The second day was improved because everyone managed to sleep in until at least 5:30 AM, and because Mrs. Parent found a Starbucks sneakily hidden away behind an antique facade in the park.
The view from my hotel room at 5:30 in the morning. I guess the lights never turn off.
Right out of the gate we had a Fast Pass for the Jungle Cruise, which the oldest boy swore he would hate and insisted on berating it and snipping at his brother for the majority of the small Fast Pass wait. A great deal of my job at Disney was merely standing between boys to prevent fighting and to try and avoid making everyone else in line as unhappy as we appear to be.
So we went on the Jungle Cruise, and absolutely none of my pictures turned out because my terribly expensive phone cannot take a good picture whilst moving five miles an hour down a river, but that’s all right. The eldest boy secretly enjoyed himself, despite vehemently and preemptively denying it the second his feet his solid ground again.
While we waited for our next Fast Pass time slot (which is, we were coming to realize, the only way you will ever see the inside of most rides during Jersey Week), we ran briefly through the Swiss Family Treehouse, which was very nice and which the boys were largely uninterested in because it was a book they had never heard of and there weren’t enough pirates or roller coasters involved.
I thought it was neat. Look at this! This whole massive tree is completely fake! How cool is that?!
Maybe Disney could hire me to live in this place full time and act the part. They wouldn’t have to pay me. Just pass some food through the door occasionally and I’ll play you some tidbits on the organ.
The Pirates of the Caribbean ride they did appreciate, but once again they failed to drag us on it fifteen times like I did my poor grandfather in 2007, so we got out of there pretty early too. As The Family started to amble away from Adventureland, Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial started up behind us, and I all but begged to stay and watch at least part of it.
Because it’s Captain Jack Sparrow.
I did a lot of begging at Disney World, primarily because I was the only one really enthused to be there. I tried not to take up a lot of The Family’s time, but I couldn’t resist snapping distant pictures of princesses whenever we passed one.
Look guys, it’s her! It’s Merida! It’s- guys?
Back in 2007, we went on nearly all of the major rides, but the one thing I was looking forward to the most was The Haunted Mansion. For years my darling mother had mentioned how spectacular it was, how enchanted the waltzing ghosts were, how fascinating all the illusions had been. I was a Halloweenie. I was so excited.
Naturally, The Haunted Mansion was closed until October when we arrived. Young Jean probably gave her grandparents a hard time about that. Sorry, Grandma and Grandpa.
So while we were here, I pulled a few of the older boys aside, got down on their level, and made them a deal. “I will stand in line with you for Space Mountain if you will go on The Haunted Mansion with me,” I whispered.
I’m surprised this picture isn’t blurry because I was nearly vibrating with excitement.
They were thrilled at the prospect of Space Mountain again. I was thrilled to finally go on The Haunted Mansion. The parents were accepting. While Mr. and Mrs. Parent took the younger boys off to the Aladdin ride, I ran off with the older boys and bribed them with my phone games to stand in line for forty minutes.
“Guys! Guys! Look at the hearse! Look at the spooky horse frame! Isn’t this cool?!” “Okay.”
I’m not going to describe in detail what happens in the ride (mostly because pictures are impossible to take in there), but it hit me about midway through the ride that this is what I always thought amusement parks should be. Every time I entered another unsatisfying “haunted house” ride or grimaced at the peeling paint on a scuffy spinning teacups attraction, I was picturing something more put together and impressive.
Turns out that’s Walt Disney World- who knew, right?
The Haunted Mansion was thoroughly satisfying. The boys decided it was their second favorite ride, because they enjoyed being able to loudly proclaim how unscary it was. Everyone was happy for a blessed twelve minutes before the vacation stress set in again.
As it grew dark, Mrs. Parent went off to do some shopping on Main Street and Mr. Parent and I waded through the crowds with the boys to find a place to sit.
Good luck trying to get a better picture than this after the parade has just ended (which we missed anyway).
And as we sat outside a little hat shop and the boys had more fun with a provided checkers set than they had had in the rest of the day combined, I sat and watched the crowds grow thinner. The funny thing is, the later it gets in Disney World, the older things feel. After a while of foggy staring, it started to feel like I was watching the 1960s moving around me.
And there was something very peaceful about that.
Disney magic really does exist, which is crazy. No one was joking or making it out to be more than it is. The more time I spent there, even working and surrounded by people who never fully relax, the more I started to sound like an advertisement for the place. I would call my parents up, rant about my day a little, and then finish with, “But Disney World really is enchanting.”
It really is.