Catch up with parts one-nine of my Disney Adventures here.
Prepared to live out an afternoon of Disney doom and gloom (yet still secretly holding out hope that we might get some sweet fastpasses out of the inconvenience) another transportation employee jumped on the bus to save the day. Still not sure on what the problem was, but two seconds of pumping the gas and turning the key and he had us back on the road and ready to go. I kissed my thoughts of an extra Soarin’ pass goodbye.
As we wove our way through the mousetrap (ha) that was Disney World, our driver began to regale us with the corniest jokes ever invented. Although I was exhausted and really did not want to partake, he was merrily persistent and I had no energy to mount a decent defense. C’est la vie. It was a nice diversion and when it was all said and done, ten minutes off of my feet and in the air conditioning went a long way to making me laugh at a few of them.
The bus slowly began to wind its way through the backstage area of Epcot and, for a brief second, drove under the track for Test Track as a car zoomed over our heads. It was a nice touch to a journey that basically (as with Hollywood Studios) had a super scenic view of employee cars and food trucks. I was very surprised to find that the drop off for this bus trip was on the other side of a building from the official front entrance. We were not going to get the advantage of getting dropped off in Norway or somewhere near The Land–and that was a darn shame. I limped off the bus and wondered what the rest of the night was going to hold for me. I knew that I was not even 75% in shape for the festivities, but I also knew that I would rather eat glass than go back to the hotel. Pain it was!
We spent the next hour using and updating our fastpass selections to our greatest advantage. We hit Test Track first, as single riders, and then hiked up and over to Soarin’. Next was a quick turn through Journey to Imagination (which I still really enjoy) and then we backtracked over to where we started for a nauseating spin through Mission to Mars. (Clearly, we did not have an affinity for choosing an itinerary with less walking.) Then we attempted to use the fourth fastpass we had gotten for Frozen Ever After, but it had just closed for technical difficulties and was not due to open any time soon. Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.
As a way to kill time (and secretly keep an eye on the front entrance in case I saw some kind of purposeful movements from cast members) I began walking through the shops and looking at everything I couldn’t afford to buy. I soon found myself turning a corner and into an empty hallway. It seemed abandoned and stale and I felt an uneasiness someone might get if she’s walking around a busy mall and unwittingly steps into a hidden employee enclave (so I would imagine). A more observant person might have suddenly realized that they were walking around somewhere they weren’t meant to be—but that would be another story and it wouldn’t be mine.
Forgetting that I even had a husband that might suddenly care where I disappeared to, I kept walking (okay, crept) through the hallway and around several other corners. I figured that someone was watching me on camera and would probably burst in any moment to make me stop, but there was nothing. I passed by wooden doors with frosted glass that beautifully filtered the afternoon light and finally realized that I was probably walking backwards through the Frozen Ever After exit line. Why this took me three minutes to understand I have no idea, but there it was. I was officially trespassing a Disney ride that was temporarily closed to the public. #Sorrynotsorry.
Except I kind of felt like a criminal. I mean, I am a rule follower—straight up. But I was already there and I was beginning to see wooden fixtures and… I suddenly heard voices drifting towards me. I didn’t want to get kicked out of Norway or possibly even Disney World so I swung around and had myself back into the gift shop in approximately six seconds. Probably the best six seconds of sprinting I had ever personally recorded. I found myself safely ensconced between Swiss chocolate and hoodies with the Norwegian flag embroidered on the front and next to a slightly bewildered Greg that had just realized that I was not where he thought he left me. I needed a snack. Stat.
After noshing on some delicious Norwegian goodies, and getting Greg fueled up on some beer, we were ready to continue our trip around the world. We hadn’t really taken the time to visit Mexico during our quest to make Frozen so we backtracked into the blissfully darkened temple. It was seriously crowded and un-magical but always a must-do for us, so we soldiered on. Straight on to the Donald Duck boat ride. (Please don’t ask me the real name because it never ever sticks in my brain). We waited ten whole minutes for it! As a professional Disney visitor, I pride myself on not waiting in lines, but I was so happily filled up on pretzels and soda that I wasn’t even mad. Go figure.
To go back a little bit, one of the main reasons we chose May as our vacation time (aside from the fact that we could get rid of the kid for a week) was that it was while the Flower and Garden Festival was going down. We spent an exorbitant amount of time perusing pages of delicious food offerings months in advance, and we were ready to get our food on. The pretzels and beer were a good start but we had many more countries to go and the food wasn’t going to get eaten by itself. But we also knew that if that was the only thing we were going to do around World Showcase that we were probably going to be bored out of our minds.
Then came the realization that while the Flower and Garden Festival was happening there was also a fun little Easter Egg hunt that we could partake in as we gorged ourselves around the world. We took a little stroll to one of the gift shops at the front of World Showcase and signed up. (Did I mention that we gave little regard to how much back and forth walking we were setting ourselves up for?) For only five dollars we would have endless entertainment and the promise of a small plastic character egg to take home to the boy when it was all said and done. A great idea if I ever heard one.
