That is the motto of Disneyworld in Orlando FL. My dream was to find $1 million while I was there last week. Instead, I spent about that much. But it was worth every penny.
I rendezvoused with my womanchild Lalaine on Sunday evening and checked into Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which has an African theme, embraced by the employees (cast members). We were given a room that overlooked the Savannah. I woke up each morning as if I had gone bush. A photo taken from my balcony:
I turned the TV on immediately when we arrived, as I tend to do in hotels. The channel programming was limited to Disney selections, CNN coverage of the Polygamist ranch in Texas, and Christian evangelists like Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland.
But then I found BET, and it seemed strange to switch back-and-forth between an interview with “The Compassionate Conservative” Doug Mead and a “Spring Bling” concert featuring Lil Wayne. Two observations:
1. The song “Lollipop” has amazing lyrics…or lack thereof.
2. “Return to Walnut Grove: Little House on the Prairie REVEALED!” has been cast so those homebodies can ditch the Laura Ingalls Wilder dresses.
Disneyworld was totally sold out, jammed with middle America and those Europeans who enjoy our current exchange rate (Thanks Gee-Dub! $1.08 when you started, $1.57 as of today). The resort is separated into four different parks: Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom. For a Monday, the lines were massive, with signs that read “120 minute wait” and “85 minutes from here.”
But that’s where my womanchild Lalaine comes to save the day!
First thing Monday morning, she posed for photos in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Such a cutie pie:
For this, we were given a personal guide to whisk us onto rides immediately and a blacked-out Suburban to transport us quickly from park to park. She would prefer, as she tends to, if I didn’t explain why we were blessed with this treatment. But here’s a clue for the Disney-inclined minds:
Having been intrigued by a recent Discovery Channel special, the first stop on my agenda was Everest, which is a re-imagining of Disneyland’s famed Matterhorn ride. It’s icy peaks stretch above what I suppose is a Disneyworld version of Nepal’s Imja Khola River…with a iron bridge spanning it. We vogued for a moment:
Everest did not disappoint. Gone was the Swiss Alps theme and relentless laendlermusic of Matterhorn, replaced with casualties of failed Himalayan mountaineering expeditions, various oddities of the Sherpa, and, of course, evidence of the mythic Yeti. We saw him; he grew dreads.
Next was Aerosmith’s Rock & Rollercoaster, which is by far the fastest ride in Disney’s vast empire. As tends to be the trend these days, guests are exposed to a brief exhibit before boarding, which sets a tone for the experience. For this ride, one enters a recording studio where Boston’s favorite bad boys are mixing “Walk This Way,” and we are treated to about three seconds of isolated drum and bass tracks. I like.
But then I got distracted by bassist Tom Hamilton. In 2008, why does his hair still look like this?
We crossed the waters soon after to an old favorite of mine, Tom Sawyer’s Island. Being that author Mark Twain (née Samuel Clemens) wore a mustache and enjoyed the fine briar, I’ll always pay tribute with a visit, even if the experience is geared towards the rampant imaginations of the young. The first thing that surprised me was the continued reference to “Injun Joe.” I tried to scare some small children while visiting said character’s designated cave:
True, “Injun Joe” is the name of the antagonist in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” never to be altered in the majestic annals of American literature. But it seems in this day and age of ever-growing Native American pride and power that Disney might retire the use of “Injun,” storing it neatly away as a word that was relevant in the late 1800s. But I don’t anticipate any race riots erupting on the mountainous terrain of Tom Sawyer’s Island.
As night fell, visitors of legal age are enticed to the nightclubs of Pleasure Island. I imagine, being that Disney rarely diverts from branding, that this is a reference to the island of wicked boys in Carlo Collodi’s book “Pinocchio,” animated into a feature by Walt Disney in 1940.
While the BET Soundstage seemed a perfect bookend to my earlier Cash Money experience, Lalaine and I chose 8 Trax, advertised as “A 70s nightclub,” where we danced the night away to classic 1970s hits like “Gonna Make You Sweat” by C+C Music Factory (1990), “Thriller” by Michael Jackson (1982), “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli (1989), and “Let’s Groove” by Earth Wind & Fire (1980). Being a tourist destination, the mere act of tipping correctly will prompt the bartender to pour heavy: