Tanis Nikana

The Fine Art of Self-Adventuring


Why I Don't Like Water


I. Fear of Flying

At about 9:45 PM, we, meaning my mother, brother, grandmother, and myself, arrived at the airport in Portland, headigt Walt Disney World. We planned a decent route that wouldn't be very long, and it was to run through Dallas before going to Orlando. No sooner than when we unloaded our luggage, the man on the curb in charge of the luggage asked if we were headed to Dallas, and then announced that it would be delayed for two hours because of thunder storms. We weren't even inside the airport yet.

So we proceeded inside, and there was a huge, massive line that we had the fine privilege of standing in. There was probably more luggage than people, and if you took out all the luggage and brought the people to the front of the line, it might be twenty feet long. It still doesn't change the fact of waiting for two straight tireless and tireful hours in that line. Evenually we got to the front, and through another hour of waiting, we were able to go to Chicago.

The security gates were right before us, and before I walked in through the metal detector, I said "I'll bet you I'll beep.". And I did. The security guards told me to empty my pockets, which were full of batteries, house keys,and a few coins. They forced me to take off my shoes, they x-rayed them, and used the metal detector on me. I was wearing a metal belt, a wrist watch, glasses, and it took about 10 minutes just to get me through. Then they repeated the same process to my brother, my mother and my grandmother. She looks like a real terrorist, I'll tell you that. This was all because we were randomly selected.

It was about 11:40 and our flight left in fifteen minutes. We got to the gate, and there was another security station and security guards. Repeat. After I had barely managed to get my shoes on, we were rushed through that little instant hallway that leads to the plane, and we rode. Flew. There was a rather boring in-flight movie and some rather boring in-flight pre-recorded television. Now, we were sitting in what they call Coach, where they attempt to cram about eighty percent of the plane into a very small space, amounting to about half a porta-potty apiece. Not only that, but it felt like I was sitting on steel. Once we hit O'Hare, I could not feel my butt.

At O'Hare, we discovered our gate was on the other side of the airport at 3 AM. That was about two miles away, and my mother was wearing dress shoes. When we finally arrived at our gate, we found out there was a shuttle to take us there instantly. We boarded and got to Orlando without incident.

At the baggage claim, six bags were recovered. There should have been seven, and we waited around for about half an hour trying to recover the bag, and it never came.

There was a Towncar waiting just outside the airport, with a driver named Hugo. Very polite, very good driver, and according to my ears, very un-understanable. He had a thick cuban accent, but that didn't stop him from getting us to where we needed to be.

II. Fear of Small Rooms

We arrived at the All Star Music Resort around 1 PM EST. At the desk, we were issued litle blue cards. They looked like credit cards, and in addition to acting like credit cards, they allowed us to go to our hotel room(Calypso 1, #1651) and to go everywhere besides the room, like the theme parks.

III. Fear of Sharp Pointy Objects

The front lobby, called Melody Hall, had a store, called Maestro Mickey's, which sells a variety of various Disney related souveniers. The vacation plan that our group paid for allowed us a trading pin each. Four little flying Mickey pins were doled out. The cashier educated us about a unique purpose these pins had: If any Disney Cast Member possesses any of them, they will trade with you if you ask. There were also about nine or ten spots in the World where they had every type of pin for sale at $6.50 and tax. I figured that was pretty cheap to just buy your own pin, so I didn't until very late in the vacation. Almost every Cast Member had a lanyard, a little necklace that could hold up to twelve pins. I figured that I could quite possibly get any one of these pins, which there were about 350 of, just by trading and not buying.

IV. Fear of Actually Being in Small Rooms

By the time we actually got our pins, the room was ready and our luggage was delivered there. Mom walked in, and the first thing that she noticed (and she only noticed it first because she went in first), is how tacky the room looked: Music curtains, both shower and regular. Music bedsheets. Music ceiling trim. Music wallpaper.

I noticed six luggage. Six. Not seven. That reminded me that mom's all-important suitcase was missing. I pretended like I didn't notice it. All of us then went to Downtown Disney.

Just outside of Melody Hall there were six little posts coming out of the concrete, with busses nearby that would take us to the destination on the post. Had things on them like: MEARS, the airport busses to and from, signs for all the theme parks and the water parks, and a sign for Downtown Disney. That was the one we were waiting at.

