Part Seven: Is That a Poncho in Your Pocket?

Catch up with parts one-six of my Disney Adventures here.

As it turns out what was in store, for me anyway, was another need to go to the restroom. Not that it’s a subject that I want to spend too much time on, but frequent potty breaks are not something that I’m about. At this particular point we were beginning to curve over to Pirates of the Caribbean and I was very aware of the hidden bathroom just to the side of the gift shop. Not knowing when the next opportunity would present itself, I casually walked over to the hubby and told him where I was running off to for the next couple of minutes. He vaguely nodded and I clung to the hope that he had actually registered my presence. It was a fifty/fifty proposition at best. Either way, I was going to be quick and no one would even know that I was gone.

I rushed into the ladies room and was immediately stopped by a gaggle of young people preening in front of the mirrors. I didn’t have time for that! I gently, but firmly pushed my way through to the back. I was secure in knowing that Greg had my back and that I could still hear Kaitlyn through the headphones. It’s a pretty trippy thing listening to someone talk about Disney while doing your business, but I was ultimately grateful not to be left out of the loop. I was so close to being done and returning to the group when I suddenly lost signal. It wasn’t gradual. It wasn’t a case of Kaitlyn’s voice cutting in and out. It was just gone. I panicked. At a most un-opportune time. My heart started to beat triple time and, let’s just say, I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.

At this point I started to get really mad at the hubby. I guess I had figured that he would try to slow down the group if they started to travel too quickly for me catch up. Turns out that it was more of an instance similar to the scene in Jurassic Park III where the one dinosaur hunter goes out into the woods to go the bathroom and thinks he’s done his due diligence by telling his partner where he’s heading off to—only for the audience to realize that the partner has his headphones on. Yeah, the bathroom guy got eaten by a bunch of little dinosaurs. That’s what this was like. Kind of.

I washed my hands (yes, I did take the time) and kind of, sort of, ran over and around (there was no body contact, I swear) a young mother and her two kids. I knew the general direction that the group was heading and I booked it as fast as I could. There was still no Kaitlyn talking in my ear and I really started to think that the group had somehow made it over to Fantasyland or something. Luckily there wasn’t too much traffic on the path I was walking and I finally managed to just see the last of the group getting near Splash Mountain.

Suddenly, as I (fast walked/limped) to the group, I heard Greg’s voice blurting into my ear that “we all just need to wait a second because Rene is still in the bathroom.” Grrrrrrr. It was nice that he finally noticed, but I wish he hadn’t tried to quietly lean in to tell Kaitlyn about it and accidentally announce it the entire group through the microphone. Several heads turned my direction as I was (oh so subtly) blending into my fellow tour farers. The group continued on and I tried to find a time where I could (oh so subtly) kick Greg in the shins. There never was one. Dang it.

Trailing slightly behind, so as to catch my breath, I heard Kaitlyn start telling a story about this little path that we were coming upon. It’s not something you really notice until it’s pointed out, which is precisely how it was meant to (not) be perceived. It turned out that this little road with its little gate was where most of the parades started. We were going to get past the gate and up the road to see what was behind the magic Disney curtain. I have to admit that I had a little jolt of electricity go up my spine. Kaitlyn removed the gate and encouraged us on and I was feeling fine.

As we walked up the slight incline and to the left, Kaitlyn pointed out a painted stripe on the road. Turns out that that line represents a place where no one can see behind the scenes. It’s the last possible place that no one will see you if you were a cast member getting ready for a parade. A safe zone, if you will. Once we passed that line we were officially where no one but cast members and thousands of other paying tourists before us had gone before. What was back there? What awesome treasures of Disney awaited us?

Well, there were buildings. Industrial buildings. Grey or beige—I can’t really remember. And no people around except for us. I looked for a stray Mickey or Minnie but there was nothing around at all. It was still very interesting, but a little bit of a letdown. I don’t know, I guess I thought there would be tons of action back there. The sun started beating down on our heads and it became imperative to find a place with shade so that we could regroup a little bit.

