Yesterday was our last day at Walt Disney World. A few hours ago, we said goodbye to our hotel and the resort, and I am writing this from our new room at the Megacon hotel.
We spent most of yesterday in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I didn’t know what to expect from the park, but I do know that it blew my expectations out of the water. The theming, design, and attention to detail in that park was just spectacular. I thought it was a little weird to not know where real animals ended and Disney Imagineering began, but I just accepted it, relaxed, and had a good time experiencing the results.
It was a lot of fun to have beers from different countries. Here I am drinking a Hakim Stout in Africa. It was tasty, and more like a brown ale than what we consider a stout in the West.
I like this picture. I put something in the foreground, so the forced perspective of the mountain would make it look even farther away and bigger than it is.
I want to go back to Animal Kingdom at a less busy time of year, so I can really take my time and explore the whole place, even though the crowding made the Asia and Africa lands feel more like I’ve seen them in movies, and in a way added to the illusion.
At the end of the day, we went back to EPCOT, so we could see the movie in Canada, and have one last beer around the world. When we got there, though, our feet were killing us and we were both verging on the cranky side of hungry and tired, so we just got a beer in America (Anchor Liberty Ale), enjoyed the view of the lake and all the people having fun, and skipped the movie in favor of walking back to the monorail for our final stop: The Carousel of Progress in the Magic Kingdom.
On the way out, I asked Anne if she would mind very much if we stopped by Journey Into Imagination.
“I loved this ride so much when I first came here in 1987,” I said, “and I’ve been told by countless people that it’s better for me to let the memory live on, rather than ride it again.”
“Does it not hold up?” Anne asked.
“I guess not, but I didn’t ask why. I think it’s better not to know.”
We made a left turn and walked past a small child, who had clearly had enough of the day.
“It’s Meltdown O’Clock,” I said.
“I can’t blame him,” she said. “This is a lot to take in for a kid.”
“Hell, it’s a lot to take in for an adult!” I said.
We arrived at the fountains in front of the pavilion. “I know this seems silly, but when I first saw these fountains, I was just enchanted. I’d never seen anything like this reverse waterfall, and the little tubes of water leaping from place to place was just magical.”
We walked around the fountains, and I remembered, like looking at a faded photograph or VHS tape with the white balance just off a bit, what it was like to stand in that spot when I was 14, with my parents, brother and sister, sort of in disbelief that I was really there, in a place I had only heard about and didn’t think I’d ever get to visit.
“It’s crazy, when I think about it, that water fountains made 14 year-old me so happy, especially at an age where most kids — myself included — work so hard to be too cool for everything. These fountains just brought me joy.”
Anne said nothing, and I quietly watched the tubes of water leap from pot to pot all around the pavilion.
“Okay,” I said, after a minute or so, “I’m ready to go.”
We held hands and walked to the entrance. A few minutes later, we rode the monorail back to the transportation and ticket center, and then took the ferry across the lagoon to the Magic Kingdom. We watched a beautiful sunset over the lake, and then made our way to the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.
It was exactly what I wanted it to be: a frozen moment in time when a Powerbook 170 could control the entire House of The Future, and animatronics were as magical as anything. I’m really glad that it exists, and that it exists in this very specific and particular way. I hope they don’t mess with it at all, so kids (and parents who are looking for a place to sit down for a few minutes) can be inspired to create that Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow they sing about in there.