You are cast out from the Kingdom at eleven, but your cards still work, and no faceless THX1138-style cops throw you out if you linger around the pool. If Disney did that sort of thing, they would have Goofy masks, and no one would complain. It would be sort of fun, actually. I got an extension, though – we were allowed to remain in our room until noon. One was impossible. I wondered why this was so – it’s not as if we trashed the room and they had to replaster. I’m one of those guys who likes to leave a clean motel room: heap all the towels in one corner, put the trash in the bag, put the needles in soda cans, degauss the TV to eliminate traces of the bad TV you watched, rub a Bible on the wall to counteract any lingering bad emotions you leaked when your child complained, again, about something. I actually lost my temper during a whining fit, and called my daughter “little girl.” This was about the worst thing I could say, simply because I was so intently annoyed, and the term was so mild, and somehow that intensified my fury. He’s really mad if he calls me that.

Everyone has those moments, I suppose; if there’s one place kids have no standing for complaints of any sort, it’s Disneyworld, and they fail to understand how little Mom and Dad are interested in hearing minor gripes when we are at FARGIN’ DISNEYWORLD.  It’s like finding yourself in Toontown in Jessica Rabbit’s dressing room, and complaining because she makes you an old-fashioned with Splenda instead of sugar.

Never underestimate the ability of the young to miss the forest for the pleeeease, though; the last day we were there I passed three teens in the requisite dark shirts, and one of them said “well, what do you expect, it’s Dismalworld.” Not Disneyworld: Dismalworld.

Mind you, this is Dismal:

Makes you want to open a vein, doesn’t it.

Dismalworld does sound rather fun, now that I think of it.

Then again, there’s this grisly tableau at a gift shop:

(Note the small yellow object in her hand; that's the cloth Pikachu that came with a Pokeball. It goes everywhere with her. It has made two trips to Disneyworld, and has not been lost. This is nothing short of miraculous. I know people who lose their car keys between the kitchen and the garage.)

Anyway. We relaxed until it was time to take the bus. If you take the Magical Express, you’re allowed a half-hour more of the Disneyverse,  and it’s like decompressing from a deep-sea dive so you don’t get cramps when you enter the real world. They pitch some other products, show the most popular characters checking out of their hotels and heading to the airport (including the Genie, incidentally, and I can say with utter honesty that the Genie is the only Disney character I hate. I’ve never seen Aladdin; I don’t want to see Aladdin; I’m neutral on the whole Aladdin thing, but whenever you see the Genie, you have to brace yourself for a sudden gust of Robin Williams. If the Genie ever came up to us in the park, thinking my child would want an autograph, it would take all my power not to grab him by the collar and shout DON’T DO JOHN WAYNE IN A GAY BAR OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT WAS FUNNY WHEN YOU DID A LOT OF COKE.) Once at the airport we  . . .

Okay, guess. What?

Yes: stopped at the Disney gift shop. Just in case they’d come out with something new in the last 47 minutes.

I bought a mug.

Security was quick. Took the tram to a dumpy terminal under construction, like all other airports in the country, and began to wait. I posted this earlier on buzz.mn, and it sums up the experience. If you read it, skip down to the next picture.

I had tried for three weeks to get seat assignments, so our family could sit together. Online was no use. Talking to voices in far-distant reservations centers was hopeless. The night before we left Orlando to return home, I checked the web, and was told I had to get seat assignments at the gate. Well. I called the toll-free number on a lark. A pre-recorded voice told me that my call was very important, and that I would be asked to participate in a survey when the call was completed. Next I was pitched into one of those Turing-test experiences where you talk to a computer that’s pretending to be a human being, complete with vocal hesitation and colloquial remarks and the sound of typing. Apparently they’ve installed the new wax-in-the-ear-simulation voice-recognition module, because she – sorry, IT – could not understand what I was saying. I was handed off to a human who batted clean-up, and he said he could help me get seats, but it would cost $15 per ticket, $45 total. It would be free if I did it online. I said that online wouldn’t let me do it. Sure enough, he couldn’t do it either: “I can only see 60 percent of the seats,” he said.

“Is there anyone who can see all the seats?” I asked.

“Uh, no.”

It’s like the Medusa! Men go mad if they behold the entire seating chart, so it cannot be glimpsed by mortals. I’d have to show up at the gate and see what I could do.

And that’s what I did. The Disney bus drops you off way ahead of schedule; if you miss your plane, don’t go thinking about suing the Mouse. I was at the gate at 4:10. The plane left at 5:45. The clerk would be along any minute.

A line formed. By 4:30 there 10 people behind me. Then they made an announcement: the plane we were to board for home had been struck by a bird en route to Orlando, and would be taken out of service while they scraped off the blood; another plane would be along at 6:21. Ah well. Such things happen, and there’s nothing you can do but stand at the counter, read your book, and give the hairy eyeball to guys who even think they can waltz up and pretend they’ve formed a second line. Because there isn’t a second line. There won’t be a second line. 

Eventually the gate official showed up and heard our pleas. She said there probably wouldn’t be any problem getting us all in the same row, because they reserve blocks of seats for families traveling together. In the end, that’s what happened: we were slotted into the reserved familial seat-block. I asked why I couldn’t have done this myself when I made the reservation.

“You booked online, didn’t you.” I nodded.

“That’s why.” She had that they-never-learn look.

“But it would have cost $45 more to book the seats on the phone,” I said.

She shrugged. You don’t pays your money, you takes your chances.

I actually love to fly. I hate airlines. 


Here’s the final video. (If you don't see the controls, mouse over. Flash required.)



It's the tram that runs around Tomorrowland. (The movies I’ve put up weren’t shot as tiny web-movies; I’ve been grabbing from the bin of unedited stuff I shot on the fly. It'll be weeks before I massage all 89 GB into a family documentary.) If you’ve never been there, this gives you something of an idea, I hope. I don’t know what the music is, but I’ve known it for a long time, before I went to WDW and heard it in the early morning, when the place was almost deserted. It's early "new age," very simple, but it melded with my emotional DNA at some point long ago and it's one of those pieces that makes me feel calm, expansive, happy, and almost painfully wistful. I wish I remembered what was going on in my life when I heard it.

At least I know what's going on now. Actually, I didn’t hear this time. Too many people. But if they never played it again I’d hear it every year.  

Thanks for reading this year's account.Next year we'll do it again.

See you now at buzz.mn!