Tag Archives: Space Mountain

When the lights go out at Disney . . .

DSC02990The following is a daydream I had while waiting in line for 90 minutes at Space Mountain . . . . 

An hour after the last mouse-eared, turkey-leg-filled, balloon-carrying tourist leaves the parking lot, the Magic Kingdom is cloaked in darkness and silence.

But at the forested edge of the park, muffled voices gather, a flame is lit, and low music can be heard in the woods on Tom Sawyer Island.

“D-D-Dawg? Did you bring th-the winecoolers for the Princesses?”

“Shh! Keep your voice down, Piglet,” Pluto warns, “I haven’t gotten the call that maintenance is gone yet!”

While the Dwarves gather more wood for the bonfire, Bella whispers, “Listen, Girlfriend, you need to kick that no good cheater to the curb once and for all.”

“I know, I know,” replies Cinderella, anxiously awaiting Buzz’s arrival. The rest of the gang have grown tired of their on-again, off-again relationship, and they can’t understand why Cinderella keeps putting up with Buzz’s constant philandering and verbal abuse.

Pluto’s ringtone suddenly cuts the silence and he fumbles to answer his cellphone. “Yea? They’re gone? You sure? Ok, c’mon over and don’t forget to bring more ice.” Pluto snaps his phone shut and bellows, “Crank up the tunes, Donnie Boy!”

Much like Tony Bennett, Donald Duck is one of the originals who has been able to reinvent himself as “hip” and “old school” to stay relevant in today’s social scene. “The Don” flips his hat backwards, plugs the extension cord into his portable DJ booth, and the speakers jump to the beat of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”

Pluto, Piglet and the Princesses start to dance, just as Huck Finn’s raft arrives with the rest of the gang. With the tunes blaring, drinks flowing and bonfire ablaze, the party on Tom Sawyer Island is in full swing.

“Hey Baby, what’s shakin’?” Buzz says as he grabs Cinderella’s drink and takes a huge gulp.

“You’d better say your prayers that Winnie doesn’t show up tonight,” Bella cautions, glaring at Buzz with contempt. “Ah, you can tell that honey licker I said to get some pants,” Buzz declares with a confident scratch.

But everyone knows Buzz doesn’t want to see Pooh Bear tonight. Pooh, ever the idealist, has been increasingly disappointed in the gang’s inappropriate behavior, and despite his kind-heartedness, even Pooh has his limits.

Last month, Pooh found Buzz making out with Snow White afterhours in the Mad Hatter’s Teacups. Buzz had cheated on Cinderella one too many times, and this time he was going to pay for it.

Out of nowhere, Pooh went into a rage and jumped Buzz. When the dust settled, Buzz had a broken nose, and Pooh was ordered to undergo anger management classes or lose his job.

“Is Goofy coming?” Sleeping Beauty inquires. “I d-d-don’t think so,” Piglet answers with sadness in his eyes. For years, Goofy had been the life of the party, but Management had him neutered after tourists complained that he was mounting the Dumbo cars and Alice in Wonderland filed a sexual harassment suit.

Minnie and Mickey arrive separately, as usual. Their tumultuous split is yesterday’s news, and the two have only been able to maintain a working relationship through court appointed mediation.

Minnie, fresh out of rehab for addiction to Xanax and Percocet, was scanning the crowd for Doc in hopes that he might write her new prescriptions. Mickey had always been the King, The Leader of the Club, The Master of Ceremonies, but nowadays he’s a washed up, old, has-been, pathetically sipping Boone’s Farm out of a brown paper covered bottle.

Jack Sparrow weaves his way through the crowd, handing out leaflets. “Aw, Jack, give it up and come party with us like the old days,” pleads The Little Mermaid. But ever since some Jehovah’s Witnesses got a hold of Jack and his crew, he’s been on a mission to convince the others to repent and see the error of their ways.

Buzz looks up from canoodling Cinderella to exclaim, “Uh oh! Looks like Beast and Woody are on one of their secret walks again!” Buzz obnoxiously doubles over laughing. “HA! How much you wanna bet they are headed for the Log Ride! No, wait, I know! I can see it now, a new hit movie starring Woody and the Beast entitled, ‘Brokeback Space Mountain!’”

Despite Buzz’s repulsively pompous ego, the gang erupts with laughter.

Bashful arrives late with Jasmine. Her hair was a bit disheveled and her olive cheeks were flush with pink. “Sup,” Bashful says to the other Dwarves with a wink. Despite his soft-spoken demeanor, the word on Main Street was that Bashful was a real Casanova with the ladies, and he never came to a bonfire without a Princess on his arm.

The Don starts beat boxing, when Mickey stumbles into the DJ stand, spilling wine all over the turntable. “Gimme that microphone you old quack!”