We skedaddled on back to Mexico and attempted to find the first egg. Let’s just say that I was so frustrated after five minutes that I was ready to just eat the cost of the map and throw it into the nearest garbage can. Too many people, too many possibilities and too many husbands hogging the map and not giving me the needed information to finish the task. What egg were we even looking for? What was our strategy? Did we really have to just keep following each other around? Splitting up wasn’t an option? Maybe I was ready for another snack…
Then there it was—right there in front of us and not hidden at all. It did not bode well for the rest of the afternoon. I physically shook off the frustration and girded myself for the rest of the journey. The hubby had another beer. (I guess we all have our own ways of dealing with things.) We put one little egg sticker onto its proper place on the map and made our way back to Norway. Our fastpass was back up and running and we were very excited to try another new experience at the world. We slipped past the standby line that was quickly filling up and basically walked up to the Frozen boat. Those fastpasses are legit. Several Olaf and Elsa sightings later, we were walking down a very familiar hallway and into a very Norwegian gift shop. I was more than ready to find another country!
I have to admit that it was pretty slow going, though. Greg kept running into beer carts and it was very hot and crowded where we were. We found some candied strawberries and declared them to be “eh” and managed to spot Mulan deep in China. We found the egg there fairly quickly but didn’t stay to watch any movies or performers. I personally think Greg was anxious to get to Germany for, I don’t know, maybe another beer, and we needed to find a place to relax.
All in all, the day continued on and we had tons of fun with the egg hunt. Germany smelled divine and Italy was beautiful. It also had the best placement of an egg I had ever seen—way up in the tower. We stopped to listen to Voices of Liberty and bathe in some much-needed air conditioning. We meandered through Japan and strolled through Morocco. I found that I didn’t have much of an appetite anymore and mournfully walked past the many carts of culinary wonderment trying their best to tempt me. It was a total bummer.
Suddenly feeling that we were on the edge of a breakdown we decided to slip quickly past France and work our way around to United Kingdom and the exciting fun that was going down. Usually a place of quiet and comfort, the hedge maze at the back of the country was completely rocking with the sounds of the Beatles coming from a band called The British Revolution. I was slightly bummed that I wouldn’t have a quiet moment to myself, but I quickly got over it when I found a relatively empty spot on a curb with a pretty nice view of the band. It wasn’t going to be quiet but it was definitely going to be restful. Hallelujah.
I have to admit that in that moment, alone and in a sitting position, that I was pretty much done with Epcot. I felt that I had already seen enough that day and I knew that the next was just going to be more and more and more of the same. I was ready to cut and run. But, as anyone else who has an obsession with Disney World knows, the feeling passed relatively quickly and I wasn’t about to lose out on at least four more hours of prime touring time because I was, pshaw, tired! I swallowed the couple of aspirin I had fished from my endless supply of shorts pockets and willed myself to finish the day.
As soon as the band was finished performing, I dusted myself off and headed out to find Greg, who was somewhere among the someones of the United Kingdom. He was happy Greg at this point and he was giddy to take a walk through beautiful Canada. Oh, Canada! We love everything about that place and I personally think it’s one of my top two countries in the round the world tour. The waterfall was especially lovely and exactly what I needed when I finally made my way up the stairs to the crossing bridge. I considered us very lucky to have a brief moment to ourselves where we could pretend that we were not in the hustle and bustle of Mickey-land. Unfortunately, our bliss was shattered entirely too quickly with the sound of an unsolicited screech.
One other thing that I failed to mention earlier is that we were visiting when there were large gaggles of cheerleaders around Epcot, truly as far as the eye could see. I don’t have a problem with cheerleaders, per se, but I am definitely the kind of person who starts to get heart palpitations and shortness of breath when I encounter large groups of teenaged humans. I have no rhyme and reason to my uneasiness other than a long memory that retained thoughts of my own time as a teenager and how much havoc my friends and I wreaked when we were together. Truly anything could happen.
The screech had come from a young lady around 17 years old who was hanging and having fun with about ten other friends. They didn’t seem to know or care that they were being overly loud (if there is such a thing at Walt Disney World) and they were challenging each other to do daring tumbling runs on a fairly abandoned area of concrete just inside the entrance of Canada. A couple of hand springs later, a young man was dared to do a standing backflip. I watched and hoped that he wouldn’t take the bait, but it was not to be. He laughed, pushed his friend, told her to stand back and then proceeded to backflip straight onto his head. You could hear the gasp from a mile away, I’m sure, and he pulled himself up groggily and without (I couldn’t believe it) blood. His friends gathered him up and ushered him on and I don’t know what happened from there. I surely hope that there wasn’t any permanent damage.
Greg and I decided that we were hungry again and decided to walk up to The Land to see what Sunshine Seasons might have in store for us. By now we weren’t making very good time (thanks a lot, feet) but slow and steady was really helping us with this race. We made our way downstairs and tried to find something that would hit the spot. Minutes later we had decided that we had made just about the most wrong decision for ourselves. Nothing looked good and we were starving. In particular, I was beginning to get hangry—big time. Slightly drunk hubby and very hungry me were not a loving couple that anyone would want to hang out with. But I was hungry and, because I am a glutton for punishment, decided that we should do a special “Disney” dinner that we couldn’t get anywhere else. Sure. We didn’t even have a reservation and I didn’t hold out much hope that we would.