V. Fear of Overstimulation

All of the busses have a top speed of a whole 28 MPH. It was a fairly long ride to Downtown. We arrived in the Marketplace, and the old people let us young people go wherever we wanted. A long trip through the Marketplace, and I didn't really notice much in it on my way to Disney Quest. After the Marketplace came Pleasure Island, an artificial island full of clubs, raves, comedy warehouses and the like. Now, this was worse walking through than the Marketplace, because it wasn't flat. There were huge hills, and I think the whole island was kind of sloped. After Pleasure Island, there came the Westside, and that was where Disney Quest was situated. Westside contains many celebrity based restaurants and shops entirely devoted to a group of 250 (at most) supposedly famous people.

After the Virgin Megastore, which was quite a ways down the road, there is a huge, omnious, five story greenish turquoise building with the logo 30 feet high, said "Disney Quest". Cool. When we got in for free, there was a "cybrolator" that has this neat mirror-screen, and it shows Genie from Aladdin trying to make the elevator work. Eventually it did work, and Shaun and I arrived at the third floor.

I went to my left toward a zone called Score, and I nearly had a heart attack. Left: 8 consoles of Daytona USA connected together. Right: Many other physical arcade games. Dead Center: A massive twelve player, forty foot tall pinball machine with only a balancing platform to control the ball with they call "Mighty Ducks: Pinball Slam".


You know that empty lot across the street from the school in Dundee? They should build a Disney Quest there.

Downstairs: A Design-Your-Own-Coaster-Lab, complete with eight simulators, with freaky unbuildable track, like the Knot.

Upstairs: Ride the Comix, a virtual reality lightsaber game.

Breathe harder. Oh, yeah: The exit is nowhere to be found except in a small corner at the bottom of the buiding. Interesting. I find the exit, and I didn't know it was the exit. I go back inside and ride the cybrolator back up to the third. About an hour and a half later, I purposefully left.

Outside, on the Westside, my mother and my grandmother (the old people) were doing something, I don't really know what, but it involved Aunt Dory, because she was there, too. Now, this was the first time I had ever seen her, and I really didn't know what to say. Apparently Mamaw noticed that Shaun wasn't with me, and they said that I wasn't allowed to leave Disney Quest until I had him with me. That really stinks. The one time that I actually want to leave a big massive arcade, I can't. I went back through Disney Quest again, and this time I actually looked for him. I did not see him. I looked for about twenty minutes. Eventally I found him, and I brought him home, where my mother and Mamaw were waiting.

It was about 8 PM, and everyone wanted to rest. Not me. I got along fine with this resting thing, for about an hour. Then, about 9:30, I really wanted to leave and go back to Disney Quest, and so Mom and Mamaw made sure I had money, I was safe, and all that other stuff.

I left. I found out that the busses don't stop running til 2, and that Quest closes at 11. I played for a while, and then it closed. Mom told me earlier that she really wanted a Tinkerbell pin, so I set out and tried to get that. I explored Downtown Disney, both the Marketplace and the Westside, looking for trading places. There were some, yes, but I could not find a Tinkerbell anywhere. However, this one girl who works across the street from the Magnetron store (about halfway down the Westside) had one, but she said that she only had one, and that she would only give it up for a Test Track pin. It was about 11:30(that was when my watch happened to stop), and I was too bushed to carry on.

I fell asleep on the bus back to the room about twenty times, about half a minute apiece. Got to the room at midnight, and when I opened the door I thought Mom would be worried sick, but she wasn't. So I just fell asleep as soon as I got my shoes off.

VI. Fear of Water

Friday. The first actual day of going to a theme park. Seeing the world. Until Mom said that we were going to Typhoon Lagoon this morning. That means water park. Including water. I don't like water. Can't swim in water. Can't float in water. Can't even breathe in water, and that is what scares me the worst. Most especially: Can't Function, Live, or Otherwise Survive in Water.

I tried every option I could think of. Everything from 'I'm afraid of water' to 'I can drown in water'. My mother bought it, and I didn't have to get in the water. Mamaw gave me a digital camera, money to buy a locker for all of their clothes, and they told me to take pictures of her whenever we saw them. I got a few pictures, then when they came back I gave them the key and the camera.

It's time to do the theme parks proper.

VII. Fear of Fat Comedians in the Dark

Here I am. At Disney-MGM Studios. Gonna play some Millionaire. Gonna ride the Tower. Gonna laugh at Drew Carey. Gonna ride the Aerosmith coaster.

These were all the things I planned on doing. And I'm going to do them. Not just the Millionaire and the Drew show, but the other stuff that I really thought I could handle. I'm a man. Not a wussy. Chris is going to laugh at me if he finds out that I pussied out of things.

I walked in the gates, and the first thing I notice is that I'm being kicked out because I forgot to scan my card. The second thing I notice is that MGM is big, with lots of downtown, kind of like old 50s or 60s buidings everywhere, kind of like Old Hollywood.

