This is my version of how it all happened. I maintain that MY version is the ONLY version with any merit whatsoever, seeing as how it has since come to my attention that the rest of my party was being entertained by SHADOW PUPPETS and Wilbur was-- obviously-- not in possession of his senses.
Wilbur would really appreciate it if I just forgot the whole ordeal. And Wilbur's mom would appreciate it if we all stopped calling him Wilbur.
But Life is full of opportunities to learn to laugh at yourself-- and others. Even others you love.
It all started innocently enough: Back in October 2010, we managed to convince the BF's entire family and company to take the youngest niece to Disneyland for the first time, seeing as how she'd be turning 3 and this would be their last chance to get her in for free.
For some reason that has become quite murky to me, they all agreed that this would be a swell idea.
Naturally, there's a whole other post or 20 worth of stories from THAT trip! BUT-- this isn't about THAT trip, this post is about Indiana Jones and the Ride of Doom.
Suffice it to say that several members of the original party obtained ticket packs from Costco-- which, btw-- really is the best deal on Disneyland tix if they're available in your area. The packs consist of 4 1-day hopper passes which expire approximately 6 months after purchase.
Without getting all nitpicky on the details-- several people (mostly the older kids) ended up with unused tickets from that trip and so BF-Matt and I got together with the boys' mom (Nikki) and planned a weekend in May to use up left over tickets before they expired. Along for the adventure were myself (Our heroine,) BF-Matt, Nikki; mother of Taylor (the elder boy) and Wilbur (our villain-- or comic relief, depending on where you were sitting in the Jeep) and BF-Matt's oldest niece Savannah.
We opted to share one hotel room and one vehicle.
Have I mentioned that I don't have children of my own?
Nevermind that the 13 year old boy and the nearly 13 year old girl are NOT related to eachother, are both in junior high school, and HATE eachother-- in the way that 13 year old boys and girls "hate" eachother: They can't be in the same place for long without fighting, but to anyone over 30 "fighting" looks a lot like an excuse to touch eachother.
Yes. They would both be HORRIFIED to hear me say that.
Nikki-- like many women, many people, in fact-- had no desire to actually drive to Anaheim from Central California (approximately 3 1/2 hours) but she does have a mini-van. So BF-Matt was nominated Captain of the ship with myself sitting shotgun with 2 teenagers in the middle row seating. Nikki climbed into the back seat with Wilbur and promptly fell asleep... I think she had this planned.
The drive to Disneyland went smoothly enough considering the elder kids spent most of it hitting eachother.
Arrival at the hotel, check-in, and dinner in Downtown Disney on Friday night all went well. We were off to a splendid trip.
Have I ever mentioned that I don't have kids? Oh yeah-- and I'm not a morning person.
So getting hauled out of bed in order to arrive at the gates of Disneyland at 7 a.m. was not my idea. Nevertheless, we had decided that we needed to make the most of the trip seeing as how Disneyland was opening 1 hour early-- which somehow was supposed to make up for closing 7 hours early. That's what the website had said. It just so happened that the only weekend we could all make the trip also happened to fall on the day of star-studded premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean 4.
Upon arrival, we were told that Adventure & Frontierlands would close at 2 in the afternoon, but Fantasy & Tomorrowlands would stay open till 8. The GATES would close at 5, with "the Stars" beginning their parade down the black carpet on Main Street at 6. But if we were already in the park when the gates closed, we could stay until 8.
This information is entirely gratuitous and has nothing to do with my story.
We started at Space Mountain. Apparently the only other people who had any interest in being in the park this early were the ones who were sitting on Main Street, determined to see Johnny Depp. This worked out great for us! There were hardly any lines for the rides.
We had a plan: start in Tomorrowland and work out way to Adventureland for breakfast at Riverbelle Terrace and then ride everything on that side of the park before our lunch reservation at the Blue Bayou at 1; which would pretty much herald the end of our stay on the west side of the park for the rest of the day.
It started with the goat. As Savannah and I followed the rest of the group around the backside of Big Thunder Mtn Railroad toward breakfast-- I spied a goat. I mean, it wasn't some feral Disney goat-- it was clearly being wrangled by two girls who clearly worked at Disneyland. So we stopped to pet the goat-- which turned out to be dressed like Captain Jack Sparrow. A pirate goat? Go figure.
We stopped to pet the Capt. Jack goat, snap a photo of Savannah with it, and joke with the cast members who could not talk the goat into turning around and facing the crowd, but rather insisted on attempting to eat their table.
