Island Packet — I don’t want to make you jealous or anything, but I now travel regularly in the company of an Official Monorail Co-Pilot. This is an incredibly high honor, one that can be achieved only by completing a series of rigorous Monorail Pilot Screening Tasks, such as
- Asking the monorail people if you can ride up front, and
- Holding out your hand when the Actual Monorail Pilot gives you a card.
As an official Monorail Co-Pilot, which is a title that the Little Man has attained at the precocious age of 4, you have several important duties, such as sitting so that your nose is smushed against the window glass and babbling like a crazy person for about 12 minutes while your parents make small talk with the Actual Monorail Pilot, who has the best job in the world, even considering the forced, spine-bendingly awkward conversations he must have with the hyper-glycemic tourists who rotate in and out of his cockpit every 10 minutes. When I give up on the lucrative and rewarding world of newspaper journalism, I am totally going back to Monorail School.
Indeed, my son received his Co-Pilot’s License during a recent weekend visit to Disney World. He received it on a Sunday, and since then it has never left his sight, save for a few trips to the bathroom and what was, on the Monday after the trip, the World’s Most Required Bathing Of Anything Ever, as he was well covered in two days’ worth of Disney magic, which is difficult to scrub off and smells like mouse. When we were done with Monday’s bath, the water had turned a color and consistency from which you could hope to extract fossils. I have seen hippopotamuses that were cleaner than The Boy was on Monday. I saw them at Animal Kingdom, actually.
But the license remains his most prized souvenir from the trip, which is telling, since it did not require me to forfeit, for instance, $149 for a Buzz Lightyear thing that lights up and spins around while going, and I’m quoting here, “Whizzzzzzzzz.” This toy came from what The Boy dubbed the “Blinky Cart,” manned by a nefarious vendor who ambles through Frontierland while you’re waiting for the nightly light parade to begin, hawking his luminous wares in the dark. You could not imagine a more perfect consumer audience if you wandered into a fat camp in a suit made of enchiladas.
Previous Disney-Related Rants
Such is the odd dynamic that happens each and every time you go to Disney, how you will shock yourself learning about the lengths to which you will go to please your children, no matter how much it costs or how often it results in your wearing ear-hats.
I would have done this anyway, of course, but I had an extra reason to do so, as we made a gross error upon arrival: We went for Thunder Mountain first. Having taught my son that Disney World contained a train that is also a roller coaster, which is awesome on all conceivable levels if you are 4, we headed there immediately, but found that this particular train-that-is-a-roller-coaster pretty quickly scared the duck out of my son. I could tell this because when the ride was over and the safety bar went up, he fled from the coaster to the platform without seemingly visiting the space in between.
So he was a little spooked the rest of the day, and with good cause: Disney World is the bees’ knees for those who know Disney World, but if you’re 4, it’s loud and crowded and there’s the only castle you’ll ever see in America, unless Roland Burris builds one for himself. There are anthropomorphic chipmunks running around trying to take pictures with you. Everyone rushes everywhere into lines, where they sit grumpily for 45 minutes. All you can eat are things shaped like mice. And then your dad makes the teacups go too fast, and weirds you out some more, the big jerk. But often you can stumble into something like an official Monorail Co-Pilot’s License, which, with any luck, will be one of those little magic items that you, or your dad, tucks into a box for the rest of your life.