(The third entry in these series is always the lamest; the event has already been replaced by daily mundanities, crises, routines and rituals. So let's get on with it.)
A few more shots of the 30s & 40s world of Disney Hollywood Studios:
The lady on the ledge was smoking a cigarette and eating a candy bar; a few minutes later a friend brought her a scooter, and she drove away.
This fellow played an autocratic director who drove around shouting instructions in a piercing, imperious voice. He was great. I hated to tell him I was taking a picture of the building behind him. The windows, incidentally, have signs for "Muscle Beach Bodyguards" and "The International Brotherhood of Second Assistant Directors."
Bas-relief by the gates to the Animation Park: I had no idea they worked outdoors in a cabbage patch.
The details are interesting:
The Carthay Circle was the site of the premier of "Snow White," which saved the studio.
The gates at night: sigh.
The last day we made an adjustment. There’s a seasonal event in the Magic Kingdom – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, from seven to closing. But! You get in at four, if you wish. And! It’s cheaper than the $75 admittance fee you’d normally pay. What to do with the day until then? Well, my wife went to an outlet mall – an ordeal that required buses and taxis – and I took Natalie to Disney Quest, a five-story entertainment center in Downtown Disney. It costs money to get in, but all the video games are free. And they have every video game ever made, or so it seemed; all my 80s friends were there, along with pinball. And some undead Wrongball I cannot quite describe – imagine something that looks like pinball, but has a computer-generated screen where the playfield should be. And it’s still tiltable. I should have taken a picture of the pinball room – every table was being played except for the two undead Wrongball machines.
Eventually I played a Star Wars game, which was supposedly based on episode 1. Yippee. Too dark to see anything, miserable flippers, NEXT. Played the hell out of an Indiana Jones table while Natalie played Feeding Frenzy, a game she discovered on our previous trip. Premise: you eat your fellow fish, which changes you into a larger fish, allowing you to consume even more fish. The body count is off the charts.
We went everywhere and did everything, including another animation lesson. The day before we’d learned how to draw Mickey; now we learned how to draw Minnie. (I kept screwing up the eyes, and had to give them patches and gold pirate teeth.) She made a song by choosing preset lyrical snippets, choosing the style (Rock, female singer) and shouting a few words into a mike at the right moment. It says something about rock that the singer could shout “I don’t ever wanna eat broccoli” with the same angry conviction she’d bring to a you-done-me-wrong lyric. The resulting masterpiece, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” could be purchased for $12, and of course I did just that. I don’t want her to grow up either, but not for the reasons in the song.
On the way back to the resort we ran into a patron of the Bleat, which was a bit of a stunner; a cheerful fellow spied me, walked up and introduced himself, and we got to meet his family. (Natalie was shy, which is always mortifying: this is PR, kid. Work it.) People always apologize for doing that; but please: it’s the best thing in the world. It’s one thing to have someone in your town shoot you the thumbs-up; it’s another for someone on the other end of the country give you the full atta-boy.
At night we went to the Magic Kingdom, all bunted up in orange for the Not So Scary Halloween Party and Interminable Parade:
This being our third trip to the Magic Kingdom, there’s not much I can add. We went to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor again. Three times. Natalie wants to be picked for the interactive segments soooo much; she gives me advice. Look boring and dumb, Dad! They’ll pick you! That night the audience-member-chooser person kept picking the babes in the audience, including a stunning Belle accompanied by a gormless long-shanked fellow, and the awww-inducing little girls in princess costumes. It was still fun; that attraction never gets old. Happiness is currently defined as sitting in that room hearing the routines for the nineteenth time. Really. That's Disneyworld - you find yourself humming the theme from "Woody's Roundup" when you get up at 3 AM to use the can. (ahem.) It all exudes some elemental cosmic force that occupies every aspect of your imagination, and you wonder if you'll rear back in shock when you get home and your dog doesn't look like Pluto.
Outside the Laugh Floor, dusk:
We treid to move north, but were stopped by the parade: it's a celebration of genial villain, y concluding with Goofy driving a gigantic candy-making. His consternation over the job of making sufficient confections frequently finds expression in the term "GAWRSH," but he seemed confident of his ability to meet the needs of the event. There's a song that runs over and over, and the most potent,compact form of plastic explosives cannot dislodge the theme from my brain. Boo to you and Boo to you and so on. After the parade we hit all the spots where candy was disbursed; toured Mickey and Minnie’s houses (they live apart, but next door; there’s probably a secret tunnel) and enjoyed some fireworks blown off in startling proximity. The best fireworks are the ones felt in the gut before they splash against the eye. Finally: The Haunted Mansion. You cannot be in the Magic Kingdom during a Halloween party and not do the Haunted Mansion. Last time I pretended I was a zombie when we entered the hall – Deaddy, I called myself; it freaked out Natalie, but gave her a delicious little chill as well. She insisted I not do Deaddy this time, which I took as a secret wish that I do it again. So I did.
Freaked her out. Utterly and completely. So I dropped it, quickly. Something about this trip through the Mansion was different; the mist, the pumpkins, the darkness outside – for a moment the real face of Halloween, the one kids suspect is waiting in the shadows, waiting for the laughter to die away, leaped out and took possession, and everything in the Mansion was suddenly real – rotten, decayed, forsaken, and hungry. So you stop being Deaddy and be Dad, Strong and Amused and Cheerful, pointing out the funny parts.
I never get used to the cars turning around and heading down, backwards. I hate that. By which I mean I love it.
We headed to the exit, only to find ourselves in a situation familiar to constant WDW visitors: trapped by a parade. Once it passed I took us through the Main Street stores – they’re all connected, so you can slip behind the crowds. Unfortunately, we ended up trapped behind the lines for the same parade, and had to wait for it to pass again. BOO TO YOU AND BOO TO YOU. The moment the ropeline was lifted we were carried along by the surging crowds – you can pick up your feet and they’ll do the work for you – and made our way to the bus.
“I can’t believe it’s over,” Natalie said.
The bus driver didn't sing this time. He didn't even use the PA system to annouce the stops. It was over, all right.
Nothing to note about the next day – we rose, dined on Mickey Waffles, the closest thing they have to a communion wafer, then kicked around the resort until the Magical Express took us to the airport. It’s hard to say what Natalie will remember from this trip – Disney Quest, for certain. The Toy Story ride, the animation lessons. Same here, but perhaps my favorite part was just sitting in the community hall coloring pictures on a quiet Sunday afternoon. She did a good job, and they put it up on the wall. Maybe it's still there. Money isn't the only thing you leave behind.