Chinese? Nah, didn’t sound good. Steak? Bratwurst? More pretzels? Hmmm, Mexican? Italian? Wait! Italian sounded good. We had never stopped to eat anywhere in Italy before. Surely there was something there that would make our mouths water…Via Napoli! Yes! Pizza! I wanted it and I was soon passed that and on to needing it. I jumped online to put in a reservation and couldn’t find a one. It wasn’t surprising but it was entirely too disappointing and I started to take it out on Greg, because, well, he was there. He was much more pragmatic than me (even after who knows how many beers) and he said we should just stroll our way over and see if we could put our name on the list. Great idea (I knew I married him for some reason) but it was all the way over there and we were all the way over here…Crap. (Did I also ever mention that I’m almost never happy? I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now.)
Back through Canada and United Kingdom and France and Egypt and Iceland and Australia and the Soviet Union, we finally made it to Via Napoli. Greg, the little jackrabbit, still had a bit of stamina in him and ran ahead to make the reservation. I limped on, hoping that when I caught up to him he would just be standing there waiting to show me to our table, but it fell short of reality. He was at the front, but he was holding a dreaded pager. Convinced that I was probably going to die of a lethal combination of puffy feet and starvation, I stomped (gingerly) to a tiny corner of an unoccupied bench and melted onto it. Greg cautiously approached me and let me know it was a 15-minute wait. I stared at him and finally decided that he could live. That wasn’t going to be so bad.
And it wasn’t! It was really closer to five minutes and we were soon at a nice table towards the back. The smells were heavenly and I was so excited to eat something. Ten minutes later we had drinks in our hands and bread shoved in our mouths. Yaaaaaaaaasssss. We ate and drank and thought about what we would do for the rest of the night and actually took the time to enjoy each other’s company for a short while. We saw pizzas bigger than tables and we saw families of twenty having a wonderful time together and we were happy. Tired. But happy.
As the meal finally came to a close we decided that we were going to try to ride on Test Track and Soarin’ at least one more time each. The fireworks were soon to go off and the prevailing thought was that rides would be empty. We’re geniuses, right? I had a stern conversation with my feet and we started to make our way counter-clockwise from Italy. I’m fairly sure that the lines were pretty short during Illuminations that night (and that is still my assessment) but we never got to Test Track before the fireworks were over. We never took into account the masses of humanity parked in every conceivable direction. We had one pathway that we had to maneuver with people walking the other direction. Our genius status was revoked. Not my favorite moment of the trip.
By the time we finally made our way to the Test Track entrance there were hundreds of people pounding pavement behind us. We knew that Epcot would be open a couple more hours and we were under the delusion that everyone would want to leave after the fireworks. Ha. Ha-ha. Nope. They were heading to Test Track and (I imagined) most of them hadn’t just had as long of a day as we did (right?!). We were overrun and left in the dust and our single rider wait ballooned to twenty minutes. I know, I know, that is not very long, but I was barely keeping it together and the blood in my feet stabbed me from the inside with every heartbeat. It was hell. I couldn’t even enjoy the ride. Not my favorite moment of the trip.
Still, we had made a plan to make it to Soarin’ one more time and we weren’t going to let it go. Greg grabbed another beer (I was starting to calculate his beer expenditures so that I knew what I could spend on collectibles) and we were on our way to The Land—one more time. I could do it. It was just one more thing. I could. I could. But then we remembered our maps and our egg hunt and that we needed to get our little love his plastic egg. And the building was back there. Waaaaaaaaahhh! Yes, we trekked back and, yes, we got the egg and it was pink and beautiful (it was the Cheshire Cat) and so totally not worth it.
Looking back at the rest of the that night I think I have to plead extreme exhaustion as the reason for my becoming the nastiest wife ever to visit Disney World with an all too accommodating husband. I complained (to Greg) the entire way into Soarin’ because we had to wait ten minutes. I complained (to Greg) when we weren’t automatically put in row B1. I complained (to Greg) when I couldn’t get my seat belt to buckle. I complained (to Greg) about all of the feet dangling in my face. I complained (to Greg) when he suggested we ride just one more time so that I could take one minute out of my life and actually ask a Cast Member if I could ride in row B1 so that he would never, ever have to hear about it again for the rest of his life. I complained (to Greg) when I realized he was right but I still didn’t want to hear it. I finally got my B1 ride. I complained (to Greg) that it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. (I think this is a fair time to let you know that we are still married even though we probably shouldn’t be.)
Our very magical day was, thanks to me, ending on a not so magical note. The bus ride back to Caribbean was excruciatingly full, bumpy and smelly and I could not wait for it to be over. Greg found a little boy to chat with all the way home and he was as happy as he could be for a man in his situation. We gratefully (and gingerly) got off the bus and made the loooooooooong journey back to our room. Finally staggering inside I realized that showering wasn’t an option and neither was peeling off my clothes. I tried to go in for a goodnight kiss but I was denied. I knew I deserved that and I was determined that I would make amends as soon as I woke up. But at that moment–the day was done.
photo: Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash