NOTE: The events in this post and the following series all took place pre-COVID. Many of the rules and planning for a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW)have changed since my last trip. Be sure to do your own research as things change frequently right now at WDW and any destination in general.
An Unsettling Discovery
I had hoped for a restful night after another fairly long day in the Magic Kingdom. I was still feeling chilled from the earlier rain and took a hot shower to warm up before hitting the sack. As usual it wasn’t long after I had my CPAP (aka “life support”) attached to my fast and turned on that I was fast asleep.
At some point in the dead of the night I awoke – feeling like I was about to freeze to death. “Who turned down the air conditioning?” I thought. But when I got out of bed to check the temp the room seemed to be at a comfortable 70 degrees. I turned the temp up to 75 anyway hoping that Bob wouldn’t notice until morning. My bed was the closest to the air, I reasoned, which might be why I was so cold. But, I had been comfortable every other night so far. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep because I was still cold.
I searched the drawers as best I could in the dark for any extra blankets. I found pillows but no more covers. “Floridians,” I thought to myself, “never ready for the cold.” I finally put on my sweat shirt and some sweat pants I brought – I had this idea that I might actually work out while here (ha!) – and finally was warm enough to get back to sleep.
Morning for me came a little to soon. But I was feeling better overall and presumed that my chill during the night was because of a little dehydration and/or my long dormant Crohn’s acting up. I thought nothing of it until I made a rather startling discovery in the shower. My lower leg was covered in a bright red rash. It looked as if someone had taken a grater to my leg during the night. I dried off, pulled on a pair of shorts and exited the bathroom.
“What do you think this is?” I asked Bob as I showed him my leg. Bob took a quick look and then recoiling back a little he replied, “uh, I don’t know. It’s some kind of rash. How long have you had it?”
“I just noticed it in the shower. I don’t think I had it last night. Maybe I brushed up against a plant or something on Tom Sawyer Island?”
“It looks pretty nasty. Does it hurt?”
“Not really. It doesn’t even itch. I’m not going to worry about it now,” I lied, “Let’s head out and I’ll stop at First Aid to have someone there take a look at it.”
The entire bus ride to the Magic Kingdom I wondered about this weird rash. Bedbugs? No, something like those would have started biting days ago. Poison Ivy? In the well manicured confines of the Magic Kingdom where nothing grows except what Disney wants to grow? Not likely but an allergic reaction seemed likely. What could it be? Is this why I had chills during the night? Was I going to end my Disney trip at the hospital? I tend to go to worse case scenario at times like this as you might have noticed.
“Golfer’s Rash,” the nurse at the First Aid Center tucked in neatly between Casey’s Corner and the Crystal Palace, “we see it all the time. The sun reflects off of the pavement and hits your calves. Most people forget to put enough sun screen on their legs.” she handed me some ointment to put on the rash if it started to itch and we were on our way to enjoy the rest of our last full day at Walt Disney World.
Attractions New and Repeats
We had Fast Passes for Space Mountain, one of my favorite coasters, so we headed off to Tomorrowland. Now as my friends know I am (was?) quite the coaster enthusiast so some of them might be surprised to learn that Space Mountain is one of my favorite coasters. Despite the theming it is essentially a “mad mouse” style coaster in a dark room. But, heaven help me, I still like it. I will admit that I like the Disneyland version slightly better because of the speakers built right into the seats. Though the Magic Kingdom’s version has a sound track there’s something about that music blasting right into your ears that gets all the senses engaged. The Rock ‘n Rollercoaster in Hollywood Studios does the same thing as does the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit over at Universal. IMHO all coasters should come with soundtracks.
A Quick Detour Down Memory Lane – Space Mountain 1975
Another reason that this coaster is a favorite is because of the memories it evokes. On my family’s first trip to Space Mountain in 1975 the ride was new and mysterious. All of us decided to give it a try. Most of us (my mom, sister, brother, and myself) liked roller coasters. My dad, as a rule, did not. As we waited in the queue the tension mounted. Was the ride as intense as they said? Can we pick which track to ride? Did astronauts really say it was like going into space (they did at the time)?
When it was our turn to go on the cast member announced that each car only head four people. Who was going to ride alone? At the same time four heads turned, my sister’s, my brother’s, my mother’s, and mine, and looked at poor dad who was taken by surprise. “What? Why me? I don’t like roller coasters?” he protested. But like the good father he was he dutifully waited for the next car while the rest of us took off into the “booster” tubes for one of the most fun rides of our young lives.
Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Post
After Bob and I rode Space Mountain we felt we needed something a little slower for our next attraction. So naturally we meandered once again over to the other side of the park to find some lunch. We settled on Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn for some burritos, with a self-serve fixing’s bar, and then got back into line for our second ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. This time we did not have people talking behind us all the way through the attraction and it was a much more enjoyable experience.
We did have an experience in the queue line though. We were in the stand by line behind a couple of teen age girls who were just talking to each other when behind us there came a shout, “Oh look, it’s Jessica* – hi Jessica” and suddenly the two girls were joined by a third. No big deal right? Wrong. “Karen!” was the next shout. Then there were four, then five, then six, suddenly the two girls we were standing behind became an entire cheerleading (we presumed from our earlier experience) squad!
Now it might help to know that Bob and I used to work at another amusement park (Cedar Point) and in this park line jumping is cause for removal from the park. So the idea of a couple people being joined by an entire group ran against both our sensibilities. Bob, ever restrained as always, pointed out to a cast member what just happened. The cast member looked at the teens and said, “this man says that you all cut in front of him? Is that true?”
The teens sheepishly admitted that a “couple” of them did join the line late. The cast member then took Bob and I to the front of the group so are wait would be a few minutes shorter. It didn’t help all the other people behind us and I frankly might have just instructed the group of teens to go the back of the line. But what later became apparent, and I’m not sure why we hadn’t really noticed earlier, in other stand by lines that the idea of “line jumping” is a foreign concept to a lot of Walt Disney World guests. As from that point on we noticed at every other stand by line we were in that someone, usually several “someones,” was always being joined late by a family member or two (3 or 4 on occasion) who was going to the restroom, getting some food, or just waiting for the designated member of their party to get closer to the front of the line. I don’t know if this is just a Disney thing but it’s not the queue line etiquette I grew up with dagnabbit.
Pirates was followed by another look at the 3:00 parade, a trip on the iconic Jungle Cruise (soon to be a major motion picture), the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, Goofy’s Barnstormer, and another ride through The Haunted Mansion. Another pretty full day! I also got in an afternoon “snack” of chicken and waffles from Sleepy Hollow which was pretty good. I even had a pleasant conversation with an Ohio State fan while standing in line. Since I’m an alumnus of the University of Michigan we would normally be mortal enemies, but there are only friends in the Magic Kingdom.
By the way, Goofy’s Barnstormer had a mercifully short line which was good as it’s a very short coaster. It is a favorite with the younger set however. The queue line there gave us an opportunity to see more of the construction progress of the new Tron coaster which at the time seemed to be coming along quickly (unfortunately, it’s been delayed due to the pandemic and is behind schedule now due to open in the first half of 2022).
For our final night’s meal we decided to “splurge” and take in a Disney Signature dining experience – mainly because we had an extra dinner credit to still use because of our night at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue. We chose to go to the Citrico’s over at the Grand Floridian. I made sure to wear a collared shirt and khaki shorts to match the dress code. We rode the monorail to get over to the hotel but I should mention that since this trip Disney has built a new walkway so you can walk between the Grand Floridian and the Magic Kingdom along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon.
The Grand Floridian is arguably Walt Disney World’s most posh hotel. The surroundings are luxurious and are designed to recall the glory days of Florida’s tourism (if you were wealthy that is). The restaurants are top-notch and dining at Victoria and Albert’s is thought by many to be a once in a lifetime treat – especially if you can afford the chef’s table experience. Citrico’s, which promotes American food with a Mediterranean flair, is no slouch either. Rated 4.5 stars out of 5 on Trip Advisor it is a fine dining experience and worthy of the “signature dining” label.
But, here’s my problem. I agree that the surroundings of the restaurant were pleasant. The open kitchen layout is effective without being obtrusive to the dining. The service was top-notch even though we did have to wait a little to be seated. I can’t recall having a single issue with my meal and it was a pleasant way to essentially finish our vacation. However, for the life of me, I cannot recall what I had to eat that night. Not a single bite from appetizer to desert. I can recall pretty much every other meal we had except the one that was supposed to be the highlight of the trip.
Maybe it’s because I have had the good fortune to eat in several other fine dining establishments, maybe it’s because my palate is refined or geared towards haute cuisine, or maybe it’s because it was just another meal at another fancy restaurant. In other words, and experience I could get pretty much elsewhere in any city in the world. Again, it’s not that there was anything wrong with the meal – the restaurant is more than worthy of high ratings – it was just, unfortunately, forgettable. Lesson learned – next trip I’ll pick a themed restaurant to finish my trip.
After dinner it was back to the hotel to pack our bags and get in one last good night’s sleep before our final attraction and the trip back to reality, aka – home.
To be continued…
All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted in which case the original artist retains all rights. Otherwise photos and words @copyright by David P. Wahr