The Truisms of Walt Disney Worldby Steve Russo, staff writer
"The only things certain in life are death and taxes." You've probably heard that before. That's an often-used quote that's usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin. I think if ol' Ben had the opportunity to vacation at Walt Disney World, he might have added a few more items to his list—a few "truisms" if you will.
The fact is there are a few things you can count on happening each and every trip; things I refer to as the Truisms of Disney World. I'm sure you have your own but here are my top ten:
Truism #1 – The bus I need will be the last one to arrive.
Yes, I know this sounds an awful lot like that silly piece of advice that goes, "You'll find that thing you've lost in the last place you look." Of course you will because when you find it, you'll stop looking—and you have my permission to go up to the idiot that said that to you and slap him or her in the back of the head.
So what's so different about my inane statement regarding Disney's buses? Go ahead and slap me if you want (virtually, of course), but if you've used the bus service at Walt Disney World, you're probably nodding your head in agreement right now. You see, what I'm really saying is that while you wait for a bus to a specific destination, before it arrives you'll see multiple buses to every other destination on property.
Once, while I was waiting for a Magic Kingdom bus at the Beach Club, I saw three buses for Downtown Disney—two of them pulled up to the bus stop at the same time. What makes this rarer than a bigfoot sighting is we all know Disney only operates three Downtown Disney buses across the entire property (OK, before someone flames me—that's a joke but it's not that far from the truth).
Truism #2 – The probability of my transportation arriving quickly is inversely proportionate to how late I am.
Even I have difficulty understanding that sentence—and I wrote it. Please let me explain… or try to, anyway.
If you have more than an hour to make a dinner reservation at Epcot, the Epcot bus will be the first one you see and keep you waiting no more than three minutes. If, however, you got a later start and you're pressed for time, you can count on seeing four or five buses to other destinations, and wait a minimum of 20 minutes, before the Epcot bus shows.
This truism gets more complex when multiple modes of transportation are involved. Please allow me to demonstrate with two of my own "real World" experiences: We once took Disney's advice and allowed two full hours to get from the Boardwalk to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness. We boarded a waiting bus to the Magic Kingdom, walked to the boat dock and boarded a waiting boat to Fort Wilderness, arriving at Pioneer Hall a full 90 minutes before the show. What ensued was a lot of idle time spent on the porch at Crockett's Tavern.
Flash forward a few years and we leave the Boardwalk with just over an hour to spare. We waited 15 minutes for a Magic Kingdom bus and walked to the boat dock in time to wave goodbye to the Fort Wilderness boat that just left. We waited 15 minutes for the next boat that first stopped at the Wilderness Lodge—where we waited 10 minutes out on the water until another boat cleared the dock. We finally arrived at Pioneer Hall after everyone had been seated and the salad and drinks had been served. Lesson learned.
Truism #3 – There are no calories or carbs at Walt Disney World.
"Pshaw," you say (if, indeed, anyone actually says "Pshaw"). It's true. In a week at Walt Disney World, my diet consists predominantly of hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, ice cream sundaes, pretzels, more beer, chocolate chip muffins, bacon and egg croissants, even more beer, french fries, pizza, pastries, and… beer. And I never gain a pound.
"How can this be?" I hear you ask. I admit that when I'm at home, I can gain three pounds with a quick glance at a slice of chocolate cake but at Disney? I always return home at the same weight as when I left. Of course this might have something to do with the fact that, while at Disney World, I walk 38 miles a day. Heck, if I stay at Kidani Village it's typically seven miles from the lobby to my room.
Truism #4 – When it rains, my poncho will always be safe and dry, tucked away in my room.
I blame the weather forecasters in Orlando. Truth be told, they have no idea what the weather will be like unless it's already happened—and even then they're only right half the time. They'll tell you there's a chance of rain of every day just to protect their backsides. Don't believe them. It never rains in Florida, which is why I never bring a poncho with me when I leave the room. That's also why I often show up looking like a drowned rat at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Truism #5 – I will always pick the wrong line.
Most attractions at Walt Disney World have a single queue and your only decision is whether or not to get into the line. A very few (Pirates of the Caribbean comes to mind) will offer a choice of two paths: right or left. The common logic is that most people go right so you should go left and I buy that everywhere but at Pirates. Trust me—everyone goes left here, and you should go right.
Where this usually rears up and bites me is when faced with multiple choices, such as when you arrive at a park before opening. There are lines at every turnstile, and while common sense tells you to look for the shortest line, experience tells me it's much more complex than that. Some lines seem longer because the people are more spread out. Some lines will have multiple strollers which will typically take the guests longer to get their ticket media organized and get their children, strollers, bags, and themselves through. Being the genius I am, I look for lines populated with adults between the ages of 21 and 34.
