Anyone who knows me knows I don’t really like the sun or the heat or humidity – I love rain and fog and mist and cool temperatures. Yet I choose to spend every spare second I have at Walt Disney World.
I think it’s mainly because I consider it a fair trade: I’ll deal with the blazing, sticky weather in order to experience my favorite vacation destination.
So when I was doing a solo day at the parks during a particularly brutal stretch recently, I fell back on abilities I never knew I had. I was like the Jason Bourne of Disney. Skills would just appear, as if ingrained into muscle memory, and I found myself dodging the scorching rays of the yellow face.
OK, it wasn’t that dramatic. I just had to laugh at myself for slinking along in the shade whenever it was possible. At least I’m aware of my odd Heliophobia.
Here’s how it went:
I got up super-early. The plan from the night before was to meet a group of friends at Epcot the next day. By 8 a.m. I found myself camped out on the Boardwalk, scarfing down an egg and cheese croissant. And a large milk.
I sat in one of those red metal chairs, watching the birds scavenge scraps and contemplating my next move. I was already sweating through my shirt.
The humidity was clinging to everything, and the sun hadn’t even really poked its face over the Boardwalk Resort behind me. The way I saw it, I had two options: Just get up and walk over to Epcot through the World Showcase, or be a baby and get on a Friendship. Of course I waited for a boat. For a few minutes. They were running a little slower at this time of the morning, and the longer I waited, the more ashamed I felt. I mean, the back door to Epcot is just right over there.
So I sucked it up, turned to my right and started for the International Gateway. Of course, as anyone who has waited for a boat will know, I got to the bridge near the ESPN Club and the Friendship to Epcot cruised right underneath me. No matter – I was manning up and making the trek by foot. I know this is no big deal to most people, but it’s fairly well-established that my high-hurdles and pole-vaulting days are behind me. (Yeah, seriously, I used to do those events.) I got to the Guest Relations booth, ponied-up for my Annual Pass, and grabbed a bench while we waited for the rope drop.
By the time I got to where I wanted to be, I’d have walked from the front of the Boardwalk Resort to the front of Epcot. My goal was to hoof it over to Spaceship Earth right after I got through the turnstiles. So as I got to the top of the hill leading down into the U.K. pavilion, I set my pace with only one thing moving me forward: A hard, square, blue, yet actually quite comfortable, air-conditioned ride vehicle ready to sweep me up into the history of communication. Which, thankfully, includes lots of dark, cool spaces. It would be the perfect antidote and reward for this rather early, sweaty jaunt. Walking through the U.K., past the red phones, on to Canada and then into Futureworld, I felt sweat cascading down my back (I’m sorry if that’s too-much info.) But my goal was in sight: That beautiful, roundish home to audio-animatronics that has a strange hold over me.
Long story short – I managed to survive.
I made my way around to the front of Spaceship Earth, walked up the queue, boarded my ride vehicle (how many? One.) and entered the kingdom of cool.
Join me on my morning of avoiding the sun at Epcot, won’t you? Just watch this video three times in a row.
Before long the ride was over. I thought I’d walk outside, call some friends and see where everyone was. I got about two steps out into the air and the one overriding thought tearing through my mind was “no.”
So I walked back around, got into my square blue time machine, touched New Hampshire on the touchscreen and went around one more time.
Aaaand then again. I was killing a little time before my friends were awake and also spending a little sit-down time in a cool, dark environment, but an overriding reason I always sprint (read: lope, or judges would also accept “drag my carcass”) to Spaceship Earth is that it has this amazing zen control over me. I shut my mind off, enjoy the ride and I’m in a total state of relaxation. I can never get enough of it.
After three times through Spaceship Earth, I felt like I should check-in and see if the group was up and moving. They weren’t, but the plan had changed from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom.
“Excellent,” I thought. “I wanted to see how far along the Fantasyland expansion project has come since I was last here.”
I headed for the exit and up to a monorail that would take me to the Magic Kingdom. Yet again I was on the move, but out of the sun. The AC on the monorail was welcome, even if it did smell like goats. After a nice enough ride through the Ticket and Transportation Center I disembarked and got into the cattle drive down to the security check. I didn’t anything on me, so I cruised right through to the turnstiles and then the tunnel leading to one of my favorite places on the planet.
Now I could cling to the darker, cooler corners of the park. I cut to the right near Tony’s Town Square, skulked stealthily in the shadows across to the hat shop, and made my way through there and into the Main Street Confectionery. From there it was through one shop to the next – completely avoiding any sunlight whatsoever.
My translucent Irish skin remained remarkably un-charred. But now I would have to make a dash for it in full sunlight. I braced myself, took a deep breath of cool air and plunged myself out into the blast furnace known as “that area past Casey’s Corner.”
First stop: Carousel of Progress.
Next stop: Carousel of Progress.
What can I say – it was cool, comfortable, and I’m a huge sucker for the classics.
Then of course I had to check out the new Dumbo queue – in no small part because it’s inside.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Sun-Hater’s day at the Magic Kingdom:
- Carousel of Progress, twice
- Peoplemover, twice
- Mickey’s Philharmagic, three times
- Hall of Presidents, twice
- Pirates o’ the Caribbean
- Watch the parade from beneath a set of stairs outside the Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square
- Root beer float at Aloha Isle
- Sit on the wall near the Princess Tiana meet-and-greet and talk to strangers
- Escape to the Tambu Lounge where I discovered my new favorite beer – Orange Blossom Pilsner.
- Eat until I almost feel sick at ‘Ohana. Almost. I was actually able to show a little restraint this time.
I returned to my hotel, the Boardwalk, completely unscathed by the evil, evil sun. And yet I felt like I covered a lot of ground. I didn’t do a ton of attractions, but I got my Disney high and spent most of the day indoors.
I feel like I should mock the sun and it’s dark cousin, humidity, but I know these are dangerous opponents and we will meet again.
And the best part of the day? No Epcrotch.
Do you have any tricks to beat the heat on particularly hot days at Walt Disney World?