Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Only moderately embarrassing

Some of you may visualize me as a dapper boulevardier, a well dressed bon vivant who expounds witticisms and wisdom on the free market, proper apparel for civilized gentlemen, and ingestibles.

All perfectly true, no doubt.

However, there is a dark side.

I'm a Disney geek. Poppy's caught several blasts of it and, by sheer exposure and contagion, a mild version of this syndrome.

How much of a geek? I have an annual pass (AP). To Disneyland. DisneyLAND. As in, California, across the continent from the fringe of paradise whence I hail. Oh, yeah, I also have an AP to Walt Disney World, but that's not that impressive in a Floridian. But still.

Anyway, I went to WDW for the first time in January of 1972. I didn't return until we had moved down to FL, in 1975. But going to WDW was an eyeopening thing and also a part of my childhood that informed something of my growing up. The 1972 trip was the last trip I ever took with my paternal grandmother, and so I have warm memories from that angle. I also grew up watching "Uncle Walt" on TV (mostly reruns, I was VERRRRRRY young when he died) and getting the Donald & Uncle Scrooge comics as a kid as well. And having a few of the ViewMaster* reels.

I have fond memories of my Dad accidentally drinking a whole pint of Bass Ale at the pub in EPCOT in 1982 and subsequently trying to sound English. (Those of you who remember my dad's speaking voice will realize how mindbendingly hilarious this scenario is.)

But anyway.

We'll be going to WDW for Memorial Day weekend (it's actually LESS crowded, counterintuitive as that may be) and then at some point in July-ish off to DL to burn off a bunch of our Delta FF miles. We have managed to meet up with Poppy & Co. 2-3 in DL and it's always amazingly fun and, on the years when we don't, we meet up with a friend from B-school and her husband and kids who are more or less my kids' ages. So that's always great.

But back to WDW. One of the sneaky things about making hotel arrangements in WDW is that it's a lot cheaper than people think. This is because WDW doesn't exactly call attention to its discounts, sales and special offers. It reminds me of the plans for the bypass in Douglas Adams' The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy:

"But the plans were on display..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah...well...the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display on the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard.'"

You have to ask to see what they have. Knowing this, I was able to score very reasonably priced digs, within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom. It is an article of faith with me to avoid mass transit wherever possible (Boston & Washington DC are extremely rare exceptions.) and never more so when at WDW. The way the layout of the parks are, unless you stay where we are staying, you'll have to take some kind of bus, tram, ferry, train, monorail, skiff, canoe or oxcart to get to one of the parks. Which we have neatly avoided. For 55% off the rack rates.

"But don't you get bored?"

No.

Part of the reason we don't is because we never stand in lines (Poppy never stands in lines either, but she barely rides the rides.) waiting like cornfed tourists in the hot sun for hours just to see an Audio-Animatronic wolverine for 35 seconds. The reason we don't have to stand in line, is because we have the zen of the thing and know when to go where. In fact, we have managed to ride EVERY RIDE IN TWO PARKS in one day. We know the secret shortcuts, we know which rides load and unload slowly (Dumbo, ugh...the ride that eats families.) we know what restaurant to be at and at what time, when to take a pool break, all that stuff.

My unfortunate schadenfreude makes me snicker when people report on their trips as being nothing more than hour upon hour of queueing up in the blistering sun to see a six foot rat.

And there's really good food, if'n you know where to go.

-J.

* More on THAT hobby later.

Posted by Joke at 8:13 AM

20 Comments

  • Blogger Badger posted at 9:05 AM, May 02, 2006  
    Dude. We are doing WDW in December. I haven't been there since before I was felt up by a future no-necked neanderthal. Can you send me your top-secret info? In return, I promise not to post any more pictures of said no-necked neanderthal. Nor Glamour Shots, neither.
  • Blogger jujube posted at 10:30 AM, May 02, 2006  
    we go the week before President's Day and take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and Fastpass. the only thing we had to wait in line for was the Peter Pan ride at midnight one Sunday EMH night.

    we take the buses and boats and don't mind.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 11:31 AM, May 02, 2006  
    Dude,

    Post a GlamourShot of the feeler-upper and I'll pull the 4 of youse in a rickshaw.

    -J.
  • Blogger MsCellania posted at 11:46 AM, May 02, 2006  
    Since we don't have your Zen of All Things Disney, we subscribed to Tour Guide Mikes $21 insider info plan. It worked well for us, and I left all my notes at home. We knew to arrive at opening, RUN to the back of the park and do the park sort of backwards, using FastPasses as necessary, eating of off hours, taking a 3:30-6:00 pool/nap/dinner break, returning for the fireworks, etc, stuff and most importantly, when and where to wait for best view of the evening stuff.

    And we got comped into the Yellowstone Suite at the Wilderness Lodge - I have no reason why. There snacks were so huge that they counted as meals. They were late with one of the room service breakfast meals, so that entire meal was free too. I kept waiting for someone to say "SMILE - you just made an ad for Disney!" as we were walking around with our mouths hanging open.

    Are you staying at the GF? That place looks nice. We might do the Poly next time. I'll never forget the bellhop at Wilderness yelling at us "TAKE THE ROOM! TAKE THE ROOM!" when the concierge told us we had been comped to the Yellowstone. I kept saying "What's the hook?" like I was a jaded New Yorker, or something!
  • Blogger --erica posted at 1:56 PM, May 02, 2006  
    I love disneyland. My girlfriend used to get us free tickets and we'd go in the evenings. No lines at all.. no blistering sun. I loved seeing the families with the screaming kids LEAVING! We'd just laugh!

    evil? maybe.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 2:57 PM, May 02, 2006  
    WAIT.

    People charge for super secret touring plans?

    Last time we Poly-ed we got upgraded to the King Kamehameha suite. We'll be at the Contemporary where we do NOT wish to be comped or upgraded. We want to be AS CLOSE AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE to the Magic Kingdom.

    Erica,

    I love DL too. It was a huge treat to see my kids' faces the first time they ever set foot therein because it looks a lot like WDW's Magic Kingdom...only slightly different. The look of "waitaminnit...that shouldn't be on THAT side!" was priceless.

    -J.
  • Blogger Poppy Buxom posted at 4:03 PM, May 02, 2006  
    Badger, if Joke gets any funny ideas about charging for his info, check out these websites:

    Laughing Place

    Disney Info Page

    WDW Info

    There's also this book on how to best navigate the parks. I can't remember the exact title, but it's something like YOU CAN GO ON EVERY SINGLE RIDE IN A DISNEY PARK IF YOU FOLLOW MY PLAN DO NOT DEVIATE FROM MY PLAN OR DIE, STUPID NON-DISNEY GEEK EARTHLING but for some reason, I thought it sucked and gave it to the thrift shop.
  • Blogger MsCellania posted at 1:04 AM, May 03, 2006  
    There's the Unofficial Guide.

    I would have paid $500 for advice on how to Not Stand in Line! $21 was nuttin in the scheme of what we were already spending. I am ADD. My children and husband would have shot me to put me out of my misery after 2 hours waiting.

    Isn't there something about ears that is Disney discount site?

    Contemporary is really most convenient. And right on that monorail. Not that you'll take it, of course...
  • Blogger Bec of the Ladies Lounge posted at 2:00 AM, May 03, 2006  
    Such strange things, you Americans speak of with such familiarity.

    "Fastpass"? "Extra Magic Hours?" "Poly-Ed"?

    It's probably best for us Antipodeans not to know about these delights, since they come with a minimum $2000 return air ticket attached to EACH member of my family of five and that's before any Fastpass can be purchased nor rack-rate bargained down. Would your unfortunate schadenfreude help in that Department, Mr Joke?

    I remember Uncle Walt, with his leg cocked casually over the desk and his calm acceptance of such miracles as a tiny Donald Duck actually climbing up to lean against his thigh and complain about working conditions...

    I'm thinking that modern media scrutiny might have seen him banished with Mr Jackson, no?
  • Blogger Kim posted at 6:01 AM, May 03, 2006  
    I just don't know you people anymore.
  • Blogger Badger posted at 7:51 AM, May 03, 2006  
    Poppy, NOW you tell me, after I've already emailed the photos. Damn. That'll teach me to trade my virtue for info on which hotel has the best breakfast.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 8:13 AM, May 03, 2006  
    Wow. $2K? Per human? This way lies madness.

    How are we supposed to strengthen our bonds with our Australian cousins when that whole hands-across-the-water thing comes with a price tag of $1K per hand?

    Yet I still see WDW crammed to the rafters with delegations from Japan and the UK. Are the Aussies being discriminated upon?

    Not fair, I tell you.

    -J.

    P.S. The problem with the Unofficial Guide is that there are a zillion other people using that exact same plan.
  • Blogger Poppy Buxom posted at 11:59 AM, May 03, 2006  
    That's why you have to buy the book written by that alien guy.

    Of course, I'm heretical. I've been known to spend an entire day at WDW and not go on a single ride.

    Vickee, you're thinking of Mouse Ears, which, I believe, is one of those links I posted. Part of it is general information and part is an actual travel agency.

    And Bec (how do you do? I'm Poppy) the reason we drive to WDW from Chicago is round-trip tickets costing $999 per passenger, RT, and our having a family of four. Driving is far more economical, even at current gasoline prices. And it's more enjoyable, too. And you can bring tons more crap there and back.
  • Blogger Carolyn posted at 6:43 PM, May 03, 2006  
    I know people who have done this, not myself. One person will ride in a wheelchair. The whole family goes with them.

    If you are in a wheelchair, you and your whole party go to the front of the line.

    Never done it. Never will. But if you ever break your leg, go to Disneyworld!
  • Blogger blackbird posted at 7:05 PM, May 03, 2006  
    Yes, when I think dapper boulevardier, I do think of you.

    I must tell you though, we have only gone to DW when it was FREE, and that is the only way we would go...
  • Blogger Poppy Buxom posted at 11:58 PM, May 03, 2006  
    Hmmm, when I think of dapper boulevardiers, I think of
    Huysmans , especially that painting on the cover. Although I'm sure that's not what Joke had in mind.

    I'm with you on the free thing, BB. I wouldn't go to WDW if I had to pay for it. Paris, yes. Venice, yes. WDW, no.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 9:20 AM, May 04, 2006  
    Poppy,

    You're thinking more of a flaneur.

    -J.
  • Blogger Poppy Buxom posted at 2:23 PM, May 04, 2006  
    I am not.

    But I would pay big bucks to hear you try to pronounce it.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 9:41 PM, May 04, 2006  
    That would entail effort, to which I am allergic and in no mood to seek out an epi pen therefor.

    -J.
  • Blogger Poppy Buxom posted at 3:51 PM, May 05, 2006  
    Cripes, another thing I needed to look up. I had never heard of an epipen.

    I think that's because I don't have any allergies. And that's because I'm insensitive.

    I'm so insensitive, I mock people with allergies. So try not to go into anaphylactic shock when I'm around. I'll just caper about making fake wheezing noises and laughing. Meanwhile, you'll be all dying and shit.
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