So we’re back. We spent yesterday at Disney World and today at Universal Studios. I’m sitting up late listening to Ani DiFranco (yeah, you heard me, pal) and drinking my second glass of red wine. I’m also dead tired, though my brain has yet to understand this, so this post may devolve into stream of consciousness.
What struck me about Disney World — aside from the almost military rigidity with which everyone smiles and wishes you “a magical day!” — was that it has not changed one bit from the last time I was there. Which was over 25 years ago. While that means it retains a certain nostalgic appeal to people my age, it also means that kids like my daughter feel slightly underwhelmed by the quaintness of some of the rides. I was talking up the virtues of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Haunted Mansion” for a good week before we finally got here. And although I still enjoyed them both — particularly the mansion, which had some pretty sweet looking ghosts — Mia was clearly less than impressed. I could acknowledge the fact that perhaps 10 years old is beyond the sweet spot for these rides, and that maybe I should have taken her two or three years ago, but that would be admitting to some personal responsibility for this situation, which is counter to the purpose of my post, so I’ll leave that part out.
I did get her to go on Space Mountain, though, which wound up being her favorite, and scaring the bejesus out of me. Not knowing where you’re going on a rollercoaster makes all the difference. I am too old and frail of mind for that kind of nonsense.
We stayed in a hotel on the grounds. We had a 14th floor room with a fantastic view. She got to go to sleep staring at the Magic Kingdom, all lit up in purple and blue, which is a pretty big deal for a 1o year old girl. She was deeply impressed by the room, and the view it afforded her. I told her it was because we were fancy people, which she accepted as a logical explanation; henceforth we were careful to announce our approach to the great clots of unwashed humanity blocking our lanes of passage: “Stand aside! Fancy people coming through!” I was only punched four times.
Universal Studios was a lot more fun. Some of the “rides” were ridiculously cheesy, though. For example, the Terminator ride starts out promisingly enough, with real terminator robots rising from the floor in clouds of steam and actors dressed as security personnel running around in feigned panic. But it devolves into a static, hackneyed confrontation between Schwarzenegger and John Connor stand-ins against the new terminator model, T-1,000,000 (yes, I’m afraid so). Still, it petrified my kid, who clutched my sleeve and pleaded with me to remove her from danger, while I laughed with callous disdain. That’s a win in my book!
Nevertheless, the attractions at Universal were livelier and far more engaging. Even the actors, who normally irritate the hell out of me at these sorts of things, were very good. The Harry Potter section was pretty spectacular. (Yes, I like Harry Potter. I know, I have to turn in my Real Writer Card now. I don’t even care. It’s fun, damn you. Bear in mind I would not admit to this if I hadn’t had two glasses of wine.) Hogsmeade was rendered with wonderful specificity; I even took Mia into Honeydukes sweets shop where she bought those jellybeans with the bewildering assortment of flavors. She gave me the earwax jellybean on the drive home; after I bit into it, it was ejected from the car with extreme prejudice.
We actually ran out of time before we got to do everything we wanted to. I had to walk through the Marvel Superhero village without stopping at any of the stores. That hurt my heart.
Her favorite attraction was Twister, which replicated the experience of watching a pickup truck slide into a gas line in some unnamed town in Kansas. There was fire. There was rain. There was a flying cow.
Sadly, Mia did not survive the experience.
I’ll go again when I make a new kid.