By this point, I was getting pretty used to the sensation of the
roller-coastery fast-ride stuff, and increasingly convinced that they
would not, in fact, lead to my untimely demise. So I was actually willing
by now to tackle a ride I knew retcon
had been looking
forward to, that I'd been convinced
after Space Mountain
I wouldn't be able to handle: Thunder Mountain.
I loved it.
This was better. This made sense. I like going fast -- ask any of
the passengers of my Happy Blue Fun Truck of Death. What I don't
like is being out of control, as was proved to me on an
unpredictable inner-tube ride at Wild Waves last summer. But this I could
handle -- since I could see the track, I could anticipate what was going
to happen, and appropriately lean into the curves, and --
Hell, I'm overanalyzing. It was fast and it was fun. I couldn't believe
it, but there it was. (Of course, it terrified the hell out of me each
time Riff raised his arms out of the car, and nearly got his hands lopped
off at the wrist by some low outcropping of fake rock, but pay it no
We wandered into Fantasyland. The It's a Small World ride
was closed, as we'd heard it would be, and I somehow managed to contain my
disappointment. (My fondest wish is to be allowed fifteen minutes in that
ride. With a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.)
treebyleaf got another surprise, here. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was
still here and in operation -- she'd been certain she'd read that
it was years gone, but here it was. Convinced she'd slipped sideways into
another timeline, she sheepishly asked if we'd go on it with her,
obviously worried we'd think it was too childish -- and of course we went.
I "drove" -- the steering wheels do absolutely nothing, but she still
didn't want to be behind one. It was fun and cute (and ends, charmingly,
with a quick trip to Hell), but the best part of it all was her delight
(My only other strong memory of Fantasyland was a dancing Pinnochio puppet
in a window. From a distance, I couldn't see how it was done, and for
just a split-second I thought -- well, never mind what I thought.)
We wandered briefly through Toon Town, with Riff and I stopping on
the way in to pick up a couple of frozen lemonades, not realizing that
they really would be frozen -- as in, absolutely-solid,
my-tongue-literally-stuck-to-it level frozen. treebyleaf, who had grown
up in California and knew that all such vendors keep their little carts
cranked down to ludicrous sub-Arctic temperatures, was surprised that we
were surprised, and a little annoyed by our complaints.
We found Toon Town pretty missable, actually -- it struck as being
for really little little kids -- but I liked the design of it.
I particularly liked the flat, forced-perspective "rolling hills" around
We headed back to Adventureland and went on the Safari Boat Ride, which
was funny and quaint and charming. treebyleaf was more than a little
irritated by the patter from our tour guide -- the "script" has obviously
changed a lot over the years, and has abandoned any pretext of
telling a story and degenerated into, well, making fun of the ride,
really. I can see her point, but I still enjoyed it and thought it was
After that we went on the best ride ever. Indiana Jones.
Even the entrance to this ride is amazing -- a huge, winding
archaeological dig. (I heard later that, in peak season, the line through
this temple can take well over three hours, but we were able to
just breeze right through it.) We got into the Jeep-like ride car and a
humorless-looking attendant inspected us with a flashlight to make sure we
were wearing our seatbelts. ("Ride Nazis!", I whispered to treebyleaf.
The attendant did look a lot like a villain from the first film.)
There are three different paths into the ride -- or rather, I found
out later, they convincingly make it look like there are three
different paths -- and you have to contend with blowguns, countless
skeletons, gouts of flame, a familiar huge rolling rock, aided at various
points along the way by a startlingly-convincing audioanimatronic Indy.
Way, way, way cool. (Here's a detailed
description of it.)
By this point, it was still early evening. treebyleaf had been right --
despite my fears, one day was going to be plenty of time to spend in the
park and still see everything we wanted to see.
We started doubling back to do the things we particularly enjoyed a second
time. There were starting to be lines, now, and children, as the
after-school evening crowd started to filter in. We hit Thunder
Mountain again, and then got right back in line to go around again.
We knew the Parade would start soonish, so we started thinking about what
we wanted to do with the remaining time until then. We talked about
seeing Innoventions, which we'd skipped earlier
in Tomorrowland, but it was more out of curiosity than enthusiasm. (I'm
we decided to give it a miss; Diana tells me it's just more corporate
I tried to suggest to Riff and treebyleaf that they go around on Space
Mountain again -- I know how much they love the ride, and I was
willing to just sit and wait for them -- and they misunderstood me,
thought I was suggesting that all three of us go back on it. And they
were so happy and delighted and surprised that I would be willing to that
I wasn't about to correct them, or even let on that I'd meant otherwise.
