…And the Celebration Begins!

Tomorrow begins the month-long 30 Days of Madness literary extravaganza. That means between battling the Day Job Dragon, being a parent to DMFRHs, and reinstating my war with Tony Horton and Shaun T, I’m completing a 100-page script through Scriptfrenzy, writing a 50,000 word novel AAANNNNDDD participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge, blogging for the next 30 days about villains.

And that’s what this post is about. Villains. Antagonists. The bad guys. The best part, to me, of any story.

See, as much as we identify with and extoll the virtues of our heroes and heroines, it is the villain that is the source of the conflict. The villain makes the story. Who would Harry Potter be without Voldemort? Some poor, emotionally fragile, mentally abused kid living under the stairs. who learns magic and becomes a non-descript student at Hogwarts. At best. Not even as noteworthy as Neville.

If there’s no Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker would have just been some kid—if he existed at all—fighting with his uncle about moisture farming IN THE FREAKING DESERT. Think about it: Chief Brody wouldn’t need a bigger boat, Ripley would have made it home on time, and we never would have heard Captain Kirk scream Khan’s name throughout the galaxy. Villains make the story.

So, for the month of April, we’re gonna take a little tour, you and I. We’re going to look at of some of the best villains I’ve found, pick apart their wicked little ways, and see what makes them tick. And along the way, I get to hop of some other blogs and introduce you to some new voices here. Should be fun.

And here are your 2012 Celebration of Wickedness winners!

Alien
Incredible Hulk
Cruella DeVille
Dracula
Venom
Freddy Krueger
Godzilla
The Clown from It
The House in Amityville Horror
Dr. Claw
Jaws
Joker
Lucifer
Megatron
Lex Luthor
Khan Noonien Singh
Overlook Hotel
Poltergeist
Evil Queen
Voldemort
Scar
Hannibal Lecter
Clubber Lang
Kyzer Soze
Darth Vader
Wicked Witch of the West
Magneto
Teddy Ruxpin
Ernst Blofeld
General Zod

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How We Broke Disneyworld Part V

RECAP: If you’re just now joining us, where ya been? OK here’s the deal: me and the family went to Disneyworld with a dollar and a dream. Our dream was to see magic! We snatched Peter Pan and tried to make him fly…from the top of Cinderella’s castle. We made him fall. From the top of Cinderella’s castle. And then we ran. We got chased by the Mickeys (Disney’s mouse-eared security force), stole a tram full of weary patrons, made our way to Hollywood Studios, got stopped by stormtroopers, The Honey Badger became a rebel spy, The Boy had an “accident,” my Wife stole the ruby red slippers, we rode the Tower of Terror (and then it broke down), Tanner fell (HARD), and the Space Rangers took The Boy into custody. And we’re still stuck in the park…

Shit Shit Shit.

Now what are we supposed to do? My first inclination is to just walk and leave The Boy as a down payment on Peter Pan’s round-the-clock medical bills. I hope the fairy has AFLAC because there’s a pigeon chasing us, singing “Pays the doctors, Boyeee!!” But that actually isn’t gonna fly with my wife so we have to come up with a strategy to get him back.

Shit.

After mouse-eared Mickeys, leapfrogging Space Rangers, fat Han Solo, and Janey and Tanner’s bullshit, I think a full-scale, hair-raising, skin-of-your-teeth, stunt mission is in effect. Lucky for us Disney can afford to license the premier motion picture stuntsman: Indiana Jones. Off to the show.

The Indiana Jones Stunt Show & Casino showcases a small selection of the Raiders of the Lost Ark stunts we’ve come to know and love. There’s the big-ass ball, spears that shoot out of the walls and floor, flames, the Nazi brute and the plane fight. It was pretty cool…well, it would be if time had been kind to Indy. It hasn’t. Indiana Jones has gotten a little old over the years. And fat. And drunk.

See, the stunt show has changed a bit as time as passed to accommodate Indy’s “maturation.” The ball is really a great big Whopper, spears are Nerf darts the size of potbelly pigs, and, to make Indy run, the attendants hide caches of Pabst Blue Ribbon throughout the arena. This is our solution?

Godammit.

