Tropical Depression

Polynesian ResortWhen I’ve been to Disney World before, the trips have never been quite long enough, and I’ve wondered how long it would take for me to get tired of all of it. It turns out the answer is two and a half weeks.

Entering week three here, I can say that this is the most surreal business trip I’ve ever been on. Last week I took off a couple of hours in the middle of the day to get my hair cut. That involved taking a monorail and boat ride to the Magic Kingdom, going to the barber shop on Main Street to find a long line of little girls waiting to get their hair done up like princesses, riding Pirates of the Caribbean until the crowds died down, then having two children stare directly at me the entire time I had my own hair cut. (I opted out of the princess glitter or colored hair gel).

Today as I was eating lunch, a fife and drum corps marched through the restaurant. Most days during my lunch break I stroll around to see lute players or taiko drummers or belly dancers. Breakfast meetings are interrupted by Minnie Mouse or Goofy coming out of nowhere and patting you on the shoulder. I’ve picked up a bad cookie-sandwich-a-day ice cream habit, and I’ve got the gut to show for it.

Yesterday I got off work a little early to come back to the hotel and do laundry. On the way in, I saw the hotel’s waterslide, which I’ve seen for years but never had the guts to try (I’m not that strong a swimmer — I wasn’t afraid of drowning, just of looking like a total idiot flaling around in a kiddie pool). So I went and tried it, and it was a blast. And I fell asleep as soon as I got back to the room, then ended up having to stay up until 2 AM to get all my laundry done. (With temperatures and humidity in the high 90s, I’m going through laundry really quickly).

I get the feeling the entire remainder of the trip is going to be like that — struggling to get the most mundane tasks done, being pulled in opposite directions by my innate impulse to always get my life into the most boring routine possible versus my brain’s built-in short-circuit that keeps freaking out that I’m in a theme park and not riding more stuff. The end result is that all the people on vacation are the normal ones, and I’m some alien floating through them trapped halfway in some dimensional rift.

Hurricane Ernesto is supposed to come through tomorrow, and try as I might I can’t seem to work it into a metaphor. I’m homesick and desperately want to sleep in my own bed and see my friends and eat some non-theme-park-or-fast-food, but that doesn’t quite count as “depression.” And I am wondering exactly what I’m going to do when this project finishes in a couple of weeks, but I can’t say that’s “a storm brewing” or anything that dramatic. I guess my mood is hitting central Florida and fizzling out into general surliness.

I put up pictures from the second half of the game, that’s pretty much it except for the finale and prologue. Be forewarned that if you were planning on coming to Disney World and playing the game, you shouldn’t look at the pictures, because they give away the whole thing.

Last week, a former coworker from LucasArts came down with his girlfriend to visit the other programmer on this project, and they all invited me to tag along to stuff after work. It was a lot of fun; it makes all the difference going to the parks with people who just seem to get why Disney is cool. You can read about their trip and see a lot of great pictures of the Polynesian Resort on her blog.

And although I’m definitely on the tail end of this trip, there’s still some stuff here I want to try. I haven’t been to either of the water parks yet, and I’m hoping to get some time in before I go. My kiddie pool water slide experience has given me false courage to go to a water park without fear of looking like a total spaz. Plus, I’ve got a savage farmer’s tan going on, and I really want to even it out.

And someday further out, I want to save up enough money to come back and stay at the Polynesian. I’d dropped by before but never appreciated it; now I see that it’s as if they took Disneyland’s Tiki Room and built a huge hotel out of it. It’s still got just enough of the early-70s vibe around it, too, with the Atari 2600-esque colored stripes around the wooden roof. Also, the pool has a volcano water slide. The place ain’t cheap, but ever since I started going to Disney World 35 years ago, I would look at the Contemporary or the Polynesian and say, “someday we’re going to have enough money to stay there.”