Friday, March 18, 2011

Adventures In Orlando: Day One

Friday, 9:20 a.m. Eastern Time

Flash back to February. My mother is at a company event in Manhattan. She's been working at a wine importer for years, and the office would probably fall apart without her. To her surprise, she's honored by her bosses with a big gift: an all-expense-paid trip to wherever she wants to go. This explains why I'm on a plane bound for Orlando, writing this longhand for my blog.

Anything related to Disney barely interests me. The allure of the Magic Kingdom is lost on me, since I'm not into rides or waiting on line to go on them. Disney owns ABC, and the only show I've watched on a consistent basis has been No Ordinary Heroes, which is currently in a ditch with NBC's The Cape, waiting for somebody to throw dirt on it. I'm still pissed that two great shows -- The Mole and Pushing Daisies -- got canceled, while crap like Wipeout and The Bachelor remain on the air. The latter seldom works out in the end; most of the final couplings don't make it to the altar (present note: I am not going to look up the exact stats). Bill Simmons theorized that since there's months between the doofus bachelor proposing to whichever mental case he chooses and that making it on the air ("The most dramatic Rose Ceremony . . . EVAR!!!"), the putz figures that it would be easier to plow through groupies in the end, because that's probably what he does during that period of time. Seriously, if you watch The Bachelor and/or The Bachelorette, you're a part of the problem.

Where was I? Right . . . Disney World. My mother isn't really Disney-minded, but she's been interested in going to a wild animal park. And yes, Disney has one of those. While I'm not at all that keen about, say, getting the business end of a giraffe's tongue, it does sound like an intriguing weekend. Seriously : All. Expenses. PAID. And it's not like I'm missing anything right now. Well, there is C2E2, which is starting up today in Chicago. I went to the inaugural edition last year (covered here, here, here and here), and I figured that it's too early in the year for me to go on my annual convention trip. I tried getting a four-day package for Comic-Con International at San Diego, and I wound up getting nothing after 4-6 hours of trying to pull it off online.

Right now, I'm in a good mood. My mother and me got to the airport on time, and I don't think I forgot anything. We're not sitting together, and she could get a middle seat for me. But then the nice lady on the window offered -- yes, offered -- to switch seats. I should hate the window seat, but I'm used to it. With an aisle seat, I feel like I'm dangling. Like I said, I'm in a good mood. Even with Mom suggesting going to Disney World (re: Magic Kingdom) to watch the parades and get my picture taken with Goofy, I'm all right. And I hope I stay all right when I get online later in the day.

Plane's moving. I'll be back later.

10:38 p.m.

Well, the good news was that the flight was pretty uneventful. I know that the odds of a crash or an Oceanic 815 thing happening are about one percent of one percent of one percent of . . . repeat that about twenty or thirty times. But it's always in the back of my head, y'know? We landed early, and our sole suitcase (remember, we're just staying three nights) isn't there. We're assured that since Mom put special Disney tags on it, it should be on the bus. We get on the bus and arrive at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We look in the storage compartment on the bus . . . no suitcase. Well, it must be at our room already. We enter our room . . . right, no suitcase. For all I know, it could be back in Newark. Well, we hang around the room, my mother on the balcony, looking at the animals outside. It's not like they're so close to the lodge, but they are visible. We wind up seeing giraffes, zebras, and an East African Crowned Crane (we also got a sheet with animal pictures, hence the lack of "funny looking bird" here). Eventually, my mother's hunger forces us to get a quick lunch, since she didn't have much to eat back for breakfast at Newark Airport. We get back to the room . . . NOW our suitcase is there. This is good for me, since I had a long-sleeved, flannel-y shirt on. I know . . . I'm nuts. I just figured that I should be warm for getting out early in the morning, even though the forecast back in New York called for temperatures to peak at 69 degrees (and it isn't even spring yet!) Anyway, one change of top later, we head for Epcot Center.

You would think that Epcot would be outdated, but they've kept up with the times. Take Spaceship Earth, for itself, the ride that takes place in the big globe that everybody notices. It takes you through human history, with all sorts of sights and sounds, as well as frighteningly realistic figures moving around. It's as close as I've ever been to the condition known only as "tripping balls." The only bad part was that a camera took pictures of my mother and me. At the conclusion of the rides, passengers answer questions that shape a future civilization. And that's where the pictures came in, as our heads were stuck on goofy cartoon figures. For me, it was traumatic. For my mother, it was freakin' hysterical. I also played a video game where I controlled a figure made up of images of me running, jumping, and celebrating. Needless to say, I am not showing my mother that.

Given how late we got to Epcot, we really didn't get to do much. The other ride we went on was based on Finding Nemo, but that was lightly ruined by unruly kids who wouldn't shut up during the ride. We wound up in an aquarium of sorts, complete with sharks, dolphins and two manatees. I don't remember being so close to sea cows before. There were also a lot of flower sculptures of Disney characters, which was nice. We wound up having Chinese food, did a little shopping, and I more or less strong-armed Mom into leaving before the fireworks. So now I owe her a fireworks show by the end of the weekend. In my defense, we've been up since before 7 a.m., and I didn't really sleep on the plane ride.

The hotel room is okay. We both thought we'd get something bigger. For my mother, her frame of reference is the hotel she stayed in London two years ago while visiting my cousin, who was studying abroad. For me, it was the unexpected find from Expedia in a Baltimore suburb last year, where I was staying for a mere two days for Baltimore Comic Con. It turns out a lot of cable stations aren't on the television, but that's not that big of an issue. I also didn't make it back for Fringe, but that's why I set up the VCR before I left home . . . because I wasn't sure if I'd make it back in time. Ditto for Sunday and The Amazing Race, which I had to set for more than an hour to cover any schedule pushing due to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

All in all, this was a good day. Here's hoping I'll be more Happy than Grumpy by Monday. I'd settle for more Happy over Dopey at this point.

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