But we have to find The Boy and I have no idea where to start. I lose it, grab the first freckled-faced stagehand clad in puffy clothes I can find and try to shake the teeth out of his head. “Where is my kid?!” He starts to cry because no one at Disney is ever upset, he tries to run and, in the process, I rip his shirt. Tattooed on his back, in glittering ink, is a full-color map of Hollywood Studios complete with a sticky You Are Here jewel. And then I see it.

In the center of the map.

The Big Blue Hat.

I spread the kid out on the ground, smooth him out like the map he is. “That’s where we have to go.” But the show is starting and Indy is shakily leaping over Nerf spears, shuffling toward a rocky ramp with a golden idol at the top. The idol! Wife starts moving before I do, pinballing through flashes of flame, smacking life-size Nerf darts aside, and crashing into Indy. “Hey!” he says. “Beer!” she says, pointing. “Where?” he turns and she’s gone, dashing up the ramp. She grabs the idol.

There is no beer. Indy says, “Give me the idol!”

“Help me find my kid!”

The crowd thinks it’s part of the show. They say, “Help me find my kid, I’ll give you the idol!”

Indy relents. “Where’s the beer?”

“In the Big Blue Hat,” the Wife says.

We’re off and running. Down the ramp to the Nazi warplane in the back. When we get back there, the big burly guy is laid out and the Honey Badger is in the pilot seat. I don’t even ask what happened but her knuckles are bloody. Fine. Whatever. We pile in. Indy finds a six-pack in the cockpit and we roll out of the arena to the center of Hollywood Studios.

We round the man-made puddle called Echo Lake into the 138th parade of the day. While the kids are singing old High School Musical numbers, Muppets and Monsters Inc. characters frighten the multitudes of children just trying to leave the park. And then we see The Boy. He’s underneath the Big Blue Hat, surrounded by a bunch of kindergartners dressed like Ewoks and the savages from the Recess Kids, getting slow-roasted over a bunch of multicolored glow sticks like Rotisserie Gold.

“You gotta help save him,” I say to Indy.

“There’s beer back there,” my Wife says.

“I’m too old for this shit,” says Indy.

The Honey Badger pops the cockpit, stands up and sings the Indiana Jones theme song: “Da-da-da-Daaaah, Da-da-dah, Da-da-DA-DAAH, Da-da-da-da-DAAAH!”

And Indy’s feeling it! He snaps out his whip, flips it around a powerline above and executes a beautiful Spiderman-style swing for The Boy. It is majestic! And poorly aimed. He misses. Badly. The parade stops. The crowd goes “Oooh!” The fake Ryan Seacrest from the American Idol pavilion says, “THIS is American—oooh! That’s gonna leave a mark.”

But Indy falls on the edge of the rotisserie and The Boy is flung in the air. He flips end over end, tumbling above the crowd and lands on the wing of the plane. Perfect!

But now everybody’s pissed. We screwed up the parade, stole the idol, broke Indiana Jones, deprived the kindergartners of their lunch (and they are cranky–waaaaayyy past nap time!) They turn on us like we spoke Voldemort’s name.

I yell, “Hit it!”

Honey Badger pounds the gas and we rumble out of Hollywood Studios followed by a fake Ryan Seacrest, imitation Troy and Gabriela, Mike and Sully, and 2 Space Rangers, and the extras from Indiana Jones

Good times.

Now the thrilling conclusion!

Hoodie Required

My wife asked me why I was so quiet. Why I hadn’t said anything. She was asking me about Trayvon Martin. I hadn’t said a word. Yet.

What is there to say? What could I say that hasn’t already been said? That I’m not surprised? Saddened, but not surprised. That even in 2012 I still have my own moments of second glances and sideways looks, of hastily locked car doors and clutched purses? Should I say that I spend my days terrified of what might become of the other Black male in my house—my 12-year-old son? That I lay awake many a night praying that I can protect him from and prepare him for the world outside my door?

What should I say?

