Sunday was my first day back since the end of summer blackout dates. I had spent the summer planning and acquiring different items, like a lunch box with sandwiches, sodas, chips, and trail mix, a portable usb charger (because outlets are extremely difficult to find), and a large, lightweight back pack to carry everything in. I was super prepared. I brought my iPad, action cam, even hand sanitizer and tissues.
My girlfriend and I started the day a little late, leaving Tampa at about 10am and walked through the gates at Epcot at 11am. Because of the late start, we missed our first FP+ selection, Mission: SPACE, but we had arrived in time to catch the end of our second FP+ selection, Spaceship Earth.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the park was the heat. Going from sitting in a nice cool car for an hour to 93 degree heat, 90% humidity, and the sun only an hour away from high noon was extremely tough. At one point in the FP+ line for Spaceship Earth, we were standing still in direct sunlight in a crowded line and I can guarantee it was 100 degrees. Things were OK once we got on, but the ride was moving considerably slow and completely stopped a few times. My eyes refused to adjust to the darkness and I was completely blind until we passed the mammoth battle scene and moved into the cave paintings scene. I truly love the historical AA's on this ride, it really helps me feel like I'm being transported through time, although the little boy in the moon landing living room has the complexion of a corpse. Moving so slow did allow me to get better looks at all the scenes, but by the time we got to the finale at the top with the view of the Earth from space, I was starting to get a little bit of anxiety. I feel like there is something dangerous about that room at the top. I'd love to see it with the lights on.
My picture in the video was messed up, my hair was missing a large U shaped chunk, so we skipped the after ride area where you email yourself the picture and exited facing Innoventions West.
Sum of All Thrills had a pretty long wait, and after being on Spaceship Earth it was about time to catch our final, previously reserved FP+ for Test Track. We exited Innoventions facing TT.
Standing in front of TT, waiting for 12:15 to hit, I really started to notice the heat. Even in the shade, I was pouring sweat. I became a bit flustered and charged towards a fan to get a little relief. When I dropped my backpack, I felt a rush of coldness hit my back after being covered up in the heat. I was relieved for a few minutes until we were allowed in with our FP+.
It was cool inside the queue of TT, so I finally got a little time to cool of. It took about 5 minutes to get to the design studio, and then another 10 or so minutes until we boarded the ride. This was my first time on Test Track, and I must say, I was extremely impressed. The new futuristic theme is awesome and feels like your riding in a video game. If you haven't been on it since the update, I extremely recommend it. I have seen videos of the original TT and my girlfriend had been on the original and she told me what it was like back then as we walked through. This new update totally removes all the cheesiness from the days when you where in a warehouse, and puts you in a futuristic "simulator" theme. I think it's cool that they theme a practical ride after a simulator. While it was a new experience, Test Track is not the "New Experience At Walt Disney World" that I was talking about in the title of this post. That comes in a little bit.
After Test Track, we walked through MouseGear to catch a glimpse of the Dreamfinder's flying machine, and headed on to The Land for lunch.
Being about 1pm, the heat was very intense. The walk to The Land was very tough, the weight of the backpack was taking its toll, and because it was covering my entire back, I was miserably overheating. That last stretch, just before you walk into The Land building, has a steep incline and I was huffing and puffing by the time I walked through the doors.
We made our way downstairs and snagged an empty table with one side having booth seating. I sat on the booth side and pulled out my lunch box and my iPad. Now, I know this next part may be a little too descriptive, but I am trying to be as accurate as I can be. After finishing my very bland sandwich and a soda, I went to the restroom to relieve myself, but had a difficult time going because of the constant rush of people coming in and out. I found myself sitting there for what seemed like half an hour with very little "results". I cleaned my hands, but they still have old paper towel dispensers so I found myself washing my hands again with hand sanitizer once I made it back to the table. I hate public restrooms.
My GF said she was starting to get worried about me because I was gone so long. I felt a little bit weak, but I just brushed it off as having a tough time in the RR. I packed up my backpack, pulling another soda out of the lunch box to lighten the load. We left The Land and headed up to the World Showcase. Again the heat was deadly, but the soda I had pulled out kept me cool enough to not loose my mind. They have construction walls and screens up in the garden area between Future World and the World Showcase and they constrict the crowd traffic to a winding path wide enough to accommodate a two way single file line and allow absolutely no air flow. I can't say it enough, it was tough. I was soaked with sweat as we passed the poor ladies of Canada in their Flannel skirts and I wondered if they had ice packs in their underwears.
We made it to the International Gateway just in time to board Friendship 4 to DHS. My GF wanted to ride Tower of Terror and I wanted to see some Frozen Fun. The Friendship boats have 4 extremely old air conditioners similar to ones found in pop up campers, and each one of them was blowing hot air. Sitting there at the dock in that enclosed Friendship boat made me think for the first time that maybe a trip to Disney World during the hottest part of the day was probably a bad idea. I passed the time on the My Disney Experience app, where I decided against FP+ because everything except for Toy Story Midway Mania (65 mins) had a 20 minute stand by wait time.