Kaitlyn kept talking and was letting us know that we were heading down to the building that housed most of the floats for the Magic Kingdom parades. After promising up our unborn children if we touched anything or went past the painted line just inside the building, we were let in. Beautiful colors assailed my eyes and I was impressed at how intricate the decorating was on the float that we were the closest to. It was Captain Hook’s pirate ship with a teeny tiny area for Tinkerbell up on top. Kaitlyn showed us how the cast members attached themselves to the float so they wouldn’t fall off and then showed us the itty bitty places the drivers of the floats had to sit in. When I started thinking of the conditions that some of the cast members had to go through to entertain all of Magic Kingdom’s visitors I was even more thankful and impressed with the entire operation.

However, as much as I was enjoying seeing that little piece of Disney magic, I needed to get out of that building. It was hot, stuffy and, after a couple of hours of touring, my feet were killing me. Without letting Kaitlyn get the opportunity to invite us to leave, I was out the door and gasping for breath. I started peeking around to see if I could see anything else super cool and noticed that there was a little river? Creek? Just beyond the building we had just exited. I slowly began to creep over and noticed that docked just down the way were the boats and barges used in the nightly water parade. I had heard about the parade that meandered around the Seven Seas Lagoon each night, but I had never seen it. It looked like a bunch of Christmas lights attached to chicken coop fencing. Kaitlyn saw where I had slipped to, invited the rest of the group over and explained that each barge was created out of Christmas lights and chicken coop fencing. Right?! Super-duper high tech.

Kaitlyn urged us all to turn around and head toward another building—this one with a huge water containment system attached. I was starting to get hungry again and began fishing for some other contraband I may have slipped into a stray pocket somewhere. I grabbed a granola bar and shoved it in my mouth—not knowing if I was going to get in trouble for having food somewhere backstage. I suppose I could have asked, but what’s the fun in that? It was all gone by the time we made it to the water anyway, and no one ever had to know. Until now, I suppose, since I can’t stop writing every last detail about my vacation for you fine people…

As we got to the railing overlooking the water I noticed a rhinoceros looking at me. Not a real one, of course, but it surprised me just the same. Kaitlyn was trying to explain that we were looking at the system that cleaned the water for Splash Mountain and I couldn’t stop looking back at the animal. It looked awfully familiar and it also looked much the worse for wear. I wanted to hear what Kaitlyn was saying but I couldn’t stop thinking about that darned rhino. Where was it from? Why did I even care? Why did Splash Mountain even need clean water? It was very confusing time to me on the Keys to the Kingdom tour. Nothing was going to help me until I could figure out where the…Aha! The Jungle Cruise. It was the rhino that used to be poking at the men that were climbing a tree in the Jungle Cruise ride. It was off to the side so that it could be refurbished. Whew! My questions were now answered and my life could continue.

We started walking back to the park when Kaitlyn had us gather at what looked like an employee bus stop. Grabbing the first bench I could find, I fairly melted onto it. For a day that was bombarding us with heat, it became obvious that some potential rain was moving in and that it was soon going to be hot AND wet. It explained why Kaitlyn had been casually hauling an umbrella the entire time—I bet she had access to better weather intelligence than most national airports. I suddenly became very thankful that I had stuffed a $1 poncho in my shorts. It hadn’t been comfortable, but it was going to pay off big, I just knew it.

We found out that the next part of our journey was going to take us across the park and to the front of Tomorrowland as we were going to meet at Tomorrowland Terrace for lunch. (I think my stomach actually growled.) Then we would be heading back across the park for a ride on the Haunted Mansion. I was ready but I was also wilting. Greg and I groaned our way off of our bench and headed back up the path to the white “behind the scenes” line and as soon as we crossed it I looked up and saw two little heads float by in their little log boat. I hadn’t realized that Splash Mountain came that close to revealing behind the scenes secrets. I vowed that I would ride it as soon as possible and see if I could find any fault with Disney’s defenses.

But for now, it was time to sit down and eat—and it was a tie as to what I was going to do first.

©DRB 2017

Read Part Eight here.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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