Maybe I should talk about the abject disgust I have that the child on the ground in a puddle of his own blood was treated worse than the man who shot him. That the dead child is treated like a criminal while the assailant sleeps in a warm bed. Should I scream in rage that the word of the shooter was taken over the evidence of a child murdered—in a day and age where there are 3 CSIs, 2 Law & Orders, Crime 360, and the First 48 on TV every week? Perhaps I should drum my chest, pound the table, yell until I’ve lost my voice about the insanity of the crime itself. A gun-wielding Neighborhood Watchman kills a kid over Skittles and Iced Tea?

It could be the sadness, the grief, that has struck me silent. Pain in my chest becomes sobs in my throat as I wade through photos with Am I Next? captions—full of young boys, still innocent, some young enough to hang on their mother’s hip, some unborn. I’ve seen hundreds of images of people of all shapes and sizes and colors and races wearing hoodies with captions that read, “I am Trayvon.” And it makes me sad.

The president said it struck him close to home, that if he had a son, “he would look like Trayvon.” The man who wants to be president, Newt Gringrich, says such remarks are divisive, that all children should be safe. They’re both right in their own way. All children should be safe. They should be, no question. But the truth is Trayvon Martin is simply the latest casualty in a war on Black males that’s been waged since the dawn of this nation. The only thing new here is the name, date and place. We’ve been here before with Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, and Rodney King. Sean Bell. Oscar Grant. Aiyanna Jones. Emmett Till.

Now Trayvon Martin.

I’m sad that it has happened again. That another mother has to bury her child. I’m sad that, for one finite news cycle, America will take a cold, hard look in the mirror—and at her president—and realize how far we have come and how far we still have to go. And I’m sad because I know how this ends…and because I know that it really doesn’t end. Our collective horror and disgust will fuel a palpable rage, a mighty beast hungry for justice. And that beast will rally and march and post and tweet and YouTube and yell and scream for atonement. Justice will be served: revenge will be delivered in the courts or in the streets and the beast will be satiated. And we will move on, move forward in the silent détente that is race relations in America.

There is a price for silence, I guess. For some, “silence means consent.” Keeping quiet means you agree. I don’t. Even if it doesn’t advance the cause, even if my words only add to the outrage, the horror, the disgust, joining my voice to the chorus is still matters. Even if, in a few weeks or months, Trayvon Martin becomes another painful memory, another tragic occurrence, it matters. Our collective outrage can turn an inhumane act into a human experience. It took this quote, made by a pastor during the Holocaust, for me to understand that:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

How We Broke Disneyworld Part IV

RECAP: If you’re just catching up, we went to Disneyworld, found Peter Pan, and dropped him from Cinderella’s castle. Peter Pan can’t fly, folks. He also can’t stick a landing. So he’ll be blowing into a tube to make his wheelchair go from now on and we’re on the run. First from the Mickeys through Tomorrowland; then we stole a tram and kidnapped Mabel, Janey and Tanner (who really needs one of those monkey-leash things); and then escaped to Hollywood Studios, where we eluded the Space Rangers and made our way to Tower of Terror. Got it? Good.

There are 19,000 ways I can describe how ominous the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror looks against the night sky. Cool is not one of them. Let me say this: it is a massive spectacle in a park that’s really designed for people under 52 inches: 200 feet of damaged concrete and exposed wiring, venting and plumbing. I can hear the screams of other patrons falling to what sound like horribly untimely deaths. Seriously, it is intimidating. “I wanna go on that!” the Honey Badger says.

Fine.

We run for the Tower, well, most of us do. The Boy is doing that crabwalk thing you do when your pants are wet (or nasty) and it’s cold on your giblets. And he is not interested in the Tower of Terror. At all. I should say here that The Boy is not the picture of ignorant bravery you might expect from a 12-year-old. He’d be better suited as a technical consultant on Monk. This kid has an autographed poster of Cringer from He-Man on his wall that says “Be Careful!” and as we walk, he is actually making that Scooby-Doo knee-knocking sound. This should be fun.

In the midst of trying to convince The Boy he’s not going to die, here come the Space Rangers, bounding after us, yelling like a cross between Tim Allen and William Shatner: “Lasers set to stun.” But the lasers are really red flashlights tied to their wrists so when we don’t respond, we get: “Star Command! I got you! You know I got you.” The Honey Badger whips around, turns fingers into guns, and makes laser sounds: “Peww! Peww!” Two Rangers fall. “Evasive maneuvers!” they shout and spin away. Off to the Tower.

