You know it has been awhile since I took a vacation. I may need another one after this one is over. You see, I am in Florida at Disney World, or maybe Land. I have not ever been able to get that straight. I do know it is not Euro-Disney since I have not come across snobbish Frenchmen, and I know it is not Disney Japan because I would have committed Hari Kari by now. I can say for sure that I am certainly at a temple of high worship to the invincible Mickey Mouse. In the early 1980’s movie “Enemy Mine,” Dennis Quaid told Louis Gosset Jr’s character that the highest god on earth was Mickey Mouse. I found that comment humorous at the time. Now I know Mickey to be one of those “vengeful” gods who demand blood sacrifices.
This worship started so innocently. Back in May, Alricurn’s Mom decided it would be nice to celebrate the impending retirement of her husband by taking the clan to Disney. I was told that if I was still a shiftless and useless boyfriend, i.e., out of work, that I would have no choice in the matter and would be towed along as well. To all those people who never even bothered to read my meticulous cover letters and resume I condemn you to worship futility at the high alter of the black mouse. A simple damnation to Hades is too good for you.
Anyway, when I agreed to this Devil’s bargain back in May, I was certain that by the time October appeared that I would be again gainfully employed. Months passed by, and frankly, I forgot this bargain. I continued as if this particular Sword of Damocles was not directly over my head. I concerned myself with Microsoft Certifications, painting a house and putting up crown molding. By the time September came around, I was more freaked out about being unemployed and unable to buy an engagement ring than I was about visiting a mouse in Florida.
Sadly, Alricurn’s Grandfather died at the end of September. He was certainly the foundation of her family and is now deeply missed. It seemed that a visit to Disney was the least likely event to happen after such an untimely circumstance. Even Alricurn was certain that the trip was off and suggested that maybe we would be better off visiting Disney some time in the coming year. That she and I were also attempting to overcome a severe gastric flu/bacteria problem also served as a final point in the case against visiting the mouse. Put bluntly, we were too busy worshipping the “Porcelain God” even to consider being 40 feet from a toilet, let alone 467 miles away in another state.
Well, I had not counted on Mickey’s evil agent from Colorado. Alricurn’s Aunt, make that “crazed” Aunt had driven from Colorado to be a pestilence upon the funeral proceedings. This is the woman who informed us that she needed to “clip her toenails” at the pre-internment viewing and abandoned the service in less than five minutes. To put it bluntly, this woman drove my future father-in-law to the point of near insanity with her incessant spending sprees and demands for her entire inheritance before her mother had even had a chance to mourn her loss of her husband of 50 years. To put it bluntly my future father-in-law was at wits end in dealing with his idiotic sister.
After the funeral, the subject of the black mouse was brought up. Initially Alricurn’s Mother agreed that they would probably not go to Florida, and if they did go, it would be for only part of the time they had booked for their vacation. We drove back home to nurse our GI tracts back to health on PowerAde and Jell-O. Imagine our surprise when we were informed that they would be in Florida on Monday. We were going to Disney and nothing would prevent it. It seems that the crazed Aunt had pressed one too many buttons. My future Father-in-law could not even escape his sister by playing games on his new retirement Xbox video game in peace. Dolby 5.1 digital audio explosions were insufficient to drown out the incessant demands of his sister from Colorado.
We were dealing with a command performance. We had to attend. Neither of us wanted to attend. We tried to use the excuse “We have no one who can care for our furry dog children.” It did not work. Thankfully, Alricurn had a doctor's appointment on Monday so we avoided having to carpool with her parents when they drove down on Sunday. My future father-in-law thinks 55 mph in a 70 mph speed zone is a suitable travel speed. Furthermore, he has a predilection to slamming on his brakes in caliper warping panic stops. Finally, he dose not smoke so I would have been even more of a bag of nerves than normal when having to be the alien force which has captured his daughter’s heart and attentions. I never thought I would say this, but thank God, for the illness which required Alricurn’s doctor appointment.
The journey to visit the mouse began on Monday with preparations. I spent the day doing battle with the pile of laundry, and attempting to clean red clay off the white kitchen floor from Hell. Alricurn went to the doctor and ran errands around Athens to finish a week worth of responsibilities in only one day. We finally had dinner around 9:00 PM. Then we sat around like giddy kids dreaming of cartoon character overload. Even sitting in the hot tub for hours until 3:00 AM could not calm us down enough to sleep. Some time around 4:00 AM, we finally managed to sack out. I did wake up at 6:00 AM but was told to go back to sleep.
It was now Tuesday 11:30 AM, and I was still in Athens, very sleepy, looking for my glasses, and wondering why it was so bright outside so early in the morning. Then it dawned on me that I was supposed to be half way to the mouse. Being a good sport, I decided to ignore the time penalties which staying in a hot tub until 3:00 AM had caused. I also noticed the two messages on the answering machine that had been left at 7:00 AM. It was her sister checking to see if we had left yet. Apparently, one is not allowed to delay visits to the mouse.
