Chris’ Wakeup Song
In 2003, I took my family on a huge western trip on I-40 (Route 66) to Las Vegas and Southern California, including a day at Disneyland. We left before dark. Alli woke up near the western border of Oklahoma and began talking in her little 5-year-old voice. Meanwhile, Chris was neither speaking nor moving. He’s eyes were still closed. I didn’t want to wake him up, and we began wondering if he would ever wake up. But then, he began singing and his eyes popped open and he was smiling. What a funny little kid he was. I don’t know if he was playing a little joke on us if that’s just what happened.
Often the first thing we hear from Chris in the morning is a song. On day 3, we were slow getting around. My Disney fanatic friends (you know who you are), encouraged us to come to the park 30 minutes early to catch the most rides But I gotta tell you, my favorite ride at 7 am is turning over and going back to sleep.
I brewed some coffee and we all began gathering in the living room. Chris, as usual, said nothing…until the song. It comes from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
And that’s how we started our day.
Our first stop was Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As we were entering, I noted how incredibly friendly the staff was. Disney is a very gay-friendly place and it was no surprise to encounter so many gay staff members. This made me very happy; happy to see gay folks working in a place that is so accepting and celebratory of diversity.
Enter Sweet Alex. Alex, along with several other super cheery staff were hanging around the start of the main street trying to be of use. I really wanted a picture of the whole family and it was not very difficult to flag Alex from Texas over to help us. All the staff have their home states on their name tags. I handed over my phone and we struck a pose.
He snapped a few shots and gave us a very enthusiastic “your welcome” and “goodbye”. Yeah, Alex!
That night, I thumbed through the day’s pics and this is what I found.
And here is the pic he took of us.
He has sparked a fan club following on my Facebook page for being such a sweet kid.
The Tower of Terror
When Disney builds something, they build it right. The Tower of Terror is a box that drops and rises a bunch of times. If you went to Six Flags, you would see a tower with a box going up and down. With Disney, you get a huge, detailed old hotel. It looks to be 100 years old or more. And of course, there is a story.
When you wait in line for a Disney ride, the line is part of the ride. On The Tower of Terror, the last leg of the line is in the hotel itself, so you get an air-conditioned tour of this dusty, abandoned, ornate hotel lounge and lobby. You’re already wondering, why is it abandoned and why is it called The Tower of Terror?
In line, a man ran up to us and started saying a two syllable word at us over and over. I don’t remember what I thought he said, but i responded by speaking slowly. “We’re in the single rider liiiine.”
Then Jenn tried to indicate with her fingers, “a little bit,” to which he responded with 255 words of rapid Spanish.
“Too fast! Too fast!” she said.
Then he turned around and left.
I deduced that he had been saying, “Spanish? Spanish? Spanish?”
In a line of 500 people, why he thought one of my family might speak Spanish, we’ll never know.
The first room on the ride is an enclosed room with a screen showing the appearance of a Twilight Zone intro with the real Rod Serling. It’s not really one of the episodes, but it’s a great knockoff. I don’t remember exactly the story, but it involves a tragedy with the elevator,. And there was a really great hologram which my son was thrilled about. And then, of course, we get on the very elevator of the tragic story.
After that, I turned my attention to more pressing matters: motion sickness. The ride warning signs mentioned that people who prone to motion sickness should consider not riding this one. Once I get it, it’s hard to shake. The rest of my family was ready for some fun, and I didn’t want to hold them back. Instead I prayed a simple prayer which I prayed before every ride. “I turn this ride over to you. If I die, I die. If I get sick, I get sick. I will leave it into you hands and not worry about it.” I’m not sure why I had to throw death into it but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
The elevator took us to various floors and then it dropped a bunch of times. Chris screamed and laughed the whole time, while I grinned and bore it. I did not enjoy all the drops and raises at all, although I enjoyed the rest of the ride, but I survived with only a tinge of nausea. Both my kids called this ride their favorite by the end of the day.
Rock n Roll, Baby!
The Rockin Roller Coaster was truly thrilling. In line we got to see Steven Tyler in a recording studio. I thought it was a bunch of actors who had to replay the scene over and over again all day, but the family assured me that it was a film with the real Steven Tyler in it. Either way, it was cool.
The ride itself is an inside roller coaster with AC/DC style rock playing from your seat into your ear as you ride. I liked this a lot. And again, I didn’t get sick. Everyone loved this ride.
Star Wars: The Adventure Continues
This picture was hard assignment for the guy. I wanted a shot with the huge At-At. The guy we asked to do it got down on his knee. He tried to get angles where we were all in the picture and the At-At was as well. I feel that he could have done it vertically, but this is what we got. Trust me, the Imperial walking tank was awesome.
After lunch, the kids decided they needed a break, so we took them back to Villa de Wilson-Burns. Then Jenn and I went back for more! We went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to ascend Expedition Everest.
I made it a point not to guilt the kids over this. I mean, think about how much money we spent for them just to hang around a watch tv, butI let that thought fade away. My mantra this week has been, if you’re not having fun then don’t do it! And so Jenny and I embarked on our animal journey.