At first glance, I didn’t realize the empty fountain, the decrepit facade, the Munsters-style cobwebs were part of the decor: I thought this was the one ride Disney didn’t give a shit about. We jump in line, ease past the vacant stares of the attendees and are funneled into a room with set pieces children CANNOT KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF OF! I never hear Rod Serling tell me I’m going to the Twilight Zone because I’m too busy telling the Honey Badger to “stop touching that!” “Keep your hands to yourself!” “How did you set that on fire?!” I also hear: “TANNER! This is the last time I’m telling you…”

Rod Serling stops talking, the door opens and we are led into…the basement? Seriously? Now I know Disney prides itself on the realism and experience of each and every attraction—the Haunted Mansion seems haunted by both ghosts and the staff; Space Mountain attendees have Star Trek-ish uniforms and it seems like we’re on a space station; even the pin dealers in the American Experience in Epcot look like freaking Betsy Ross. But we left a dingy, damaged hotel replete with a zombie staff from 1920 to become HVAC technicians for the ride? It’s loud and hot and steam is escaping from odd places. I kept expecting to see Batman fighting the Joker (and I probably will…soon as Disney buys them).

None of this is helping the The Boy. We’re in line and this cat is already crying, the Honey Badger keeps throwing her hands up like she’s already on the ride, I just want to leave period, and my wife is eying the I Survived the Tower of Terror T-Shirt the kid in front of her is wearing. Elevator doors open, we file in, and we’re taken up.

We’ve been on this ride before—at Disneyland. There they take you up, show you your last glimpse of the outside world and LET YOU GO! And right before you die, hydraulics and brakes kick in and they do it to you again. And again. And again. The Disneyworld version, though, is a little worse. To heighten your terror, the elevator car you are in moves through the building, down a dimly lit corridor that showcases creepy things from dead hotel guests and a surprising number of ventriloquist dummies whose eyes follow you. I hear this kid whimpering, “Mom, what’s gonna happen?” She responds, “You know what’s gonna happen. You’ve been on it before. It’s just a ride. You’re gonna be fine.”

And right then, Bzzzhrrooon! The ride shuts the fuck down.

Are you serious? Now?

Lights come on. The mystique is broken. I can see all the wires and pulleys and the bright ass EXIT sign on the door directly to my right. We haven’t even gotten to the part where they let you drop. We’re still on the top floor, but we’re on the floor. If I wanted to, I could get out and walk away, right? There’s the exit door, there are stairs beyond it. Now The Boy has a full-blown meltdown. He says, “I wanna get off!” I say, “Get off what? Dude, you’re on the floor. What can happen?” “I don’t like this, I don’t feel safe!” Janey says, “I feel safe. You can hold my teddy bear.” Janey is in the first grade and doesn’t have her two front teeth.

He takes her bear, the Honey Badger laughs at him while he tries to wriggle out of his seatbelt. Then Bzzzhrripp! Attendant on the PA says, “Your ride will resume NOW.” Lights out, The Boy screams, car jerks forward, doors open and we are taken into the elevator shaft. Ride drags us up and I hear The Boy, “Noooooooo! I want to get oooofffffff!” Too bad. We hit the top level and I hear “Tanner! Tanner! Why isn’t your seatbelt…?” And we drop! It is so fast my scream is left at the top.

The Honey Badger laughs the entire ride. The Boy cries the entire ride. The kid in front of us throws his hands up. My wife snatches the Tower of Terror shirt clean off his body. We hit the bottom, Tanner hits the seat (HARD — guess his lil ass will sit down next time, won’t he?), and we drag The Boy off the ride into the 2 remaining Space Rangers.

“Got ya,” they say and grab the Boy. They cuff his hands in those big, white Mickey hands.

“Let him go!” Honey Badger throws her fingers up. Wrist flashlights shine back. Mexican stand off. “Don’t make me do it!” she says.

