Dec 28, 2006

Accosted at EPCOT

Just before Christmas, my wife and I went to DisneyWorld for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It was a real blast! We visited all four parks in two days, finishing at Magic Kindom for the big party. They have special shows, a Christmas parade with Santa and they serve hot chocolate and cookies. It was great. All the parks, resorts and restaurants were decorated for Christmas, and we were able to visit all the attractions we were interested in seeing.

I even got to visit a particular character that I had never met before, and if luck serves me, will never meet again.

We were at Epcot, waiting for the next showing of “Honey, I Blew up the Audience” (a 3D interactive show). We were sitting outside of the theatre, watching the water spouts jump from pot to pot, and watching other guests interact with them. It was a sunny, picturesque day. There was a building nearby with a sign that declared, “Meet Figment” (the purple dragon from the “Journey Into Imagination” attraction). Apparently, no one was ‘Meeting Figment’ so he wandered outside to drum up some attention. No one was around, so he just looked pitiful – waving and motioning for people to come over. There were only a few of us who saw him. I waved, but the others were clearly ignoring him, so he went back inside.

I felt bad for the poor creature, so I tried to get Angela to go in with me. She clearly didn’t want to, despite my persistent nagging, so I went by myself. I took the PhotoPass card on the off chance that a photographer would be there to capture my magical moment. When I first entered, there was a small queue line made up of funhouse-type mirrors that distort your reflection. Then you come around a corner and BAM! There’s Figment.

He was overjoyed to see me, so I gave him the obligatory character hug, and noticed that he was holding on a little too long. I looked around at all three of his handlers, but no one had a camera. So I turned my attention back to the dragon. I gave him a high-five, and said things like, “Hey Figment”, “What’s up”, “Nice to see you” and “How’s it going?” but you can only talk to a silent character for so long before it gets awkward. (They’re not allowed to talk, you know.) It got awkward really fast. His handlers didn’t talk to me, they were just watching. They seemed nice enough…they were probably just trying to figure out what this 28-year old guy was doing with Figment.

Suddenly it became obvious to me that there was no easy exit to this dilemma. I wanted to leave, but Figment clearly didn’t want me to go. I briefly thought about retreating through the mirrored queue, but decided that would look really bad. There was actually a set of glass double doors opposite me, but one problem remained – Figment was blocking the way.

I know he saw me look desperately at the doors – I’m sure he decided at that moment that he wasn’t going to make it easy. I kept hoping someone else would come up behind me, and I could dart out when Figment greeted them, but no one else was fool enough to walk in.

I finally just turned my head and made for the door. Figment grabbed my hand and tried to shake it. I pulled away and pushed on the door…but it didn’t open.

I turned and looked at Figment. Even though his costume hadn’t changed from that same goofy look and broad smile, I could tell he was relishing this latest development. He stared at me for a split-second, just long enough for me to acknowledge that I was helpless, before he pushed a silver button on the wall. The doors slowly started to open…and I didn’t waste a second. As soon as I thought I could fit, I attempted to slide between the doors - a move that caused a real commotion. I felt like a trapped rat, and I had to get out!

Then, finally, I was outside in the sunshine again. I took off walking as fast as possible, and didn’t look back.

By the way, “Honey, I Blew up the Audience” is definitely worth skipping. It’s old, and the effects are a little out of whack – all you really get out of it is a headache. And while we’re on the subject, don’t ever sit in the front row for “Ellen’s Energy Adventure”. Though the ride itself is slow-moving, sitting in the front row and watching the 360° video/animatronic presentation will make you wicked sick. Trust me on this – go for the middle.

Oh yeah, and stay away from Figment!

The perpetrator, with another unsuspecting guest.

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