Further, they must look like they have "Disney experience"—in other words, they're reasonably adept at inserting their media into the appropriate slot and placing a finger on the biometric scanner in such a way that they'll gain admittance without a full body scan and cavity search. Yes, I do all this and I fail horribly each time. I hear the "Whoosh" of people in the other lines racing past me as I wait while the women six spots ahead of me places her seventh, eighth, and ninth finger on the scanner trying to get it to work.
I'm particularly bad at this when selecting a line at a counter service restaurant. Again, I hear you ask, "How can this be, Steve? There are only two lines to choose from and the person at the register will alternate from one to the other." Trust me—it gets me every time. The people in front of me are, what I term, "menu-ally challenged." They won't bother glancing at a menu until they reach the register and the cast member asks, "What can I get you?" They then begin to hem and haw over burgers, salads and sandwiches. When it becomes obvious that the cast member is getting anxious, they graciously consent to having the cast member take the order from the other line, destroying the whole concept of alternating—and I wait even longer. Sheesh!
Truism #6 – I will cancel a minimum of two Advance Dining Reservations.
I still blame the Dining Plans that have forced us to make dining reservations six months in advance or risk not getting into our favorite restaurants. What typically happens is we decide on visiting a different park, or "we just don't feel like fish tonight," or… you get the idea. I have difficulty predicting what I'll want for dinner tonight, let alone six months from now so, unfortunately, too many of our reservations wind up canceled with a promise of "we'll try that restaurant next time."
Truism #7 – Someone will impose on my personal space at a parade or fireworks.
You know the routine. You stake out a favorite spot for (insert name of your favorite show here: Wishes, Main Street Electrical Parade, Illuminations, etc.) a full 45 minutes before the start. At approximately five minutes before the show, someone will elbow, push, nudge, or simply insert him or herself between you and what once was a good view. It really does not matter if you leave three feet in front of you or six inches, they'll find a way. Then to rub some salt into that wound, they'll place a child atop their shoulders.
Truism #8 – I will always be seated in the giraffe section at Festival of the Lion King.
The Festival of the Lion King is a wonderful and energetic show at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We try to see it at least once each trip. It offers four seating sections: lion, wart hog, elephant and giraffe. That's merely hypothetical, by the way. I've never met anyone that's been seated in any area other than the giraffe section. I'm convinced the other sections contain cardboard cutouts, audio animatronics and guests generated with CGI—much like the lobby of the Grand Floridian.
At the beginning of the show, the cast will solicit help from a guest in each section and have the audience mimic the sound of each animal. I can certainly roar like a lion; and who among us can't snort like a warthog? Additionally, and to be honest, I can do a mean elephant trumpet. None of that matters, however, because no matter when I arrive for a show I'm ushered into the giraffe section where I learn, once again, that no one knows the sound a giraffe makes. Yes, the performer will tell us a giraffe bleats like a sheep but has anyone ever proven that? I didn't think so. Nevertheless, I bleat once more.
Truism #9 – I will pull up on a yellow tab approximately 500 times.
I know it's a safety issue but it seems unnecessary to me. On rides like Soarin' and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, after you're seated and buckled in, a cast member will make the rounds asking each rider to pull up on the yellow tab attached to the belt. The reason it seems unnecessary is they have a lighted display that will tell them if anyone did not buckle in so… why the extra step? I've been told it's to ensure no one has buckled the belt under their backside and sat down atop it. I find it hard to believe any guest would do that but… the cast members don't have a site called "Stupid Guest Tricks" without reason.
Truism #10 – Someone will wind his or her way past me in a queue to join his or her group up ahead.
You know the routine, don't you? First thing in the morning, you make your way to a popular attraction—something like Soarin' or Toy Story Mania. As you make your way through the queue, you're passed by one person after another all saying the same thing: "Excuse me. I'm just joining my group up ahead." In my Park Peeves column, I refer to these folks as the "Scuse-mes."
This may be a single person although I've even had groups of three or four pass me by. I have some tolerance for someone that might have to leave a queue when a child needs the restroom but let's get real here; you know that 99 percent of these folks were off riding something else or getting Fastpass tickets for later. I know Disney tries but I wish there was a way they could enforce having people wait for their entire group before entering any queue.
Well, I've once again channeled my inner curmudgeon and given you a Top 10 list of the things I experience each and every trip—my list of Disney World truisms; a list I hope would make Benjamin Franklin proud. What does your list look like? Did I leave anything out?