“You won’t make it out alive,” says one Ranger. “But we do hope you’ll come back and see us!” says the other. He throws a packet of papers and some pens us. “Here’re some guest surveys; tell us how we’re doing!”

Papers distract us and they disappear through a side door.

Now I can’t leave.

Godammit.

There is even a part 5?

How We Broke Disneyworld Part III

RECAP: If you haven’t been keeping track (and who wouldn’t—this story is awesome, right?), we took a vacation to Disneyworld last week and became embroiled in the Peter Pan Affair: we snatched Peter Pan, took him to the top of Cinderella’s castle and let him go. Petey didn’t fare too well—he couldn’t fly but I’m actually surprised he bounced as high as he did. I didn’t know pavement was that buoyant. So we became fugitives—ran from Magic Kingdom, kidnapped a bunch of people on a parking tram, tried to make Tanner sit down, and escaped into Hollywood Studios.

I said it was gonna be easy, right? That our getaway could be fast and simple? Wrong. Running into the park to find a ride to get us out of the park proved to be an exercise in futility. For an amusement park dedicated to the movies, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a whopping 4 rides. FOUR. OK there are 5, but you won’t be riding Toy Story Mania at Disneyworld, not in this lifetime. People are camped out in the line with tents and shit like they were introducing a new iPhone. Screw that.

But there’s Star Wars! The tag line is “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” right? I can either a) go back in time and choose never to pick up that little bastard at all; or b) get the hell outta Dodge. Star Tours it is.

For something they don’t own, Disney takes its Star Wars shit seriously! Darth Maul is prowling around outside, scaring the crap out of Janey and Tanner; stormtroopers stand posted along the line, cradling blasters; little people—Ewoks or Jawas or munchkins fleeing the Great Movie Ride—keep cutting in front of us. We try to drop our eyes and ease past the stormtroopers.

UNSUCCESSFUL!

We run on the ride amid a cacophony of Stop! Freeze! and heavy Darth Vader breathing. It’s us and about 10 assorted Star Wars characters—stormtroopers, droids, a chubby Han Solo whose vest is ENTIRELY TOO SHORT and that white shirt is sheer (yeah, try to get that image out of your head), and a man who takes up 2 ½ seats with a Yoda shirt that says Judge Me By My Size, Do You? A little bit, yeah, I do. You know the rules: click, click, everybody’s strapped in, guns are stowed below the seat and the ride begins.

This is no trip to the stars. At all. Hyperspace doesn’t actually take us anywhere. Instead we get C3PO moaning and crying, Artoo yelling “Whoooooo!!” anytime the ride moves, the fat Han Solo breathing hard and having “a bad feeling about this.” The ride takes us from the loading dock through 2 battles with X-Wings and TIE fighters and then back in time with Clones and droids (I don’t know how that works). Then, just as we bounce through the remnants of Alderaan, the Honey Badger gets branded a rebel spy! They post her picture on the ride, outside the ride, on t-shirts that say I Was The Rebel Spy. Everywhere.

Godammit.

We’re first off the ride (because stormtroopers’ guns keep getting stuck in the stowage nets below their seats) and barrel into the gift shop. The Wife pushes the annoying woman aside (no, I don’t want to see my face as Han Solo or Princess Leia) but does snatch her pin of Stitch as Emperor Palpatine (I’m a Star Wars geek—can you tell?). We are met by a group of stormtroopers. One of them stops us. “Hey,” he says, “aren’t you the ones who broke the fairy?” The person dressed like a droid next to him raises her weapon, “Roger, roger.” Janey says, “He’s not a fairy. Tinkerbell’s a fairy!” The Boy laughs, “They called Peter Pan a fairy.” I put up the hood on my Tigger sweatshirt, wave my hand, and say, “These aren’t the people you’re looking for.”

The stormtrooper cocks his head, “These aren’t the people we’re looking for.”

The droid says, “Roger—what?”

“We can move along,” I say.

“Wait—what?” The droid takes off her helmet. “Doggone it, Bill, he’s not really a Jedi! You know this isn’t rea—!” But she doesn’t get to finish her sentence: Darth Maul clubs her in the head with his plastic lightsaber and she fakes her death.

“Move along.” And the stormtrooper waves us past.

