Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 26 of 61

On that fateful return, I checked into the Fort Wilderness Campground, pitched my tent, and fairly ran to the ferry docks to catch a barge over to the Main Gate.

Crowds were light until I got right up to Main Gate and the ticketing queues. Suppressing an initial instinct to dash for the farthest one, beating my ferrymates to what rule-of-thumb said would have the shortest wait, I stepped back and did a quick visual survey of the twenty kiosks and evaluated the queued-up huddle in front of each. Pre-Bitchun, I’d have been primarily interested in their ages, but that is less and less a measure of anything other than outlook, so instead I carefully examined their queuing styles, their dress, and more than anything, their burdens.

You can tell more about someone’s ability to efficiently negotiate the complexities of a queue through what they carry than through any other means — if only more people realized it. The classic, of course, is the unladen citizen, a person naked of even a modest shoulderbag or marsupial pocket. To the layperson, such a specimen might be thought of as a sure bet for a fast transaction, but I’d done an informal study and come to the conclusion that these brave iconoclasts are often the flightiest of the lot, left smiling with bovine mystification, patting down their pockets in a fruitless search for a writing implement, a piece of ID, a keycard, a rabbit’s foot, a rosary, a tuna sandwich.

No, for my money, I’ll take what I call the Road Worrier anytime. Such a person is apt to be carefully slung with four or five carriers of one description or another, from bulging cargo pockets to clever military-grade strap-on pouches with biometrically keyed closures. The thing to watch for is the ergonomic consideration given to these conveyances: do they balance, are they slung for minimum interference and maximum ease of access? Someone who’s given that much consideration to their gear is likely spending their time in line determining which bits and pieces they’ll need when they reach its headwaters and is holding them at ready for fastest-possible processing.

This is a tricky call, since there are lookalike pretenders, gear-pigs who pack everything because they lack the organizational smarts to figure out what they should pack — they’re just as apt to be burdened with bags and pockets and pouches, but the telltale is the efficiency of that slinging. These pack mules will sag beneath their loads, juggling this and that while pushing overloose straps up on their shoulders.

I spied a queue that was made up of a group of Road Worriers, a queue that was slightly longer than the others, but I joined it and ticced nervously as I watched my progress relative to the other spots I could’ve chosen. I was borne out, a positive omen for a wait-free World, and I was sauntering down Main Street, USA long before my ferrymates.

Returning to Walt Disney World was a homecoming for me. My parents had brought me the first time when I was all of ten, just as the first inklings of the Bitchun society were trickling into everyone’s consciousness: the death of scarcity, the death of death, the struggle to rejig an economy that had grown up focused on nothing but scarcity and death. My memories of the trip are dim but warm, the balmy Florida climate and a sea of smiling faces punctuated by magical, darkened moments riding in OmniMover cars, past diorama after diorama.

I went again when I graduated high school and was amazed by the richness of detail, the grandiosity and grandeur of it all. I spent a week there stunned bovine, grinning and wandering from corner to corner. Someday, I knew, I’d come to live there.

The Park became a touchstone for me, a constant in a world where everything changed. Again and again, I came back to the Park, grounding myself, communing with all the people I’d been.

That day I bopped from land to land, ride to ride, seeking out the short lines, the eye of the hurricane that crowded the Park to capacity. I’d take high ground, standing on a bench or hopping up on a fence, and do a visual reccy of all the queues in sight, try to spot prevailing currents in the flow of the crowd, generally having a high old obsessive time. Truth be told, I probably spent as much time looking for walk-ins as I would’ve spent lining up like a good little sheep, but I had more fun and got more exercise.

The Haunted Mansion was experiencing a major empty spell: the Snow Crash Spectacular parade had just swept through Liberty Square en route to Fantasyland, dragging hordes of guests along with it, dancing to the JapRap sounds of the comical Sushi-K and aping the movements of the brave Hiro Protagonist. When they blew out, Liberty Square was a ghost town, and I grabbed the opportunity to ride the Mansion five times in a row, walking on every time.

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