When we caught up to the BF and co. I realized that the little ziplock pouch that holds my pass (and fast passes) was no longer hanging at the end of my lanyard.
This is not the first time I have lost my passport. I was feeling pretty stupid. I'd been in Disneyland for all of an hour and a half and I'd already lost my pass AGAIN!
I appreciate the BF's insistence that the pirate goat probably ate it.
So that's the set up for this story: Up too early, pirate goat, you see how my day was going.
And shortly thereafter, we decided to take our turn on the Indiana Jones ride. (Insert ominous music-- or possibly thunder crash-- here.)
As we headed toward the queue, Nikki begs out with a casual, "You know, I'm not really big on this ride, so I'm just going to sit this one out."
So BF-Matt, myself, and 3 children that are not our own, proceeded toward Disaster.
Taylor wanted to "drive" the Jeep-- which consists of 4 rows that seat 4 across-- so our vehicle was set up with Taylor, Savannah, me, then Wilbur. BF-Matt was directly behind Wilbur in the next row with two college-age girls in the row with him. The back 2 rows were full as well.
The ride was going as anticipated: somebody apparently looked in the cursed idol's eye and instead of emerging from the temple with wealth, knowledge, or eternal youth, we were subjected to a rowdy ride plagued by giant snakes, skulls and spiders while attempting to follow Dr. Jones' directions to the exit... and then, just as we narrowly escaped a corridor of dart-blowing skeletons, but before we nearly meet our crushing doom under a giant spherical rock... the whole thing came to a rather anti-climatic stop.
The lights came on. Which did little to brighten the corridor we were stopped in, seeing as how the whole thing was painted black. But the lights came on-- I considered that we might be getting walked off the ride. I've never been walked off a ride at Disneyland, and I admit I'd rather see Space Mtn with the lights on than Indiana Jones-- and if I'm getting walked off Indy-- or just have to hang out broken down-- I'd have rather done it in a more interesting point in the ride.
As it was, however, I had about 30 seconds to contemplate all of this before my own personal adventure began.
It turns out that young Wilbur-- despite all his cuteness and brilliant comedic timing-- is a weensy bit claustrophobic.
Shortly-- very shortly-- after our Jeep came to a cold stop, my young companion attempted to unbuckle his seatbelt. He then casually observed that he could not get his seatbelt undone.
I looked at him rather blandly and -- with no trace of panic or worry in my voice whatsoever-- remarked that of course he couldn't take it off, we were still on the ride.
He stayed perfectly calm for T minus 4, 3, 2, 1....
And then the screaming started. Not terror. Just screaming. Mostly just a big tantrum that everyone has agreed he's too old for. Wilbur is accustomed to being cute. He had no idea who he was sitting next to.
So he proceeded to scream very loudly that he needed "someone to come save [him]" -- apparently the rest of us could sit there and rot, he really just needed someone to save him.
In the beginning of this fit, I just casually stared at him and remained perfectly calm. I made several attempts to assure him that we were all perfectly fine. When he demanded to know why wasn't anyone coming to same him, I told him it was because he didn't need saving.
My theory in this sort of situation is that people feed off of the people around them. If I'm not panicking, then he should realize he doesn't need to panic either. Right?
Ok... maybe not. It took very little time applying this theory to realize Wilbur might be smarter than that. And-- in the midst of his screaming and hollering-- it took me another handful of nanoseconds to take into account that-- even though I thought he was being a little sissy-lala and was WAY over-reacting mostly for the sake of attempting to manipulate the situation to his satisfaction and that he needs to learn to suck it up... well. On the other hand, this is probably the first time he's ever been on a ride of this nature that has broken down for any length of time. And yeah-- that's kinda freaky the first time it happens.
There's that whole disillusionment thing that happens-- like, "WTF? This is DISNEYLAND for crying out loud!" Stuff just isn't supposed to go wrong there, y'know?
So I did a 180 and decided I would give consolation a try. I put my arm around him in an attempt to draw him close and give him a hug... this resulted in much thrashing and flailing on his part and more howling.
If you have kids-- or have ever spent any significant amount of time with one-- you are familiar with that fake crying thing they do? Louder than real crying, no tears, just blatant caterwauling designed to get their way?
So I was done. Fine kid. Whatever.
