Thursday, August 03, 2006

Illuminations By Phone

My husband is certifiably insane. Or perhaps he just has a major streak of masochism hidden beneath his laid-back exterior. He will actually voluntarily visit Disney World during the summer peak season!

Sure, I know a few locals who will visit the parks in the summertime, but usually it's with a passel of out-of-town visitors in tow. But hubby gets a hankering to see Fantasmic and Illuminations every few weeks, and like a crack addict slinking down a dark back alley for a fix, he slips off down World Drive to the seamy summer environs of the Mouse.

He's usually forced to go solo on his jaunts, as I rarely go anywhere near the Magic Kingdom et. al. from mid-June through late August. It's bad enough dealing with the traffic overflow on the Road of Tourist Trap Hell, aka 192, whenever I want to venture outside of the Celebration Bubble. I have different needs, and I get my fixes driving way out to the calm, woodsy outskirts of Clermont, where my horse Figment and I have our mental moments of "oooommmmmm" on the equestrian trails of Lake Louisa State Park.

I've been riding just about every morning since Figment was delivered from Chicago in early June. I have to get to the barn early in order to avoid the most oppressive heat of the Florida summer. Usually I get in an hour or so of riding. When the bugs aren't too bad, we venture into the thick of the state park. My favorite spots are the loop that goes around Dude Lake and an open area on the way back to the horse trailer parking lot that is just perfect for a canter.

We've seen quite a bit of wild life, from deer to gators to eagles, and of course the ever-present aramdillos. We haven't stumbled across the wild pigs yet, thank goodness! I am quite content to ride in the wilderness; it reminds me of my youth, when I first got my old horse, Cochise, and I would spend hours exploring the Chicago forest preserves on his back.

I bought Cochise when I was only 16, and I distinctly remember heading back to the barn one afternoon on the main trail while my mind wandered off to the future. I wondered, "How old will he live to be?" If he made it to 20, then I would be almost 40...ancient, from a teenager's perspective! I speculated...would I still be riding? Would I still love it as much? Would it still bring me the same level of peace and tranquility? It was hard to imagine what life would be like two long decades from that innocent time.

Now, Cochise is 29 and retired, and I'm a 40-something-year-old coot. But if I could go back in time, I would reassure the teen-aged Barb that horses would still be a big part of her life. The outer body might change, but there's not much difference on the inner core. I might have a new equine trail companion (Cochise is retired in Illinois), but the pleasure remains the same.

But tranquil pursuits aren't enough for hubby. He craves the excitement of peak season Disney World to fulfill his own inner needs. This is a man who went to the parks a couple weeks ago and actually waited 90 minutes to ride "Soarin'!" Now, don't get me wrong...I love that ride. But I don't love it quite enough to cough an hour and a half in July when I know that the lines will be nearly non-existent this fall, or at least I'll be able to get a Fast Pass without arriving at 8 a.m.

But long lines don't faze hubby one bit. He uses the time for people watching, which is always an active sport at WDW. The peak season crowds just roll right off his back. Thus tonight he headed off in Canyonero to see Fantasmic and Illuminations while I remained at home to work (yes, to me, work is preferable to summer season theme park hell!).

Shortly after he left, thunder clouds rolled over Celebration and filled my ears with ominous rumblings. I called hubby on his cell and reached him in the middle of the Great Movie Ride. So far, things were dry at Disney-MGM. He called me back later with an impressive report: He'd managed to do the Movie Ride, Tower of Terror, and see the Millionaire show, and he was on his way to Rockin' Roller Coaster with a Fast Pass. That's pretty darned aggressive for August at Disney!

Later, he gave me a buzz from the Canadian pavillion, where he was preparing to watch Illuminations. As much as I hate the crowds, I do get a hankering to see that show on a regular basis. I love the music, which I have on CD, but it's not quite the same as being in the midst of the blazing fireworks and watching the globe glide across the lagoon. I still get chills when they fire up the lasers and the countries of World Showcase suddenly light up.

Hearing the initial blast of fireworks and the musical strains put me into a state of withdrawal. I know it sounds pathetic, but I actually stayed on the phone until I could hear my favorite part of the musical score! Vicarious Illuminations is better than no Illuminations at all. I listened through the temptuous beginning and imagined the Epcot sky blazing and the smoke billowing across the lagoon. Then the music slowed down and the explosions ceased, and I imagined the globe gliding slowly across the water. Finally, my favorite part! As the orchestra swelled, I imagined the globe turning orange and blue as the video scenes flashed on its face. My favorite scene (not surprisingly) is the white horse galloping across a blue sky background.

Once that part was over, I reluctantly hung up the phone. I needed to get back to work, and at my ankles Farquaad was reminding me that it was ten minutes past cat feeding time and he was close to collapse from hunger.

As a I parsed up the cat food between the Feline Trio, my mind drifted back to the early days of our Celebration experience. Ages ago, I blogged about the time when Duloc Manor was still being built and I called our real estate agents. I reached them on their cell phone as they headed to Epcot to spontaneously see the Candlelight Processional, topped off with Illuminations. Oh, how I envied them and longed for the day when that would be my reality too!

I wonder what it would be like if we could drift back in time for a moment or two and talk to those "early versions" of ourselves. I wonder what Young Barb would have thought if I could have told her, "By the time you're 40, you'll be living next to Disney World and riding a new horse through Florida scrub land." I'm sure it would have been a shock because at that point I'd never been to Disney World yet. I knew that I wanted to be a traveler, but I'd never cconsidered moving away from Illinois.

The only thing that wouldn't have surprised me would have been that I still owned a horse. I subscribe to a quote from Monica Dickens: "When I can't ride anymore, I shall still keep horses as long as I can hobble along with a bucket and a wheelbarrow. When I can't hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out to the fence of the field where my horses graze, and watch them."

The Barb who was waiting eagerly for her house to be done probably wouldn't be too surprised that her present-day counterpart is still so happy in Celebration. But I suspect that she'd roll her eyes if I told her that she'd be enjoying "Illuminations by Phone." Hey, it's better than fighting the crowds!

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BobnMissy said...

Dang it, again you made me so homesick for my old 'hood. My late hubby and I used to run over and ride just one ride @ the Kingdom, grab a dolewhip, and head back to the bubble. And Illuminations - that was the best! We were walking back fm the East Village Pool one night and we heard the music just blasting... were in shock thinking we might be listening to the real thing but was not so, just one of our neighbors playing the CD at top volume for reasons still unknown to this day. One day, just like MacArthur, "I shall return"! In the meantime, two trips planned for Sept. and Oct., and another for Mar. That's how I stay sane!

nickyg said...

We love IllumiNations as well. I have tried to find the cd of the music, but no luck. ould you let me know the full name etc.

We live in the UK but love Celebration and have looked at buying a house, but visas/rentals etc don't make it viable. Pity.

Your blogs are great as we an imagine ourselves back there again. Please keep blogging.

Barb said...

Please email me at the address on and I can give you the information on the CD with the Illuminations score. It also has the music from the old Tapestry of Nations parade.