Humor Blog Highlights

What Doesn’t Kill You the First Time Deserves A Second Shot – Day 2

Day #2 - Yes, Virginia, People Can Melt

6:30 A.M. Goofy wants me to get up.

It took me a few seconds to realize why I was even talking to Goofy on the phone. I had requested a wake-up call, and the characters, who you’d think have better things to do, make the calls. I think this is a bad idea, because right now I hate Goofy for waking me. They should have the villains do these calls. I’m SUPPOSED to hate them.

I set the wake-up call for this early because as we understand it, the busiest times in the parks are midday. The plan is to get in two or three rides while the lines are small. Even if we sleep through the whole ride.

8:30 A.M. Yes, it takes us this long to wake up and dress. We’re not morning people, okay?

9:00 A.M. We reach the Disney/MGM Studios, currently being advertised as “Disney’s Newest Park Last Year. Death to the Animal Kingdom.” (I didn’t take notes for this part, so I’m free-styling here. Can you tell?) Our intended goal is to reach the Soundstage, where there is breakfast, and, much more importantly, coffee. I tried to make coffee in the room, where there is a much ballyhooed coffee machine, but too much thought was required. There were little tea packet-shaped coffee packets in the mini bar that included no instructions for use. So, having no idea whatsoever how much coffee this packet was supposed to make, I made eight cups out of it. It was so weak the coffee was actually clear except for a dozen little caffeine molecules drifting in broth. This did neither of us any good. The children are no better, having gotten far less sleep than is customary. This does not bode well for our day.

9:10 A.M. We have not yet reached the Soundstage. Deb is obviously not as tired as I am because she is capable of reading the sign to the camera store.

We do not own a functioning camera. Last year we recorded our vacation on disposable cameras, which are great except that the pictures they produce are also quite disposable. Determined to do a better job for the sake of posterity (if these columns are the only record, God help us) I set out to purchase a camera.

I know nothing about cameras. Worse, I am not conscious and cannot form complete sentences. I consider pretending I speak a foreign language, but don’t trust myself to be clever enough to pull this off, so when the salesman comes over to me (standing agape at a wall of plastic encased cameras, I LOOK like I need help) I content myself with pointing and forming one word sentences, like “price?”

Deb, meanwhile, has wandered off, as have the children. I purchase a suitably random camera (“Camera good? I buy.”) and drift next door where I find them posing. Really. What they’re doing is holding real still so their faces can be superimposed on pictures of famous movie characters. Tim, for example, is stuck on the body of Luke Skywalker. The idea is, the image is reproduced on photographs that we can take home with us for merely $12,350- per copy. Deb insists that we pose for our own photo once the children are finished with theirs. I hedge. I don’t think my morning face should be seen in public at all, much less captured on film, especially one depicting me as a cowboy. I of course lose this battle. No you may not see the photo.

9:20 A.M. We reach the Soundstage. Like most of the locations at MGM, this restaurant is designed to look as if a movie is being made somewhere nearby. Characters walk about the room greeting children and causing them to choke on sausage. It’s their job. We see Aladdin, the Genie, Rafiki, Miko, and Belle. (That’s four different movies, in case you’re counting.)

On one side of the room, there’s a large covered staircase, at the top of which is the Genie’s lamp. When rubbed, a light slowly forms behind the lamp that eventually congeals to form an image of the Genie. It’s pretty cool. And Tim cannot be dragged away from it. At one point I convince him he has to eat, get him to walk all the way down the stairs and follow me in the direction of the buffet tables. One second he’s behind me, the next he’s gone. I have to search the whole room before I discover he’s decided to just turn around and go back to the lamp, without bothering to mention that he finds my argument in favor of food less than compelling.

9:50 A.M. We do get Tim to eat a little something, in between visits to the lamp. Deb and I get coffee, I discover polysyllables again, and we get lots of pictures with characters.

10:15 A.M. On the way back from the bathroom, Deb, Becky and Tim come across Belle a second time. Belle invites them to the “pre-parade” where she says she’ll come over and say hello.

At 1:30 every day there is a parade in MGM whose theme is based on the latest Disney film. Last year it was a Hercules parade. This year it’s Mulan. Belle is not in Mulan, so I don’t know what she’s thinking, exactly. I also don’t know what a pre-parade is. Do they parade before the parade? And if so, isn’t that also a parade? Either way, we’re now contractually bound to watch the parade, something we were less inclined to do before Belle opened her mouth.

10:25 A.M. We have decided to make our way to Star Tours first, but on the way there we discover the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show is about to begin, so we drag the kids there. Our reasoning is that there’s no way we’ll ever get to see this otherwise. The shows take place once every forty-five minutes, so odds are good it’s an hour-and-a-half wait at any other point in the day.

This is not a ride; it’s a show, and it’s the first show we’ve attempted to bring the children to. We’re actually not sure how they’ll react. Worse, it’s stadium seating with no seat belts, so both of them are free to bolt on us.

