Thursday, June 9, 2011

Disney Top 100: #97

The first time I went to Disney World, I was five. My Dad had a conference in Orlando so my very brave mother took three children (including a two-year-old) to the Magic Kingdom for the day. My cousin Stephen was also five and we have some particularly distinct memories from this merry little jaunt. Stephen bought his brother a plastic Pinocchio that didn't do anything. I got my first pair of Minnie Mouse ears. We ate at Columbia Harbor House for the first time. We were even some of the last people to ride 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

But there was one ride that so terrified us that for months both of us had nightmares. That ride, my friends, was Snow White's Scary Adventures.

I mean, the word scary is literally in the title of the ride. What was my mother thinking? Although in her defense, the last time she rode SWSA she was in college so her perception of the ride was probably a little skewed.

Stephen and I were tucked safely into the front seat of our ride vehicle, aptly named Dopey. The next thing I know, the evil stepmother has transformed into this nasty old hag and is offering me a gasp poison apple! Talk about STRANGER DANGER. So Stephen and I spent the entire ride screaming with our eyes firmly shut. There may have been some hugging involved as well. Either way, we were terrified. And that terror carried over into months of nightmares. My Snow White VHS didn't make it into our VCR for at least a year.

Seriously...who wouldn't be terrified of this???

So the next year my Mom decided that Dad didn't need to miss out on another chance at Disney fun. Never mind that he'd rather be gutting a deer, cleaning fish, listening to Rush Limbaugh, or watching paint dry. We're on vacation, Calvin.

So we packed up the minivan and made the 9 hour trip to Orlando. I remember dreading our day at the Magic Kingdom. Because that's where the evil hag waited. To poison me.

My baby brother Grayson has always been fearless. He makes friends really easily and can charge into burning buildings like a boss (he's a fireman). Just recently he up and moved to New York (God, please don't let him turn into a Yankee). See? Fearless. So imagine my disdain when he decided to ride Snow White's Scary Adventure. Traitor.

I'm a competitive person. In the words of Ricky Bobby and Dr. David C. Phillips, "If you ain't first, you're last." But I'm not a particularly athletic, so if I'm going to be the winner I have to use my brain. My Dad very quickly offered to sit with me while Gray and Mom dared the ride. Frankly, I think he was Disneyed out. I probably would have taken him up on his offer but then I saw it.

The glimmer of challenge in my brother's eye. In my memories this played out a lot like a bad kung-fu movie's epic fight scene. In reality he was probably just being a little snot. And maybe I was being my usual paranoid, scaredy cat self.

So I got on the ride. And I survived. Why? Because between our visits those kind old Disney Imagineers made the ride a little less scary. Thanks, boys!

A few years ago my cousin Stephen accompanied me on another Disney trip. And in a fit of nostalgia, we just had to ride Snow White's {less} Scary Adventure together.

That's what I love about Disney World, especially those Fantasyland dark rides. They evoke a sense of nostalgia. Yes, they aren't thrilling like Space Mountain or Expedition Everest. They don't feature high-end animatronics like many other rides. I'm well aware of the fact that they are little worn and better suited for screaming five-year-olds.

But isn't that the point of Disney World? To make you feel like a kid again?

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