Disney movies were not that big of a deal for me when I was a kid and as a result, I never developed any sort of yearning to go to the parks in Anaheim or Orlando. I knew people who went down to Disney World all the time and talked about it like it was a pilgrimage to Mecca, but I couldn’t understand their unbridled love of the place for the life of me. There’s barely any thrill rides, I don’t care about getting my picture taken with a six foot costumed rat and all his cronies, and nothing sounds less appealing than spending a week in Florida in the middle of summer, which would have been the only time my family and I would have been able to go. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that my parents didn’t want to pay the financial and emotional price of taking a family of four down there.
But when I told my girlfriend all this, she was aghast. She absolutely adores those movies, is immersed in the nostalgia like so many others in our generation, and has been to Disney World many times in her life. It’s pretty much woven into the fabric of her being, and here I am expressing relative indifference to the whole thing. Well she wasn’t going to let that stand, so we booked a trip to go down to Disney World together to take me to a Disney park for the first time in my life. She was going to make sure that I, a 26-year-old man, felt the magic, damn it.
My primary worry about the park was that all the rides were going to be lame. My perception was that they were all little kiddie rides and that tough big boys like me go to places like Great America to ride real roller coasters. Thankfully, Disney does have some pretty sweet rides, and even the slow dark rides like Pirates of the Caribbean have some pretty cool visuals and setups to keep you entertained throughout. However, there were definitely times when we’d wait like 45 minutes in line for a ride and then I’d come off thinking, “We stood in line that long for that?” But I’m a thrill seeker when it comes to rides, so that’s a hard thought process to break.
Also, we got stuck in It’s A Small World for five minutes and I wanted to drown myself in the six inches of water we were floating on.
Let’s talk about the matching shirts, though. Wearing matching shirts is a huge thing in the park, and as much as I’d love to say I’m above something like that, my girlfriend suckered me into doing it as well. In any other situation I would be mortified by this kind of thing, but I guess that’s all part of the spirit and fun of being at Disney. At least ours were Stormtrooper tanks that were kind of unique and didn’t make me feel like a fucking goober. I saw some pretty embarrassing ones in our time there, even for being within the confines of the park. “Mr. and Mrs.” designs with mouse gloves pointing to each other, families with shirts identifying the parents and their progeny, and of course the dads wearing ironic “I don’t do matching shirts” shirts in the same exact design as everyone else in their group. Magic Kingdom should have a parade of these people so everyone else in attendance can hand them the L’s they deserve.
By far and away the best part of Disney is Epcot’s “Drink Around The World” which I gleefully partook in the day after U.S. women’s soccer player Alex Morgan got kicked out of the park for getting belligerently drunk. After hearing that story, I set my expectations astronomically high and aspired to live up to the level of conduct set forth by an Olympic gold medalist. Unlike Alex and her coterie of soccer hooligans though, I managed to mix in some of the delicious food offered by the various “countries” so I didn’t get too out of control. This was probably for the better, as there really wasn’t any need for me to get banned from the park for trying to pick a fist fight with Goofy while blacked out.
I don’t know if I’d necessarily use the phrase “Felt the magic” to describe my first time in Disney, but I do know that I had a blast. I will give it to Mickey, he sure knows how to put on a production and show everyone a good time. The rides were cool for the most part and all the little shows and other offerings the park has were really nice. I’m also glad I went now as an adult instead of when I was a kid because I think I would have perceived the experience very differently as an 11-year-old that doesn’t care about the movies and wants to ride the big rides that go up, down, and all around. I’m not necessarily dying to go back to the place, but I can truthfully say I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
There was a guy wearing a shirt that had Cinderella’s castle on it and said “A People Trap Set By A Mouse.” To me, that’s the best description of Disney World I’ve ever seen. But I’ll be damned if it isn’t a fun trap to get caught in..