After a twenty five minute ride on a sweltering boat, we arrived at at the dock of DHS. We made our way into the park and down Sunset. As we made our way to the queue of Tower of Terror, I began to feel the effects of what I titled this thread with. "A New Experience At Walt Disney World". I felt funny. Like bad funny, but not bad enough to say anything. I was weak and I kinda felt out of it. I was soaked with sweat as we stood outside the Hollywood Tower Hotel in the queue. My GF asked me "Are you OK?" and I played it off saying "I'm fine". We we got inside and I was shivering from the air conditioning. We got on the elevator and after the drop sequence, I felt a tingling feeling in my hands similar to the symptoms of hyperventilation. It stopped after a minute or so, but I was still weak and I still felt out of it. I had no idea what was happening to me. We exited the ride and my GF wanted a cup of ice water, so we made our way over to the farmers market looking area next to R'n'RC. About halfway into the area, I had to stop my girlfriend and sit down. I was sweating profusely and completely exhausted. My GF made me realize I had only had the few sodas to drink, but I didn't feel dehydrated. I have been dehydrated and know the symptoms and I didn't have a headache and I wasn't even thirsty. After I caught my breath a little bit, we made our way towards the Star Tours side of the park. Halfway there, beside the giant hat, I became completely exhausted again and had to sit down again. This time, we sat a few more minutes, and I felt actually thought I felt a little better. I was probably delusional because I didn't want to leave and I continued to push myself further. We made it to the ABC Commissary where my GF finally got a large ice water where I took a few gulps and continued on. Just past the Sci-Fi Drive In and Tattooine Traders, I broke down from exhaustion the hardest time yet. I sat down next to Star Tours stroller parking and pulled ice packs from my lunch box and put them on my head and neck. I became flustered and got up and stormed into Tattooine Traders to stand under the fan that creates a wind barrier at the door. After I cooled off enough to gain my composure, I walked back to where I left my GF and sat back down next to her. I drank some water and sat there for about 5 minutes. My GF said "Ok, let's just go home." which is good because I am hard headed and would have continued to push myself until i would have passed out.
On our way out of the park, I noticed the Guardians of the Galaxy 3D preview that was scheduled to end Friday 8/15 was still open and just about to start. When we entered the theatre, I started violently shivering again from the AC. Enough that my GF was worried and demanded that I put on the rain jacket I had packed. I refused and as the preview began I acclimated to the AC and calmed down.
The preview was great. The scene was where Star Lord shows up to some abandoned planet and found some metal ball treasure like thing. I haven't see GotG yet, but now I really want to.
The rest in the cold theater gave me enough energy to make it out of the park, but I broke down again by the Coke machines by the buses, causing us to miss the bus to Epcot that was boarding. After I mustered up enough energy to make it over to the benches, I wondered "Why are these bus stops out in the middle of the sun with no shade?" and I stared down every bus entering the parking lot hoping it said Epcot on it. After a few minutes, the Epcot bus arrived and we boarded.
On the bus, I began to feel worse and my feet started cramping up. The bus ride from DHS to Epcot is short and direct, but as we passed the "Welcome to Epcot" gate, I started to feel nauseous. I looked at the crack at the bottom of the busses back door, and could see outside and wondered, if I puked, would most of it go out the crack? I took some slow, deep, breaths and was able to calm my stomach enough to get off the bus without ruining that drivers day and began the last bit of walking we had to do, from the bus drop off to the car in the parking lot. I felt really nauseous and broke down another two times before we got to the car. Steps from the car, I could not hold it in anymore and vomited two times. I was sweating and the heat was stinging my skin in the hot parking lot, the only place to sit was in the car, which was hotter than the temperature outside in the parking lot. I started to feel exhausted again and with no place to cool off, no shade, and no water left, I began to panic. With some help from my girlfriends calming words and some slow breaths with my face very close to an AC vent in the car, I began to calm down. Feeling terrible, we headed back to Tampa.
We stopped at a Circle K in Champions Gate, a few exits east of WDW to get gas and water, and I threw up again in the restroom. Fortunately, the car was cool enough to relax and my GF brought me a Gatorade, which I could only sip. After about a half hour on the road, I started to feel better. We made it home and I was tired, but I wasn't sick like I was earlier.
When I got home, I wanted figure out what happened to me. I had never experienced anything like that and it was pretty scary. I had heard of heat exhaustion, but I didn't really know what it was. So I did a little research and found out that is exactly what happened. Heat exhaustion due to salt depletion. A sugary breakfast and sugary soda mixed with hiking around WDW in 93+ degree heat with a 40 pound backpack can definitely do that, and I had all the symptoms. As I read this info, I got up and poured table salt on my tongue. Half an hour later I was back to normal.
This was most definitely one of the worst experiences I have had at WDW and it was solely from my own ignorance. I am only 28 years old and even though I have always lived in Florida, I have NEVER experienced heat exhaustion and I had no idea what was going on. I feel some what ashamed of myself for being so ignorant.
Albeit "A New Experience At Walt Disney World", heat exhaustion due to salt depletion is one I hope none of you have to go through. While drinking fluids is good, you have to remember to replace your body salts when you sweat. If I would have added some salt to that bland sandwich, I might have been OK, but I was totally clueless to the symptoms of heat exhaustion due to salt depletion.
Research heat exhaustion if you plan on visiting WDW in the 9 out of 12 months that it is hot here in FL. Know the symptoms BOTH types of heat exhaustion (salt and water depletion), so you can provide proper care for yourself or loved ones if heat exhaustion occurs.