Part Six: Just Don’t Make Eye Contact

Catch up with parts one-five of my fabulous Disney vacation here.

The next day started off with the sun shining and birds singing and the smell of freshly brewed coffee filling the air of our lovely Disney hotel…Okay, that’s not completely accurate, but it was close enough. Both of us had managed to get a decent amount of sleep and we had tons of fun on the horizon. The sun wasn’t up yet, the birds were quiet and the coffee maker was brewing hot water for the packets of oatmeal we brought from home. And, most importantly, we were practically guaranteed to make the early, early, EARLY bus to Magic Kingdom.

We raced around making sure we had everything we needed for the day and distributed in such ways that we wouldn’t have to go through bag check when we got there. The only thing I couldn’t manage to find a place for was my deodorant (is there such a thing as deodorant wipes because they totally need to be a thing) and, in my book, the most important thing to have at Disney outside of Magic Bands. Granola bars? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Extra cash? Check. Trail Mix? Check. Hat? Check. More snacks? Check. A last quick pat down and five reapplications of deodorant later we were out the door.

My feet hadn’t completely healed from the day before and began fighting me ten steps across the parking lot. I knew that if I had any chance of making it through the day that I was going to have to stretch constantly and make sure we kept the walking to a minimum. Great advice. Stretching wasn’t going to be a problem—I mean, what else was I going to do on the bus—but slowing down on walking wasn’t going to be an option. This was the day of the Kings to the Kingdom tour followed by an afternoon at Epcot. I knew that I was going to be a dead woman before I even made it to the hallowed grounds of Magic Kingdom.

We did, in fact, make the first bus to the Kingdom and I was getting excited (yes, excited) to see how it was going to feel to be one of the chosen few (who had to pay for the privilege) to get into the park before the rest of humanity. I clearly remembered a few years before when we waited to get in (in a very poor attempt at being chosen as family of the day) and only managed to land 45 minutes of staring at the floral Mickey and the stream of special people going in for breakfast. Today was going to be my turn. (Cue dastardly villain laugh here.)

So we got in line, got our fast passes checked and walked into the park. It was amazing. Main Street was hardly filled with any people and the sun was shining and gleaming off of every store top. We meandered over to our tour meeting place and began check in. Soon after, I glanced back out the door and saw the stream of humans pouring through the street—turns out we got to be special for all of ten minutes. Apparently the new Disney procedure was to let people in to shop Main Street for an hour before letting them into the various lands. It didn’t bother me too much though, because it had been our ten minutes of specialness and it had been hugely satisfying.

The Disney machine was in full working order when we finally got to the front of the tour check-in line. Find a name tag, grab some headphones, tell us what you want for lunch…After gathering all of our things, I bee-lined to the nearest bathroom while I asked the hubby to stake out a spot on an all too comfortable looking couch. I needed to sit, sit, sit whenever and where ever I possibly could and there were LOTS of people about to take a tour.

I kind of had a freak out moment when I thought that we were all going to be on the same tour. I had been led to believe that the group was going to be pretty minimal and I wasn’t relishing to have to wait on a large group of people trying to make their way across the Magic Kingdom when it was fully open and operational. I had a hard time keeping the two of us together when touring, let alone a group of forty! I shouldn’t have wasted my time worrying, though, because it was really two different groups getting ready to go for the early tours. But people kept pouring in—they were there for the tours that would begin in the next hour. Whew. Like I said, the Disney machine was on point. I was ready to get out of there.

A lovely little girl name Kaitlyn came out to greet us and gather us outside the building and into our group. I noticed right away that she was holding on to an umbrella and then took a minute to scan the piercingly blue sky. I looked back at the umbrella. I was glad I managed to find a side pocket in my shorts to hold my little rain cover. I figured the Disney employee had a better bead on the local weather than I ever would. I was later proved right.

The introduction was fairly long and I was more than ready to head out into the jungle (literally) of the Magic Kingdom. Greg had already drifted over to stand directly in front of Kaitlyn and I was more than prepared to not have contact with him until the five hour tour was over. I was dead to him. I could live with that. I started to shift back and forth and really just wanted to get going. If I was going to be standing on my feet so much, I wanted it to be while I was walking. Finally, FINALLY, Kaitlyn led us down the steps to Main Street and we began our behind the scenes tour of the Magic Kingdom.

She pointed out the various names on the windows of the buildings and why they were so special and important. We strolled past large clusters of balloons and smelled the delicious aromas pouring out of the Confectionary. Disney World has a tangled history and it was so fun to hear the stories about what we were looking at and walking through. We took a small break in a little courtyard and heard someone playing piano in one of the upstairs rooms. We heard dates and statistics and names of people I probably wouldn’t remember ever again—and I ate it up with a spoon. I was really having a great time.  We gathered ourselves together and kept going up the street—until we reached the ice cream parlor and the open end of the street right in front of the castle.

Kaitlyn lined us up so that we were between the castle and the ice cream parlor and then had us look at the room over the parlor. Walking through the names on Main Street was to symbolize the rolling credits at the end of a movie and the last name we were going to see was the creator. And at the top of the ice cream parlor is a tribute to Mr. Disney. He loved ice cream and he would always have the best seat in the house—straight to the statue of him and Mickey and Cinderella’s Castle. I kind of got the chills—not gonna lie. It was pretty cool.

But for all the history we were learning and the sentimentality of Main Street, I was ready to go on a couple of rides. Turns out that we were going to get to go on the Jungle Cruise for a special presentation and later on would be the Haunted Mansion. We headed over to the entrance of Adventureland and hoped that we would be fast enough to be able to sneak through the rope where everyone else was waiting to get in. We were still ten minutes away from the official opening of the park and just on the edge of being part of a group that would be able to sneak through the crowd and get in early. Another VIP moment. Yay!

