Usually I have to be pretty fried not to be able to read a map. When we emerged from “It’s a Small World,” I couldn’t figure out how to get to the Winnie the Pooh ride. All of my radars were jammed. We headed off in one direction, but that led out of Fantasyland. The last thing I needed was to take unnecessary steps–the heat was wicked and my feet hurt so bad I could barely walk.
We did locate the ride and got into line. A girl in the official Pooh uniform handed me something as I entered (I don’t even remember what it was now) and said, “Give that to the attendant when you board the ride.” It was something that helped them gauge how fast the line moved so they could post the correct wait time out front.
The line wound round and round and moved slowly. Along the way were a number of activities meant to distract the kiddies. Children ran back and forth, screamed, slapped at each other over various wheels and handles, and generally made me feel more worn than ever. As we got closer to
boarding, we came upon these giant screens that made it seem you could “draw” in honey. J.Hooligan amused himself by scrawling swirls and doodling the occasional phallic shape, which made his mother yell at him and me very glad when we moved beyond the honey screens.
I honestly don’t recall a damn thing about the Pooh ride. I handed the attendant the thingamajig, we climbed into the conveyance (a boat? a car? I don’t remember), and whirled through fevered visions of Pooh characters and scenes from the Hundred Acre Wood. [Note: Okay, Diamondqueen says I forgot something else–“But you left out my favorite part! You didn’t mention almost climbing in some strange man’s honey pot.” Ah, we rode around in honey pots! But I barely recall this. I think I got confused when I handed that thing to the attendant and blindly tried to climb in the honey pot in front of me. Diamondqueen and the Hooligans got a kick out of imagining that strange man’s befuddlement at riding through the Hundred Acre Wood with me.]
Back out in the sun again, we got cold drinks. The idea, after our large breakfast, was to try to hold off eating much until we left the Magic Kingdom, stopping someplace on the way back to the hotel for a late lunch/early dinner. There was no place to sit, so we huddled near some central concessions out of the flow of the crowd. Suddenly a child vomited at Diamondqueen’s feet. We hurried to the other side, and there an attendant was shooing people around another pool of vomit until maintenance could clean it up.
S.Hooligan’s next ride was a Goofy coaster. Apparently J.Hooligan had had enough, because he refused to go on it as well. We found a spot on a low wall directly in the sun and grumbled at each other and sweated. Behind us the Dumbo ride whirled round and round; beyond us in front children squealed in a circus-themed water feature. I would have enjoyed getting wet if I could have walked that far.
Across the path from us, a space opened on the wall in a patch of shade. J.Hooligan snarled when I said we should move, but at least we were in less danger of sunstroke over there. J.Hooligan started watching every train that climbed the coaster hill to see if his mother was on board. “No, they’re not on that one. No, they’re not on that one,” he said over and over, getting more and more frustrated. It was one of those times you feel certain something is never going to end. It did, though, of course. Diamondqueen and S. had baked in the sun waiting in line, and S. admitted she’d had enough of the rides.
There was something Diamondqueen wanted to do in Tomorrowland–another trip on Space Mountain?–so she and S. headed off. J.Hooligan and I looked around a souvenir shop for awhile just to stand in the cool air, then we sat on another wall in so-so shade. Diamondqueen was supposed to find us, but J. spotted her and S. in the souvenir shop, so we hurried back in. S.Hooligan was in the process of buying a pair of Minnie Mouse ears and a big stuffed Stitch.
We staggered back toward Cinderella’s Castle. Some big parade show was taking place: lots of music and dancing, brightly costumed guys high-stepping on stilts, a line of wagon-like floats blaring recorded music, and crowds lined up five people deep along the curbs. We watched for a bit, and Diamondqueen and J.Hooligan tried to go into the castle, but it was closed. We decided it was time to go and tried to thread our way along the sidewalks of Main Street. The parade moved when we did and followed us all the way down the packed boulevard.
When we’d arrived that morning, I swore they’d said the train was one of our options for getting back to the parking lot. We rushed to the train station and made it upstairs to the platform with seconds to spare. It wasn’t long before we realized we weren’t headed for the parking lot; we were off on a journey around the entire theme park. This error unleashed a torrent of abuse from the Hooligans. “We could have been back at the parking lot by now,” J.Hooligan groused as we passed Western scenes in Frontierland. I pointed out we were getting to experience another ride, plus we were seeing parts of the Magic Kingdom we didn’t have the time or energy to visit on foot, but this didn’t cheer the Hooligans up.
At the breaking point, we disembarked from the train in the same station where we’d started. I wasn’t sure where on earth our shuttle bus would be parked, but one of the ferries seemed to be taking passengers. We made it on. There were no empty benches downstairs, and we were too tired to check upstairs, so we simply hung over the rail, appreciative of breeze and shade. I stared into the water in a stupor and wondered about alligators. (Just the week before a child had been grabbed by an alligator at the Disney resort.)