By 1:30 PM, we were on our way from Athens, Georgia to Orlando, Florida. In addition, as an aside I would like to say that Microsoft Map Quest gave us excellent and accurate directions. It was an auspicious start to what would turn out to be a nightmare reserved for condemned criminals. David Bowie, Macy Gray, and Rush Limbaugh kept us company as we headed towards Macon to pick up Interstate 75. Even taking into account that the first 2 hours of our trip were on back roads, we were averaging a nice 62 miles each hour. I drooled with the expectation of getting to go 70 mph on the interstate. The drool was obviously a precursor to my impending doom of enduring highway construction.
Mickey must have been displeased with our delayed travel time. The sun and blue skies had been our ally in travel, but for some freakish reason unassociated with any weather front, the skies began to darken. However, our immediate problem was the Georgia Department of Transportation. It has been easily 2 years since I traveled the interstate bellow Macon. The last time I was traveling this way, the shoulders of the road were lined with bright shinny and new orange highway cones and barrels. Imagine my shock when I saw the same cones and barrels, just that they were now two years older. Yes, the GDOT had apparently managed to make a few holes and look busy without doing anything of substance for two years.
The true horror was that I was now traveling in a single file line on the sole lane of the interstate. I did see two other lanes right next to me that looked unused and rather freshly painted. In fact, these lanes appeared to be perfectly serviceable, except that they were on the opposite side of the orange perimeter wall. I also happened to be stuck behind a Winnebago. Forty-Five MPH for 65 miles. I think that if I had interpreted the oracle correctly that I would have realized that my home state was attempting to turn me back and prevent me from attaining Orlando. Nevertheless, I foolishly stuck to the mantra of having to meet Mickey in the off-season so I could have him to myself.
Then it began to rain. When I say rain, I am not talking steady and minorly annoying rain or mist. We are talking about primordial monsoon levels of rain. Rain so evil that windshield wipers and Rain-X window treatment could do nothing. As we crossed the Georgia-Florida border, we had now slowed to a creeping 30 MPH. We should have fled back to Georgia. But we were heartened by the fact that if we could just make it to the Florida Welcome center we could relive ourselves, wait out the rain, and have some complementary Orange Juice. We got there at 5:30 PM. They close at 5:00 PM. Moreover, it was raining even worse.
Even with a nice golf umbrella, we were soaked walking the 75 feet from the car to the Welcome Center pavilion. The only thing open was the bathroom. And my bathroom was out of toilet paper. After waiting until 6:00 PM, it had become apparent that the rain did not intend to slack off. We drove on and hoped for clearer skies. Finally, as we passed through Gainesville, it let up. We were supposed to be in Orlando by 6:00 PM. We were late.
By 7:30 PM, we were on the Florida Turnpike. It was the home stretch. Alricurn brought up the fact that we needed to get tickets for Disney. We were both delighted when we saw a prominent sign informing us that Disney tickets were conveniently available for purchase at every turnpike plaza. Although we did not need to stop, we decided that we would stop just for the tickets at the plaza that was between us and our exit into Orlando. I felt like I was in my childhood New Jersey and traveling its turnpike. My childhood memories of how New Jersey’s turnpike works were bolstered as we pulled off onto the Florida plaza. I was certain that our problems were behind us.
Before we went in to the building, Alricurn decided to call her parents and tell them that we were less than 40 miles from them and to see if they needed anything. Her sister answered the phone. She wanted sunscreen and she proceeded to give us detailed direction on how to get to the condominium. The problem was that the directions she was giving were from US Highway 41 we were on the Turnpike and following a different set of directions from Map Quest. Suddenly we were late because we had not used the Disney “approved” travel directions that her sister had used. The phone was disconnected with a disgruntled “click."
Realizing we were on her sister’s shitlist, we decided that we could make up for the lost time by already having the tickets for Disney so that we would not have to buy them in the morning. We followed the prominent signs that said we could buy tickets for Disney in the plaza gift shop. It was 8:00 PM. We asked the nice and helpful attendant if we could purchase Disney tickets. The nice lady looked at us as if we were smoking crack. She then informed us that this particular location had not had Disney tickets in a month. She then picked up a display rack and placed it behind the store entrance. We then asked her where we could get the tickets and she said that the turnpike plaza at Turkey Creek had them. We thanked her, looked at our map, and saw that Turkey Creek would only be 32 miles out of our way. We decided that we would go and get the tickets there.