Many things to do here. I decided to start with the Tower, and I looked at it, and I moved on to Millionaire.

With two exceptions, the game was exactly like the TV show. The first is that there is no money awarded, and the second is that Regis Philbin doesn't want to do the show. So a Cast Member does it. Takes about half an hour, and for some reason they have the show set up so that there is no way to go past 32,000 points (not dollars). But, if the one million points can be achieved, then the winners get a trip for two to New York to see the real thing.

After seeing this, and participating in it, I went back to the Tower. I liked their lobby. I really did. In fact, I liked it so much that I couldn't bear to see the rest of the Hollywood Tower Hotel's fine building.

I remembered that Mom still wants her pin. There's actually a Trading Station around here, so I went there. I found out that it was under the hat. Now, each cast member has their own private collection of pins in addition to the regular lanyard, and they'll only trade for certain pins. If I need to get the ever so elusive Test Track pin, she told me that I would need a Big Thunder Railroad pin. You can see where this will end up.

After having realized the massive, repetitive, burden of this task placed upon me, I thought I'd forget this for now. The ABC Radio building wasn't far away, and that was wher they were holding a show called Sounds Dangerous, staarring Drew Carey. Now this is what I came to see. I walked in, after going through yet another line, and sat in the front row of what looked to be a foley artist's stage. There were headphones to my left, and I wore them as instructed, with the pad on my right ear.

The basic premise of the show is this: ABC is creating a new reality secret agent show with regular ordinary people, and that this is just the pilot. Drew Carey plays Detective Foster, who is really not a bright guy. Managing to swallow his camera, totally losing track of the case, and getting shot in the face with elephant snot. At that point, water came from the ceiling and sprayed everyone in the room. Cheap. Very cheap. The sounds through the headphones sounded exactly as they would in real life, though.

The show being over, I headed out and looked for more trading areas, and there weren't any. I decided to go to Epcot and look.

VIII. Fear of Corporate Advertisements

Epcot contains the most round and large advertisement I have ever seen, called Spaceship Earth. I thought it would be a cool roller coaster. It was actually a 6 MPH ride that says that communication is good, by AT&T. I sat. I watched. I had thoughts about depression. I had thoughts about the shamefulness of Disney.

Then I went to Innoventions. Instead of having one advertisement, It was two buildings packed to the gills with them. Evil. I left Epcot, disgusted, at that point.

IX. Fear of What the Future has in Store For Us

I went to MGM looking for another game of Millionaire at 6:30. I have to be quick, because the park closes at seven. I don't make it, so I headed to the Magic Kingdom, summoning Courage (and quite possibly, the Lord) to guide me through what happens next. I had to ride Space Mountain. Which is in Tomorrow Land. As I walk through Tomorrow Land, I look everywhere and I see it looks like Star Trek. Now, as I write this 4 weeks later, it looks more like Rouge City from AI, but where there should be sex, there's other planets. And one big tall white building in the background known as no other than Space Mountain. Insert gulp here. Entering line, heart pounding. Half an hour later, more line, heart bored. Ten minutes later, heart looking for a way out of chest as I get put into the front seat. The ride goes forward. Legs shaking, and the ride stops, about 8 feet away. It moves again, and stops, I'm sitting there thinking if the whole ride's going to be like this. I'm wrong.

Fast downward turn to the left, followed by a large blue tunnel that nearly broke my back, and then a really big hill with screaming people going in the other direction. Then the ride actually starts, and I put my hands up. The coaster goes into the main structure when I realize, from the slight pain in my hands, the girders were less than a foot overhead. Ouch. It goes around a bunch of turns, and it goes pretty fast. Now, Space Mountain goes the same speed the busses do. 28 Miles. There was also a 20 foot drop near the end, the coaster goes down and I didn't. It felt cool. A sort of spinal surge. Then the ride ends, and I walk along one of those conveyor deals like they have at the airport. And I see: "Presented By FedEx".

The ride was still cool, so I rode it about six more times. Park closes at 9, and that is what it was, so I left. Along the way out, I saw a jeweler's store, and I wondered how much it would cost to get my watch fixed. I stated the problem, proposed a solution(replace the battery), and the clerk said he'd do it for free. No hassles there. With that done, I went to Quest until it closed, then I went home.

X. Fear of Being With Shaun

The next morning, we went to Magic Kingdom as a group. I laid out some objectives for myself, as well: One: Ditch Shaun. Two: Ditch everyone else. We went on Space Mountain without a hitch, and then off to Buzz Lightyear's Ranger Spin. I managed (Without really knowing what I was doing) to attain the highest possible score: 999,999 points. According to the sign posted atthe end of the ride, I was a "Galactic Hero". That was the first time I was ever a hero. After that, things went downhill. Shaun started being a real pain, and the adults weren't in sight, so I ditched him outright. And I went, once again alone, to the Studio.