When we departed the ferry, we were confused about how to get to our car and whether a nearby shuttle would deliver us to our spot or carry us to some other Godforsaken place. My mind was absolutely shredded, which should have made me stay quiet. But I was sure I’d seen a section of the monorail track at a certain angle from our part of the parking lot. (Yes, we’d noted whatever screwy name they’d given our area, but for some reason we weren’t bringing it into focus.)
Of course I was wrong, which elicited more yelling and cursing and wasted steps. J.Hooligan said he thought he knew where we were parked. It seemed wrong to me, but Diamondqueen and S. charged off after him, so whatever. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive the long walk across that blistering, blazing parking lot. Diamondqueen and the Hooligans drew farther and farther ahead of me. I felt as if I were looking through the wrong end of a black-walled telescope. Their tiny little figures paused somewhere in the distance and I thought I saw a yellow door fly open.
Swear to God, I don’t remember anything after that. I must have made it to the car without passing out, but it’s all a blank until I opened my eyes and realized we were on the highway with the Magic Kingdom far behind us.
I revived enough to suggest we take the exit for International Boulevard. We’d already seen the Orlando Eye (the huge Ferris wheel) from the interstate, and I assumed (hoped) there would be a restaurant nearby we could all agree on.
We settled for Longhorn. I gulped ice water and wondered if I’d glow in the dark, I felt so radiated by the vicious sun. Fortunately, it was a brief ride to the hotel (“Turkey Lake Road!!!!”).
Back at the room, we all napped (except maybe S.Hooligan, who seemed to sleep only at night). When I woke up, I pried open the sliding door and asked Diamondqueen for the Orlando guide to see what we might want to do the next day. As soon as I returned to the sitting room, S.Hooligan shut the sliding door behind me. I should have relished the isolation; instead it made me feel isolated in the wrong way. The other three were laughing and talking in the other room, and I was sitting there alone with my Orlando guide.
I returned the guide with a few suggestions, then asked if anyone wanted to go walk around the resort just to get out for awhile. No one wanted to budge. As soon as I turned around, S. slid that damn door shut again.
The worst thing was to sit there and stew by myself. In the other room, Diamondqueen and the Hooligans were discussing our Thursday options and making plans–without me. I’d already felt blue once thinking about how old the Hooligans were, how much had changed since the old vacation trips, and wondering if this was our last vacation together. My mind locked back onto that track, which got me crying, a real jag that wouldn’t stop. I got up, got dressed, told Diamondqueen I was going out by myself, and left.
I found a pleasant lounge chair in the pool area without many people around. Lying there in a pleasant breeze, watching the fronds of the palm tree flutter against the darkening sky, I cried and cried. In one way it was good to be out in the pool area. It was lively, people were swimming, kids were playing, there was a movie projected on a large screen at the other end of the pool. I was surrounded by happy voices and activity. It helped a little, but not enough. I rarely squeeze into such a dark corner since I started antidepressants over twenty years ago, but this was like one of my old uncontrollable black spells. (When I got home, I Googled the symptoms of heat exhaustion. It said agitation was possible, but none of the other symptoms seem to fit. I felt as if some wire in my brain had come loose with the heat–literally at loose ends.)
When I got my weeping under control, I strolled around the pool area. I found the lazy river and the whirlpool, checked out the grill/bar, which was beneath an overhang jutting out from the garden walk (we hadn’t figured out where it was before then), and thought about sitting near one of the fire pits. Finally I went in to the diner to get a snack.
I glanced up and there was Diamondqueen. We both kind of jumped, and I said, “What are you doing here?” S.Hooligan had wanted something to eat. I assumed they’d be going back to the room, so I took my frozen yogurt to a table near a fire pit and ate glumly.
When I returned to the room, Diamondqueen and S.Hooligan weren’t there. I took my shower, and as I came out of the bathroom, Diamondqueen and S.Hooligan arrived. “She wanted chicken and insisted we sit there while she ate it,” Diamondqueen replied testily when I asked where on earth they’d been all that time. I asked Diamondqueen if she was going to come into the sitting room to knit and listen to the Cubs, but she said S.Hooligan wouldn’t let her. As I returned to the sitting room, S. shut the sliding door behind me.
I did my quilting and watched TV. Around 11 o’clock, J.Hooligan wandered in to get himself a drink from the refrigerator. He plopped down in one of the chairs and asked what I was watching. A few minutes later he sighed deeply and said, “Good day, wasn’t it?” I swallowed and said it had been a wonderful day. He lingered and chatted with me, which helped enormously. When he returned to the bedroom, though, I started getting weepy again.
I turned off the light as if I was going to bed, then lay in the dark and sobbed some more. Apparently no one had noticed so far how much I’d been crying. I hoped my face wouldn’t look as if I’d been in a cage match in the morning, then I fell asleep.