As we passed by our original intended exit to Orlando, we had no idea that we were wasting our time going to Turkey Creek plaza. We pulled into the plaza at 8:35 PM. We went inside and saw a large unmanned ticket sales booth. We also noted that the gift shop next to the booth had its security gate down and was closed. We then found out that the ticket sales and gift shops closed promptly at 8:30 PM. We had just been sent on a wild goose chase. Desperate to make this goose chase a little less than a complete waste of time, we decided to at least get something to eat. Since the Sabbaro Pizza stand was closed, we advanced on the Burger King stand. It was then that we saw three B.K. Thugs and their manager standing at the counter with aggressively crossed arms. Apparently, they were about to close in 20 minutes and were hoping to scare off any more customers. Deciding that having our food spit on by disgruntled thugs was a high likelihood, we retreated. Cursing the woman at the first plaza, we returned to the turnpike and our original exit and made our way to the condominium.
We arrived just in time to let her father win a bet that we would be there before 9:00 PM. Her sister was attempting to sleep on a living room couch because she had declared that a “ghost” was upstairs in her bedroom. Her body language indicated that everyone should be attempting to sleep just like her. She had chosen to sleep on the couch in the living room. We announced that we had not eaten yet and we were going to get something to eat so that we did not disturb anyone by cooking something in the kitchen. We heard a barely audible disgruntled sigh from her sister. We had seen a Publix grocery store on our way in so we made our way to the store with the intention of getting one of their excellent sub sandwiches. As we pulled into the parking lot, it was apparent that Publix was closing at 10:00 PM. So, we switched to plan “B," Taco Bell. Actually Taco Bell was more like plan “G," since everything in Florida apparently closes at 10:00 PM. Pulling up to the drive through, I was amazed that Ricky Ricardo’s sister was taking orders in a thick Spanish accent. After several abortive attempts to get an order placed, we finally managed to get an order placed. Feeling lucky to have this horrid food we were nearly T-boned as we exited the parking lot by a Suzuki Sidekick going 50 MPH in a 15 MPH zone. We carefully returned to the condominium. Sitting in the dinning room, we were obviously eating too loudly for her sister to be able to sleep. After abortive attempts at conducting conversation with her mother, everyone took the hint and retired to their bedrooms.
At 5:30 AM on Wednesday, the hurting began again. To the sounds of aggressive showering by my future sister-in-law, I was awakened from sleep. I ignored it for a few minutes and even managed to fall back asleep. The next trick up her sleeve was the ever-increasing volume of TV noise. Also coupled to this was the growing decibel volume of “I wish they would get up because we are going to be late.” I wish I had ignored that mantra by playing dead. However, being the trooper I was I went and took a shower and dressed. At 7:00 AM, I woke my future bride. She was most displeased that I had chosen to wear my Oxford pinpoint instead of a less expensive shirt. She demanded that I save the shirt for job interviews and put on a Polo shirt. I, seeking to please her, immediately opted to change shirt choices and put on the much heavier shirt. It was a decision that I would regret.
By 7:10 AM I was awake dressed and downstairs. Her parents we very nice to me but her sister greeted me not with a cheery “Good morning” but instead with “We need to be leaving very soon." I still said ‘Good morning” anyway. Coffee was served. Lets just say that my future in-laws think two scoops of coffee to 12 cups of water makes superior coffee. I realized that hot water just would not cut muster. So I decided I would have to get a Coke. But being sociable, I decided to avail myself of their TV and chitchat while Alricurn was busy waking up. It soon became apparent that her sister was miffed that we were not already at Disney. I decided I needed a paper to read to avoid having to talk with her about how woeful my sleeping pattern was where visiting Disney was concerned.
Therefore, I grabbed some change and went newspaper hunting. I found an Orlando Sentinel newspaper box and deposited 50 ¢ into the box. Door will not open. I smack it about a bit, still no paper. Miffed, I put two more quarters in. Same result again. Finally I began kicking the box and loosing my temper. Still no paper out of that horrid little blue box. Giving up I went over to the soda vending machines. In the Coke machine, I see it will take $1 to get a can of Coke. I only have 50¢. Next to the coke machine is a no-name brand vendor. I skip the more exotic formulations and opt for the root beer. It is now 7:35 AM.
Walking back to the condominium, I make the acquaintance of a young boy and his grandmother. While calming my nerves with my Camel and drinking the god awful ersatz root beer, the little boy informs me proudly that he is to have breakfast with Cinderella. Apparently, this has been a bribe. I say this because as the little boy acted like a hyperactive child, his grandmother would say phases like “Cinderella would not want to have breakfast with a boy whose hands are dirty” or “Cinderella wont have breakfast with you unless you are a good boy.” I should have recognized the complete futility of existence when I saw the boy’s haggard parents emerge from their condominium and coaxed their child into the car with visions of sharing culinary delights with Cinderella. This was my first exposure to the effects of the Disney “March of Death.”
