center of the Disney universe. Where a kid can idolize the work of a misogynistic racist, shake hands with a college student in a mouse suit without anyone's being drunk or getting arrested, pay 60 dollars to be dressed as a princess in clothes made by slave labor and watch shows in which non-minorities sing and dance about good ol' America. We braved the crowds (there really were crowds. Apparently this week was an international vacation week) and spent the day at the Magic Kingdom.
The walk from the car to the monorail was cold, really cold, but we eschewed the tram. It has no windows so had we stood in the cold and waited for departure, we would be buffeted by wind the whole way. The walk was good for us: it prepared us for a day of walking and complaining. We then monorailed our way towards Main Street USA. There was an announcement on the way that the monorail would be out of service from 11:30 to 7PM. That presented us with a problem -- how to leave if we wanted to, before 7PM. Disney really didn't want us to go. Eventually, we confirmed that the ferry would still be running so we grumbled about being a captive audience and the potential for sea sickness but we stumbled along. And the line at the Main Street Starbucks was not worth the effort. I figured there would be another somewhere in the park. There wasn't! Does the suffering ever cease?
We went through various rides, sing a combination of the Fast pass schedule and an eagle eye to spot rides where the wait time was under 45 minutes. Because on a cold day, when supposedly no one is at the park, I want to wait 30 minutes so I can ride the 2 minute Peter Pan ride. And don't get me started on the It's A Small World thing. More money was thrown into the water on that ride than I make in a year. The animatronics haven't been updated for 30 years and I am convinced that workers there rotate in and out quickly to avoid the suicide issue hearing that song over and over. After that was the wandering. We went from area to area trying things out and moving on. The "drive a car" ride in Tomorrowland, and the Space Mountain roller coaster, The Barnstormer, the Astro Orbiter, The Haunted Mansion and the Mad Tea Party were all rides I sat outside of. I went on the Buzz Lightyear "shoot an alien because Tim Allen tells you to" ride (with minimal spinning around) and the mini-ferry to Tom Sawyer's Island where you can walk around to the other ferry to get back. It was magical. The Swiss Family Treehouse was a series of stairs up and down a tree so I did that, and I got to spend my $1 to shoot a fake gun at an old attraction I can't find on the map. But it involved shooting things and it is near a bathroom. That's Disney gold, people. So start there and ask. It is my favorite part of the park. Bring quarters. I noted that the "futuristic" rides such as the people mover and the monorail were no longer that futuristic. We were on a people mover and monorail at the airport, big deal. Maybe this stuff was all fancy when the park was opened, but shouldn't they update to a new cutting edge? The day went by and eventually, we decided to leave. We did, indeed, take the ferry and watched the sun set over the resorts filled with people for whom this trip means something and money means nothing. A packing, a night' sleep, a house cleaning, a taxi and a plane ride and we were in the 16 delicious degrees which define New Jersey in January.
One side note -- I realized that the pavilions in Epcot are actually representations not of countries around the world, but of airports in countries around the world. The souvenir garbage available is the same stuff you see when you land in a faraway city and can suddenly buy smarmy t-shirts proclaiming your HEART of something local. They should really change the name to "airports of the world."
I do not understand the allure of either Universal or Disney. They are expensive, crowded and kitschy. The rides don't interest me and the shows are contrived and laborious to watch. When the weather is cold enough to stay away, the lines are finally short enough to make going worth the money. Yet, people keep flocking to these places and I can't figure out why. Here's to staying home and being happy with what I have and where I am. Here's to seeing the world via the internet and meeting people the old fashioned way -- yelling through closed car windows during a traffic jam, or making uncomfortable small talk in the waiting room of a doctor running very late.
It is now Saturday night. One week since we left and 1.5 days since we returned. I have over 200 pictures to go through and organize so I can upload them to albums no one wants to see. I have receipts to go through and decide if I will scrapbook then burn, or just burn straight away. I shoveled, we have to shop and work is back in business on Monday.
And let us never speak of the shortcut again.