The Mouse that Roared is a 1955 satirical novel by Leonard Wibberly. Peter Sellers starred in the 1959 movie of the same name. The problem is that Messers Wibberly and Sellers were premature in using that name for the book and the movie.
There is a Mouse that roared. His name is Mickey. He lives in Central Florida.
When South Carolina’s Governor Henry McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation for all coastal counties in South Carolina on the Monday before the expected weekend arrival of Hurricane Florence, my family planned to go to Charlotte, North Carolina. We made reservations at the Marriott in Southpark.
As Shea Gibson and Mike of Mike’s Weather Page at www.spaghettimodels.com kept us up to date about the European models and shifts to the northwest, it appeared that Charlotte might get more of a lashing than Charleston.
Bearing that in mind, we were discussing evacuation with our down the street neighbors the night before the great evacuation and lane reversal. One of our friends said, “I wish I were going to Disney instead of to Sea Island.”
Mary Perrin and I looked at each other semi-knowingly.
When we got home, I said, “Well, my mother always said she’d go south depending on which way the storm came.”
Mary Perrin said, “Well, may be we should go to Disney. I think Anne Marie and Catherine [Hagood – our great traveling buddies] are going to Tampa and may go to Disney, too.”
So, we lost our damn minds and between 9 p.m. on Monday and 11 a.m. on Tuesday, we had a trip fully booked to the Happiest Place on Earth.
We could not have done it without the help of our pal Felicia Middleton Skoglund. She is a certified vacation planner through Mickey Guru Travel Company, LLC. No kidding. If you ever need anyone to plan your Disney Hurrication, contact her at (843) 822-8061. Seriously. That’s Felicia’s cell phone number. Like all good Charlestonians, her name is uniquely enunciated. It’s Fuh-lish-ah not Fuh-leesh-ah. She let me put this out for all 64 of my followers to see. All 64 of you.
Felicia arranged our Magic Bands, Fast Passes, Grand Floridian hotel rooms, and all aspects of our passports to the House of Mouse.
No “Bye, Felicia,” for us.
She knows the deals.
We had not been to Disney World in six years.
I may never go back.
Our Hurrication was wonderful, but, Man oh Man, the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Seas Lagoon, the Energy Producing Community of Tomorrow, and the Hollywood Studios reaffirm that I am not cut out for Uncle Walt’s vision of paradise on this side of the veil.
Again, we had a wonderful time, but I need not go back any time soon.
Our children loved it.
Our youngest celebrated her twelfth birthday by becoming a champion roller coaster rider.
Our sixteen year old overcame all fears by becoming a champion roller coaster rider.
I held onto my deep seated phobia of said coasters that roll.
We walked over ten miles a day.
No scooters/larks/rascals for us.
We ran into friends from Charleston who had the same idea. Why not visit Disney’s amusement park and utopian community landgrab in the middle of Central Florida? Why not have overly salted foods? Why not drink your way through ersatz foreign countries on the shores of another lake? Why not?
On one return trip aboard the Monorail to our on-campus hotel one night, our birthday girl observed “Fat people at Disney are mean.” Ouch.
We saw no one consuming turkey legs in the manner of Henry Tudor.
We saw lots of body ink. Fully committed body ink.
We saw lots of people on aforementioned scooters/larks/rascals.
We saw lots of Cokes and Sprites and popcorn and pretzels being scarfed down in the 95 degree heat.
I even rode a g.d. roller coaster, the Seven Dwarves Mine Train, which, I am told, is not even a real roller coaster. For those of us who throw up at the mention of the words roller and coaster, it was a real roller coaster, especially after eating breakfast in Belle’s Castle. Felt sick the reset of the morning. Yes, we will be your guest in the closest toilets.
The amusement park aspect of Disney does not disappoint.
I scored over 170,000 on the Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios. Pretty proud of that one.
Soaring at Epcot does replicate hang gliding.
Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain thrill all who ride, but not this kid here. Nope. No way. Haven’t ridden Space Mountain since I was 6 years old. Haven’t ridden the other two since I was 14. (This was my fifth trip to Disney in 46 years).
Good old It’s a Small World and its early 1970’s kitsch never change. Our youngest pointed out where she threw up on the bend in the last room with all the puppets dressed in white the last time we were there. Yup, right into her mama’s hands. Mary Perrin quickly rinsed off in penny filled chlorinated waters. Copper has an antiseptic quality, right?
Flying over a reproduction of London on the Peter Pan ride in the cold dark alleviated the pain of so much heat and so much sweat.
Living with the Land in Epcot is a gentle boat ride.
Judy Dench’s dulcet tones guide passengers through Spaceship Earth and thirty thousand years of human history.
The Haunted Mansion’s narrator with his Midatlantic/Transatlantic Vincent Price imitation channels the ghosts of Old Hollywood.
The Mad Hatter’s tea cups spin and spin and spin and spin.
The smell of the exhaust from the speedway track gocarts still burns the upper reaches of nose hair.
Dumbo rises above the far side of Fantasyland. He is so popular he has two rides. See? Disney can do it all. He even cloned Dumbo.
Alladin and his magic carpets fly over Adventureland.
There are still Jungle Cruises and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Animatronics, puppets, grown ups in full character suits in subtropical heat.
There are parades daily.
The fireworks over the lake boom through the night sky.
After supper one night, I sprawled out on the highly nutrified lawn at the Grand Floridian on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon and watched the fireworks as everyone else retired for the evening. The reflection in the lagoon made for a double view.
As I sprawled out on the grass, I thought to myself, “This is exactly where that little boy was eaten by a gator a couple of years ago.”
One night, the electric boat parade failed to impress. “Looks like the Christmas lights at the James Island County Park, Dad,” said one of my girls. Meh. Seen it.
We arrived on a Wednesday at 2 p.m.
After dropping everyone off and parking the car, I came into the gleaming heights of the lobby of the Grand Floridian, a cross between the Del in San Diego and the old Gasparilla in Boca Grande. There, my bride and girls were in deep conversation with the desk clerk about our Magic Bands, rooms being ready ahead of time, Fast Passes, and buying tickets to Mickey’s Hallowe’en Party for Friday night. More about that Comicon simulacrum later.
“Just remember,” said our ebullient clerk, “Make sure Mickey touches to Mickey with your bands.”
Mine never worked unlocking our room. Mickey touched Mickey but no luck.
After dumping off bags in the room, it was off to Hollywood Studios, a half day of which is perfect.
In trying to link up to Disney’s WiFi, one of the available networks showed on my phone as “FBI Surveillance Van #20”. I screenshot it and showed my eldest daughter. Her reply, “You know that’s just someone being funny.” “Or is it?” I replied, “I think the network listed as ‘Nancy’s Yukon’ might actually be the CIA.”
Toy Story Mania proved the best ride at Hollywood Studios. We rode it twice, and I was the high scorer each time. Boom.
The Slinky Dog roller coaster had to be shut down due to rain. Thank God I didn’t have to ride that.
We saw the Muppets silly 4-D production in the back of the studios.
Obviously Disney owns ABC as there were ads everywhere for ABC shows.
We ate supper at a reproduction of The Brown Derby. Not at Hollywood and Vine in California. There were serviceable Cobb salads for all of us. A cold martini helped.
By the time we took the bus back to the Grand Floridian it was almost 8 p.m. We were exhausted and still hot. We all took cold showers and went to bed.
The next morning we went straight to The Magic Kingdom after hopping the monorail.
“Please do not lean against the doors; [something something something in Spanish] de las puertas.” We sometimes call the monorail De Las Puertas.
We had 8:20 reservations at Be Our Guest, a kiosk service restaurant in Belle’s Castle. Again, perfectly serviceable food of breakfast sandwiches, waffles, Croque Madame, eggs and bacon. We were in the park right as the rides opened at 9:00.
Hi Ho! Our first ride was the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. Hi Ho! I’ll never ride that again. Hi Ho! Gonna hurl. Hi Ho!
We then hit the rides hard for the rest of the day, or at least until our exhaustion levels could not be overcome by sheer force of will.
We found our pals Gigi and Davis Dobbins who had also evacuated from Charleston. After we all drove the speedway, we jumped on The People Mover. It’s delightful. We also completed the Buzz Lightyear shooting gallery ride, too. Again, I kicked ass on that one. Such an achievement to be the high scorer.
The Dobbins headed for Space Mountain. We headed to another part of the Magic Kingdom.
Our great traveling buddies, the Hagoods, were going to meet us later as they, too, had keys to the kingdom. We later found that one of the Hagoods was under the weather but they were going to make it, by God, but, it’s a funny thing when our bodies say “No, no, no.” Eventually, they made it, but, ultimately had to pull the plug early.
Don’t we all? Shouldn’t we all?
When I say early, I mean around 3 p.m. This was after a full day of Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and myriad magical rides, including the Happiest Cruise on Earth, because, it’s a small, small world.
Our girls were mountain people: Thunder, Splash, and Space.
No one had any lunch. Blood sugar was all over the map. We ate pretzels dipped in cheese product. We drank Co-colas. I never drink Co-colas. We felt weak. We felt hot. One of our group almost fainted.
After a full day of fun in the sun, we went back to the hotel and ran for the pool. There’s a waterslide. There’s a waterfall. There’s a full bar.
There are also aggressive young children in lifejackets climbing rocks. Hello? Parental supervision? It’s greatly lacking at the pool.
After a refreshing dip, it was time for a restorative cocktail before our Character Supper at 1900 Park Fare. It’s a buffet. It’s not good. It’s just not. Children touch everything at buffets in Disney. Literally. Small hands were everywhere. Plates were shattered. Gummy bears strewn across the tiled floors.
For a twelve year old, it’s still fun to have supper with Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Wicked Stepmother, and the Evil Stepsisters. Even the 16 year old got in on the fun, which was worth every penny, even the ones in chlorinated waters at the bottom of It’s a Small World.
The lovely bartender from New Orleans poured me two stiff bourbons prior to all of the gastronomical grostesqueness; she eased my burden.
Again, it was time for bed before we knew it.
The Fitbit on the arm of one of our girls shouted almost 20,000 steps. Even it was tired.
The next day was EPCOT. Whew.
It was super hot.
Hurricane Florence pumped moisture our way even though she was only barely coming ashore in Eastern North Carolina.
Figment is not just in your imagination. Nope. He’s right there on the ride.
Spaceship Earth in the big geodesic dome was cold and dark and Denched.
Living with the Land smells of chlorine and fish. We do love a boat ride at Disney.
We were scheduled for lunch in France at 12:15.
We made our way around the lake and stopped briefly in Mexico for another boat ride in the dark with the Three Caballeros: Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles. Only missing the Lady in the Tutti Fruiti Hat.
We high tailed it across Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the US of A, Japan, and Morocco. No passports required. Guess we were illegals.
We arrived at the Chefs de France pumping air conditioned goodness our way.
“This looks a little bit like Les Deux Magot,” said our eldest who spent three weeks in France this summer.
“Ah…oui…Saint-Germain des Disné” was my smarty reply in full Maurice Chevalier accent.
Our waiter was from Alsace. He could not have been nicer.
Our food was actually delicious. So were the two martinis straight up with a twist for me and the two glasses of rosé for my bride.
From there, we soared. Soaring really is a fun ride. Margaret and I soared twice. Mary Perrin and Perrin went on back to the hotel for a rest.
We got back to the hotel and the Hagoods were there ready for a night in the Magic Kingdom.
We had bought our tickets to Mickey’s Hallowe’en party. Whew boy. One and done.
There were tons and tons of folks flooding into the Magic Kingdom all dressed in costume. Why go to Comicon when you can come to Disney and ride the rides and see all manner of cosplay?
Drag queen Cruella de Vil? Check
Large lady dressed as Piglet riding her scooter? Check
Family dressed as Crayons? Check
Alice in Wonderland? Check
Two grown men as ballerinas? Check
Hippos from Fantasia also in ballerina costume? Check
Old woman Cruella de Vil in full fur coat who might stroke out at any minute? Check
Entire cast of Toy Story? Check
Tweedledee and Tweedledum? Check
Mary Poppins and Bert? Check
Peter Pan and Tinkerbell? Check
The costumes kept coming and coming and coming.
The tattoos kept coming and coming and coming.
More roller coasters
No more alcohol.
By 8:30 p.m. we had all had it. Perrin and I were the first to leave.
It was on that monorail ride back to the Grand Floridian where a large man on his scooter made such a scene that our twelve year old observed the meanness of some at Disney. She was not being cruel, but she was being observant.
This gentleman made a ruckus over getting into the monorail car. He made a ruckus getting out of the monorail car. He couldn’t get his scooter to start.
“Try turning the key,” suggested one of our fellow riders.
“Oh…..” said the man as he scootered toward The Polynesian. Do they still serve Tonga Toast?
“Hope he has a Magical Day,” I whispered to Perrin. We laughed.
The Fitbit told us we had walked over ten miles that day.
We slept like the dead.
We were out of the Grand Floridian a little after 7 a.m.
I rejoiced heading north on I4 and I95.
We stopped in DeBary, Florida, for breakfast under golden arches.
At that exit there were two huge electric transmission towers.
On every branch of latticed steel sat a large group of turkey vultures.
A grouping of vultures is called a volt after all.
I think they were in on the joke.
“Oooh, gross. Get us out of here,” said my bride.