10:30 A.M. The show begins with a “casting director” asking for volunteers from the audience to go up onstage and make utter fools of themselves. I elect to pass on this invitation, although Deb almost gets up there. The casting director asks for women who can scream loudly, and Deb out screams everyone in our section, so much so that the director thinks it’s the woman in front of Deb that screamed that loud.

Someone else, ostensibly from our section is also chosen. His name is Ted, and he is spotted by the casting director as he tries to get to a seat in the middle of the row behind me. The reason he is spotted is that he is wearing an extremely loud shirt.

This is the part where I get to ruin everyone’s fun, or at least, everyone within earshot. A couple of things about Ted bother me. First, there’s no seat in the row he was trying to get into. Second, when he’s onstage he keeps looking up to that row and asking silent questions such as “why am I up here?” but there’s nobody in that row responding to him. Third, Ted is much too funny when he’s onstage. Fourth, there seem to be a lot of ready-made loud shirt jokes available to the rest of the crew.

The obvious conclusion is that Ted is a plant. I express this opinion out loud so that everyone else knows how damn smart I am.

The show itself is pretty fun. What they do is reenact some of the fight scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The only problem is after each stunt scene they have to set the next scene up. (After the “temple” scene, they had to roll the temple set out of the way in three pieces. There was a village scene behind it.) This means there’s a lot of talking and demonstrating in between scenes. Tim does not have the patience for this.

Tim doesn’t actually exhibit any patience for anything today. Given that it’s very hot (already) and he’s very tired, he’s decided to simplify his own efforts to communicate with us by sticking only to sentences that begin with either “I want” or “I never get.” And each statement is nonnegotiable. Once we see the temple scene this conversation takes place:

Tim: I want to go now.Me: The show’s not over yet, Tim.

Tim: I want to go NOWWWWW!

Me: But Tim…

Deb: Tim, sit down, the show isn’t over.

Tim: (Mute. His expression changes from a frown to a profound expression of dismay. He looks as if he’s just watched someone shoot a puppy right in front of him. His mouth starts to open, after which a sound will come out that will be louder than any of the screams audience members used to audition with earlier.)

Deb sees this coming before I do. She bolts out of her seat and drags Tim to the back of the amphitheater. A conversation ensues which I am not privy to. Generally speaking, my wife comes up with threats I can’t even imagine, but they usually work.

They return, and Tim looks like he’s going to sit through this.

10:50 A.M. During a demonstration showing the difference between a stunt punch and a real punch, Ted gets the crap beaten out of him, or so we are led to believe. Then he gets up off the mat and is introduced as one of the stunt men. Now everyone in the audience who heard me identify him as a ringer understands why Deb doesn’t go to the movies with me very often.

11:05 A.M. The show is over and we make our way to Star Tours. Tim now finds this turn of events unacceptable. He wants to go on the “elevator ride” (the Tower of Terror) instead and expresses this sentiment as “I never get to go on the elevator ride!” But the Tower is on the opposite end of the park whereas the Indiana Jones show drops us right in front of Star Tours.

In a concerted effort to halt our forward progress Tim grabs onto a metal pole outside of the entrance and refuses to let go. This is when I find out that Deb threatened to take Tim back to the hotel if he acted up again. She asks for her room key and says she hopes me and Becky have a nice day.

For those of you who are not currently parents, you have to understand these kinds of threats take place all the time, and it’s pretty much understood between the two parents that it’s a bluff. I’m hoping it’s a bluff, at least. Deb has been known to follow through, which is why the kids are considerably more afraid of her than they are of me.

11:25 A.M. Here’s an actual quote from a Disney employee who probably wont be one much longer. He said this to us just before he closed the doors for our “take off” on our Star Tour.

“No food or drinks will be served on this flight. However, you are welcome to whatever you might find under or between the seats. And even if you don’t feel like helping youself, rest assured Disney will still charge you for it.”

11:30 A.M. Becky and I emerge from the ride and can see no sign of Tim or Deb. I am forced to consider the possibility that it was not really a bluff. I wait around for a few more minutes then I find a payphone and try to reach the room, which is when I see them walk past. They’d gotten in line a few minutes after us. So all is well, at least until Tim’s next fit.

12:25 P.M. We ride the Tower of Terror.

I get to confirm something that’s been bothering me for a year now. Last year, when we took this ride, I distinctly recall being dropped three times. I even wrote as much in my vacation memoirs. But all the advertisements for the Tower of Terror insist it’s only two drops. Given I wasn’t in my right mind when I rode it before, I considered the possibility that I could actually be wrong, insofar as Disney probably knows the ride a bit better than I do.

But it IS three. The first drop isn’t from as great a height as the latter two, but it’s a drop nonetheless. Take my word for it.

1:00 P.M. We have a date with Belle. We declare a plot of space along the parade route and wait for the “pre-parade” even though we’re still not sure what the heck that is.