Feeling unjustifiably happier, I went back into the condominium and related to everyone the cute tale of the boy eating with Cinderella. My future sister in-law quipped that maybe I would be an early rising mousketeer if I had reservations to eat at Disney. I bluntly replied that I do not eat breakfast, and that if I did eat breakfast I would not eat it with a cartoon. By 8:00 AM, we were on our way to Disney.
The planning began as the car door shut. While her father and mother seemed to be indifferent to planning the day at Epcot, her sister was adamantly looking at Epcot maps and planning the campaign. Mind you, this woman is in her late 20’s, but she had the same dreamy and feverish look in her eyes as the little boy I saw earlier. It was apparent that she had a plan for the day and we were doomed to follow it. By 8:30 AM, we were parked in K-6 and walking rapidly to the front gate.
Of course we had to get tickets still so while we waited in line, Alricurn’s sister stood glaring at us because she already had her tickets. By the time we had purchased 2 days worth of tickets, which were much cheaper than I thought they would be, the sister was already planning where to eat. Now Alricurn and I have this book at home about being a tourist in Disney and it covered extensively those places either to patronize or to avoid when dinning on Disney property. I remembered that the German Beirgarten had gotten top marks for Epcot, and what is more important I knew it was one of the places that would serve beer. Having listened to the plan of my day, I had realized that by 2:00 PM I would probably need a beer. I was right. I thought that because my choice had been adopted that democratic choices would be the rule of the day. I was wrong. It was now 9:00 AM.
Ironically, I was to become totally oblivious to the passage of time for the rest of the day. It was not that I was enjoying or not enjoying myself. Why my conception of time became whacked was because I was about to embark on the Disney March of Death. Try to imagine two future-in-laws, their daughter and her boyfriend being lead through Epcot by a sister who equated only movement to rides, planning to move to rides by consulting maps, or actually riding a ride to be appropriate activities. Also, add to this incessant movement that only she was permitted to determine how the maps were to be interpreted, what the order of riding was to be and the speed of the journey to each ride was to be. Here begins the origin of the Disney Death March.
Now I consider myself a rather flexible person when it comes to building consensus and making group decisions. In fact, I can usually guide groups to adopt my point of view. Because of this, Alricurn had told me that “Redskull” needed to take a break for the day and he was not to show his face. So I was rather attuned to the fact that polite manners and acquiescence were to be my role for the day. Besides, I had won the choice of where lunch was going to be. I could afford to be gracious. After all, I still had my sanity and my health and I was here to have fun. In hindsight I needed a nicotine patch, or several, and an unending supply of pure caffeine to have even a fighting chance.
The gates opened, and after the security screening <these guys were good and could teach airport screeners a trick or two> I found myself in the entrance plaza to Epcot. Loud music was blaring and Disney mascots were life-sized and everywhere. As I began to identify them, I was passed by my future family as they trotted along towards the Guest Relations building. Apparently, lunch reservations were a priority beyond getting a picture taken with Pluto and Goofy. To my future sister-in-laws horror, the counter person she had to converse with was from Japan and was part of some exchange program. She was here to interact with Americans and sharpen her English speaking skills. She gets high marks from me, but she takes forever to comprehend what we want and what she has to do to fulfill our wishes. The future sister-in-law was beginning to look like a ticked off Latin American Dictator.
Once outside Guest relations with our 2:00 PM reservations, I was taking in the entire scene. I was impressed but apparently did not have time to look at anything. The Dictator was advancing at full gallop upon the Geodesic Globe and the ride it contained. I vaguely remember this ride. I know it was sponsored by AT&T, and it had something to do with phones. As we exited, we were in some sort of festive plaza. Alricurn and I thought that now would be a good time to snap a few pictures, her sister was already leading the charge to our next ride.
I decided that it was pointless to run from point “A” to point “B” just to ride some attraction and skip attractions that are more “adult.” Seeing a hall of wonders, I suggested we go through it before we resumed our break neck speed to the next ride. The dictator was less than impressed with my reasoning. Alricurn and I pressed the issue by entering the pavilion. Inside there were tons and tons of incredibly cool stuff. The first exhibit was a demonstration and interactive exhibit of the Segway. Talk about cool. Alricurn’s father was mesmerized by it, as was I. The Dictator was not. We were deviating from incessant marching. She led the way deeper into the pavilion towards the exit. We tried to delay our exit by going inside the Motorola exhibit. As I exited, I realized that the Dictator was already exiting the pavilion and that I was not going to see any other of the 20 exhibits including the one with the new Honda Asimo Robot.
