I spent the last week of August in Disney thanks to one of my best friends from high school and her family. This trip was actually planned for last year, but with COVID, it was postponed until this year. While Disney has actually always been one of the happiest places on earth™ for me, this time around, there was no denying that I was in a depressive fog.
For a lot of the trip, I experienced numbness and restlessness. If you’ve ever read “The Phantom Tollbooth,” I was essentially Milo on the very first page (I may write about this passage someday as I’ve always identified with it). It didn’t seem like much could bring me joy. I kept changing my location to see if I would feel better, but every time I went somewhere else, I just felt like I should move again.
Being in the park isn’t doing it for me, I’m going to go back to the hotel.
Now I feel bored and lonely in the hotel room, maybe I need to go down by the pool.
Okay, the pool wasn’t right either, maybe I should go to Disney Springs.
Repeat ad infinitum.
On Monday, my friend Rachel had gotten up at 7 am on the dot to get us into the queue for a new “Star Wars” ride Rise of the Resistance. As someone who hates rides with drops and gets motion sickness from some types of 4D experiences, I wanted to research the ride to see if I would enjoy it. After I read up on it a bit, I wasn’t sure, so I decided to pass (without giving anything about the ride away, my friends said afterward that I would’ve been able to ride it without any issue — so don’t let my fears keep you from riding!).
Instead, I decided to venture into Hollywood Studios to see if I could get onto the other two rides I wanted to do there: Slinky Dog Dash and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Slinky Dog Dash had been temporarily shut down, but I was hoping it might open again quickly and I could get on it before the night was over. For anyone unfamiliar with Disney World, Slinky Dog Dash is a roller coaster that came out a few years ago in the Toy Story Land section of Hollywood Studios.
This coaster was especially exciting for me because it looked pretty mild. I actually really love roller coasters — I like the speed and the banking, I just hate the feeling of my stomach bottoming out when they drop. As you can imagine, I can’t find many roller coasters that are actually enjoyable, since most of them have at least one big drop. This coaster was small and whimsical, though, so I thought it could be perfect! It’s been there the past couple of times I’ve been to Disney, but the wait times have been so long that it wasn’t worth it. This time around, the wait was still long, but with all of the excitement happening in the Star Wars section of Hollywood Studios, I was hoping to get lucky.
I wandered away from the Star Wars area after my friends got in line for their ride, figuring I’d pass the Slinky Dog ride just to check for sure if it was still down and then head to the Mickey and Minnie ride. But as I wandered through Toy Story Land, I noticed the ride running without passengers. Maybe it was getting close to opening? I decided to investigate.
As I approached the ride, I could see people getting in line, but I couldn’t see far enough to tell if they were getting turned away. I jumped in line with them to find out, and quickly shuffled with everyone else to the front of the queue. Since it had just reopened, we were all able to get close to the front with minimal wait.
I stood in line trying not to psych myself out. Sure, it looked like a small coaster, but maybe there was a drop I couldn’t see! I just tried to remind myself that if there was a drop, it would be over quickly. There was a family of 5 in front of me that seemed sweet. The youngest child was having trouble getting his shoe on, so his mother carried him through the queue, causing him to accidentally kick his shoe under a partition. I reached through and grabbed it for her to make her life easier. Needless to say that I made a good impression (this is almost important later!).
When I reached the very front of the queue, they put me next to the dad of that family in the two-person cart. Wanting to make conversation, I asked him if he had ridden the ride before and if there were any drops.
“Yeah, I’ve ridden it a few times. It’s just a cute little coaster, so there’s nothing too extreme.”
Okay, cool. No drops. I would be fine. The ride started and it was indeed a cute little coaster! There were a few small dips that caused me to say “oh, there are no drops, huh?” But then I realized that this man probably didn’t want to be verbally assaulted on a roller coaster today. He was here for a fun time with his family, not to hear me yell at him!
Then, we started to go uphill…
All rational thought of not yelling at the man sitting next to me disappeared. Without even realizing what I was doing, I just started yelling.
“YOU’RE A LIAR! YOU’RE A LIAR! YOU’RE A LIAR! YOU’RE A LIAR!”
“I didn’t lie to you!” He yelled back.
And I’ll be damned if he wasn’t right…after we went over the hill, we quickly banked out of the drop.
“Oh whoops, sorry about that.” I smiled sheepishly.
The coaster came to a halt soon after, and not wanting to leave a bad impression, I stumbled out of the car, looked back, and said something like, “Ihopeyouandyourfamilyhaveanicetimeonyourvacationokaybye!”
Then I raced off to immediately send my friend Marisa a voice note about the time I yelled at a random man on a roller coaster. When she listened to my voice note, she actually gave me the name for this post!
“DISNEY CHAOS PAN IS MY FAVE”
You may or may not remember that she calls me “Pan” for a reason that I do not remember! She called me “Disney Chaos Pan” several more times during my trip, an alter ego that I may have to don every time I go to Disney.
In case you wanted to know about my feelings on the coaster, Slinky Dog Dash was alright, but I think I’ll just stick to my favorite coaster: Big Thunder Mountain.
On the bright side, however, this adventure helped me to feel a bit better that night. As per usual, there’s nothing like something out of the ordinary happening to shake up the depression!