Saturday, July 4, 2015

A July 4th Disney MadDash!

My Grandpa Jones used to tell me "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" With that in mind I once again share my very favorite July 4th story. Enjoy, and Happy Independence Day!!!

In July of 1993 my parents were spending the week of the 4th at Walt Disney World. Marilyn and I drove down from North Carolina to spend a few days with them at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. On the day of the 4th we made our way over to the Disney/MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios, at least until they change the name AGAIN) to spend the day. This being in the days before the Tower of Terror or the Rock 'N' Rollercoaster, MGM was easily the least crowded of the three existing parks (Animal Kingdom was still several years from opening) and we often went there on the most crowded days. My parents headed over to their favorite place, EPCOT, by early afternoon and so we were on our own as evening approached. Before I continue, there are a few things you need to know about my wife and I in 1993. We were much younger. We were childless. We spent most of our time hanging out with teenagers in my role as a youth pastor- so we were more than a little nuts. All of these things came into play as we hatched a plan for seeing fireworks at Walt Disney World that night. But in the end, the entire operation was contingent on our knowledge and use of the WDW transportation system. And excuse my bragging, but we knew our stuff...

We decided that we wanted to see fireworks at all 3 parks- that night! On the surface, this seemed impossible. Seeing Sorcery in the Sky (still my all-time favorite WDW fireworks show) at the Studios at 9 PM was no problem. Next would be Illuminations at EPCOT at 10 PM.  We positioned ourselves to make a quick getaway from the MGM, then caught one of the shuttle boats from there to Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resort. We ran to the "back door" (International Gateway) of EPCOT and secured a place on the bridge between the United Kingdom pavilion and France. We even had a few minutes to spare. As we waited for the next show, we could look back towards the Studios and see their "extra" 4th of July fireworks. A few moments later, Illuminations began. As always it was spectacular.

That's when our quest to see fireworks at all 3 parks got interesting, and our knowledge of Disney transportation became a valuable asset. We bolted out the "back door" of EPCOT and walked briskly over the the Beach Club, where we caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom, hoping to see the midnight fireworks extravaganza there. It looked like we were going to make it with time to spare....until. The MK night parade (I believe it was SpectroMagic at the time) had just completed its 11 PM run, and thousands of people were leaving the park just as we were trying to get in. If you've ever tried to go against the flow through the MK entrance tunnels at a major departure time, then you feel my pain. If not, it is like trying to drive the wrong way on an Atlanta interstate during rush hour. We feared for our lives. Between the crush of people and the crazed, exhausted moms driving strollers full of screaming babies right over us, it's a miracle we survived. But we did. And we got out onto Main Street just in time to watch one more glorious fireworks show. Three parks. Three fireworks shows. One night. We were pretty proud of ourselves!

So that's my story. I'm glad we did it- mostly so we don't have to do anything like that ever again! But it did make for one amazing night. Happy Independence Day to all. Tonight I will be taking a nap so I will have the energy to walk out my front door and watch the neighbors shoot off Roman Candles.  Yeah...getting old...

"Enjoy every sandwich"

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