Outside the pavilion it was announced after consulting the map that we were headed to the General Motors test car ride. Leading the pack, the rest of us hobbled along after her. I felt sorry for Alricurn’s father and mother because after having walked at a breakneck pace in Sea World the day before, they were clearly showing signs of cardiac arrest and athletic zombiosis. The Dictator however had legs of steel. Being a walker of a normally tamer speed I refused to jog through the park. I soon found myself in tail dog and looking far ahead to see the rest of my party. I finally caught up with them at the GM pavilion. The line was huge.
According to the Disney time guesstimate, we were about to spend 2 hours in the line. Two hours of impatient glares and grunts from our rabid leader was not something to look forward to. Luckily, everyone presented a unified front and vetoed the wishes of the Dictator. We agreed to come back later. The Dictator then announced that it was time to relive ourselves and broke off at a break neck speed towards the farthest restroom she could find on the map. Off we went jogging though the park dodging Disney strollers and lost guests. There was a line in the men’s restroom. As I exited the facility, I caught the glaring eye of the Dictator. I had taken too long to excrete urine. This was a black mark against my performance. I would have to do better.
We were standing now on the border between Epcot proper, and the walkway that lead to the International pavilions. I made the proposal that we simply continue clockwise around the park and avail ourselves of attractions as they presented themselves. Everyone seemed to like that idea. The Dictator did not. She announced we were going to the Exxon Dinosaur ride and took off before we could vote on it. Soon she had built up a 50-foot lead over the rest of us. It was march or die time. Unfortunately, we were traveling to the opposite side of the park. We ran.
We shortly arrived at the Exxon exhibit to find that we were dripping wet with sweat. The stupid white polo shirt I was wearing acted like a medieval torture device. It was then that we found out that the Exxon exhibit was not open yet. The Dictator announced, after consulting her accursed map that we were going to the “Body Wars” ride. Jogging again ensued. Soon we entered the pavilion and saw an incredible array of interactive exhibits that we apparently did not have time to see. We struggled to stay close to the Dictator as she mercilessly marched into the line for the body wars. Funny I felt prepared for war owing to all the boot camp drill in marching that I had had so far.
I will admit that the ride was cool. A little predictable but over all something worthwhile. The Dictator was obviously disappointed that we had not done triple loops backwards. As we left the ride my future father-in-law could not find his drink, which had been stored in the under seat cargo net. The Dictator did not wait for him and was displeased at his inability to march quickly. Back out in the pavilion I was just about to get to examine one of the exhibits when I was told it was time to see the Braintroop movie. Off we went. And for a pleasant 15 minutes I got to watch a cute show about just how whacked out a 12-year-old boy’s day could be. More importantly, I was able to sit.
As we exited that ride, the Dictator was already marching towards the door. Thankfully, we all serendipitously had to go to the bathroom at staggered intervals. Each of us went one at a time to the bathroom while the others were looking at the cool exhibits dealing with sensory perception. The whole time we did this, our sensory perception informed us that the Dictator was not pleased by the delay. We were not efficiently marching to rides. Finally, we ran out of bladders to empty and we were aggressively marched out of the building. As we exited, we were informed by the Dictator that the Exxon Pavilion was now open and that we were riding it next. While Alricurn attempted to take pictures of the park, the Dictator was already entering the building.
Having to endure her sister’s harsh stares for dilly-dallying, we managed to form up behind her and enter the ride in an organized fashion. Ahh this was another seated ride. Able to relax my burning leg muscles, Alricurn and I exchanged whispered plans on how we could assassinate the Dictator. I think the ride was about energy, but the whispers in my ears and the screaming of my leg muscles made active perceptional enjoyment of my environment impossible. We soon found ourselves exiting the pavilion. I attempted to look at the endangered tiger program exhibit with Alricurn’s father, but the Dictator was already marshaling her reserves for another death march across the Epcot park again back towards the GM ride. Like a shot, she was off, only slightly concerned over whether we could keep up.
At this point, I am sure you are all wondering how bad this walking pace could possibly be. After all, when you visit a theme park you enter knowing that you are going to have to walk from point to point. You are possibly attributing my distress to being out of shape. I inform you now that I am a fit and trim 32-inch waist 5’11” 155 pound male. I used to run cross-country and I do not ever remember being so winded. The temperature was a nice steady 80 degrees. A light wind blew. And even with the auspicious weather, I was sweating like a slave picking cotton. All I can say is that my future family and future wife were also in the same condition. Only the Dictator was immune. She was a steel-legged ice princess.
And she leads us back across the Epcot Park to the insipid GM pavilion. Ride wait time was now 3 hours. We were allowed to buy water while she demanded a map to determine what ride was next. I was loosing it. I smoked a Camel while having to view the Dictator’s obvious disgust. Two drags later, we were off to the International pavilions. I think the first one was the Netherlands. However, we were pretty much prevented from doing an in-depth investigation. We were only delayed slightly on our march because her father bought a fruit pastry and because the Dictator had to determine our next ride because the Viking Ship ride was closed for renovations. The Dictator took us at break neck speed to Mexico.
