Intelligent children (who are well-organized and can understand calendars and priorities) are a dangerous thing. Yes, I was coerced by little people who cannot vote, serve in the armed forces, drink, drive, gamble or plan a balanced meal – – but who, with the knowledge that our Yearly Passes expire soon – – were able to force me to Disneyland.
Yesterday was a Wednesday, so I anticipated the excursion would be rather harmless. But that was before I realized an entire Los Angeles suburb decided to schedule their school district’s Easter Vacation (called Spring Break these days?) almost a whole month before the “Bunny Carrying Candy Laden Basket” holiday itself.
Walt would have a Panic attack to see what a (crowded) “Small World” it really is with this mob scene!
As I wandered thru the entrance, congratulating myself for being a Passholder and bypassing the long lines out at the ticked booths, I consulted a custom Disney guide that my older college son had written for me – – “How to Best Optimize Your Time Without Losing Your Mind.” He knew me well.
It seems that building one amusement park (centered around a smiling rodent with a squeaky voice) is not enough; someone decided to add on “California Adventures” while subliminally suggesting to parents that they can double their fun if they go back and forth between BOTH ride/show/parade infested Arenas – – thus the two-for-one “Theme Park Hopper” was born.
I sent my children, who meet the height requirements for all the scary rides (“Twilight Tower of Terror” will age a person faster than any menopausal symptom ever will) ahead of me to go on Space Mountain. Meanwhile, I was supposed to (according to my son’s detailed guide) go stand in a different line, thus reducing the minutes their impatient little bodies would need to stand around in order to ride on Splash Mountain. Yes! Disneyland likes the mountain theme. A lot. So there’s Space, Splash, Thunder and even a realistic snow-capped mountain which is supposed to resemble the Alpine Peaks called the Matterhorn.
But you don’t need to know any of this. All you need to remember is a made-up word called “FASTPASS.”
Is a FASTPASS A Slow Boat to China?
Me: Hi there. Is this long line to go on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain or Thunder Mountain? My son wrote me a guide specifying that we should ride those first before they get too crowded.
Line-Stander: None of those. This line is actually for FASTPASS.
Me: Oh! How tall do you have to be to ride FASTPASS?
Line-Stander: Uh, Lady . . . I think you better consult your guide again.
And that’s when I saw it! These people were standing in a zig-zagging line all around Tomorrow-Land to obtain an official time-stamped card that would entitle them to return later in the day for a few select popular rollercoaster rides. You’re getting this, right? A line to organize you to stand in another line. It’s brilliant in a way that I cannot fathom.
Essentially A FASTPASS is a reservation for a specific time to Vomit!
And not only that, people were running around all over Disneyland, (standing in these hour-long queues) to collect bunches of these special little cards, like you would collect valuable property deeds in Monopoly. In fact, at a ride called “Grizzly River Run Rapids,” the line to get issued a FASTPASS was actually far longer than the short five minute line to get jostled around on the raft itself.
Me: Excuse me, but what are you doing over here? Why don’t you just go floating down this cold, dirty river right now?
Line-Stander: Our family doesn’t like to get wet first thing in the morning.
Me: (taking a step back) Oh, so none of you have taken a shower yet??
And get this – – not only do you need to keep track of when you can “check-in” to the attraction you want to visit, but at the bottom of this highly prized card (in teeny, tiny print) is another time-stamp which tells you when you are able to acquire your next FASTPASS. So my cellphone was constantly ringing and buzzing with different alarms and timers, alerting me when I should do all of these things.
And some of these (Free) FASTPASSES get “Sold-Out” by 10 am. That’s right – – You wait in a long line and make your way nearly to the front, (where a revered machine dispenses these hot little devils) when suddenly a very brave Disney Worker (officially deemed “A Cast Member,” possibly because they dress up as animated characters, but more likely because they will soon play the part of a murder victim) places a large placard up that states, “There will be no more FASTPASSES Available today.” And then he quickly “ducks.” Yes, like Donald.
Arriving late for your time slot is another total disaster unless you have a good reason for being Tardy. Captain Hook refused to let us fly to NeverLand with Peter Pan until I came up with an alibi – – we got stuck on one of their old, broken-down trains, PLUS we had to go to the First-Aid Station after Mary Poppins purposely tripped my youngest with her umbrella. He bought that story after I told him that he could sue Disney for his missing arm.
Walt Would Have Turned Over in His Grave, But First He’d Need a FASTPASS to Do It!
Now let’s get one thing straight. I arrived at Disneyland at 8 am. and by 5 pm, I had put in a good day’s work. My shift was over and I was ready to punch out. I had even taken to whistling that wretched Disney tune, “Hi-Ho, It’s Home From Work We Go.” The only problem was that we still had those darn coveted FASTPASSES for three of the most insanely wild rides in the park. And they could not be used until 7 pm. My children would not budge toward the parking lot.
But of course, this was a non-issue for a clever “Cast Member” like myself. Nobody here had seen the likes of Acting anywhere close to what this Drama Queen can perform. I sprinkled water from that disgusting River across my face, flung my hand dramatically up to my forehead, and approached someone in a Disney Prince costume. I wisely refrained from batting my eyes flirtatiously in Mr. Charming’s direction.
Me: Excuse me. My children have waited all day long to use these FASTPASSES that aren’t valid until two hours from now. As you can see, I feel quite faint and was wondering if you might let these Poor Innocents ride just a bit early?
Prince Charming: Your skin does look White as Snow. I’ll make an exception for your “Little Dwarfs” just this once. Perhaps you might like to lie down in that glass coffin around the corner.
Me: (Dirty Look) Thank you. You’re a Prince.
Well, that was easy-peasy, extra queasy! At the next ride, I feigned a stomach-ache and someone who looked like Goldilocks said perhaps I should go easy on all that porridge. But Yes! She would let my “Three Little Bears” on the ride early to help me out. Bless her little heart of gold, (which was not too soft and not too hard.)
So I was onto something here! At the third and final ride of the day, I approached an Alice in Wonderland lookalike and made my case of a twisted ankle, limping convincingly up to the entrance. She admonished me to be careful walking around White Rabbit Holes, but agreed to let my children on if they could smile like the Cheshire Cat for her.
Just as my three well-trained kids were breaking into that goofy feline grin, out stepped Prince Charming and Goldilocks from behind some mouse ear-shaped bushes (you’ll never convince me they weren’t doing what I thought they were doing back there) and informed a shocked Alice that my legs worked perfectly fine. Still I was a VERY sick woman, they emphasized, proceeding to recount how I already had a headache, a stomach-ache, and I could faint any minute now. But I definitely did NOT have a sore leg. For shame! Was this any kind of example to set for my children??
Alice In Wonderland: What kind of parent demonstrates your brand of deceitfulness?
Me: (tossing our FASTPASSES in her face) An Evil StepMother! C’mon kids…we’re going home before the clock strikes midnight.
Kids: (whining) But we’re still Hungry.
Me: (cackling maniacally) Oh, just hush up and eat your Poison Apples!!