This story is a year old, but it's a good one, and it's true. I wrote it not long after it happened and I always intended to to rewrite it and clean it up and clarify a few things. Well, that never happened, so I am posting it as I wrote it originally.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
The Jungle Cruise from Hell
As most of you know, I just returned from Walt Disney World Resort. We had a GREAT time, but I wanted to share one of the more interesting and perhaps not so great moments of the trip. Or was it? I haven't decided.
Paul had some things to finish up at MGM and I wanted to hit a few rides at the Magic Kingdom, so on our last day I rode the Jungle Cruise as a party of one. I was first on the boat, which meant that I got to walk all the way around the center boxes and up to the front next to the boat captain. As I approached he asked me how I was doing today. "A little wobbly" I replied as I took careful steps across the rocking boat. "Have you been drinking?" he asked, "Unfortunately, no. Have you?" I joked. "No," he replied sadly. I sympathized, "That's too bad."
He seemed pretty cool and I was going to continue by joking, "maybe the ride would be funnier if you had," but in the moment, I couldn't get the phrasing right and the words never came out. In retrospect, I'm REALLY glad they didn't.
The cruise started normally enough, the captain - we'll call him Joe - was dark headed, 22ish and really pretty cute. He was rambling through the usual lame Jungle Cruise jokes. Up at the front, I could only hear half of what he was saying because the speakers were positioned farther down the boat and not pointed in my direction. Apparently the rest of the boat couldn't hear him either, or they didn't speak English, or they just didn't care. I think our roster was comprised of all of the above.
After a while with little to no response, Joe started to get irritated with us. At first it was the usual jokes about us being boring and are we asleep, ha ha, you know, ha ha. But then it started to get more intense. Joe perched himself up on the nearest center box and the comments started to get more pointed and rude. I would share them with you, but with me toward the aft and the speakers pointed bow (and Joe's 'aft' facing me) I could only hear bits and pieces.
After his spiel, Joe turned around and slammed his microphone onto the boat. He shortly picked it up again and said, "This is the part where I ask you if you think it's a good idea to go into this cave, but you won't respond anyway so we're going in." SLAM - the microphone met the aft of the boat with force. He reclaimed the mic and said, "I'm going to quit my job tomorrow and it's going to be ALL YOUR FAULT." SLAM
This went on and on with him making comments and throwing the mic onto the floor and/or front of the boat. I think he threw some other items into the floor as well, but at the point I was getting caught up in the surrealness of it all. I was also trying to figure out how I could take video of this without him strangling me and throwing me overboard. I never did find a solution to that, but he was too close to get on video anyway.
As we emerged from the cave, he told a story about how the night before he had a group and when he asked where they were from they didn't respond. He looked at the family across from me as he said this and the little girl said, "Venezuela." Bless her heart, she didn't understand, but this really pissed off Joe. He said sarcastically, "I wasn't asking where YOU were from, I was telling YOU a story!" At this point Joe turned his back to them and his front, eyes and focus directly toward me, "Anyway, that group didn't respond - a lot like you all (waving his hand at the boat), and I asked them if they were from a place where people don't respond. Then I found out that they were deaf. I felt SO bad."
"I bet you did," I replied to his face.
Joe turned toward the rest of the boat and his tirade intensified. "But they were deaf. They had a reason for not responding." His words were dripping with sarcasm. Joe went on and on, much of this I couldn't hear, but some of what I did catch, "Maybe you all have just had a long day," a voice from the back said, "It's the lines, man - they're so long."
Joe responded, "Yeah, standing in line all day is such hard work."
"You get to ride on a boat all day," the brave voice piped up.
Growing ever more angry, Joe quipped, "Yeah, since eight o'clock this morning I have been riding this boat in circles saying the same thing over and over and over again." SLAM! There went the microphone again, and a pen, and a few other items.
As we approached the dock he said something I couldn't hear and then "crap. But crap is not a (quote fingers) Disney (/quote fingers) word, so I can't say crap, In fact if my manager heard me say crap I would probably be fired on the spot, so I really shouldn't say "crap."
"Then why do you keep saying it?" that same brave voice emerged from the back. I wish I remembered his response to this. Things got a bit chaotic at this point. We were at the dock and people were starting to disembark. Joe said, "I know! You all meant to go to the Hall of Presidents! That's a boring ride!"
"That will be more fun," another disembodied voice floated up from the horde waiting to get off the boat. Joe, clearly pissed, leapt up on the boxes and pointed at the man and screamed, "Did you say that would be more fun!? DID YOU?" A group of heads pasted with uncomfortable smiles vigorously shook no.
As the line shrank, some people on the far side of the boat, no doubt anxious to leave ASAP, stepped over the center boxes as a shortcut. Joe yelled, "Please don't step over the center boxes!"
Joe was ignored.
"Do not step over the center boxes!" At that point, he grabbed his gun and started firing blanks into the air. BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! "Do not step over the center boxes!" BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG.
There was a pause in the center box stepping and then another group opted for the quickest path off the boat. "DO NOT STEP OVER THE CENTER BOXES!" BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!
At this point I was making my way around the back of the boat, God forbid I step over the center boxes. I looked up and the two cast members working the dock exit area both looked stunned. As the first person on, I was the last one off, and Joe saw fit to accelerate the boat before I made it all the way onto the dock. Thankfully I made it unscathed. The boat was in full speed and it was iffy for a moment.
The quotes in this story are paraphrased, but most are pretty accurate and none are exaggerated. Joe was obviously trying to get fired. Fortunately for us, we got to take the brunt of his abuse in that endeavor. It was a decidedly very UN-Disney experience, but it was an interesting one - very much a train wreck. I considered reporting him, but A. that was what he wanted and B. The Jungle Cruise was 20 times more entertaining than it had ever been. Thanks Joe! I imagine by now, you are getting to work at six o'clock in the morning flipping the same burgers over and over and over again. Good luck with all that.