Archive for April 5th, 2008

The Devil Went Down to Florida pt 1

For most of my political knowledge (mind you, not my opinions) I read the articles at There’s other things there besides politics, but with few exceptions, that’s all they’re really good for, news and politics. I still peek around, though. There’s this article for instance, in which one of their travel writers examines why on Earth any adult, lacking kids would choose to spend their money and time at Walt Disney World Resort.

And then he pisses all over it.

Now, I’m a Disney person. So right away, I have to admit that I was predisposed to hating the article. I used to live there as part of the Disney College Program. And though my time there was often filled with personal trials, Lake Buena Vista and the surrounding areas are still home to me. So like any hometown boy, I get a might riled when someone talks smack about my people. And I do look at it that way. My three favorite subjects are breasts, Country music and Disney, in that order. (Yeah, I know. I have issues.) I just can’t tell you how in love I am with the parks. But it’s more than that. It isn’t just the rides and the sweets and the bikini clad girls on hot days. It’s all of it.

I always start out small, with the Animal Kingdom. It’s best to go on a cold day, because when it’s warm or wet, the overbearing humidity from all the foliage makes me fell like I’m right back in Louisiana, except there it’s much prettier. The Tree of Life is an impressive feat of ingenuity. Sure it doesn’t look like a real tree, but that fact makes it feel no less alive. It is your central compass for the often confusing, sprawling area within the Animal Kingdom. The AK isn’t just a park, you see. It’s an actual wildlife preserve, and while the park is smaller than both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, the area that the park and the preserve span is bigger than the MK and Epcot combined. And then some.

I like to start off my days with a smile and a show, and I always find both deep within the winding passages of the Tree of Life. There at the base, under the roots, you will find It’s Tough to be a Bug!, one of Disney’s many interactive shows. This one stars Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall, Newsradio) as Flik from Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. The shows like Tough to be a Bug are among my favorite attractions. Sure, I’ve seen them all literally countless times. But despite the fact that you’re watching the equivalent of a cartoon short over and over again, it never feels repetitious to me. I suppose it has a lot to do with the level of familiarity we have with the characters. I’m not just watching a show. It’s more like I’m visiting old friends.

Moving on from the Tree of Life, I start to kick it into overdrive. You see, unlike most people, I’m just not into animals; so the various attractions that take advantage of the nature preserve aspect of the park do nothing for me. Instead, I bolt for one of my favorite new attractions in all of the Resort, Expedition Everest. Everest takes the concept of climbing Mount Everest and confronting the Abominable Snow Man and turns it into a roller coaster. It goes forwards, backwards and upside down. Now here’s the thing, I’m afraid of heights. Scared to death. So on that long, slow trek up the mountain as the car rides up the rails and you can hear the steady “tick, tick, tick” of the track, I am holding on for dear life. And yet still, there is a moment towards the top where I have to unclench my eyes and look out. And there I see a whole world. Down at the base, ant-like people waving and smiling. A little up I can see the Tree of Life and an endless ocean of lush green forest. And on the rare occasion when I’m willing to brave the front seat, the peak provides a short glimpse of the entire resort. Mostly there’s more of that sea of green, but then you can see peaking into the sky the Epcot geodesic dome, The Tower of Terror and Cinderella’s Castle (I think).

From there I rush over to ride Dinosaur!, which provides a trip through time after a short video starring Felicia Rashad from the Cosby Show and, uhh… Cosby. It’s not my favorite ride. I think it’s rip off of Universal Studios’ Jurassic Park ride and Disneyland’s (much better) Indiana Jones ride. But inevitably, whoever I’m with at the time loves it, and there aren’t that many more things for me in the park anyway. Then I do a quick stop at Primeval Whirl, which is a cramped four person ride that spins around constantly while going up and down and round and round on a track. I’m not sure why spinning around is so fun. But it is.

From there we pop over to the Khali River Rapids, which was previous my favorite AK ride (now it’s Everest). I love water rides. I guess I just love water. And Kali River Rapids provides it in spades. It’s one of those giant white water rapid rides where you’re lumped in a giant tire with a bunch of strangers and (especially with the ladies) regretting your choice of a white t-shirt and the lack of flip flops. By the end of fast, tossing, splashing ride, you’re soaked. Of course, I’m a professional, so I wore a bathing suit that day. And yes, that was probably me laughing at you ringing out your socks. And the guy staring at your wet t-shirt? Mm-hmm. ; ]

By then I’m ready to go on to other parks, but there’s so much more there for everyone.   Shows, exhibits and even a live  Safari.  The Animal Kingdom takes the concept of a zoo and elevates it to a jungle adventure.

Next up:  Disney MGM Studios