Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

According to Andy Williams, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. As a resident of the Orlando/Kissimmee area, I would beg to differ. For me and many other theme park-addicted locals, the brief interlude between Labor Day and October is just about as wonderful as you can get.

All summer long, Disney World is a mob scene. I don't visit the theme parks in July and August unless I'm feeling the need for self-punishment. But once Labor Day passes, the kids are all back in school and Mom and Dad don't want to pull them out for a vacation because its so early in the school year. Thus the parks are deserted by summer standards, and the locals all come out to play in the virtual ghost town.

Over the past couple weeks, I've been over-indulging on a huge dose of Disney. I went to Epcot last weekend and racked up four rides on Soarin' in the morning, including some in the standby line. In the summer, it's often two hours; I will not deign to wait in it unless its 20 minutes or less. Thus you can guess just how dead the park was!

I returned to Epcot with a friend this past week to see if the lines were still non-existent. Sure enough, between the standby and Fastpass lines we rode it five times and could easily have done a sixth. I have a limitless capacity for flying over the orange groves and diving over ocean and forests of California, but after the fifth ride she was ready for some lunch. We hiked over to Mexico and then took walk around World Showcase. I was utterly amazed at just how deserted the park was. There were a few scattered knots of people, but compared to the summer it was downright barren. We also rode Living With The Land and Test Track (singles line) before calling it a day.

This weekend hubby and I wanted to visit Typhoon Lagoon. As the weather cools, my thin Floridian blood won't be able to handle water parks much longer, so we wanted to take advantage of the still summer-level temperatures.

We had planned to go on Saturday, but we got a late start because I had to work so we ened up going to Universal Studio instead. We had a very late lunch at Bubba Gumps, followed by a walk to the park. The standby wait times were only 20 to 30 minutes, but since we have Premier Passes we had pretty much no wait at all via using the Express lines.

On Sunday, we decided to hit the water park right after church. We ate a late breakfast to tide us over so that we could skip lunch and then have an early dinner after our playtime. Typhoon Lagoon was only open until 5 p.m., but we figured we'd actually have even less time due to the typical afternoon thunderstorms. The sky started out clear, but questionable dark clouds were already gathering on the horizon as we floated around the lazy river.

Typhoon was just as uncrowded as the theme parks. The number of times you could ride the water slides was dependent only on your ability to keep climbing the stairs. There was a short wait for Crush N Gusher, the water "roller coaster," but nothing too terrible.

Even with the sparse crowds, I recoiled at the grossness of my fellow human beings. We stopped at the restrooms near the snorkeling reef, and I witnessed the second worst bathroom that I've ever seen in my life (the absolute worst was at a beach on Lake Erie in Ohio). In the first stall, someone had taken a healthy dump and had conveniently forgotten to flush. The second contained a mixture of wadded toilet paper and blood whose origins I was frightening to contemplate. The third contained a dump that rivaled the first. Maybe the creators hadn't actually forgotten to flush. Maybe I had inadvertently stumbled into the 2007 World Crap Championships and was viewing entries waiting to be judged. Thankfully we found cleaner restrooms by Crush N Gusher, but I was still reeling from the filth I had witnesses.

My next reminder of the grossness of the human animal occurred when I was leaving the wave pool. A guy walking with his family suddenly did a huge hocker and spit his big wad of phlegm into the pool. Ugh! Apparently he, or perhaps a relative-in-training, had visited the next water fountain I used, too, and had left a big, festering, slimy wad right beside the fountain. At that point, I was ready to take a bath in antibacterial soap and swath myself in Saran Wrap before entering any more bodies of water.

Even with the gross-outs, we were having a wonderful day. We had originally planned to stay for a couple of hours, but we were having so much fun that we quickly lost track of time. The storm clouds overhead seemed to be blowing over, so we thought we might actually make it until 5 p.m. Unfortunately, as we were taking another spin around the lazy river while planning our next round of watersliding, it started to rain. Then it started to pour, although we just ignored it since we were wet already. But then we heard a sudden crack of thunder that sounded like it was right overhead. Immediately we knew that the day was over; at the first sign of thunder and lightning it's "Everybody out of the pool."

Reluctantly we headed to our locker to drag our drowned-rat carcasses home. All around us was an amusing sight: soaking wet people in swimsuits huddled in stores and doorways and under canopies, trying desperately to avoid the rain. Duh, people, you're wet already! Really, really wet...the rain ain't gonna get you any wetter! Do you think that you're fine in chlorinated pools but that rain water will cause you to melt?

Thankfully we had a plastic bag in which to stuff our beach duffel. We traipsed through the downpour to the Family Truckster and joined the conga line of bailing bathers heading out of the parking lot.

After drying off at home, we headed out to the Chevys at Lake Buena Vista for dinner. Hubby noticed that they had window frames as decorations between the sections; he thought that they were knew, but I was certain that I had seen them before. Suddenly it hit me: they were from the Chevys on 192 that had closed. We asked on the way out, and sure enough they had been salvaged from the defunct location. The Kissimmee Chevys may be gone, but a little piece of it will live on across the street from Disney World.

Even with the washout, it had been another great day in the off-season. I'm hoping that I have one more week before the crowds return; in the meantime, you can find me particpating in a Soarin' marathon or romping through the near-deserted streets of one of the other parks.

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1 comment:

mike davidson said...

Hi Barb,
My wife and I have been visiting from the UK for several years and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blogs - it's great to keep in touch with a town which we love. We have a dream of living in Celebration and hope to run a small business in the town one day. We have just returned from Florida and are already missing days at the parks and eating in Market Street Café and Chevys! Best regards.