It’s been 29 years since my last trip to the Magic Kingdom down in Florida, and though Disneyworld is essentially the same, some things have changed. If you haven’t been in a while either, you may be as surprised as I was to have your fingerprint scanned as you walk through the entrance. No invasive bag searches or demeaning metal detectors, just a quick laser to what is most unique to you, and you’re in!
At first I think Walt and a team of crime-fighters may be in an underground lair somewhere doing thousands of background checks a minute, screening his patrons for outstanding violent crime charges, and deploying covert SWAT teams dressed as Disney characters to detain the criminal in the topmost towers of Cinderella’s castle.
With a little research, however, I find I’m mistaken. Disney takes the fingerprint, coverts it to numbers and assigns the code to your pass, instantly destroys the fingerprint image and uses the code to make sure no one besides you can use your pass. I’m relieved to find I won’t be followed by a giant corporation dedicated to happiness, however, this means there is no security at Disney.
After a shuttle ride from the parking lot, a monorail ride over the moat surrounding the park, and 24 miles of walking (23.99 miles of which the 35 pounds of my son’s hot flesh refused to walk) we’re in the park. Just one step in and I already feel I’d just been rescued from one of those sweat lodges gone wrong.
But there’s no time to waste. I trade my 401k for some hotdogs and lemonade and we’re off to the races!
We get a stroller for my son. He calls it a cart, however, so as not to be confused with a baby despite the distinct babyish trait of not being able to walk.
A quick glance around, however, and I see my son isn’t the only oversized child with his own chariot. Countless children, even children bigger than their parents, can’t be bothered with walking, and sit in the cool shade of their stroller, chilling, eating ice cream. The little princes and princesses look to be sweating, but don’t be fooled. They are just spritzing themselves with their fanning spray bottle as a purple-faced parent pushes them to and fro.
We head over to Fantastic Land or whatever it’s called and try out Aladdin’s magic carpet ride. I’m nervous my son is going to be scared and not like it, writing Disneyworld in his little book of traumatic experiences. But he loves it. There is a joystick he can wield to send the carpet up and down, so he feels his favorite feeling, which is control.
Afterward he walks up to his grandpa with what can only be described as an I-just-conquered-my-first-amusement-park-ride strut.
Next we go on the Jungle Cruise and by the time we get to the ride my son has grown armpit hair and a beard. We’re wondering why it’s so busy on a Monday during the school year and it turns out it’s Passover and the schools are closed. This explains the yamakas galore.
On the cruise our river guide tells one corny joke after another.
To your right is the tribe of savage cannibals, and let me tell you, it’s not a place you want to be-headed.
You want to know why those tribal dancers are dancing in a circle? Well it’s because they never learned to square dance.
And so on.
I want to shoot her with a poison arrow dart, but my dad loves it. He makes sure to laugh extra loud so we all know that he understands her every double entendre.
I overhear a woman at the end of the ride talking about how great her guide was. Just the right amount of corniness, she says.
I want to disagree with her, saying there’s no such thing as a right amount of corniness, and that is like saying someone has just the right amount of AIDS.
Despite the corn-factor, I’m amazed at how the Disney employees (the Cast Members) stay in character all day. Except the employee I encountered when I accidentally went in the FastPass lane instead of the SlowAss lane. Maybe she was more of a stage hand than a cast member, but she tells me I’m in the wrong line with the conviction of a French fry.
I have to walk three feet in the other direction around a rope to the other line, but I decide to save time and fling one leg over the rope. “Don’t climb over the rope,” she says flatly, in a tone like- don’t embarrass yourself any more than you already have, lady.
By the time we get to Pirates of the Caribeean, I’ve discovered the illustriousness that is FastPass. We’d been waiting in two whole lines like complete assholes before I remembered about our 3 free FastPasses. No waiting in line at Pirates for us.
As we’re galloping past all the assholes in line to the front, however, a herd of about 20 people duck under the ropes where no one is watching and cut in front of us in the FastPass lane.
They have thick Brooklyn accents, the women look to be escaped rhinoceros from the Jungle Cruise and the men wear their yamakas cocked to the side like gangsters. I keep my mouth shut, but the skinny little mom behind me is like:
And demands to know if they are FastPass.
Are you all FastPass!? She asks like it’s a race of people.
One woman licks her fingers and says yeah, followed by a hefty laugh that we all know means-No we aren’t FastPass and what’re YOUS gonna do about it, twiggy?
After that we never see another line. My dad and I split our hand, doubling our FastPasses because we can take turns going on rides with the little guy who doesn’t need any pass because he’s under 3 (or at least he used to be).
And that’s fine with me because everyone in line looks miserable. I saw more domestic disputes that day than in an entire season of Cops. Also, while my dad takes my son on rides, I have a chance to admire all the Disney outfits people wear.
Every flavor of Minnie Mouse; Disco Minnie, Renaissance Minnie, Goth Minnie, Slutty Minnie. Basically women in their Halloween costumes plus a set of mouse ears. A family dressed as The Incredibles. The one lady who I can nearly hear getting dressed in the morning and asking her husband, Does this “My Princess name is Taco Belle” T-shirt make me look morbidly obese?
At the end of the day we are all dead tired, sweaty, dirty and just a Tinker Bell fart away from having a domestic dispute of our own.
But I know it is all worth it when my generally quiet and shy little boy sees his dad for the first time in a week and doesn’t stop talking for 30 minutes, going on about pirates and dragons and dolphins and airplanes and Grandpa slept on the couch and he had a dolphin in the pool and cup and saucer and Aladdin and Little Mermaid and Florida.
Despite all the blood, sweat and tears, it really was magical. I’ve even considered taking him again next year. As long as he still looks under 3, that is.