Once upon a time my Disney fantasy came to life. A visit to the Magic Kingdom without children. I am not talking about going to the park without children in tow. I mean WaltDisneyWorld was adults only. As in no children around the theme park crying, screaming, whining. This was truly experiencing Disney fantasyland compared to the normal state of affairs for a Magic Kingdom visit.
For one evening I was inside WaltDisneyWorld drinking La Fin du Monde, eating large prawns and lobster and walking straight onto rides that normally take an hour or more waiting in line.
Once upon a time was the evening of May 31, 2015. One of the unique experiences I had a few months ago was an evening in WaltDisneyWorld as an exclusive event for the U.S. Travel Association IPW 2015 convention in Orlando. The IPW convention is a four day meeting designed to promote travel to the United States. Due to the thousands of convention attendees, host cities for the IPW convention tend to coordinate big tourist attraction spaces for exclusive evening events. IPW Orlando had three separate evening events during the convention with parties held at WaltDisneyWorld, SeaWorld and Universal Studios.
WaltDisneyWorld was closed to the public that night.
My day had been filled with luxury hotel visits to Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, Waldorf-Astoria and Four Seasons. Aside from lunch at Ritz-Carlton and desserts at Waldorf-Astoria, I had not eaten much to absorb the cocktails, whiskeys, bourbons, wine and champagne. Hotel press tour events in my experience tend to offer far too much alcohol. Aside from the first homebrewed beer of the day that greeted me to the Ritz-Carlton, I sipped enough cocktails, bourbon and whiskey to taste their flavors and I had a glass or two of champagne and wine, but those are not my drinks of choice. I like beer.
Alcohol is not normally available for visitors to WaltDisneyWorld. That last day of May WDW event was a MadHatter’s Hard Tea Party.
Go Ask Alice. I think she’ll know.
On this night all the food and drink I desired was mine for the asking.
Drinking and eating is something I can do everyday, so after getting a beer and some food in my stomach, I was off to ride as many WDW rides as I could during the evening event.
Not all of the theme park was open with most of the activities in Tomorrowland and Liberty Square.
Cinderella’s Castle was not accessible for the evening event.
I walked directly on Haunted Mansion with three other people in the room with me as the walls descended to the doorway for the ride.
It’s a Small World
It’s a big boat when riding through It’s a Small World all alone.
Flash pictures? No problem since there was nobody else to disturb.
You probably know how it is when after two Disney rides you need to eat again.
And of course more drink to wash down the okra stew.
Cinderella’s lobster mac n’ cheese was too good to pass up.
As a California-born kid, I went to Disneyland a dozen or more times by the time I was a teenager. The first time I rode Space Mountain was in 1979 in Disneyland. The line was so long for that first ride that I kicked into an Apocalypse Now space before we reached the actual ride.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Lance: Disneyland? Fuck, man, this is better than Disneyland!
The build-up of anticipation for Space Mountain was missing at WaltDisneyWorld. The walk through the empty space to reach the cars took longer than the actual ride. The ride is still a trippy experience though, even after all these years.
The Generational Gap
The only ride that was new to me was one I don’t even remember the name.
I have never had any interest in video games. The objective on the ride was to shoot things. I watched the young Asian woman seated by me racking up points by the thousands. She finished the ride with more than 75,000 points. I finished with a big Zero.
With most of the open rides ridden, I walked around in the dark wearing some goofy lighted Mickey Mouse ears I was given. I was a popular guy in parts of the park where few people had yet seen the lighted mouse ears. Many people approached me to ask where they could get their own ears to light up the night. Eventually everyone seemed to find mouse ears to wear by the time the evening fireworks started.
WaltDisneyWorld in synchronization.
The clock struck midnight, well 10:30pm to be more precise.
And the Magic Kingdom adults-only dream was over.
Three weeks later my wife and I were in California Disneyland for the 60th anniversary parade of lights. Those lighted mouse ears were a big hit with her for our visit as the ear lights changed color in synchronization to the beat of the show.