I took a deep breath, steeled myself, and found that yeah, I was willing.
Yeah, I could do this. We hurried back to Tommorowland.
And you know what?
It was great.
And I realized what the difference was, what mistake I'd made -- I
shouldn't have gone on it first. Now that I'd become accustomed
to the other coasters, now that my body understood what was happening on
these rides, I was able to enjoy it.
Notice I don't say, "relax and enjoy it." Check out this
(click on thumbnail for full-sized picture)
Do please note that despite the smile on my face, my fingers have bled
deathgrip-white from holding on. Heh.
I came out of there feeling like a million bucks. I live with so much
fear all the time. It's always wonderful and amazing to fly right
in the face of it, do what I want to despite it.
We headed back to find a place to stand for the parade. The huge Dark
Crystal-ripoff sculpture at the entrance to Tomorrowland looked even
better at dusk, with lit up rings of neon.
Then there was the Parade itself, which was, well, okay. This was our
only real serious unanticipated disappointment of the day -- the direct
result of not doing our damn homework. All three of us had been looking
forward to seeing the famous Main Street Electrical Parade. We had no
idea they didn't do it any more. Sure, we got a Parade, but it
wasn't Electrical. There were certainly fun aspects to it -- I
particularly remember the Little Mermaid float, because the girl on
it was gorgeous and looked and acted much like Ariel, and because
they cleverly had her inside a huge bubble (presumably "filled with
water," one assumes). But overall, it was kind of underwhelming. I don't
even remember if there were fireworks.
(I found out when we got back to Seattle that the Electrical Parade is
still done, but has been moved to the California Adventure. Gyp!)
Afterward, we headed back to do the Indiana Jones ride again.
treebyleaf noticed this time that the "inscriptions" on the walls were
almost readable; I'd noticed myself the first time that they had the
regularity and length of English, and surmised that they were just a
simple substitution cypher, but hadn't noticed that some of the letters
were similar enough to English letters to actually read. treebyleaf
noticed that she could read the words better out of the corner of her eye
than she could trying to look at them head-on. We managed to pick out a
word or two here and there, but that was about it. Pretty neat.
(I found out when I got home that the cypher is called "Mara script".
Here's a guide
to the inscriptions, including translations, a cypher key, and a
Diana had told us to go on this ride at least three times, and we soon
learned why -- not only did we go through the different "paths," but
the dialog we got over our "radio" and from Indy was totally different
each time! It's a neat way to keep the experience fresh.
For our third time through, we started to head all the way back up to the
start of the "line" again, and then decided not to be silly -- we ducked
past a rope barricade and headed back in. A couple of pre-adolescent boys
saw us and followed us, which amused the hell out of us -- I guess they
figured they could get away with it, too, if the "grown-ups" were doing
We followed Indy with Pirates of the Carribean again, at
treebyleaf's request. It was, if anything, even better the second time.
I was especially delighted at the end of the ride, by the two parents
ahead of us uncertainly saying, "That was kind of scary, wasn't it?" and
their little little girl saying brightly "I wanna go around again!" And
so they did.
When we went into Pirates, it was still a little light out; the
inside of the ride presents a night sky, of course, with fairly convincing
clouds; and when we left, it was now actually dark. That felt a little
like magic, really.
Our last revisited ride for the evening was the Safari Boat ride. We got
a tour guide who was even better than the one we had the first time
around, and even treebyleaf had to grudgingly admit he was pretty funny.
Nearly closing time, now, and we started wandering out. treebyleaf had
been wanting ice cream, and we stopped at an ice cream parlor in Main
Street, but it was crowded, so we went somewhere else. She ended up
getting something sweet to drink instead, if I remember right.
We gathered everything from our locker to go home when Riff remembered
that we had one last errand -- I'm glad he remembered. We'd promised to
pick up a piece of an interconnecting toy Disneyland monorail system for
lokheed. Again, we weren't positive what pieces he already had
-- and frankly, we weren't sure we'd found the right toys at all, and the
staff was not much help -- but all went well and it turned out to be just
what he wanted.
We left the Magic Kingdom and found our way back to the buses. It was one
of the best days we'd ever had.