So Wilbur was sitting there, tugging at the locked seatbelt, yowling like a coyote on a cactus and I'm sitting next to him telling him to calm down. At that moment he zapped me with one of his classic lines: He throws his head back and yells even louder than he had been," YOU'RE NOT HELPING ME! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE MAKING ME FEEL BETTER!!"
So I leaned down to his level and gave him the scoop: "I tried making you feel better. I told you that there wasn't anything wrong but you wanted to yell and scream like a baby. I tried hugging you, but you hit me. I tried petting you (patting his head) but you hit me. No matter what I say or do all you want to do is act like a little sissy-lala and embarrass yourself. So I'm done trying to make you feel better. You don't want me to make you feel better. So I'm done. I'm just going to make fun of you now."
So I took a picture of him.
And all I hear from behind me is the calmest tone from the BF saying very matter-of-factly, "the flash going off in his face probably isn't helping."
At which point I think I spun around like Linda Blair's head and hissed at the BF that if he wanted to fix the situation then he should get involved but since he hadn't exactly been helping up to this point I didn't really care about the *#@&! flash."
And then Wilbur went for the all-time classic: he throws his head back and screams this deafening Tarzan-like yell (really, no Disney employees came at all) and all in the same breath he let's fly with a cliche "I WANT MY MOMMY!"
The kid is 7 1/2.
I laughed my ass off.
But then the lights went out in his eyes. Like someone threw a switch. The Wilbur who had up to this point been perfectly lucid and in control of his tantrum went bye-bye and left me sitting next to-- and presumably responsible for-- a mindless lunatic bent on freeing himself from his restraints.
He reached down and started irrationally pulling off his shoes and socks.
I knew he'd gone around the bend.
I stopped laughing at him.
I bent over and tried to gather up his shoes and socks as he tore them off before he could mindlessly hurl them into the abyss of the ride. Visions raced through my brain: I had to save his shoes and socks. Otherwise, when this was all over and we joined up with his mother again she'd just be looking at me and demanding to know why I let him throw his shoes and socks off the ride?
And in the 20 years that those few seconds took while I was bent over trying to catch flying footwear all I could do was try to impart some direction to this kid.
We were stopped directly in front of an emergency exit. In my vision of the immediate future I saw Wilbur stripping naked and wiggling out of the seatbelt and running down the track into the void that was whatever the ride does just ahead of where we were broken down.
So while I was catching his shoes and socks all I could do was repeat that if he managed to get out of the seatbelt before I could stop him, he needed to go through the emergency exit NOT run down the track!
As much as I wanted to make sure he stayed safe-- and not trip in the darkness of the ride up ahead, or get mauled under machinery of the ride that might come back to life at any moment-- I quite enjoyed the notion of a naked 7 year old running mindlessly into the loading/unloading dock of the ride amongst all those waiting riders and unsuspecting Cast Members. That'd teach them for not paying attention to the panicking riders who'd been stuck on the track for the last 20 minutes! Not to mention what a GREAT story it would make!
But when push came to shove, as the boy made his final great attempt to escape, as he managed to get the seatbelt nearly down to his knees-- I snapped.
I had one of those out-of-body experiences you hear so much about. I reached up and grabbed his shoulder and shoved him back down in his seat. I was up (down, actually, he's shorter than me) in his face and I heard a voice that sounded a lot like my mother right before she started counting. I told him he needed to stop, shut up, and sit still. The words, "If you get out of this seatbelt and go running down the track you're going to be in trouble. The Disney security is going to get you and put you in Disney jail and you'll never see your 'mommy' again!"
Ouch. Did I really just say that? I hope not. That's pretty harsh, even for me. Although, let's face it-- frankly if Security did get ahold of him, they'd take care of him and be happy to hand him over to his mom. So it was really a pretty empty threat.
I considered apologizing... then decided that it was fair payback for that whole "you're not helping me" BS.
The ride came back to life and delivered us safely to the landing dock where we were given the option of going again. It took Wilbur about 10 seconds to realize no one was getting off the ride at which point he threw off his seatbelt and went crashing past our knees to safety; hand flailing as he screamed "GET ME OFF THIS CRAZY THING!"
LOL-- yeah, that's really what he said. If he'd been a cartoon, there'd have been a Wilbur-shaped cutout in the wall.
I personally think 7 1/2 is plenty old enough to sit by the side of a ride at Disneyland and wait for your party to rejoin you-- but the BF was concerned that no one else seemed to be getting off the ride to stay with Wilbur. The BF opted to stay with him-- I felt that I had done my time. Afterall, the kid made it back alive and with his shoes.