Out in the open, we hear: “Star Command, we have them now!”

The Rangers are back.

Unlike Peter Pan, these cats can really fly. Kinda. It’s actually a game of leap frog using glider wings but they keep swooping down on us like crows. Time to run.

Since the Mickeys are tied to the movies here in Hollywood Studios perhaps the best place to escape to is the Great Movie Ride. This is a thrill ride only in the sense a grocery store scooter-paced perusal of the 99¢ aisle at Blockbusters is thrilling. We tumble into the ride and the Rangers pursue, but they run like the gravity is really low—bounding along like they’re on the moon. The four of them file into the car behind us and we’re all taken through a slow-motion exhibit of great movies that combine real live sets, live action (and flames!), and animatronics that predate World War I.

The ride was so slow, I fell asleep. Until we got the Alien segment. Alien is my favorite movie of all time and the ride features a life-size replica of the cargo hold of the Nostromo, complete a shivering Ripley, Jones the Cat stuck in a box, and Mother counting down the self-destruct sequence. Oh yeah, and there’s a full-size Alien in there too. I think The Boy lost control of his bowels. He’s curled up in a tiny ball, trying to re-enter the womb, while this Alien with only half a body moves 7 inches toward us. Seven. He screams. The Rangers scream. The ride stops and we carry his funky tail through the Nostromo, past Humphrey Bogart and Ilsa, out the yellow brick road (but my wife did snatch the ruby red slippers from the Wicked Witch of the East) and we’re back into the park.

Now where?

“There!” says the Honey Badger. She’s pointing at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Shit. I hate that ride.

Part IV

How We Broke Disneyworld Part II

RECAP: In the last installment of How We Broke Disneyworld, your intrepid vacationers (us) ventured to Disneyworld—Where Dreams Come True. Our dream was to see Peter Pan fly. We caught his little ass, took him to the top of Cinderella’s castle, and let him go. He didn’t fly. We watched him fall. Hard. He’ll be eating out of a straw from now on. So Disney sent the Mickeys after us—6 security guards chasing us with mouse-ears and cartoon voices. We tried to shake them: went on a couple rides, threw a trashcan at them, and tried to blend in with the crowd. We were almost home-free until we got stuck in the dumb-ass Transportation Center and had to hijack a packed parking tram to get away.

You are joining our escape, already in progress.

We’d been on the run in this stupid tram for a whopping 3 minutes and the vast majority of the riders couldn’t figure out we’d commandeered it at all. Kids were crying, throwing shoes and tantrums, losing balloons. Parents were oblivious. That glassy-eyed stare had bewitched them all and they just took it in stride like it was all part of the Disney experience: “Look Janey, they pushed that man off! Isn’t that cool? Tanner! Get down! I’m not telling you again.” The elderly just sat, didn’t move, didn’t blink. I think some of them were dead.

Until I skipped that first stop.

I did not slow for Hook or Jafar or Scar. I pressed the pedal to the metal and coaxed the full 8 miles per hour out of that puppy. But when I breezed past the first set of yellow safety pegs and my wife never said, “Please grab your personal articles and supervise your children (or repeat it in Spanish),” folks got upset. Kinda. What I got was a litany of half-hearted protests: “Mabel, isn’t that our stop?” “Why isn’t he stopping?” “John, should we say something? Didn’t we park at Jafar 41?” “Well, where is this?” “I don’t want to go!” “We have to, sweetie, the park’s closing.” “No!” It was the most apathetic response to a kidnapping ever.

And then the Mickeys came. Slicing through the parking lot in their white SUVs, going only 15 MPH (that’s one-five, not five-zero. Fif-TEEN people!) Hanging out of the sunroof is a guy waving red and blue flashlights actually going “Whee-oo! Whee-oo!” as they chase us. They get on the loudspeaker and, still in Mickey voices, shout, “Pull it over there, buddy!” Then to a patron, “Watch your step, ma’am.” Back to us, “I said stop right there!” They’re trying to move through the parking lot and cut us off but I have the straightaway to the exit. It is the slowest getaway in history but we eke past the SUVs and are out onto…what kind of shit?

