In our trips to Disney over the years, we’ve seen a lot of unexpected things.
We’ve seen the interior of Space Mountain with all the lights on. Which was pretty cool. We’ve seen Tigger hit on every single woman in Crystal Palace. Not cool. We’ve seen a family of Splash Mountain Fastpasses walking hand in hand down Main Street. Wicked cool. And we’ve seen the loading area of Test Track completely empty. Save for three really tired and possibly really dumb families and a couple of bored CMs who all sat glued to a blip on a Blackberry. Wondering just when in the heck they would be free to move about the cabin.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let's rewind just a bit.
On this particular date, we were in Epcot. Still. It was early evening and we’d just finished an excellent meal at Le Cellier. We were hightailing it over to Test Track, hoping to get in a quick ride before it was time to grab a spot for our family’s favorite fireworks show in all of the World…Illuminations.
Just typing that word makes me smile.
If you’ve ever read any of my previous reports, you might remember how much our family loves Illuminations. If you haven’t, I’ll sum it up by simply saying it is the milk and Pepsi to our Laverne. The Ross to our Rachel. The blanket to our Linus.
We love it and it IS Disney to us. Always has been.
So we really didn’t want to miss the show. But we also really wanted a ticket to ride. Just one ride on Test Track prior to watching Illuminations (after a great meal at Le Cellier) would make for the perfect night at Epcot.
And dadgummit, we were going to make it happen.
As we closed the distance between World Showcase and Future World, feeling the breeze steadily pick up on our way, we were pleased as punch when we arrived and found the Standby Line was fairly short.
We hopped in line and began snaking our way through the queue. Cracking jokes about the crash test dummies and the punishment being inflicted on them and their knees and telling the kids that’s what's going to happen to them at their next doctor’s visit.
I don’t know why a certain member of our family (who will not be named) still screams bloody murder when he hears the doctor open the door to the exam room. Just like he used to. All those years ago.
You’d think he’d be used to that by age 40.
The point is: we had a good time and didn’t think it took very long at all to make our way to the front of the line. Surpringly.
Before we knew it, we were high fiving each other and practically running across the back of the briefing room in order to claim our place beside the Magical Doors of Fun. The ones that would lead us to the Loading Dock of Fun. We laughed at appropriate times during the preshow as if we’d never seen it before ("Not Seven! Anything but Seven!") and then shot out of the doors like a rocket when they opened. More snaking was involved and soon it was our time to tell the attendant how many people were in our party and move toward four numbers. It was number claimin’ time again, baby! A quick glance at my watch assured me we had timed it perfectly and would be good to go for Illuminations after our ride was over.
Things couldn’t be going any smoother.
There’s always an “until” with us, isn’t there?
We were just about to load our vehicle when we noticed the cars were all wet. I thought to myself, “that’s not good”. And then we heard the announcement. The one that had become so familiar to us, even though our vacation had barely just begun.
They were closing the ride indefinitely due to inclement weather approaching.
WHAT IS UP WITH THE PUMP FAKE RIDES?!
We stood dumbfounded. And numb. Numbfounded, even.
We were standing near a CM so I asked how long they thought the ride would be closed. Of course, we were given the “we really don’t know ma'am, we just work here” answer but then it was suggested that if we stayed put until the weather blew over, we would be the first ones to board once the ride started moving.
I turned to my husband and together, we weighed our options. Option A was to stay there and possibly still catch both a ride on Test Track and Illuminations. Option B was to wander out into the driving rain. Aimlessly. Option C was to wander down to the gift shop and browse the overpriced shelves with ninety eight thousand other wet tourists covered in sticky plastic who were also seeking shelter. Option D was to can the whole shootin' match and head over to Universal instead.
As tempting as Option D was, we went with Option A and decided to stay put. For the time being.
After everyone got comfortable, we tried to make the best of a crummy situation by lightening the mood and chatting up everyone around us. We ended up meeting several families who were actually from our neck of the woods. It really is a small world after all. We were all in this together, this circle of life.
As time marched on and several of the other holdouts moved down their list of options and headed over to Universal for a Cinnabon, we began to wonder if we’d made the right choice. A quick search of the Weather Channel via my new phone (good thing I saved it instead of the appendage) let us know that the system which was sitting on top of Lake Buena Vista at that moment in time was a monster. It was spinning idly, going nowhere soon.
And neither were we.
About an hour into the wait, and roughly around the time that I’d become so delirious that I didn’t even care that my children were sitting on Disney's germ ridden concrete, it became evident that the only Illuminations we would be viewing that night would be from the lightning strikes in and around the Orlando area. Illuminations would not be happening for us on that night, and neither would Test Track. At this point, we were just looking for the storm to let up long enough for us to span the distance between Test Track and the Yacht Club safely. If we could just score that, the night would be a success.
Funny how fast we can change our expectations.
And so it was that our family, along with two other families and two chatty CMs, hung out in a completely empty Test Track loading area for as long as we possibly could that night. Until they finally kicked us out.
Oh yes they did.
We had actually hung around, trying to wait out the weather, until it was time for Future World to close.
In exchange for our troubles, we were all given a set of Fastpasses good for the length of our stay on the way out. Which would turn out to be a good thing. If we survived the trek across the park.
A few minutes later as we stood in the crowded gift shop, watched the rain pouring outside and contemplated staying or going, we consulted the blip on the radar screen once again. The storm hadn’t moved at all and was still forecast to hang around for sometime to come. This one was the exception to the Disney thunderstorm rule. There would be no waiting it out. We didn’t relish the thought of sleeping in a Disney gift shop so we pulled out our trusty ponchos, said a prayer underneath our breath, told the kids to get ready, and evaluated the sitchashun as we cautiously opened the door.
No sooner had we stepped up than two CMs came up from behind us and in one swift motion, kicked us in the butt, then deadbolted the door behind us.
I have to admit I hated every second of that walk/run/power walk/sprint across the park. Rain I can handle, but lightning is not my thing. If I had my druthers (whatever those are), I’d prefer not to be spontaneously electrocuted without warning in front of a crowd of spectators. Mainly because I might lose control of my bodily functions, and that’s not something I want anyone, let alone fifty thousand strangers, witnessing.
The whole being lit up like a Christmas tree part would pretty much suck too.
And these were the thoughts running through my mind as we made a break for it and scrambled to safety via the International Gateway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rain storm drop that amount of water on Disney property before. We were wading in ankle deep water all the way back to the hotel room. I don’t know why we even bothered with the ponchos because even with them, we were soaked to the bone. Once we finally made it safely back to our resort, we looked as though we had just stepped out of Stormalong Bay.
Our shoes creaked when we walked and water seeped out along the sides with every step we took. Our eyes were bloodshot as a result of the wind whipped water pelting our eyes as we ran. Wet hair was matted to the sides of our faces. The useless wet ponchos clung to our bodies like a roll of Cling Wrap, holding in the heat we’d generated from the run and making us sweat even though we were already thoroughly soaked down to our undergarments. We were dripping water everywhere we turned while tiptoeing gingerly through a puddle of our own making. So as not to slip and go sprawling across the floor.
And THIS is how we entered the lobby of the Yacht Club that evening.
For the second time that day, we could hear the Pop Cent'reh bus gun it and take out a curb somewhere off in the distance.
And as we stood there, avoiding eye contact with everyone else present (how could we be the ONLY wet people in the whole dadgum joint?! Seriously...everyone else was dry as a freakin' bone!), I turned to my husband and said…
“Wonder where we can find some ice cream around here….”
He stopped dead in his tracks. Looked me up and down for a very long time. And then asked me if I’d lost my ever lovin' mind.
“No, but I could really go for some ice cream right about now,” I said matter of factly. As I’m dripping wet, shivering, and people are staring at me. The wild eyed woman covered in Mickey Mouse cling wrap.
I never got that ice cream. Sadly. Or my Illuminations. Or the ride on Test Track. Or my 'perfect night in Epcot'. Not on that night at least. But we did get warm and dry. And we did get what was probably our best night’s sleep at Disney ever. The beds at the Yacht Club are the freakin’ bomb. So dadgum comfortable!
And despite our previous (great) expectations for how that night would turn out, a dry, warm bed and a good night's sleep turned out to be all that we really needed. And exactly what we wanted.
Because the next day, we would be making up for lost time.