You know your day at the Magic Kingdom has changed course considerably when your main concern is seeking air-conditioned shelter. It’s no longer about the rides. Instead, your focus is on which activities you can pursue that will result in A/C blasting you in the face.
This is why the Hall of Presidents became my refuge. It’s an attraction modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia that features all 43 presidents in “Audio-Animatronics” glory, which is Disney World speak for robots.
Those commander-in-chief droids must require a refrigerated environment because the Hall of Presidents is the coolest place in the park. I could, at max, go on three rides before I had to get back to the hall for a cool down. I found an A/C vent in the rotunda where if you stood at a 90-degree angle, you could get a rush of cold air up your shorts. It was like oxygen for someone climbing Mt. Everest.
The only problem was my daughter was getting crabby about my need for an A/C refresh. She also complained about the time we were wasting having to constantly go back to the Hall of Presidents. This necessitated me finding another chill zone. It wasn’t quite as cold as the Hall of Presidents but it got the job done. It also had much better people watching.
It was a Fantasy Land gift shop located right next to the Cinderella Castle, where little girls could — for the bargain price of $195— go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and get the full princess treatment. This means an “up do,” with shimmer make up and a manicure. Also included was the Disney character gown of their choice.
The mothers coming out of the boutique, with their coiffured tots in tow, were their own cast of characters. The most tragic was the Sobbing MOP (Mom Of a Princess.) These are the teary-eyed mothers dragging a crying princess out of the boutique. The child was usually having a melt down because her “hair hurt.” Otherwise known as “bun head burn.”
Each princess got a bun and a crown, and let me tell you those buns were pulled back tight enough to withstand the G-force of Space Mountain. I got why both the child and the mom were bawling. If I had just dropped $200 on a “Princess Experience” and it resulted in my daughter going full royal tantrum, I’d need a Kleenex too.
Once the sun had set I was able to significantly limit my A/C visits. It’s not that it was that much cooler — it still felt like I was wearing a grizzly pelt lined with polar fleece. But at least I wasn’t getting a solar pistol whipping. I had hoped that after the 10 p.m. fireworks, families would start to clear out of the park. I mean, really, who would stay till 1 a.m. if you had small children or even an infant?
“Everyone,” is the answer to that question.
The state song of Florida has to be crying children because that melody followed me throughout Disney World and it got cranked up every night. You had parents, who had to know better, waking up babies and toddlers to put then on rides. I swear, after 11 p.m. Fantasy Land was the Trail of Tears.
To escape the screaming, my daughter and I fled to Adventure Land to set sail on the Jungle Cruise. We thought we were safe from unhappy children until a dad boarded our boat with a preschooler who was afraid of water. The poor kid howled. The dad announced that he was just going to let the kid “cry it out.” I gave my daughter the look that said, “Make a run for it,” and we got off that boat faster than you can say, “God help us all.”
After that, our strategy was to stay in Frontier Land till the park closed at 1 a.m. That way we could ride the Splash Mountain log plume, get wet and then blow dry while riding the Thunder Mountain roller coaster. This was a great plan, and upping the fun ante was standing in line with people who didn’t want to get wet.
There are signs posted all along the line stating that you will get wet. When you step into the log it is wet, and people getting off the ride are drenched. Yet there are still people who are angry after the ride is over that they are water logged. To make matters worse these are the people who usually want to sit in the front log, known in theme park terminology as the super-soaker. Who out there doesn’t know the front log takes the biggest direct hit? I think another Disney improvement would be IQ tests for certain rides. It would certainly thin the theme park herd.
But no matter the tears, the heat, the idiot quotient, I did it. I crossed the finish line of 17 hours at the Magic Kingdom. Where’s that T-shirt at the gift shop?