When I was a kid our one and only family vacation was a trip to Florida in a rented Winnebago in the early ’70’s. It was a great trip and even though I was only about five years old I could tell you a hundred stories about it.
Of course one of the highlights of the vacation was the day we spent at the recently-opened Walt Disney World. This was so long ago that there was just a single park, the Magic Kingdom; there was no Epcot Center, no water parks, no Animal Kingdom…just the one single, seemingly massive complex surrounding the already-iconic Disney Castle.
And back in the day (he says in his ‘old man’ voice) one gigantic theme park was all we needed!
Quickly brushing aside all the great fun I had that day so long ago (watching with amazement as tentacles grabbed our submarine on the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride, using my whole family’s ticket allotment to ride the Dumbo ride six times, watching my get mom locked up in stocks and so much more), two traumas inevitably jump to the front of my mind when I think back to my day at Disneyworld.
1) Spotting the It’s A Small World ride I cried and begged and cajoled for us all to please please please go on the ride and was roundly shot down. I remember in the parking lot at the end of the day the lady in the car next to us raved about how they had went on it and it was the best ride in the whole park. I was so bitterly disappointed.
And much more vividly:
2) Sitting down for my turn to have my portrait drawn by one of those sidewalk artists – just as the Main Street parade began right beside us. Imagine, you’re a five-year old kid and the freakin’ Mickey Mouse parade is going by not ten feet away from you and every time you turn your head to look at it you’re told “Don’t move!” I mean, the parade was Right There. Kids are screaming, Goofy and Donald Duck are dancing around and throwing out candy, and I had to keep my face turned away from it and miss the whole thing. It was the greatest torture of my desperately long childhood.
And then – finally – on February 13th, 2014 – after more than forty years – I returned to Walt’s Magic Kingdom to get my revenge.
It was just m’lady and I – her family was busy that day chasing merriment at one of Disney’s many other local distractions – and we spent the afternoon slowly and relaxedly (yes, “relaxedly” is a word) perusing the grounds and riding the rides. We both knew that the day was pointing wholly at two specific events and we approached them both slowly.
It was fairly late in the day when we got in the surprisingly short line for It’s A Small World. We got in one of the self-guiding rowboats and spent the next…I don’t know, did it take six hours?…gliding slowly past countless miniature robots representing a dozen cultures singing It’s A Small World over and over and over again.
I wanted to gouge my earballs out (okay, “earballs” isn’t really a word, but that’s what I wanted to do). I was seriously eyeing the emergency exits looking to make a break for it. All I can report is that the It’s A Small World ride at Walt Disney World is nothing short of torturous, nobody should ever ride it, and that evil lady from the parking lot all those years ago was either completely nutso or she was toying with me in the most evil of ways. In a word: the ride was the greatest torture of my shockingly swift adulthood.
Was it a worse torture than having to watch the Main Street Parade peripherally? Probably, but being older I was better equipped to deal with it.
Oh, speaking of the Main Street Parade, of course we stuck around until closing so I could finally experience it.
It was okay.