Orlando Vacation, Day 3, Part 1: It’s a Small World Filled with Cookie-Cutter Imps

These posts are way longer than I intended, but the family likes to have the details. After today the vacation posts get shorter, I promise. (These days were so exhausting, it exhausts me now to write about them.)

We didn’t have to get up as early for our day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom since we didn’t have early admission and we were driving out to the park ourselves. We walked up to the resort’s Bayline Diner for breakfast.

There were lots of choices, and we all scattered in search of our preferred sustenance. I found a line that featured pancakes with a choice of  bacon or sausage. Sausage helped me balance the carbs. There were fresh strawberries at the yogurt bar, and I picked up a carton of milk from the refrigerated case. Again, prices were kind of high, but it was a decent breakfast. I’m not sure if S.Hooligan actually ate anything, but J.Hooligan was satisfied with his choices.

The drive out to the Disney World complex was a fairly straight shot, but we were totally confused when we got to the hectic parking lot. By following everyone else, we figured out where to go. After a long haul across what seemed like miles of parking aisles, we arrived at the ticket gate, then were directed to the shuttle area.

We had our choice of monorail, ferry, or bus. The bus was nearby and waiting, so we climbed aboard. We rode a distance before we were discharged in another shuttle stop area. A ferry was arriving at the nearby dock, and a flood of people rolled toward the security area.

After we’d been inspected, we stood in a crush of eager park-goers. A surprising number already wore various styles of Mickey Mouse ears (a few were even children). Above the confusion someone on a microphone started a countdown, there was a startling eruption of fireworks, and we were swept into the Magic Kingdom.

Diamondqueen and the Hooligans planned to hit Magic Mountain right off to avoid lines. I’d already insisted they should race off on their mission and

Morning rush hour on Main Street.

Morning rush hour on Main Street.

let me meander to Tomorrowland at my own speed. My feet were still swollen and sore from Monday’s torture, but my hip and knee didn’t seem to be hurting as much. I took my time wandering up Main Street (as much as anyone could “wander” in the headlong flow of the crowd) and gazing up at the iconic Cindrella’s Castle. I tried to be awestruck and impressed–although I was eighteen before Disneyworld opened, these images from Disneyland had been an ingrained part of my childhood–but I just didn’t feel anything. It all looked very plastic, like the buildings in a train display. Maybe if I hadn’t seen the artistry of the Harry Potter attractions just the day before, my impressions might have been different. But I doubt it.

As I lazed along and snapped pictures, I realized my feet were already hurting. Before we left the hotel, I’d plastered my toes and heels with bandages I still had left from Washington, D.C. two years before, but I suspected blisters were trying to bubble up on my feet. I made it to a shady wall outside Space Mountain and let my feet hang loose as I sat.

The others exited Space Mountain much sooner than I expected. I anticipated raves, but their responses about the ride were so-so. S.Hooligan was already consulting her phone. She’d been peeved about our all-Potter, all-the-time visit to Universal, so Diamondqueen said S. could choose the rides today. S.Hooligan had a top ten list on her phone that she’d thoroughly researched through Reddit. Diamondqueen’s only edits were to make sure we were hitting rides nearby instead of racing back and forth across the Magic Kingdom.

Our next ride was something with the character Stitch; I’d never seen the movie, although I was familiar with him. After waiting in line, we stood for awhile in front of some kind of creature who apparently was inducting us into some kind of squad to catch Stitch. We then took seats in a darkened room (at least we were sitting down in air conditioning) where the escaped Stitch belched and spat at us unseen. (I’m talking wind on the backs of our necks and splatters of liquid.) Even S.Hooligan admitted it was kind of lame.

Outside the Haunted Mansion. S.Hooligan isn't crying; she probably was in the process of hiding her face from the camera.

Outside the Haunted Mansion. S.Hooligan isn’t crying; she probably was in the process of hiding her face from the camera.

Across the park, we entered the Haunted House ride. Interesting effects, but not very scary, especially by today’s “haunted” standards. Next into Fantasyland for “It’s a Small World.” I was familiar with this ride from my childhood because Walt Disney thoroughly promoted the development of the one in Disneyland on “Wonderful World of Color.” Even at nine or ten years old, I had no desire to ever experience the ride. (Uncle Al used the theme song at the end of his daily children’s show, so I’d learned to hate it early on.) It never occurred to me I’d ever ride it. I’d never particularly wanted to go to either Disneyland or Disneyworld, and if I wound up there I was confident I wouldn’t spend precious time riding through little animated scenes while that song chirped at me in different languages.

In line for "It's a Small World." Apparently all hell broke lose right after this shot. I'd forgotten.

In line for “It’s a Small World.” Apparently all hell broke lose right after this shot. I’d forgotten.

We had a long, hot wait in line. The day was scorching, and the pain in my feet had risen into my ankles. The only advantage was in line I could lean on the railings. Happiest place on earth, my ass. [Note: Diamondqueen says I forgot her favorite moment, “right after I snapped a picture of you and J.Hooligan, when S. decided to stomp on your foot and you screamed out a threat of bodily harm.” Ah, memories.]

Unfortunately, “It’s a Small World” was exactly what I expected it to be. Diamondqueen and I both found it offensive because of the way various ethnic groups were portrayed. It was more than slapping slanted eyes or brown paint on the same basic Caucasian figures. The way these groups were presented in their “native lands” was too stereotypical. Maybe it was revolutionary to combine all these ethnicities in a children’s ride in the mid-1960s, but in 2016 it seems dated and almost objectionable.

By this time, I’d come to a realization: Strip away the Disney cachet, and Magic Kingdom didn’t have a thing on our own King’s Island. Granted, S.Hooligan’s ride selections were pretty tame; I was relieved, actually, because I’d stopped riding anything rambunctious a few years ago when getting knocked around had become too painful. But beyond the rides, I find King’s Island a more enjoyable environment. Purely subjective, but if I had my choice of where to be miserable, I’d choose King’s Island by a mile. (KI also provides benches, for God’s sake, and shade trees. We never seemed to be near a bench in the Magic Kingdom, just low walls for seating.)

Yes, I often miss how enthusiastic I was about rides growing up. Whether attending amusement parks, fairs, or festivals, I was all about the rides till my late twenties. Suddenly I got attacks of motion sickness, or the shoulder guards on coasters drove my earrings into my neck, or a dozen muscles suffered trauma after too much jerking and careening. But I still like being at a theme park, still enjoy the atmosphere and the excitement in the air. My discontent with the Magic Kingdom had nothing to do with just being an old grump (although I admit the heat made it more of a strain than it had to be). It was as if the park felt entitled to being admired and revered, and I simply wasn’t buying it.

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