We took Jenny’s pace. No time for animals, we must go to the mountain immediately and post haste. The place was absolutely gorgeous deep in a lush, tropical rainforest. The only animals we saw were a couple of apes swinging around ropes high above the streets.
As we entered Asia, I really wanted to stop and take a breather. We found a bar that served a drink called The Flying Yak: pureed mango, coconut water, and pineapple juice (no alcohol). I ordered an ice water for Jenny. The bartender was a beautiful woman of 40 or so. She apologized for only having tap water (as if maybe we were expecting to deep from a cool spring out back). It was all delicious and refreshing.
The line was relatively short, but it moved very slowly. The first part was in the forest and was muggy and stuffy. The crowd was very international and many foreign languages were spoken. As we waited, I became aware of an odd noise coming from the forest. It was a long, low moan with a punctuated ending.
It went in and out of my consciousness for 30 minutes or so before I said something.
“Do you here that sound?” I asked Jenny.
“It’s fine, David,” she replied sensing my apprehension.
“Hmmm. Probably a frog or something,” I said, trying to sound cool. I laughed a little. “But do you think there’s something out there? You don’t think something could have gotten out?” You have to understand that ever since I found out that adult apes, even small ones, could rip my arms off and bite my face off, I’ve given them a healthy respect. I took a long look into the trees and brush, and imagined what I would do if I saw one. No one else would be afraid because they’re so cute, but I would see the potential danger and get they hell out of there. But we moved on into the pavilion in the shade and under ceiling fans with no death or dismemberment.
After another 30 minutes we began hearing announcements that they were tracking a tropical storm and that they may have to close down the ride. Sure enough, they did. We decided to head for the rapids ride, but they closed it down, too. Then the rain started, and we decided to head for the car. It rained hard, but we saw no point in trying to outrun it. By the time we reached our car we were soaked and chilled to the bone. Although our mission was not accomplished, we were glad for the experience.
The Magic Kingdom
Alli decided to join us for the Magic Kingdom. Chris was plain beat and just wanted to relax. I did not begrudge him that. The weather was cleared up by then. We went immediately to Space Mountain, a childhood favorite. The line was long, but it was indoors, and there were video games all the way through it. When you wait in line, an extrovert hopes for a fun bunch of people to get to know along the way, but to introverts you hope for people who keep to themselves. I vacillate between the two and I was feeling a little introverted. We were doing fine most of the way until this woman started giving me some notice. She was with a strong silent type husband and a social kid…a boy. And I’m not that kind of a dad/husband. I am silly and talkative.
It was like she’d never seen anything like me. I couldn’t tell if she was judging me poorly in some way, or if she was simply fascinated. When I would do something, she would lean in a little bit to see what I was doing or eavesdrop, until eventually she decided to make contact with Jenn. Once she started talking, she didn’t stop for a good 15 minutes. My wife bantered with her politely. Understand, there was nothing wrong with this woman, but I did not feel like socializing with her at all. I hung back and avoided the whole thing.
The ride itself was 100% thrilling.
Jennifer’s number one goal was not a ride, it was a food product called Dole Whip. Dole Whip is a frozen whipped pineapple treat similar to a soft serve ice cream. She’d been reading about it for months and was dying to taste one. After the Space Mountain, we went on the hunt for it. I found an ice cream parlor and decided I wanted a vanilla cone. While I was there I would ask about the pineapple treat.
She was a young Aussie woman who was happy to oblige. When I mentioned Dole Whip she lit up.
“Oh! Dole Whip! Yes, there are a couple of places which serve it,” she said enthusiastically. She gave me directions, but she wasn’t done talking about it. She hadn’t even gotten my ice cream, yet.
“My favorite is the Dole Whip Float! That’s what I would eat if I could eat one right now!” For a moment, she said nothing. She just looked at an empty point a few inches from her head with a greedy smile.
I figured if this gal, who had been working at Disney for who knows how long, still felt this way about it, then it must be good.
We found it, we ate it, it was good. It wasn’t amazing, but it was good. I recommend sharing one with someone you love.
The Haunted Mansion
This is a special place for me. I loved it as a kid. My family loves the movie with Eddie Murphy. I insisted that we go. 20 minute wait time. We decided that this would be the last ride. It was like I remembered, but with really cool holographic upgrades. When we got to the part where all of the ghosties sang, I ascended to heavenly heights of joy.
By the end of the Magic Kingdom experience, I had caught the Disney bug. I understood all of the fanaticism. I wanted to spend days exploring the rest of the park, but alas, this was it. In this picture you can see the beginnings of a lifelong obsession.
Mac and Cheese
I had promised my famous, homemade macaroni and cheese when we got back. Although it was late and i was tired, I did not want to disappoint. I whipped it up, steamed some broccoli and put the mac n cheese in the oven. Alli had been asking me when it would be ready since we got home, and I finally could not stand it any more. I was starving as well, so I took it out of the oven before it even preheated and served it. Yummm!
I crashed soon after.