Catch up with parts one-seven of my fabulous Disney vacation here.
You know, it’s never an easy matter of getting from Point A to Point B—at least not for me. There’s always something to be seen, something to be done, something else, and then something else after that and I never can just seem to make that straight line. And my trip from Splash Mountain to the Tomorrowland Terrace was absolutely no different than any other example I could give you from my life. I needed to sit down and eat and everything in the world was working to prevent me from doing that.
Somehow the amount of people surrounding us increased by a million and it became painfully obvious that Kaitlyn had no hunger pains and was in no hurry to get us to lunch. If I had been in my “Disney” mind space and not my “I need to eat something now before I push Cowboys Chip and Dale into the river while we’re walking through Frontierland” mind space, I probably would have appreciated the leisurely tone of the tour. But I wasn’t and I couldn’t really take it anymore. I sped up in front of the group (not really my thing because my MO is usually to stay behind in groups to keep track of all of the stragglers) and bee-lined for my lunch.
I flew past the Liberty Tree Tavern (which was emitting such wonderful smells) and the Sleepy Hollow refreshment stand (that has the most delicious Nutella Waffle Sandwich) and the ice cream parlor on Main Street and made it to the dark entrance of the Tomorrowland Terrace. It looked cold and abandoned and I wasn’t exactly sure that I had all of the correct information on where lunch was to be served. But then I saw the perky cast member that had taken my order just that morning and he was diligently placing food orders in a quiet corner of the area. I ached to find my seat but was immediately disappointed when I discovered that there was a rope blocking my entrance. Curses! Foiled again.
He obviously wasn’t ready for me to be there and added to the fact that the rest of my party was still lollygagging their way over from Main Street, my brain finally got the message that lunch was going to happen but it was going to happen at an all too specific time. I found a small sunny area with a solitary post to sit on and settled in to wait. Not long after, the happy cast member that had been setting up tables walked over to Kaitlyn and whispered to her that the food was prepared and I stood up, ready to go. Finally!
So, imagine my acute disappointment when she declared that we should all stop and have a restroom break before we went in to eat. I mean, IMAGINE IT. I was in full on hangry mode and I was beginning to not care who saw it. The hubby finally noticed that I was beginning to lose my grip and came over to talk me down. I realized that I was starting to ruin the entire experience and decided to take a few deep breaths and buy back into the whole program. No one was trying to starve me and things were bound to get going very quickly. Greg was great. And then he abandoned me for the bathroom.
No sooner had I adopted my new life philosophy than the clouds opened up and started drenching everyone in the park. It didn’t start with a stray drop or two—it went into straight on deluge. I ran up the ramp and back into the restaurant and stepped over the rope. It was obvious that food was the answer and it wasn’t going to stop raining until I took care of business. Really. I had to eat for the good over everyone in the park. Delusional? Sure. Selfish? Yes. Rude? Of course. Did I care? Not really in that moment, no. Luckily the cast member took it in stride and didn’t give me a hard time about it. I’m thinking he might have seen the wildness in my eyes…
Food! Yay! It was all going to be okay. It was! I found my name propped up on a table next to my hubby’s name and…my shoulders immediately began to droop. I forgot that I had ordered a salad. A salad. That morning a salad sounded great and sensible. I mean, we still had plans to go to EPCOT that night and try some of the food from the Food and Garden Festival, but why did I have to pick a salad? I had never more disappointed (while also being so happy to be eating ANYTHING) in my entire life. It’s a good thing that Disney knows how to make a pretty good salad.
Everyone was finally gathered and enjoying meals in our own dark and cold little corner of Disney paradise and all was well. Our entertainment came from watching drenched families trying to find shelter from the storm while having serious discussions about whether they should stay or go back to their hotel. I mentally urged them to stay in the park (the rain wasn’t bound to last too long) and take advantage of the lower lines that would be provided by many others deciding to leave the park. I patted down each leg of my shorts until I was assured that I still had my rain poncho and that I wasn’t going to have to be wet throughout the rest of the tour. It was going to continue on rain or shine.
While we were eating we also received little key pins that each of us could keep to remind us of our tour. I knew that I would be getting one as part of the package but I was touched just the same. It almost gave me as many feels as I got when I saw that my Diet Coke bottle was branded with the word “Castle” on it. So many little special touches. It was great. I finished my salad, helped Greg with the rest of his ginormous Pork Banh Mi sandwich, and took care of my own business. I was well fed and more than ready to get going again and I diligently dragged out the dreaded Dollar Tree poncho and peeled it open. It was never my favorite piece of clothing to wear but I wasn’t going to spend the rest of the day wet, so I put it on like a good little girl and waited for the rest of my group to catch up.