XI. Fear of Being in Falling Elevators that Shouldn't be Falling

The Studio. Gonna play Millionaire. Gonna make it further in the Tower, even if I don't ride. It's gotten to the point now the attendants just show me the next way out, until I was standing at the doors, with no way out. I took my seat, in the front row, far left side, and the doors closed. I'm gonna die, or I'm gonna die trying. The elevator had a real musty smell, and it went up. So did my heart. Into my throat. The doors opened again, and we were faced with a long hallway, with shadowy figures inside. Then the whole hall went dark, with nought but a few stars, and a window that had bluish-orange light shining through it. We moved toward the light, and the doors closed once more. We went up, or I think we went up. The Hotel Ushers told us that part of the ride went sideways, but it looked like we were going up. The doors open. The shadowy fighures were everywhere. We were in a room with some walls made out of grate material. The elevator went around them, and it suddenly got very dark. It stayed dark for about three seconds, then lightning bolts struck the walls around us, I saw a brick wall, the wall moves up, and I'M GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!! The elevator goes down, way down, and I feel this surging feeling of raw power run through my back. And the elevator stops. Everyone goes up. I like up, because up is good, and down is bad. Down can kill you, and up can't. It goes back down. And up. Then we see the entire studio. I take out my camera, ready to take a picture, and it goes down again. I get hit in the head with the camera, and I didn't get to take the picture. I'm hoarse, and I can't scream. How am I supposed to let people know that this Elevator From Hell is about to kill me? The elevator goes all the way down, which did kill me, and then out. The doors open, and here's the scary part. I walk across the room, look at monitor 3, picture #633A, front row, far left. AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH in my head. "Crap." out loud.

XII. Fear of Comparing Roller Coasters to the Way Mom Drives

Felt I could take it, so what the hell. I rode the Rockin' Roller Coaster afterwards. The pamphlet dealy said it could go from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds, to a speed of 60. Just like a car, I told myself.

Thanks to the Magic of Fastpass, I was able to cut ahead of about a couple hundred people. They glared at me, like I commited the worst taboo possible. The attendants put as many of us as it could hold into this tiny room, where we saw Aerosmith late to another comcert, and they supposedly wanted to take us along. Now, they let us out into a dark alley (which was inside the building, something about Special FX.). I saw a counter that counted from 5 to 0, and then I heard screaming. It looked like the coaster took of just like a ship from Star Trek, long and blurry. The attendant in front of the coaster placed me about halfway down the coaster, and, what a surprise: I end up next to Shaun. Dammit. The coaster rolls forward, and comes to a halt in front of this dark tunnel. Apparently the coaster had a radio, because that came on, and counted down. Five. Breathe, Travis. Four. Make sure glasses were mounted firmly to face. Three. Stop fussing. Two. Compare this to how Mom drives. One. You will not die. Zero. DAMMIT! I'm gonna die! And the sheer force pressed my lungs against the back of my body. A bright white flash, a lot of wind, and it was like riding in a car. It goes upside down. It honestly didn't feel too bad. After the first shot at being upside down, I couldn't determine any directions. I couldn't find up. Hell, I would have been screaming the whole time, but "Dude Looks Like a Lady" was playing, so I was singing that (at the top of my lungs) along with the rest of the coaster (and they were singing at the top of their lungs too.). Pulled up to something that looks like valet parking, and it stopped. I walk down the little hall, and I find out exactly what the bright white flash was for. Monitor 2, Picture #251b, and not again. It was not like a car.


In order to finish this list I brought with me (the one that says what I'm supposed to ride, and how many times) I had to go to The Animal Kingdom. And, simply put, I wasn't going to spend much time there. Wanted to get in ride one ride twice, and get out, because the whole place looked like it was just for liittle kids. I checked the map that I picked up at the entrance, and to find the ride I had to ride, called "Dinosaur", I had to go to the far corner of the park.

The ride had the usual: a long line with plenty of opportunities to get out (which I did not feel like abusing), a briefing about meteors and dinosaurs and what to do if you get hit on the head with either. Then I got on the ride, and after it starts moving, it doesn't stop. The effects team went way overboard on the hydraulics. Get tossed around left and right. On top of that, the ride was in the dark, except for those tenths of seconds when the lights come on and I get blinded.

That isn't the end of it; there's more to come! Check my home node for updates.