Friday, March 6, 2009

Happiest Birthday on Earth, Part III

The day after my birthday was gray, wet, gloomy and almost cold, but under their plastic ponchos families were sweating and miserable.

Dads were grumpy. Big brothers were teasing little brothers about being scaredy cats. Sisters were punching sisters who tugged on their princess hat streamers and claiming "she started it!" Moms were questioning the wisdom of planning one's life around one's biological clock. And I was alone in a wet, gray sea of Disneyppointment. I had never experienced it. Not even when my kids were pains and my husband was as mute as Dopey.

Even a churro could not fix this day.

I realized I hadn't gone on the Jungle Cruise my last two visits, so I took the train from Tomorrowland planning to disembark at New Orleans Square, wind back around through Adventureland, cruise the Amazon, and head for home by 3, in time to beat the LA traffic. (you can stop laughing now)

At the Main Street Station, who should appear, but Vern! Our jovial, warm Disney Railway conductor who had given us a ride on the Lilly Belle. He remembered me and rode with me around the entire park, sharing trivia all along the way, and jumping down from his perch to do his job at the New Orleans, Toon Town and Tomorrowland stations, each time climbing back on his little outboard platform to ride with me.

He claimed he was scared of the dark, so we held hands as we rode through the Grand Canyon as we know it today, and then back in time, through the primordial era when dinosaurs roamed the earth. He pointed out that the only animation in the Grand Canyon is a fan that causes the Aspen leaves to move ever so slightly, and that the dinosaurs now sport a cool, new fog effect. He also challenged the accuracy of T-Rex having opposable thumbs. He was just the right blend of geek and sweet to make my last Disney experience a good one.

As it happens, Vern is a photographer as well, and now that we have so much in common it is going to be my pleasure to call ahead next time I plan a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth and I have been promised a very special guided tour with none other than Happy himself.

I never did cruise the jungle, but my train ride with Vern was, if not riddled with puns, something I would never trade. I was out of the park a little after 3 and on the road by 3:30 with hundreds of pictures...of puddles and shadows and 3's, oh my...and some really great memories of yet another wonderful world of Disney experience.

Thank you, Walt, Vern and all the rest of you who made me smile and be thankful and hopeful and happy about being 55 and alive.

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.

If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.

Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing.

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

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