I was beginning to get really excited because the next part of our tour was going to be at the Haunted Mansion. Apparently we were going to be able to skip the line and have a quick in and out visit to everyone’s favorite non-scary haunted house. Score! Kaitlyn ensconced herself under her XL sized umbrella and urged us to follow her back across the park. I was definitely getting my steps for the week. I hunched down and followed and immediately realized that the rain was beginning to slow and that I was probably a little too efficient in my decision to open the poncho. It was going to be obsolete in about three minutes, tops. Sure enough, by the time we got to the front of the castle the rain had stopped and it was getting hot enough to see little tendrils of steam rising from the pavement. Ah, Florida!
After valiantly trying to refold (ha!) my slightly damp Dollar Tree Poncho into something that could fit back in my pocket (ha!) while walking across a wonderland of rain puddles, I managed to reconnect with the tour group outside of the Haunted Mansion. I was beyond excited. Normally the Haunted Mansion is not the most exciting attraction on my “to do” list, but I always feel super cool when I get to do something out of the ordinary. Like skipping the line again. I’m always embarrassed when I’m doing it, but never bad enough to refrain. Plus I had already paid a pretty penny for the pleasure and I was going to see something I hadn’t seen before. Score!
I wish I could say that the experience was one the best I had ever been a part of, but it really didn’t end up being that great. We had to wait at the exit (huddled as a group under the one part of the overhang that wasn’t dripping water) while trying to avoid people leaving the ride and wondering where Kaitlyn disappeared to. A cast member or two would occasionally stick their head out of the door (that I was assuming we were going to be entering soon) and then dart back in—as if the sunlight would melt them.
Kaitlyn finally reappeared and led us through the door. It was nicely wallpapered and definitely had a gloomy feel to it, but we still had to be aware of cast members moving back and forth and basically had to paste ourselves to the wall. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but that wasn’t it. It had finally dawned on me that we probably weren’t going to be able to go into the stretch room and it was kind of a bummer. I almost wished I had stood in the line so that I could have the opportunity. Oh well. Finally, we got the okay to go through the door at the other end of the hallway and to work our way to the ride.
Now, if you’ve ever ridden the Haunted Mansion before you would know that when everyone pours out of the stretch room and into the loading queue that things start to get interesting. People start pushing you from behind and then pass you to make a bee-line for Aunt Gert who had made her way to the front. It is mass chaos and probably my least favorite thing about the ride. This queue is exactly where we emerged when we exited through the hallway. Again (because why would I possibly ask my Disney tour guide details about my tour) I was disappointed because I thought something else would happen, like, we would all get into our own doombuggies at the exit and then ride them to the front of the experience. I don’t know. That’s what I thought.
Nope, we emptied into the queue just as one of the stretch rooms was letting out. I didn’t feel the need to push my way to the front and grabbed Greg’s arm to hold him back. Let everyone else go through and then we could join in. Good plan. Except then the other stretch room let out and it was sink or swim all the way. Greg led the way and I held on to his shirt. A pain in the rear, but a necessary action. Long story short (too late), we lived.
The ride was as clever as ever and I was thrilled that it didn’t have to stop even one time. My last few times visiting the Mansion had included five minute waits under the twisty stairs and in front of the floating head—cool the first time, but decidedly more annoying the next. Now, if the ride had stopped completely and we would have had to been escorted out by walking the in the dark between various apparitions, that would have been something to see…But this ride was flawless and fun and I was very happy to be where I was at that very moment. It was very, very nice.
After the ride, we reassembled outside of the exit (exactly where we had met before the ride) and waited for our fearless leader, Kaitlyn, to re-emerge and tell us where we were heading off to next. The ground was still steaming and the water was still dripping but the mood of the crowd was light-hearted and we were all exceptionally patient while we were waiting. When she finally returned (with the tour member in the wheelchair behind her) I was mortified to realize that I had (again) forgotten that we had a special guest with us and that I really needed to get with the program. It wasn’t all about me. Well, this time anyway…
We learned a few trivia items regarding the Haunted Mansion and then started making our way to a part of the park we hadn’t seen before. Instead of heading back around towards Frontierland again, we took a left and headed into Fantasyland. And, of course, (before we could get a decent clip going) we found ourselves having to stop for another potty break. But I wasn’t too frustrated with this one though, because we were taking a stop at the Tinkle Tower! Located right before the It’s a Small World ride, the Tinkle Tower is a beautiful themed ode to Disney’s Rapunzel movie and one of my favorite structures in all of the Magic Kingdom. It is literally nothing more than a bathroom, but I found myself as excited as if I were about to get on Space Mountain. Please don’t ask me why. It’s just the same as every other bathroom in Magic Kingdom but I guess I just have a thing about doing my business in a tower. Sue me.
Needs finally met and the group casually assembled, we were ready to head on to the next part of our trip—the utilidors! They were the main reason we booked the tour and the main reason I was beginning to do a little dance step as we walked. Finally! I would finally be able to see something that not everyone gets to see! I would finally see what all the fuss was about! I would finally get to turn a corner and see a Mickey Mouse with his head off and see all of the secret stuff that cast members get to do while the rest of us are scurrying around like mice (ha!) above their heads. I was ready—I was ready for it all!
Read Part Nine here.
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash