Thursday, October 2, 2014

Long Form Exposition: Scenes From Disney World

Pretend the arrow is pointing down.

Remember when Chester and I went to Disney World with our friend Heather like a month ago? Well, I'm finally here to tell you aaaaaaall about it. And when I say aaaaaaaall about it, I kinda mean it. This could be a long post, so if you're not into Disney or Chester or awesome trips, you're free to skip it.

I'll start with the snacks we ate on the airplane ride down. (I repeat: aaaaaall about it.)

Isn’t it nice that Southwest makes Chester-size snacks?

We arrived in Florida in the early afternoon, checked into our hotel, and went straight to the Magic Kingdom, because when you go to Disney World with Heather, you don't fuck around and you certainly don't mill about in a hotel room during open park hours.

We arrived at the park and took an immediate right turn into the line to meet Tinkerbell because it's nice to be greeted at the beginning of your vacation by a friendly Disney character. Unfortunately, I came bearing a confusing mouse in a hat and with only marginal knowledge of the Tinkerbell multiverse.

This photo was taken shortly before things spiraled out of control.

My memory is a little fuzzy about the whole thing, but evidently Tinkerbell knows a mouse named Cheese and asked if Chester was like Cheese and I mouthed/whispered, "Is Cheese a mouse?" to Heather, at which point Tinkerbell started sassing me about, "Of course Cheese is a mouse. Why would I say that if Cheese wasn't a mouse?" and I didn't have a good answer and Tinkerbell kept shouting questions at me and then Heather's phone started ringing in her backpack and Tinkerbell started yelling "HELLO?! HELLO?!" into Heather's back and eventually we wandered off, befuddled about the fact that we'd just been yelled at by Tinkerbell.


Then we walked outside and it started to pour rain.

Let’s not even go into the fact that they put up their Halloween decorations in early September. We don’t want to get me riled up about that again.

We spent some time standing under an overhang, convinced that the rainy season in Florida wasn't really a thing, then we accepted reality and pulled out our ponchos and umbrellas and got down to business.

Fortunately the rain stopped in time for Heather's first Disney happy freakout: The Appearance of Rabbit.

For those of you like me who might have watched the happy freakout with a blank face, I'm talking about the yellow rabbit from Winnie the Pooh. ( IMG_3242-e1412094362864) Rabbit was meeting people for, like, 20 minutes at a time and then he'd go away and Tigger would come for the next 20 minutes and so on.

Heather—who couldn't have cared less about Tigger—and I spent a tense half hour in line worried that the line was going to move too fast and we'd have to meet Tigger because we got to the front of the line too fast. Then we started to worry that the line was going to move too slow and Rabbit would be gone when we got there. There was MUCH drama, too much to go into, but the end result was this:

We were the last people to see Rabbit before his handlers whisked him away. The Magic of Disney (and sucking up to said handlers), y’all.

The Magic Kingdom on a Thursday evening about a week after school started and shortly after a rain storm is a great place to be. It's not hot, there aren't a lot of lines, and the clouds make fantastic backgrounds for photos.

Oooooooh. Aaaaaaah.

The nice weather and short lines actually created quite a problem for Heather because we not only did all the things on her itinerary for that evening, but also many of the items slated for the next morning, throwing everything into chaos and uncertainty.

We went back to the Magic Kingdom the next morning, even though it meant we had to re-ride rides (the horror!) and re-look at cool stuff (even more the horror!).

We met a lot of characters on this trip to Disney. I don't know what it is about them, but every time I met one of these people inside what is probably a germ-covered fur suit, I reacted in a manner similar to this:

And I don’t even like Goofy. I find him vaguely threatening.

I think it might have something to do with how hard the characters work to entertain visitors. I'm dying to know what the people who wear these costumes really think of their jobs, but they are all endlessly entertaining.

Like Gaston. Gaston was SUPER entertaining. This photo cracks me up every time I look at it.

It rained every evening we were in Florida for at least a little while, but every morning and most afternoons were absolutely beautiful, as you can see from this photo of Rapunzel's tower, which as far as I could tell served as decor surrounding a bathroom.

Best. Bathroom. Ever.

We had lunch at the Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant, Be Our Guest, which was really cool. Heather and I both ate some sort of delicious slab of beef and potatoes that was delivered to us by waiters who found our table through the Magic of Disney, also known as the use of surveillance and tracking through our Magic Bands. It was both exciting and creepy at the same time.

But it came with cupcakes, so I let it slide.

Although there seem to be approximately 85 parades daily in the Magic Kingdom, we only watched one. It was cool. I know it has some specific name/time designation that is important to Disneyphiles in understanding exactly which parade it is that we saw, but all I can tell you is that it took place in the middle of the day and we sat near slightly upsetting white birds who were semi-cannibalistically trolling for turkey leg scraps.

I feel bad even showing this to you.

If that photo makes you as sad as it makes me, here is this way nicer photograph of a white bird posing in front of a boat.

Consider your palate cleansed.

Where was I? Oh, right. The parade. It was totally cool and had all of the best characters up to and including Anna and Elsa from Frozen, who seem to be the talk of the Disney universe these days. We didn't meet Anna and Elsa because I think you had to be willing to stand in line for longer than Heather and I were willing to stand in line to do so, but I did get this photo of them in the parade, which I think is just as good.

Or, you know, nowhere near as good, but good damn enough.

It was fun to see all the characters in the parade, each one more charming than the—AAAAAAIIIIIGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Except for that guy. That guy is fucking terrifying.

During our wanderings around the Magic Kingdom, I came across many lovely scenes into which it was almost mandatory that I insert Chester.

Chester was happy to find his place among other like-sized mice in hats.

Unfortunately, when you take a mouse like Chester to Disney World, sometimes terrible things happen.


Do you want to know something bizarre though? Just a couple of hours after Chester's hat broke, Heather and I were headed to Hoop-Dee-Doo, dinner theater that is based out of the campground on Disney property. We got there early so we wandered through the gift shop there where we found a key chain featuring the very same hat that had just broken.

There are a few amazing things about this. Chester's original hat came from a Christmas ornament, making the acquisition of an exact replica of the hat in another form surprising. Furthermore, this one gift shop that we happened upon at this exact time is the ONLY one in all of Disney World that had this hat. (Really. We went to all of them.) Thirdly, we happened to be at that gift shop at the EXACT time that we needed a Chester-sized hat. Fourthly, the keychain part of the hat fit perfectly around Chester's neck, securing the hat to his body AND giving him that punk rock look that is so popular these days among jet-setting stuffed mice.


In news of other small things in hats to drag around Disney World, I give you this photo taken the next morning in line for Epcot that made me extremely happy.


Epcot is Chester's favorite park because of all the photo ops. Belt in for a series of Chester pics in no particular order. Maybe grab a beer.

After all the photos I’ve posted of Chester (and Algernon) with giant alcoholic beverages, it was refreshing to see him holding a mouse-sized drink.

I like France at Epcot because they have delicious warm ham and cheese sandwiches. Chester likes France because of all the similarly eared friends.

One of these things is not like the other.

Spread throughout Epcot, there are also any number of creatures for Chester to ride.

A camel…

…a horse…

…a burro…

…a dragon…

…a caribou…

…a sperm.
There are also a surprising number of Chester-sized props, many in the form of hats. Seriously, if you go to Disney, take a small stuffed animal with you and look for funny photo ops. It will make your trip infinity times better.

It’s Viking Chester!

It’s Mexican cowboy Chester!

It’s Drum Circle Chester!
It did pour pretty hard around lunchtime on the day we spent at Epcot. We had walked dryly into Mexico and were left staring wistfully through the rain towards the restaurant we wanted to eat lunch at in Morocco. Eventually we poncho-ed up and scurried through the rain only to arrive at our hummus-filled destination juuuuust as the rain stopped.

Epcot was also the location of the weirdest character interaction I had. We were wandering past England and there was Alice, you know, from the Wonderland, just standing there. So I jumped up and down a lot and then Chester and I went up to talk to her and in her adorable British accent she said Chester was super cute and then she asked if Chester was the Dormouse and I was all, "Uhhhhhhhhh..." and she was all, "Do you put jam on his nose?" and I said again, "Uhhhhhhhhh..." and she said, "Mustard! Do you put mustard on his nose?" and to stop what was looking to be a really long, repetitive conversation, I said, "YES!" and then she said, "One minute!" and she went running across the walkway to grab a bunch of mustard packs from the pretzel stand across the way and then she brought them back and handed them to me and then we posed for a photo. It was kind of confusing. I spent the rest of the night thinking about it.

This is a totally accurate representation of our meeting, especially the photo in the middle.

To prepare for each morning with Heather, Chester needed some caffeine. This seems as good a time as any to admit to you all that I relapsed back onto Diet Coke a couple of months ago.

Chester did too.

I'll be sure to let you know how the November re-quitting goes.

Where was I? Oh, right, the next day was Hollywood Studios Day. Now, in front of Hollywood Studios is a topiary scene from Fantasia. I always refer to Fantasia as "That horror movie Mickey Mouse starred in" because the first time I saw that movie it scared the crap out of me and I've never been able to watch it all the way through since. No one ever quite understands what I mean when I call it a horror movie though.

Until now.

I spent something like 15 minutes explaining this to Heather though so now at least one person understands.

And was willing to take this photo.

Hollywood Studios was all kinds of fun, but there are some things that stick out in my memory. Like this cupcake:

This cupcake was taller than Chester.

In case you're wondering, that was a chocolate cupcake with chocolate filling, cream cheese frosting, and a thick coating of Butterfingers. It totally defeated me. I could only eat half of it—and I worked really hard. It was quite a cupcake.

Speaking of Chester, he found some rodent friends in the form of Chip & Dale on Hollywood Studios Day. We'd actually seen them several times since we'd been in Florida, but the line was always too long to meet them. (Why? Who knows.) Finally Chester got his chance.

have no idea which one of them is pointing at him. They look exactly the same. You would think they would have different colored hats or something. Even so, I’d probably still not know which one was pointing.
There were some other good characters there too. I don't have a scrapbook. You're going to have to put up with me showing you all of the photos.

Jack was totally starstruck when I told him I’d met Phineas and Ferb.
And you can't beat Sully and Mike Wazowski. I think that the Monsters, Inc. stuff at Disney World is some of the most entertaining stuff there. (This might also be the time to share that Heather provided a joke used in the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Factory show. She glowed for, like, 48 hours.)

That photo of me with Mike is one of my favorite things ever. I couldn’t tell if he was ignoring my hug or just didn’t move because of his costume. I was privately amused for a long time over this.

There is a drawing class you can take at Hollywood Studios that was a lot of fun. Chester got really into it.

It’s okay if you say that “Chester” didn’t do a very good job. Heather’s was better.

One of the things we decided to do that day was go on the backlot tour, partly because we had extra time and partly because the waiting area was covered and it was raining again. There was quite a wait before we finally boarded our bus just as lightning started to flash and an announcement came over the loudspeakers that they were closing the ride. But then our bus started off. Which was, you know, great, but made those of us on the bus wonder why we were expendable.

Sadly for us, we weren't actually expendable and about five minutes into the tour, they returned us to the exit, which, yay! we get to live! but boo! we wanted to go on the tour!

Shortly thereafter we bailed from Hollywood Studios and headed to Epcot to eat a huge amount of German food. And a fair amount of beer.

Look how visibly drunk Chester is.

The next day was our last day (Thank God, right? I mean, how fucking long is this post going to be anyway?) and we were spending most of it at Animal Kingdom. I love this park so much.

Chester was excited too.

I took a lot of pictures at this park, but most of them are blurry photos of birds and rhino butts, so I won't make you look at all of them. Especially since I've been writing this post for a stupid week now and I'm ready to just wrap it up already. I will, however, show you this awesome photo we have of Dug from Up and also the kid that was in the movie.

When we walked in, I gave Dug a vigorous scratching behind his ears. Instead of pretending to bite me, as I probably would have done if I were in the suit, he bent down and wagged his body. It’s almost as if he were saying, “I was hiding under your porch because I looove you.”

Animal Kingdom day was super fun. We ended the day—our last night—at the Magic Kingdom. We ended up meeting Cinderella and Rapunzel shortly before we caught our bus back to our hotel. It was close to closing and I kinda got the feeling that the princesses didn't want to spend too much time on the childless adults in line when there were scads of kids looking to meet them. I think that Rapunzel actually gave me a little shove after we had our photo taken.

It seemed that our time at Disney was over.

It was a little sad to pack up to go.

Our adventure started with a fairy yelling at us and ended with a princess pushing us out of line. It was perfection.

This trip to Disney World was such a blast. I feel so lucky that I was able to go and I feel so lucky that I have a good friend like Heather who worked so hard to plan everything and who was willing to put up with me for five days. She's the greatest. Chester thinks she's tops too.

Thank you, Heather. :)


  1. I read this with an ever bigger smile on my face than I usually have when I read your blog. Maybe someday I can convince you to take a Disney cruise with me.

  2. It really wouldn't take that much convincing. Really.

  3. I am sure all your readers are dying to know the joke that was so funny that it was actually used in the Monsters Inc Show. Ok, ready everybody?

    Why don't they have clown fish on the sushi bar menu?
    Because they taste funny! Hahahahahaha!

    Thank you for coming with me. Disney is always more fun with a friend! Also- Chip has a black nose and Dale has a reddish brown nose.

  4. It was an extremely excellent joke and you should be proud every day for many days to have achieved your goal of being featured in the show.

    Also, does everyone know the difference between Chip and Dale but me?

  5. I always know I’m going to love any post that starts with “here are the snacks we ate on the plane” because that is exactly the kind of detail I want from people when they talk about their Disney trips. And I loved every single word! That picture of Gaston is hilarious. And OMG THE HORROR THAT IS FANTASIA. Are you suffering from no-more-magic-bands-post-Disney-depression now?

  6. Yes. Chip has the dark nose, like a chocolate CHIP!

  7. This post! I laughed (drum circle Chester!), I cried (you couldn't finish a cupcake???), it was better than Cats. I'll read it again and again. (Not really. It was pretty long. But I will totally come back to admire drum circle Chester when I'm feeling blue.)

  8. The Magic Bands! Right? So easy. I want to buy is my wrist. I think I'd like to purchase a souvenir but rooting around in my bag seems too is my wrist. I'm far too tired to search for a hotel room is my wrist. Damn, that caramel corn looks is my wrist. WHY CAN'T WE ALL HAVE MAGIC BANDS ALL THE TIME?

  9. Drum circle Chester digs on you too.

  10. Great post!
    Also, you're not alone. I heard the same thing at a talk on 'The Internet of Things and the Quantified Self'. Apparently, after visiting Disney, many people keep trying to use their FitBit to pay for things. :)

  11. What a great trip. It looks totally and completely amazing! BTW, I worked at Disneyland for 2 years and had many extended family who also worked there, including cousins who were characters. In a word, they loved their job!

  12. I am very happy to hear this. I would be sad to think that the characters are in there scowling at us. :)

  13. Pretty sure Tinkerbell doesn't enjoy her job. Really - shouting at guests?!
    There's an excellent movie called The Visitor which includes drum circles. Not a happy movie, but very emotionally engaging and with great actors.
    Did you say, "Squirrel!" ? Because that would be kinda mean. :)

  14. I've only ever been to Disneyland Paris and it rained then too but there were no magic bands. What's all that about?
    I'm glad you both had such a great time and met so many entertaining characters. I think the photo of you and Mike is probably my very favourite. I love his fixed grin!

  15. Tinkerbell was hilarious. I think that's probably the best way to enjoy your job. It was definitely all in good fun. :)

    I considered saying Squirrel, but then figured that a billion people probably do that every day, so I went with the head scratching. But I was tempted. trust me.

  16. That fixed grin was a crack up.

    The Magic Bands are bracelets you wear that I connected to your credit card and your hotel room and so you can buy anything and open your room door and use fastpasses and stuff just by waving the thing at a target. (And entering a PIN if you are buying something.) They're great.

  17. I felt as if I were there. And I had a fabulous time with you and Heather. Thanks for taking me.

  18. You're welcome. You were no trouble at all.

  19. I have been to D-land, but never D-world. The magic bands sound creepy. But the cupcake! I don't think there is a cupcake alive (so to speak) that could defeat me. LOVE Cowboy Chester. As for Fantasia, I totally hear you - the first time I saw that as a kid, it scared the crap out of me. So glad you had a great time, there is just nothing like being allowed to be a kid again for a while.

  20. I am torn between being creeped out by the Magic Bands and wishing they existed out in the real world too.

    And I kinda wish I could take another crack at that cupcake.

  21. That photo of Gaston still has me laughing, 5 minutes later. Who knew that John Travolta traveled in time from 1975 to go work at Disney?


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