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At Disney, Only One Glass of Wine at a Time, Please

Posted by perle0 on 2006-05-27 23:35:47 (5038 views)

In Disney World, even Captain Hook had a sunny smile. There were fairy-tale princesses, amazing 3-D movies--and tons of sugar. His daughters adored it....Then Dad was told he couldn't buy two glasses of wine at the same time.

He really needed them, too, even though one was for his wife. But the wife was out of sight of the bartender, and we couldn't have our visitors to the Happiest Place on Earth getting a little TOO happy, could we? Sure, you can't have two glasses of wine, but you can still see the giant pink elephants even without them.

In an account any parent or world traveller can relate to, British writer and father of two Tim Adams writes about the double-foreign land that is Disney World--a carefully constructed fantasyland of family perfection, at least as one of the world's largest entertainment conglomerates sees it.

Here are a few choice selections to whet your appetite.

Half-awake, and trying to work out how so much extravagant happiness should seem like such hard work, I went through a little list of the previous days' irritations. For a start, Disney loved rules. You needed rules to guarantee the Perfect Vacation Experience. My favourite was the one-drink rule. On our first evening I had queued up for 10 minutes at the hotel bar to buy two glasses of wine. I was told, with a smile, that since the bartender could not see my wife from where he was standing I could only purchase one alcoholic drink. I tried to point her out across the other side of the swimming pool, but the craning of necks was apparently not part of the rule. I wondered if he could put the wine in a very large glass that we could share. He smiled. I explained that I was 40 years old. He smiled. I bought a glass of wine and took it over to my wife. Then I queued up for 10 minutes and bought another glass for myself.

...Perhaps, I wondered, my anxiety at this prospect had something to do with the food. Being at Disney World was a lot like being a kid in a sweet shop. Remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where they go for a ride on a chocolate river and eat whatever kind of candy they can find off trees and all the gobstoppers go on for ever and no one has heard of diabetes? Every day so far had been a bit like that. We had seen grown men licking lollipops as big as their heads; children demolishing Danish pastries the size of hubcaps for breakfast. In the afternoon you could, after your Mickey burger, buy ice creams in buckets and eat them with spades. I'd watched my children's eyes light up with joy - they love me! - as I'd tried to appease them with the occasional stick of Mickey candyfloss[cotton candy] or box of Mickey nuggets. Hey, we were on holiday after all. They had marvelled at how their drinking straws had Mickey ears.

After a couple of days, though, I had begun to fear I could sense pure sugar coursing through the veins of everyone in the park. It was possible to hire buggies[strollers] for toddlers. You could also hire motorised wheelchairs. Many enormous people wearing gargantuan shorts opted for the latter to propel themselves between fast-food franchises. It was, on the plus side, a very long time since I had been on holiday and felt relatively thin and fit. As the week had progressed, I had become uncomfortably obsessed with the sheer scale of some of the sugar-seekers, slugging at their quarts of Coke, every bit as extraordinary a sight as a six-foot tall duck or a pair of enormous chipmunks.

The combination of the sugar and the frustration of queuing had the effect, I imagined, of heightening the sensation of the rides themselves. The previous day I had, with some foolhardy bravado ('It'll be fun!'), taken Daisy, who is six, on the newest and scariest of these, Mount Everest, which cranks you up to the top of the north face of a vast sunlit peak and sends you hurtling backwards in to the darkness where you feel like you are travelling upside down on a runaway train deep inside the earth. As in the moments before a car crash, I found many thoughts circulating in my brain on that journey. Not least of these was: you are much too old for this, you are going to die, and your affairs are not properly in order. Even above the roar of the train on the tracks and my own screams I could hear my daughter yelling in all seriousness: 'I want to get off! I want to get off!'

Going round one bend, pursued by a yeti, I caught her eye and she gave me a look of pure terror. I began to fear my teeth might fall out; then that her teeth might fall out. How could I have brought her on here? Because she was tall enough? What kind of reason was that? When we got off, finally, I wondered, quietly, if she would like to go on it again, perhaps with her mum. But no, she decided, that was the scariest thing that had happened to her ever, ever, and for the rest of the week she was going to refuse even to look at the snow-capped, man-made mountain.

Read the whole account of Tim's visit to Disney World in all its glory. You won't be sorry!


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