Sunday, September 25, 2016

Florida: July 13, 2003

A continuation of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben during the summer of 2003....

Day 37--Sunday, July 13, 2003

I awoke less than two hours later, moaning and feeling deep hatred for my watch alarm.  Somehow, I managed to drag myself to the extremely foul-smelling shower.  We checked out of the hotel before 6:30.  Even worse, the Dunkin Donuts man had not yet delivered the morning's breakfast.  Ben sweet-talked the man behind the counter out of his own pitiful breakfast of pre-packaged danishes, but I decided to go without.

We drove to the Windgate Hotel and Resorts, where we felt horribly underdressed because we walked in at the same time as all of the employees.  We checked in, watched a short video about the company, and were then called into a large conference hall and introduced to our host, Kenny.  He was about our age and looked like he had some kind of Hispanic heritage.  He pointed us in the direction of breakfast, and we loaded up on eggs, sausage, rolls, pastries, fruit, cereal, and juice.  As we consumed the best breakfast we'd had in weeks, Kenny made polite small talk with us and told us a bit about himself.  He also told us that one in four families that goes through the presentation purchases a timeshare, and that he would present to four families that day, so not to worry if it wasn't  us.

That being said, he launched into his sales pitch.  A lot of what he said really made sense: that all weeks in Orlando are prime weeks, that his company had resorts all over the globe so trading weeks was easy, that adding extra vacation weeks when owning a timeshare was very cheap, and that owning was always better than renting.  After talking with Kenny for about an hour and touring the facilities, I was 100% convinced that I want to own a timeshare someday to facilitate my month-long summer trips, and more so, even that I would like my timeshare to be through Windgate Resorts--but that we couldn't get one now, when we're looking to put a down payment on a house.

Kenny was nothing bug great, but his manager and another guy did kind of lean on us in a way that would have been semi-scary if we weren't in a brightly lit room full of people.  In the end, though, we did manage to reject them.  We got our tickets and were on our way to see Mickey before 9:30, feeling that it had already been a very productive day!

After parking, we had to take the public transportation to the first gate, where we elected to take the steamboat across to the Magic Kingdom.  All in all, it took us longer to get there than I expected, but getting our tickets at the gate was no problem.  The first thing we did was have someone take our picture in front of Mickey's head in the flowers, where my brother and sister and I had our picture taken during our two trips to Disney.  Then, on to the attractions!

After marveling at how crowded Main Street already was for so early in the day, we decided to start at the back of the park, in Fantasyland.  We began with "It's a Small World."  I was surprised to see how different it was from its sister at Disneyland.  For one thing, the building looks much older and shabbier, and I noticed that all the way through, whereas in Disneyland, I had hardly even noticed the building because the decorations were so good.  Here, however, the dolls did as I had remembered from when I was little: they each sang in their own native language.

We then continued on to Peter Pan's Flight (better here than at Disneyland), Snow White's Scary Adventure (also better here), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (sparking a discussion of how he seems more popular than Mickey in some circles these days), Dumbo the Flying Elephant (which seemed to have an endless line), and the Mad Tea Party (where Ben worried about spinning too much because he didn't want to upset his stomach).  All in all, Fantasyland took much longer than I thought it would, mostly because it was teeming with little kids, but the lines went fast enough.  After the endless waiting at Disneyland, we had gotten smart--Ben spent his line time reading, and I spent mine writing huge stacks of postcards.

We then cut over to Liberty Square, where we did the Haunted Mansion.  The ride was basically identical to the one in Disneyland, but I thought the outside of this haunted house was much scarier and had great effects, like tombstones that would open their eyes and stare at you when you least expected it.

We also managed to get to the Hall of Presidents right before a show began, so we joined up for that.  It was even better than I remembered, and I came away from it actually feeling that America had the right idea in the beginning and has only become rather messed up lately.  "Patriotic" is not a word I would use to describe myself, but I really did enjoy the Hall of Presidents.

We decided to bypass Mickey's Toontown Fair entirely, since it didn't contain anything we wanted to do, being mostly meeting characters and attractions for really little kids.  We proceeded onward to Tomorrowland, where we were somewhat disappointed by the amount of attractions that were closed.

We took a trip into the Tomorrowland Arcade so Ben could check out the games.  We did the Astro Orbiter, which was basically a Dumbo ride higher up.  The little girl who rode up in the elevator with us loved it, though, and was persistently begging her mother to let her do it for the third time when we left.  Yes, I look forward to bringing all our "little sidekicks" to Disney someday, but for the time being, I'm glad that Ben and I had a chance to do it alone first.

We did Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which I didn't really like because it was one of those where you point your gun at targets and shoot as you go through, and I'm always terrible at those.  Ben did manage to rack up a huge number of points though.

Next was Space Mountain, which I had really been looking forward to.  Ben was in the front of our car, and he looked positively green by the time we got out.  I thought the ride was great, even though I spent the whole time waiting for an immense drop that never came.  However, I had the back of Ben's head to reassure me that we weren't going to hurtle off the edge of the world.  He had no such reassurance, as all the could see was dark "sky" walls and stars everywhere with no idea where the walls or track was.

The next "ride" was every big as terrifying for me as Space Mountain had been for Ben.  We did the Extra TERRORestrial Alien Encounter, which neither of us had heard of before.  It was absolutely terrifying.  We all got strapped into seats around a large center display including a tube that a body was supposed to be "teleported" into.  The story went that something went horribly wrong, and all of a sudden, there was a terrifying evil alien in our midst.  It "got loose," the lights went out, and we could hear and feel the thuds as it supposedly ran around the room.  Our seats blew out puffs of hot air on the backs of our necks as he supposedly breathed on us, and I even got a lick on the back of my neck.  I couldn't wait to get out of there, and I felt terrible for anyone who had taken small children into that nightmare.

By this point in the day, it had started sprinkling, which was actually okay because it thinned out the crowds a little.  We went on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, which was another Dumbo-esque ride, and then we did Pirates of the Caribbean, where our favorite sight was still the dog holding the keys away from the coaxing prisoners. 

We had to wait for a while to do the Jungle Cruise.  During this time, I talked to Derek on the phone.  It started raining even harder, and Ben returned from a trip to the bathroom just in time to take our 6:430 picture and get on the ride.  Our guide here lacked the enthusiasm the guide at Disneyland had displayed.  The deadpan jokes only sounded bored coming out of his mouth, and he lacked any of the personal humor the other guide had added.  All in all, we were pretty disappointed by his tour.

As the rain increased, we got lucky as a woman who was getting out of line shoved her single FastPass at us, and the cast member at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad let us both through on that one.  The ride was fun, and we decided that the day had been good enough without standing in line for Splash Mountain when we were already wet.

We took the Monorail back to the parking lot and drove back to our campsite.  We were both ready for dinner, since we'd had SlimFast and ice for lunch and a pretzel and churro as a late-afternoon snack.  We had purchased an entire package of Italian sausages the night before, so Ben set about the lengthy task of cooking them over the flame of our propane stove.  While he did that, I unpacked all our tubs and divided out what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to drop off in Indianapolis.  We had our sausages for dinner and went to bed fully exhausted.

18 / 40

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