Constructed like an Aztec pyramid, the entrance alone had a ton of interesting things to look at. While Alricurn took pictures, I read the information on the exhibits. My future father-in-law appeared at my side and informed me that the Dictator was ready to ride the Mexico ride. Slightly pissed we joined the Dictator and her mother for a thoroughly pointless water ride. Trust me when I say the good stuff was in the exhibits and not in the ride. As we exited the ride, we stopped at a table selling Patron Tequila. You have no idea how much Alricurn wanted that bottle so that we could deaden the pain in our bodies. But before we could take out our Yankee Dollars, the Dictator had marched out of the building.
This was getting ridiculous. The dictatorship was obviously not working. The citizens were being marched to death and experiencing Epcot as if we had blinders on. I said as much to Alricurn. She told me that although she completely agreed with my diagnosis, Redskull the arch Fascist was not allowed to make an appearance. Unable to get her to agree to a simple assassination, we suddenly found that we had to play march or die again to catch up with the Dictator who was now in China.
Somehow, we caught up and out of desperation announced that we were going into the shopping pavilion to look at cheap Chinese plastic toys and bricbrak. Her mother and father eagerly revolted to our cause. The Dictator fumed. She followed us into the shopping bazaar and served as a chaperon, whisking us away from the merchandise and towards the exit. As a delaying tactic, we scattered into the dark recesses of the bazaar. For at least 30 minutes the ruse worked. Then we were informed that we were going to be late for lunch if we did not begin marching again.
Cowed, we assembled as a group outside the Chinese pavilion while the dictator consulted a map and determined the path of the next death march. We soon began jogging towards Germany passing at least two pavilions entirely. Luckily, Alricurn’s mother brought us to a stop in front of the American Pavilion. She wanted to see the main exhibit and needed to see when the next showing was. Winded, Alricurn and I took the opportunity to take a few pictures. Since Alricurn is an amateur photographer of considerable skill, part of her Epcot experience was wanting to take interesting black and white photos. Her sister had no such concerns, had soon marshaled us into formation, and was dragging us towards Japan.
We valiantly attempted to divert into the Italy Pavilion, but were balked by her sister who refused to enter. Her mother in an attempt to cool her daughter’s hot temper stayed with her. Her father made movement to join us in Italy but submitted to the icy stare of displeasure of his daughter. Feeling rebellious, I entered Italy followed by Alricurn. We could have spent an hour in Italy alone. All told, we spent maybe 10 minutes. Her father informed us that the Dictator was ready to move again.
March, march, and march. We were now in Japan. Nothing interested the Dictator about Japan. There are no rides in Japan. No ride means no need to stop. Noticing the faltering of her mother’s pace, we demanded quarter and begged to look in the Japanese gardens. The Dictator soon let it be known that looking at Koi and plants was not something she found to be purposeful. Shortly we found ourselves back on the main walkway.
The Dictator marched us to Germany. I was beat and needed a beer. We had 30 minutes to kill. While father and mother collapsed on a bench, Alricurn went to the edge of the lagoon to take panoramic pictures of Epcot. I fumed and smoked a Camel and wondered when I would be allowed to lose my temper. The Dictator must die.
We made our way to the German Beirgarten. It was everything it was cracked up to be and then some. Shouts of “Prost” and German festival music greeted our ears. As we were seated, I enjoyed the hundreds of raise beer glasses and smiling faces of other patrons. Then I looked at the Dictator. She was displeased greatly. Besides being disgusted by human sexuality, she is most disgusted at the prospect of alcoholic beverages. This Beirgarten was full of Hops and Barley. I also think she was unaware that Biergarten means Beer Garden in English. Smiling a secret internal grin, but feigning surprise that the mouse would permit such satanic beverages, I sat down at the table across from the Dictator. The Dictator ordered, “Water with Lemon." Her mother ordered the same so as not to offend her daughter. Being somewhat braver, her father ordered "Tea with Lemon." I asked what was on tap. Withering stares of death hit me. The Southern Baptist Dictator did not realize my ties to the Pope or that I was Catholic. I choose Beck’s Oktoberfest. Then to my pleasant surprise Alricurn added gasoline to the fire by ordering what I did. From the looks of the Dictator, we were already burning in Hell.
Then we made our way to the banquet buffet. Not one example of American food was offered. Consternation flashed across the Dictator’s mug. What could she possibly eat? Loading my plate down with wursts, spaatzle, and schnitzel, I was in heaven. Alricurn was amazed at the variety and loaded down as well. In fact, upon returning to the table, everyone except the Dictator had a mound of food. We also found that we had another couple now seated with us who had ordered beer as well. The Dictator gave them icy stares. Then the ompah band began singing in German. The Dictator was pissed. I must say that never in my life has a glass of beer tasted so good.