Disneyworld labels its streets between the parks in a way that makes sense to them and only them: Epcot Resorts Drive. World Drive. Buena Vista Blvd. And then they dot the sides of the streets with advertisements FOR THEIR OWN PARKS! It’s their own shit! Like I would ever say, “Wow, that Magic Kingdom was so nice, I wish they had something with more animals. Wait, what’s that sign? They have an ANIMAL Kingdom? Let’s go!” If you’ve sold all the plasma you legally can and mortgaged your house to make the damn trip, who doesn’t know what’s here?

Dropped between those advertisements are street signs for other areas of the park. Not the Department of Transportation reflective green with white lettering, mind you; Disneyworld signs are purple and red and lit by the freaking candlestick from Beauty and the Beast. It’s nighttime. I’m not a fucking owl; I can’t read that shit in the dark! And by the time I get close enough to read them, I realize the 47 things listed on the sign are broken into 3 groups—Left Lanes for this random collection of stuff, Straight Ahead for another unrelated group of locations, and, for that stuff you actually want to do, Right HERE, Turn NOW, GO!

Good thing for us, the Mickeys chasing us are Magic Kingdom Mickeys—they’re lost too. Over the loudspeaker I hear: “…I don’t know. I haven’t been over there before.” And “ I reckon that’s the Hollywood-thing-a-bob.” Still can’t understand what the Donald Duck guys are saying. No one’s doing anything fast. I whip the tram to the right and it jack-knifes, Janey loses her Mickey ears, Tanner still will not GET THE FUCK DOWN, John hasn’t said shit to me yet, and I’m looking dead at my wife. She snatches the 2012 Epcot Flower & Garden Show commemorative pin and belt buckle playset from Mabel’s 10-foot long lanyard, makes a heroic, stuntman-like 4-foot jump from the rear of the tram to the driver’s area and we are rumbling toward Hollywood Studios.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios are a testament to the movies. Well, they’re actually a testament to a) things Disney already bought (Pixar and the Muppets); and b) stuff Disney can’t afford to buy. Yet. (Which is anything George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made). We’re miles ahead of the Mickeys, who probably took the wrong turn and are stuck in the Jungle Trek in Animal Kingdom, abandon the tram and are about to cross the gates when we meet the Hollywood Studios versions of Mickeys: Space Rangers. These cats drop from the sky clad in Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger gear from head to toe, pointing their fists at us and talking, like Tim Allen, into their wrists.

“Star Command! Freeze right there!”

Star Command? Serious—fuck it. I just put my hands up.

We all do. Except The Boy.

The Boy is 12. That means he has ninja-level “Blank Stare” abilities, superhuman laziness, and feet entirely too big for his body. Which makes him clumsy. He’s also resolute in his refusal to grow up. He sees the Space Rangers and shouts, “It’s Buzz Lightyear! Mom, take a picture!” AND THESE FUCKERS POSE! The Boy runs up, he’s hugging them and shit. He gets an autograph from one and they tousle his hair and send him on his way with a “To Infinity and Beyond!” Flashbulbs go off and I hear, “Look, Janey, it’s Buzz!” I also hear, “Godammit, Tanner!” and “Mabel, I need to take my back pill.” and “John, the car’s not here!” And while an impromptu character sighting line queues up, we run willy nilly into the park.

Heh heh heh. This is almost too easy.

Part III

How We Broke Disneyworld Part I

Hey, remember when I said we were gonna see if Peter Pan could really fly? Well…four broken bones, a hyper-extended knee, a fused spine and a fractured pelvis later, it turns out he can’t. He also can’t walk anymore. Ever. Did you know the characters in Disneyworld aren’t actually the REAL characters? They’re people DRESSED like the characters. That’s not what they advertise. I bought magic, dammit, but it’s all strings and pulleys and hot air balloons and secret doors. Yeah, I was surprised too! Well, we found out Disney doesn’t actually appreciate when you try to kill one of their characters. Even the lame ones.

Oops.