It is now unbearably hot and humid. Standing still in the shade is draining, and standing in the sun is prohibitively dangerous. Tim has consequently decided he’d like to go back to the hotel RIGHT NOW. But we’re not going to go right now, because, dammit, we’re sweating madly for no other reason than to watch this parade, and we’re gonna see it. Even if it doesn’t start for another half an hour.

1:20 P.M. The pre-parade is when a few non-Mulan characters walk along the route and hug people. Belle is not one of the characters. I’m planning to write my congressman about this.

1:30 P.M. We have now endured half an hour of Timmy’s screaming and crying. He is undeniably the most willful child on the planet. Our conversations go like this:

Tim: I want to go back to the hotel!Me: We can’t go back to the hotel.


Me: Well, we’re not going to, okay? Give it up. We have a lunch reservation already and we’re not leaving the park.

Tim: I’m not hungry.

Me: We’re not going. Period.


Tim: I want to go back to the hotel!

Me: No.


Me: No.


Me: No.


Deb eventually drags Tim away from the curb and into the shade, to a spot where the parade is no longer visible. Of course, as soon as the parade starts, Tim wants to watch it, so she ends up carrying him on her shoulders.

I don’t find the parade all that engaging, although I may have been influenced somewhat by heatstroke.

2:00 P.M. We eat at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. This is a very, very, very strange place. Each table is a formica kitchen counter with a black-and-white TV at one end, designed to look like the kitchen on a TV show from the 50’s, a time when neither Deb nor I were even alive.

After checking in at the front door, we wait in “Dad’s Den” for our names to be called by “Mom.” If you ever wondered whether Disney really is an equal-opportunity employer, wonder no more, because they even have jobs for bitter old women. We watch a couple whose name has been mis-pronounced absolutely abused by Mom because they didn’t come when they were called. Mom also roams about the restaurant to discipline anyone so bold as to eat with their elbows on the table.

We are not waited on by Mom, however, thank goodness. That job is for “Sis.” Sis is much more pleasant, and she even gives out stickers to anybody who cleans their plate.

Tim, who is still frustrated that we wont give him exactly what he wants as soon as he asks for it, elects not to eat.

3:20 P.M. We go to one of the few rides at Disney/MGM that we didn’t get to do last year but wanted to. It’s called the Backlot Tour. It’s not quite as interesting as it looks, however, but I think that’s because the tour guide doesn’t sell it very well.

The essential conceit of the Backlot Tour is that we’re being shown around the different parts of the Disney property where movies are made, and for much of the tour, this is exactly what we get. The last part is Catastrophe Canyon. We are led to believe that we’ve driven onto a movie set that is in between shots, but that the special effects people don’t know we’re there, so consequently, we’re in incredible danger when there’s a big explosion and an earthquake and a fiery fuel truck and a huge waterfall. Of course, it’s hard for any of us to even get a little excited when our tour guide sounds like she’s showing us a shorted out toaster. Even the kids aren’t all that impressed by this.

4:20 P.M. We find ourselves at the termination of the Backlot Tour and we have no idea at all where we are. We see massive fake stalks of grass to one side and head there. It turns out to be the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Playground. This is a fun little area that is decidedly unfriendly to adults, especially ones trying to keep an eye on their children. Kids get to climb on a giant ant, get sniffed by an enormous dog nose, run through an ant hill whose catacombs are pitch black and only five feet tall (You try following a running child through that) and slide down a half-exposed roll of Kodak film (wanna guess who the corporate sponsor for this playground was?) If you ever take your kids to this I recommend letting them run off, counting to ten, and then turning to your spouse and saying “time to go now.” It’ll take you at least forty minutes to find all of your children, which is plenty of time for them to have seen everything.

5:00 P.M. We have almost had enough. Tim wants to ride the Tower of Terror one more time and Becky wants to do Star Tours again, so we split up. I take Tim to the Tower and Deb takes Becky toStar Tours. (Dare you to say that sentence five times fast.)

6:00 P.M. We meet up again at the edge of the park and head back to the hotel. By now, a familiar ache is starting to develop in our feet, similar, I think, to how one must feel when one’s arches collapse. We are tired. I’d love it if we could all go to bed when we get back.

6:30 P.M. Well, Deb gets to lie down at least. It’s my turn to take them to the pool. Given that there’s a bar there, I don’t mind.

8:15 P.M. Back in the room again. I order a pizza, which is the only room service provided here.

If you decide to follow in our footsteps and stay at the Caribbean Beach, don’t order the pizza. It’s sublimely awful. Becky has only three bites, and Tim contents himself with picking off all the sausage bits on all the slices and eating nothing else. Fortunately, we have a lot of leftovers for the ducks.

They have very friendly ducks here. When we woke up there were about twenty of them at our door and we had nothing to feed them. Ducks eat pizza, right?

10:15 P.M. Sleep.

About Gene Doucette (5 Posts from 2002 - 2003)
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