Nevertheless, the auspicious environment of the Beirgarten was not to be had for long. The Dictator announced that we had to leave or we would miss the show at the American pavilion. We were a 10-minute march from the pavilion. The next show did not start for 45 minutes. In spite of this, delay was contraindicated according to the Dictator. In seconds, we were marching to America again. We sat in front of the American pavilion for the next 35 minutes. The whole time the Dictator made it evident that we should be marching to a ride. She also voiced displeasure over the strange food she had eaten. I offered to walk to the GM ride and scan our tickets for an afternoon ride. The Dictator scowled at the idea of one of the party being out of her visual sight and declared she did not want to ride it anyway.
I must say that Alricurn’s mother had excellent taste in wanting to see the 40-minute show in the American pavilion. I enjoyed it immensely. Unfortunately, Alricurn’s mother was so tired from the death march that she fell asleep 5 minutes into the show. After the show, we were consulting maps again. The Dictator was displeased. She wanted a ride and she wanted one now. I proposed that we simply continue our direction of travel, see the remainder of the pavilions, and return to Epcot on the opposite side of the lagoon. Made sense to me. Wrong. The Dictator announced we were returning to the accursed GM ride.
Fueled by inedible German food in her stomach and her hatred of anything not associated with rides, the Dictator instituted a quick time double march back the way we came. Strung out by the insane pace we eventually found ourselves back at the same stupid ride. The wait was now 2 hours. The Dictator glared at us. I suggested we scan our tickets and move on to something else. Her father agreed. The Dictator scowled some more and suggested that we were wimps. We scanned the tickets. Then we noticed that the Floridian sky was about to drop buckets of water on us. We started looking for shelter. Her father suggested the huge complex in the center of the park. I agreed since we could go into the exhibit halls and huge Mickey Mouse shop we had bypassed earlier. The Dictator was insisting we go to the Aquarium on the other side of the park in spite of the rain. That was when the monsoon hit and made further debate impossible.
We made it to shelter. Everyone except the Dictator, wanted to go to the exhibits. The Dictator wanted us together and ready to move on the Aquarium as soon as the rain stopped. She proposed that we wait under a pavilion and not go into any of the exhibit halls or shops that way we would be the first to make our way to the Aquarium when the rain let up. For 20 minutes, we sat there. Finally, Alricurn and I announced that we were going into the Mickey Mouse shop instead of just waiting for the command to march. The Dictator was not pleased. We went shopping anyway.
We had been inside the shop for 10 minutes when the Dictator appeared. She told us her mother wanted us to come back because it had stopped raining. Wanting to appease her mother, we exited the store. It was still raining outside. Her mother had not requested our return. The Dictator smiled at having stopped our shopping experience. After another fifteen minutes of rain, the Dictator announced that we were moving whether the rain had stopped or not. We were off to see the Aquarium. She soon had at least 150 feet worth of lead on us. I considered simply abandoning her. So did everyone else. The thought that we might abandon her also crossed the Dictator’s mind as she entered the Aquarium. She paused briefly and peered back over her shoulder to see if we were still following.
I cannot tell you much about the Aquarium. I do know that we were given a choice by Disney to enter the ride in one of two ways. The Dictator wanted to go directly to the ride; I preferred the opposite of what she wanted. Alricurn agreed with me. Rebellion was brewing. She attempted to lead right, we all went left. However, she would have the last laugh. It seems that the ride portion of the Aquarium is a fake elevator ride to the “underwater” laboratory. Feeling shortchanged by the ride, the Dictator herded us out of the building.
Now at this point all of you have to be asking why I had not killed the Dictator. Believe me I wanted to. I know Alricurn wanted to. I suspected her father wanted to. Her mother was simply too tired from marching to have the strength to kill her. But what is hard to convey is the Dictator’s normal role in the family when not at Disney. It is easier to appease her than it is to go against her wishes. Her family has adopted this approach as a coping mechanism. I was forced to adopt it because I am the outsider. Resistance was futile.
The Dictator had us marching again. I was certain that the friction of my denim pants was going to cause heat rash on my thighs, a suspicion that would be proven correct later that night. I was also suffering the sweat drenched Polo shirt from hell. Generally, I was miserable. I half hoped to find a working time machine in Epcot so I could travel back to a time before Disney World was built and kill the Mouse and Uncle Walt. We arrived at the ride called “The Land." To say that this was a Greenpeace Eco-Terroristic inspired left-wing ride does not describe it enough. To say that it was what released Redskull does.