The amount of people was crushing but almost all were accommodating. Mostly they just wanted to know what they had to do to get into a group like ours. We all turned into Disney ambassadors and promoted the hell out of the tour. We were not even one hour in but we were more than happy to sing the praises of the Keys to the Kingdom. It really wasn’t a surprise—if Disney could get people from any back ground in life to wear little mouse ears or spend $15 on a hot dog, they could get those same people to advertise for them inside the park. Of course, not everyone was happy with us and I decided that in order to continue having fun on the tour I would have to just smile and shrug and be on my merry. Which is exactly what I did.

After weaving our way through the paying public we had to make our way through the Cast Member collection of bodies that were standing on the other side of the rope. Color me surprised to find out that they good workers of Adventureland (and probably everywhere else in the Kingdom) were responsible for walking people slowly to the various activities offered. There were pirates, and shop keepers and all kinds of fun personalities. They ribbed on us for getting past them, but it was all good—we officially got to be in Adventureland first!

But, as what seems to be a theme in my life, we were barely around the corner and near the Swiss Family Tree House when we were told to stop and take a bathroom break. VIP moment over. Straight up. It was a truly conflicting time for me because I really needed to go to the bathroom, but I also really wanted to just stay ahead of everyone else. Alas, I couldn’t have my head start and my potty too, so I just took care of business while I had the chance. I will, however, say that it was a nice experience not to go full body contact with a million people trying to get into the bathroom at the same time. A quiet bathroom just to ourselves? Maybe this was the VIP experience after all!

Exiting the bathroom I made sure to turn left back and to the entrance closest to the tree house. I was actually a direction that I had to keep in my brain the whole time I was—occupied. Taking the wrong turn would put me closer to Splash Mountain and I was sure it would take forever to find everyone again. As usual, it ended up being a waste of brain power because, of course, everyone was gathered to the left and the right was dark and quiet. No chance of making a mistake. Plus by this time everyone else in the world was being let into Adventureland and our all too brief moment of glory was over.  I was more than ready to head out and leave them in the dust, but half of our group was still missing. Dang it. I think I should start a class on “how to go the bathroom quickly so people can get on with their lives.” Okay, I was a little bitter, but I was going to get over it soon enough.

A couple of minutes later and we were back on the road. It was definitely busier but, if I was in a more understanding mind, I would have realized more quickly that we were still in front of 95% of the other park visitors at that particular moment. I looked around to make sure I still had a husband somewhere in the crowd and meandered with everyone else over to the Jungle Cruise. We heard some cool facts about the area and found out from Kaitlyn that we were going to have our own special tour. And that we wouldn’t be hearing the standard jokes during our boat ride. We were going to hear more in-depth stuff than that. Sweet!

So we all gathered near the exit to wait for our boat and watched as the regular line absorbed hundreds of people. Some were pointing at us, some were completely unaware of us and still others were elbowing each other to try to find out what kind of shenanigans we were about to pull off. One boat passed us. Okay, no problem, we don’t need to be the absolute first ones on. Then a second boat passed. Oooookay. Of course, they must have some kind of grand plan in this whole tour. Not a problem. Then my stomach started to growl and I panicked that I was going to have to eat something and I was going to have to do it quickly—I’m pretty sure they don’t allow food on the ride.

I patted down the sides of my shorts until I found the bulkiest pocket. I pulled out a half melted and squished bag of trail mix and quickly swallowed (okay, and kind of chewed) half of the packet. I tracked down my wayward hubby and offered a handful. He gratefully accepted and before he could get one raisin between his lips I swallowed down the rest of the bag. Hey, I was doing it for the good of the group—if this girl ain’t happy then nobody is happy. Twenty second of gluttony saved the day. Truly. Because another boat was just starting to pass us again. Crap.

My anxiety started to pump up and I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to actually see this portion of the program. The crowds were really starting to form and people were starting to mill around our group to see if we had some special, magical, way to get on the Jungle Cruise from where we were. I could most assuredly say that, no, we had no such power. Fifteen minutes of waiting later we, finally, FINALLY, got a boat. I was irritated and annoyed and hot and my stomach was starting to hurt from the trail mix and I just wanted to GO! But then I realized (yes, I am an idiot) that the reason we had to wait to get on our boat was because we had a person in our group who was in a wheelchair… and we needed the extra special boat to continue on the tour with our complete group intact. Yes, I felt wretched and ashamed of myself for feeling so entitled. I can assure you that I wasn’t so out of control for any other part of the tour. Thank goodness.

After everyone finally got loaded onto the boat we slowly (man, was it slow) moved past all of the people waiting in line. My glee in being a VIP shrunk under the stare of those that were not in the least happy with our position on the ride. I recognized a couple of faces as those of people we had already passed back at rope drop. If they were cool with the circumstances then it didn’t quite seem that they were quite so copacetic now. There was nothing to do except smile, wave, and be on our way. Or, if utilizing my coping mechanism–avert your face and don’t make eye contact. Worked for me. I’m sure that 99% of anyone else in the group was even close to worrying about this. Except the woman next to me. Okay, 98%.

I’m not going to get into too much detail about the actual ride because 1) you may want to someday take this tour for yourself and 2) because I don’t remember too much about this part. I laughed, I listened to questions and answers, and I got to see the back side of water. It was just a fun time and a great way to stay off my still aching feet. The ride was over fairly quickly and we re-convened back on land. I wondered what was in store for us next.

©DRB 2017

Just for fun, check out from “Weird Al” Yankovic about Skipper Dan and the Jungle Cruise Ride:

photo: rickpilot_2000

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