Catch up with parts one-eight of my fabulous Disney vacation here.
Somehow our group found its way to a (not so hidden) door just near the Peter Pan ride. I don’t remember exactly where it was because Disney does such a good job of distraction. I can’t very well concentrate on a secret door when there a million people bobbing and weaving in front of me and the promise of the utilidor promise land dancing through my brain. I do, however, remember several employees scurrying to get out of our way as we collectively pushed our way through and in to the “REAL DEAL!” The opportunity to see Mickey with his head off! The chance to rub elbows with Tinkerbell and Daisy Duck! The place to see, well…gray hallways.
We walked down stairs and into the famous utilidors and it sort of felt like the one time back in high school where my fellow band members and I stayed the night in some dorm rooms at a college and dared each other to walk through a darkened electrical room we found down the hall. Everything was clean and, except for a very large amount of hot dog buns sitting on a pallet and the occasional employee, pretty quiet. Kaitlyn held her umbrella like a shield and led the group through the hallways—pressed to the side, single file when possible, to avoid the various golf carts and bikes rambling past us. I had heard that this was the preferred mode of transportation so I wasn’t too surprised by the underground traffic.
There were locker rooms and positivity posters around the employee break rooms and special codes and colors letting us know what part of the park we were currently walking under. I learned that where we walking was actually ground level of the park and that everything going on over our heads was level one. Walt Disney used the dirt from the lake at the front of the Magic Kingdom to build up the ground that everything was built on. Pretty cool. So far, so good—the tour was interesting if not super exciting. I was having a pretty good time.
Luckily, I had temporarily forgotten about the pain in my feet but eventually the sensation creeped back into my conscious-ness to cause a problem for me again. I searched around for somewhere to rest for a second but it was a plan that was doomed to fail. There truly was nowhere to sit and relax. I was more than relieved when Kaitlyn finally led us over to a section of hallway that had some old photos and I settled in, leaning against the wall, to hear some stories.
What I learned was that Walt Disney was just about as opposite of me that a person could get. I enjoy a nice day off with not a darn thing to do, and he almost seemed to think he was wasting life if he wasn’t doing something, anything, every minute of the day. The fact that I was hunkered down under many, many, MANY people enjoying their special day learning about said individual was more than proof of that. Our group learned about his childhood, his family and his journey to creating Walt Disney World.
I have to admit that I started to feel a little stifled and was more than prepared to leave the Disney underworld and move on to the next part of my day. I hobbled ahead of the group (I’m usually a straggler) so that I could pretend that I was responsible for getting the group to move a little bit faster. Well, I moved faster and everyone else stopped to look at more pictures. Sigh. At least there was a lonely golf cart nearby that looked like it could use some company. I walked back to the group and settled in for more stories. I think I actually sagged into the seat. It was awesome. At least until someone came around the corner and nudged me out of his seat. Bye-bye golf cart. Sniff.
As Kaitlyn continued our trip down memory lane I noticed that one of the pictures was of the enormous pink castle from 1997, when WDW was turning 25 years young. I remembered the pink castle very well because it is in the background of most pictures I took of my very first trip to the World. I got a little bit excited. We were going to be talking about my era of Disney! Feelings of nostalgia bubbled up and I actually began to tear up a little. Walt Disney World was the first grown up trip I ever paid for by myself. I had wanted to go for years and it was kind of a pipe dream—I was never going to be able to afford it. But I had made it and I was very happy to see some representation of me hanging up on the wall.
When Kaitlyn finally started talking about the castle I waited for her to find a place to pause before I piped in with all of my excitement about the pink castle. I explained that it was the first time I had ever seen Cinderella’s castle with my own two eyes, and before I could finish my sentence she inserted an, “Oh, I’m sorry” and continued on with her story. Everyone hated the pink castle. Brides were furious that their wedding photos were marred by such a monstrosity. Disney invited the wedding parties back at a later time to make sure that they got their pictures taken with the “real” castle.
Let’s face it–I was pretty angry on behalf of the pink castle! I mean, it was an audacious idea that I found festive and fascinating and I was appreciative of the fact that Disney would 1) run with such a fantastical idea and 2) leave it up for a year. Unfortunately, my tour kind of took a down turn with each word uttered and I suppose it was lucky that it was now pretty much over. I guess it’s safe (and pretty obvious to say) that we never saw headless Mickey or anything even close to a Mickey at all. Oh well.
We collectively made our way back outside to a world that was now bright and shiny and Disney perfect. People began peeling off to their next experiences and the hubby and I hung back a little so that we could say thank you to Kaitlyn. She really did give us a memorable experience and I wanted to make sure that she knew how much we appreciated it. Then all things being what they were, I asked her to point me to the nearest store that sold Tylenol. My feet were grateful that it wasn’t that far. Main Street has EVERYTHING!
After being tied to a group for half of the day, it was kind of an adrenaline rush to know that we were back to our own devices. I swallowed my medicine and willed it to work its superpowers. We still had a lot to do that day—we were heading off to EPCOT and the wonderful Flower and Garden Festival. Sore feet be damned, I was going to go until the things fell right off my legs! We hightailed it to the Carousel of Progress where we knew the Express Bus would be waiting and barely made it before it left us behind. That would have been a ½ hour mistake and we were not into giving up that kind of time in the land of Disney. I kind of skipped/waddled behind Greg and the cast member that was playing Mama Duck (leading us to the bus) and practically lunged into the air conditioned loveliness waiting for me. Alone at last! Well, plus one bus driver. But he was cool—literally.
Onward and upward! I became aware enough to realize that we were behind Space Mountain. In a parking lot, but still, I had never been there before. Oh, there were the train tracks! And there were the monorail tracks! And, wait…why isn’t the bus moving anymore? Crud. Crud. Crud. It had to happen, right? The adventure was just about to get more exciting because our bus had stalled and wasn’t firing back up.
And it was beginning to look like we weren’t going anywhere soon.
featured image: klipd.com