We waited in line for a good 20 minutes. Then we were ushered onto a boat and began our journey. There was a live female announcer on our boat. Presumably, she was on the boat to provide a running commentary. She had a Lisp. She also Stuttered. Who in their right mind hires someone to be a tour guide who lisps and stutters? Lets just say that it was quite ironic and coupled with the warm fuzzy logic of eco-propaganda I began laughing. By the time we exited the ride I had a huge grin on my face and was actually laughing out loudly. The Dictator was miffed that I was enjoying myself. Alricurn explained away my sudden good mood. She was also worried. She realized Redskull was free and that things were about to get interesting.
The Dictator was in the midst of making an executive decision when I cut her off. I announced it was time to go to the GM pavilion and ride the ride that the Dictator had been denied so far. No one wanted to go including the Dictator, however I had a trump card to play. Our tickets had been scanned and we were using them. I then began a sane and moderated walking pace to the ride. Everyone was just slightly amazed that the Dictator could be overruled so easily. As I lead us towards the Pavilion, the Dictator caught up with me and attempted to retake lead dog. I stopped and said that we should wait for her parents to catch up and that there was no need to rush since we had a scheduled ride time. Miffed the Dictator silently waited. Everyone enjoyed the new pace. Well, except for the Dictator.
We arrived at the ride and the Dictator and her mother got in line. The rest of us went into the exhibit hall and spent the next 40 minutes leisurely inspecting all the cool displays and automobiles. My mood was progressively improving. Amazingly after she exited the ride even the Dictator was smiling. Since my coup was going so well I decided to announce the next place we would journey to in the wonderful land of the mouse. I had the brass balls to ask what everyone would like to do next. On cue, Alricurn chimed in lets go back and see the parts of the International district that we skipped. The Senators of the republic voted for this choice and the Dictator, not wanting to lose face also agreed, taking lead dog position.
We were back to the old ways of dictatorship. We rapidly crossed Epcot again. Entering Canada, Alricurn and I saw a neat Longhouse that looked like it came from British Columbia. We announced that we were going in and were followed by her mother. The dictator declined. While the girls sampled perfumes from Canada, I looked at the hockey display. After a few minutes we exited and all sat on some benches. The Dictator came up and smelled the perfume. She told Alricurn that her choice in perfume was very bad today. Her mother announced that it was just from the samples in the shop. The Dictator announced that we were departing. We had little choice but to follow her to England.
Once in England Alricurn tried several times to look at booths in the open-air market. No luck. So finally, we announced we had to go to the bathroom. Once done, I suggested that we split up, investigate England, and meet at the border with France in 30 minutes. I did not wait for an answer; I disappeared into a toy store followed by Alricurn. For 30 minutes, I saw some of the coolest stuff. Alricurn then wanted to look in the English tea store. As we were enroute, we saw her parents standing on the street corner under the baleful eye of the Dictator. It was obvious that they had been cowed. We cut our explorations short and met back up.
The Dictator announced we were going to France. Off again at a ridiculous march. Alricurn had had enough and she speed walked past her sister to take lead dog. She was presented with two walkways that both seemed to lead to France. She chooses right. It was a dead end. Gloating, the Dictator indicated that she should lead because she knew all the secrets of Disney and the rest of us did not. We sullenly followed her to the correct path. It just was not worth trying to outsmart the Dictator. Once in France, her father decided he wanted pastries from the bakery.
Alricurn and I also wanted coffee. That was when for the first time something besides a ride caught the Dictators eye. A person was wearing white body paint and looked as if she were a Greek statue. The Dictator was mesmerized. She refused to leave the vicinity. Alricurn, her mother, and I all beat it for the pastry shop. For the next 30 minutes, we enjoyed a cup of coffee and some excellent pastries. The Dictator finally showed up and simply raved over how cool the “statue” was. We grumbled a bit because she had passed tons of similar things all day. With an hour to go before the closing fireworks display the Dictator announced that we needed to claim a viewing spot.
Again, we were off marching. By the time we found a spot that suited her there was still 45 minutes left to the day. Alricurn and I decided that we would go and browse the shops of France. Considering how low my opinion of France is in general, the idea of willing shopping for French gifts being agreeable to me lets you know just how disagreeable I thought spending 45 minutes with the Dictator was. For the first time all day, we were finally allowed to look touch and feel at our own pace.
The Fireworks display was incredible and I do not intend to spoil it for anyone who has not seen it. I will say that in spite of the near constant marching, and general hostile experience of the day, the fireworks alone were worth all the pain and suffering. Apart from one final death march to the parking lot, the remainder of the day went off without a hitch.
There is a second day worth of Disney World to be told, but that will just have to wait for another time. I just figured the rest of you would enjoy this little story. My question is do any of you have a Disney Nightmare too?