50 States... Or Less

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Walt Disney World

Where they trick you into walking really far.
Proof! Finally a photo of one of us, and proof that we actually went on this trip, and aren't just making it up from an apartment somewhere.

This is my first time at any version of Disneyland or Disney World. I know, I know, I’m an American, I grew up in California, how can this be? When I was a kid instead of going to Disneyland, I usually spent my vacations riding my pony at home or hanging out with my cousins in England, having giant water balloon fights or riding their ponies. I was totally happy with the trade off. When I was in France in 2000 I considered going to Euro Disney, just to be funny, but then I went to Amsterdam for an extra day instead.

We needed to do some work on the coach, and there is a shop that specializes in the GMC Motorhome in Orlando. It seemed silly to go to all the way to Florida and not go to Disney World, and we were intrigued by Epcot, so we said what the hell. I was pretty sad to learn that the Harry Potter World is at Universal Studios, but maybe it’s better not to see Hogwarts with a Central Florida blue sky behind it. And it’s way too hot to drink butterbeer. Or so I told myself.

Monorail Several of the Monorails were wrapped with TRON branding while we were there.

We booked ourselves into a KOA, since the Fort Wilderness campground at Disney World (which looked awesome... you take a boat into the park!) was about $250 a night that weekend, which is about 7 times more than a normal campsite. We also booked the dog a room at the pet resort, which has all sorts of add-on’s, including doggie ice cream and a $6 bedtime story if your pet stays the night.

After parking and taking the tram, we took the slow boat into the park, or rather we took the ferry into the park which was really, really slow. I think it took an hour total. That turned out to be a theme that day, as the monorail on the way home ran at half speed and then had to wait for another monorail to get out of the way, so we got to hang out on the track for 20 minutes looking at the Polynesian Resort with the AC on the Arctic setting, with a carload of punchy 4 year-olds who had to be at least 4 hours past needing a nap.

Basically, Disney World is a theme park of America in the 1800’s. Which made the park appeal to me a lot more than I though it would. I guess I thought it was going to be all princesses and tea cup rides, which it has, but that’s just one bit of the park, and it’s all in one area so you can walk through it once and then go somewhere else. We saw a lot of little girls in polyester princess dresses, which is really mean when it’s 85 degrees outside with 85% humidity. They should really consider using cotton.

Post Parade Crowd It wasn't as crowded as I thought it was going to be, for a friday on spring break, but it sure was crowded for a few minutes in Frontierland after the parade ended.

By far we spent the most time in Frontier Land and Liberty Square. Frontier Land looks like Virginia City, Nevada crossed with Bryce Canyon, Utah. Thunder Mountain Railroad goes past hoodoo’s and geysers and old mine shafts and it made Paul really miss the Southwest. Liberty Square is based on small towns on the East Coast, and has what a guide on the Jungle Cruise described as “the most patriotic 22 minute nap you’ll ever have”, at the animatronic Hall of Presidents. Going in a kid wailed, “but I don’t want to go on this ride!” I hear you kid. The screens were impressive, but an animatronic Lincoln is still creepy. I also know way too much about American History to not snort at such a glossy, sanitized version of the Presidents. Although, even a sanitized Andrew Jackson still has great soundbites.

If you go, don’t skip Country Bear Jamboree which is also in Frontierland, as it’s definitely the best show featuring animatronic (there’s a theme here) bears singing bawdy songs to children that you will ever see. I was not expecting to laugh that hard.

My favorite attraction is by far the Haunted Mansion, which is shocking, I’m sure. I’m just sad that the one in Paris is based on the Fourth Ward School in Virginia City, (basically the house in Psycho.) because that’s a much better architectural style for a haunted house than the Gothic Revival style, but it’s based in Liberty Square not Frontierland. The ride broke down twice while we were on it, but I got a good long look at the library and the cemetery, so it was ok. I want a set of postcards of the paintings in the elevator in the beginning, so if anybody knows where to get them, let me know. With all the junk you can buy at the park, that was the one thing I wanted and it doesn’t exist. After we left Florida we heard they updated the Hitchhiker at the end, and it now interacts with you, when we were there I though it looked a little odd, basically we saw the under construction version.

Disney Greenhouse A very Star Trek: The Next Generation style building. Really most of EPCOT was very TNG. Simultaneously exciting and kind of depressing that that was the high water mark for futurism.

I’m just going to say it...Tomorrowland is the saddest place ever. Forget the happiest place on earth, that whole side of the park is a giant bummer straight out of 1998. The design is so horrid, and so shocking coming from Disney where everything is supposed to be on brand, and well designed, Imagineers, etc, etc. that it was amazing how bad it was. It did not help at all that it looked like it was where they tossed all the stuff that’s a Disney brand but didn’t fit anywhere else, like Hannah Montana, and Buzz Lightyear right next to Space Mountain. As for Space Mountain, NEVER AGAIN. It almost made me throw up, and practically gave me whiplash. Worst ride ever, I don’t care what Paul says. (He apparently likes dark rides, and not seeing what’s coming next.) It felt like I was listening to the soundtrack to Flight of the Navigator while taking a spin in a tumble dryer with the door closed.

Epcot was the next day, and it’s cool, but it really is the weirdest park ever. They were doing their annual flower festival, so on top of the giant golf ball, and the World Pavilion, there were topiary trees of Disney characters everywhere. Nowhere else on earth could you get a picture with Morocco, a 200 foot tall golf ball and a topiary Belle from Beauty and the Beast in the same shot. We walked about 4 miles total, had some Mexican food, took advantage of the fact that Epcot serves liquor by having some tequila, got rained on, had some weird sodas from the Coke sponsored sodas of the world (free) soda fountain, watched kids dare each other to drink the Italian Campari tasting one, bought nothing and went home.

Neither park was as crowded as I thought it would be for a weekend near spring break, and the fast pass thing they have for rides makes waiting a lot easier. I also saw a lot of horrible fashion, and the food is pretty sub par. I snuck a sandwich in the next day, so maybe you can sneak in a whole lunch from somewhere better. I liked that they manage to trick people into walking a lot, but it’s subtle, the lines wind around in a way that you end up walking more, and you also can’t actually tell how long the line is. Pretty clever.

I didn’t get “the rage” like I usually do when I spend more than a few hours around large amount of people, and I had fun and I barely spent any money, so all in all it was a success!