I’m sitting in the third car of Monorail Blue. It’s 95 degrees outside, and it’s very, very humid. Our plane had been late in arriving the night before. Our luggage had been delayed. The airlines had made me take my size 14 shoes off, twice, thinking that I was related to some sort of terrorist plot to take over the world. When we finally arrived at our hotel, it was 3:00 am, and we were cranky…especially me. I didn’t sleep that night. I think my wife lost her wallet on the plane, but I’m not sure. Everything is a blur.
It’s the first day of vacation, and my first vacation in three years. As the train glides over the magnetic propulsion system, I start to take a mental inventory of my life. Did I remember to shut my garage door before I left? Did I make adequate provisions for Charley, my Rat Terrier, to be taken care of? Did I remember to turn in my report to the Boss before I left? The cares of the world have again started to cloud my mind. Maybe I shouldn’t have agreed to come on this vacation. There’s too much at stake at home to put both mine and my children’s future on the line.
The train stops inside the concourse of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I hear the power wattage start to fade slightly moments before the train starts to come to rest. I look outside the window towards the concourse, and see the crowds having breakfast with Mickey Mouse and his friends. Some people shop, while yet others are hustling for a chance to get in a swim before the day begins. The crowds remind me of the downtown atmosphere that I left behind for this family vacation. I hope that I remembered to shut down my computer before I left the office…
I see one mother yelling at her child in the middle of the concourse…something about forgetting to finish his breakfast. Beautiful. The Happiest Place on Earth…yeah, right. The doors to the monorail whine open and tourists start to pile in to the car. Why can’t people read the signs? This car is obviously overcrowded…and a fire hazard. I read somewhere about a monorail accident on this exact same stretch of track that resulted in a man having to kick out a window in order to get everybody out of the car that had caught fire…they said it was a once in a lifetime electrical failure. How would they know? Did I turn off the oven before we left for the airport?
An older lady, clearly not an American, judging by her smell and foreign dialogue with her husband, sits down next to me…her thigh is touching mine. I try to slide further to the side of the car. It’s no use…this car is packed.
I glance over at my wife who used to be visible across from me sitting on the other side. Now all I see is legs of people standing in front of me. One man is wearing shorts that are way too tight, and another woman should definitely NOT be wearing shorts at all. I try to avert my gaze before the motion sickness sets in…and we’re not even moving.
Just as the monorail disembodied voice of a conductor starts to tell people to sit down and hold on…in Spanish, nonetheless (aren’t we in the United States?), the people in front of me start moving around, causing more rubbing and bumping of strangers. A man swears as his wife steps on his foot. Lovely.
The sea of legs and sweat part to show the cause of this untimely movement of the masses. A smiling face makes it’s way through the people. It looks at me and giggles. As I make eye contact with the child, he squeezes the rest of his little body through the crowd until he reaches my sanctuary of a seat.
“Dad!” He motions for me to pick him up, so I do. He then gives me a hug that only little boys can give their dads. The kind that says, “You’re the best dad I’ve ever known!” I can’t contain a smile any longer.
The Monorail glides effortlessly out of the concourse and continues towards the Magic Kingdom.
“Look, Tyler,” I begin to tell my son. “There’s Space Mountain!”
He answers in his 19 month old voice, “Googh!”
“And over there’s the Astro Orbiter! We’ll definitely take you on that one!”
“Ball!” My son thinks the planets on the Astro Orbiter are balls. How can I fight that?
The people in the car start to laugh…a friendly, but not too friendly laugh. One that says, “I understand…” in any language.
The lady next to me smiles and touches my son’s nose. He points at her and laughs, which makes her husband, I’m assuming, laugh as well.
“Next stop, the Stitch Kingdom!”
When did they incorporate THAT change? Must be for the new Stitch’s Great Escape ride recently opened. I’ve read that it is not a good ride, but I’ll be the judge of that later in the day.
The ride glides to a halt and the doors open up to expose us to the muggy atmosphere that is Orlando. The overcrowded car empties into the depot, and people hurry on their way to their pre-chosen destinations.
Finally, the car is empty, except for my wife, son, and I.
My wife says to me, in her loving voice, “Did I hear you say we’re going to take him on the Astro Orbiter?”
“Yes, you did.” I wink at her…I already know what’s coming. “And I’m going to fulfill that promise.”
“You’re on your own there…I don’t think they’ll let me on that one.”
My wife rubs her stomach and looks me in the eyes. “Do you think this little one inside me will be a Disney fan, too?”
I can’t lie to my wife, “I don’t think it has a choice…look at us!”
I take my wife in my hand and help her off of the seat. We step off of the Monorail and make our way towards the entrance to the Place Where Magic Lives. My wife by my hand, my son in my arm, and my next child inside my wife’s stomach. In two months we’ll have another child….it’ll be a great excuse to make the trek from Colorado back to the Magic Kingdom for next year.
The Monorail glides away…leaving our family standing alone on the loading/exit dock. I can hear “When You Wish Upon a Star” playing over the loudspeakers. It’s warm, but not too hot. My son is pointing at the ramp we have to go down to enter the park. My wife begins to cry.
“We’re finally home,” she says.
“Yes, I think we are.”