So after the Peter Pan debacle, we ran. Or tried to. Disneyworld does have its own security force called the Mickeys—they’re real people with Mickey ears for hats but they are bound by the company to only talk like Mickey, Donald or Goofy. So the four of us are being chased by 6 big, burly guys and we’re hearing Goofy yell, “Gawrsh, you gotta stop right there!” and Mickey shout, “Hey, you little bastards, we’re gonna get you!” We never did understand what the Donald Duck guys were saying.

We break out of Cinderella’s castle but the whole episode happened during the Wishes firework show (yes, we damn near killed Peter Pan in front of thousands of people. Go big or go home, right?). Our exit is blocked! Break left into Tomorrowland. We have two options: Stitch’s Great Escape or Space Mountain. Escape sounds like the plan so we jump on the ride. Booooo! Stitch just laughs and spits on you for the whole ride. But here’s the thing: the Mickeys have to follow the rules of the park while they’re in the park. If we run on a ride, they do too. And they have to stay on it, strapped in and everything. They even get carded for Fastpasses! We don’t get anywhere but, Stitch being Stitch, he does help us out: he spits enough water on the ground that our pursuers slip, fall and collapse in a heap.

On to Space Mountain.

There is a 45-minute wait for the ride and we have 6 Mickeys on our tails. Screw the standby line. We ambush a bunch of teenagers with Bieber hair, snatch their Fastpasses and tear up the line. I’m not proud of what we did but, hey, they had Bieber hair—they deserved it on GP. The Mickeys come up right behind us but they get broken up riding as Single Riders. I should point out here that the title of the Space Mountain ride is a misnomer: it takes you neither to space nor the mountains. We’re right back where we started.

Dammit.

We need a diversion.

The Honey Badger provides.

In Tomorrowland, there is occasionally a walking, talking trashcan named Push. Wrong day for Push. Because that’s what he got: pushed into the yelling, screaming Mickeys. They’re down for the count. We wade into the rush of attendees and strollers, Hoverounds and crying kids, bolt up Main Street and make a break for the Main Gate. It’s almost too easy.

But leave it to Disney to make things harder than they actually have to be. Rather than escape the park into, I don’t know, the PARKING LOT, we are funneled into the ninth circle of Hell—better known as the Transportation Center. This lovely invention is a conundrum of poor signage and bad lighting and arrows that lead no-fucking-where, all trying to direct you to three actual exits: the Tram to the parking lot; the Ferry to God-knows-where, and the monorail.

Everybody and their mama is on the Ferry boat. And they are slow! Not “old-lady-writing-a-check-in-the-grocery-store-line-how-much-are-those-apples-do-you-have-a-pen?” slow. Not even “new-parents-who-can’t-figure-out-how-to-close-the-fucking-stroller-they’ve-had-for-the-last-10-months-so-it-can-fit-through-the-X-Ray-machine-at-TSA-and-maybe-allow-the-1500-people-behind-them-to-make-their-flight” slow. This is something different. Something worse. These people are “I-have-never-been-anywhere-but-my-80-person-town-where-teeth-are-optional-and-what-is-a-dental-plan?-Janey-come-on-Tanner-get-down-what-does-that-sign-say-where-is-the-car?” slow. Fuck the ferry.

We turn to the Monorail. The Boy starts having anxiety attacks over the monorail because he SAW IT SIT ON THE FUCKING TRACKS AND THE RIDE WAS BUMPY ONCE. Once. This was actually a real conversation. Who the hell is scared of the Monorail at Disneyworld? Oh, I know who! My kid. Monorail’s out.

Tram it is. We break for the tram, wade through the crowd, trying to find the one for the Heroes lot (or was it Villains? Shit where is the car?) I hear the operator in the back begin his speech, “This is the tram to—agghhh!” Wife took him out. All I see is his orange and white vest floating in the Florida breeze. Guess the driver is mine. I rush his little cabin, tell him in my best Amityville Horror voice, “Get out!” He does. The tram is ours.

We speed off into the night, no idea where the car is, on a parking tram loaded with 80 tired, angry, confused Disney patrons of all ages, canes and strollers and walkers dribbling off the sides. And as we pull away, I hear over the loudspeakers, still in the Mickey voice:

“…they’ve got a tram into the Villains lot. This is a Code 626.”

Code 626. Fugitives.

But wait! There’s more!