An ear-piercing tone blares from the speakers as Mickey struggles for the mike. After a hiccup and a muffled belch, Mickey puts the mike to his lips and slushily croons, “Who’s the leader of the Club that’s made for you and me….M-I-C…”

“Dude!” shouts Jiminy Cricket, “Go find a rocking chair Old Man!” To keep Mickey from further embarrassment, Genie slings Mickey over his shoulders and carries him down to the riverboat to sleep it off. “I usta be somebody!” Mickey wails.

The Don mixes the beats, the Princesses dance, and the party rages on. When it was all over, the gang agreed: Although it may not be the Happiest Place on Earth after all, it had been a magical night indeed.

The Skittles-Space Continuum

“Where are the tickets?” I said with a half-panicked gasp. The line was moving steadily ahead, and we were almost at the admissions booth.

My husband searched his wallet, while I frantically fondled my video camera case; my pockets full of gum, tissues, and Dramamine for motion sickness; and my backpack stuffed with water bottles, sunglasses, wet wipes, and brochures

“Found ‘em!” my husband exclaimed with relief, just as we stepped up to the Kennedy Space Center ticket window. Following a wave of tourists through the entrance, our family headed to the IMAX theater to watch a 3-D movie about the Hubble Space Telescope.

Once in our seats, I wondered why humans can put a man on the moon but can’t figure out how to make 3-D glasses look anything less than absolutely ridiculous.

Suddenly, Leonardo DiCaprio’s voice boomed through the theater’s sound system and bursts of stars and nebulae hurtled toward my face. For the next 45 minutes, we were totally transfixed, as unfathomable images of space-walking astronauts, neighboring planets and distant galaxies floated weightlessly before our ridiculously bedecked eyes.

At one point in the film, we saw Hubble telescope photographs of galaxies at the far reaches of our known Universe. Leonardo explained that, due to the speed of light and the mind-boggling distances involved, the images portrayed the celestial bodies as they actually were nearly 13 billion years ago.

As the spectacular images bombarded my senses, my mind struggled to comprehend how mere human beings have figured out how to take detailed photographs of infant galaxies from the dawn of time.

At this very moment, my overworked brain approached maximum capacity. Like some kind of computer crash, the mental strain caused my mind to go blank, and the only thought I could manage was what I wanted for lunch.

We recuperated over hot dogs and soda before heading for the bus that would take us on a tour of the NASA launch facilities. While waiting in line, I occupied my time with people watching

I always enjoyed performing amateur analyses on strangers. I liked to think that I could figure a person out just by seeing what they had in their grocery cart, or what they were reading at the airport terminal, or what they were saying to their friend in the food court.

As I looked up and down the line of space enthusiasts, I noticed a lot of foreigners — Asians, Indians, Persians and Arabs in particular. Everyone looked highly intelligent, and I started feeling a bit intimidated.

I glanced self-consciously at my own little family. Our teenage son was scraping off and eating the plop of hot fudge that was in the middle of his Steeler shirt. Our teenage daughter was twirling her hair and looking at her nail polish. Our youngest daughter was staring cross-eyed at a bubble she just blew. My mother was playing peek-a-boo with a nearby toddler, and my husband was yawning.

Compared to this crowd of intellectually superior science enthusiasts, we looked like a bunch of simpletons.

Just then, I saw another average middle class American family in line, searching for their bus tickets. The husband (or baby-daddy) was wearing a t-shirt that read “Bacon is Meat Candy,” and the mother was clad in a lace crop top that allowed the exposed parts of her tattooed fleshy mid-section to bulge over the top of her short shorts. The daughter was wearing Minnie Mouse ears, and the son was picking his nose.

As they anxiously searched their camera bags and pockets for the tickets, something dropped from the mother’s purse. Colorful candy balls scattered everywhere, and the kids scrambled to retrieve the fallen Skittles. Despite some slight differences (I wouldn’t be caught dead in a crop top and prefer Junior Mints to Skittles) I felt a certain kinship with the family and empathized with their plight.

Later that night after touching moon rocks, riding in Shuttle simulators, and gazing at launch pads, we laid in our hotel beds, still struggling to fathom that a group of chain-smoking, coffee-drinking, Bryl-cream-wearing math and science geeks from the 1960s sent men in a rocket to the moon in an age when cutting edge technology still included black and white console TVs, rotary dial phones, and transistor radios.

The next day, I found myself people watching again while waiting in line for 90 minutes at nearby Space Mountain. Most were wearing silly hats, at least half were eating turkey legs, none looked particularly intelligent, but all seemed happy.

I realized that the people of this world are incredibly diverse. Like space and time, human beings fall on a vast continuum, and whether one is a rocket scientist or dumb as a rock, it is our similarities rather than our differences that define us as humankind.

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