Justin's Life... March 14-21, 1997

Justin's Life... March 14-21, 1997

March 14, 1997


This has been one busy week.

On Tuesday morning, we woke and headed towards Walt Disney World's MGM Studios. On the Disney Radio Station the day before, we'd heard that there was a special for college students, but didn't quite get all the details. When it came time to purchase the tickets, I showed my college ID and the lady explained that I could get a Spring Break ticket which was not only $10 less than normal, but which also let me into Pleasure Island for free. Koool.

So, anyway, we began with "The Great Movie Ride." It, however, should have been called "The OK Movie Ride." The kooolest things were the ruby slippers worn in The Wizard of Oz and one of the carousel horses from Mary Poppins. The animatronics of the characters within the actual ride's movie scenes were less than outstanding... I would have thought technology had improved more since the time when the president's ride was built, but the rigidity and fakeness of the figures was pretty bad. The finale was, oddly enough, the least interesting part of the whole ride. [ C- ]

Next came Muppet Vision 4D. Without the use of color shifting, but still with special glasses, we watched a show which was pretty darn remarkable. Apparently, through the use of polarized lenses and two projectors, three dimensional pictures can be produced on a flat white screen. Enhanced by a couple super close computer animations and "real life" muppets & special effects, it was one of the best rides there. (My mom continued to ask me throughout it, "His nose is right in front of my face. Is it in yours?" and "I got wet. Did you get wet?" Afterwards, I broke her bubble by explaining that his nose was right in everyone's face and everyone got wet. ) [ A ]

From there, we headed to The Monster Sound Show, which, in my opinion, had one of it's best performances ever when we were there. [Sarcasm] We arrived right after the doors for the previous show had shut and so, we were in the front for the next show. When the audience coordinator asked for volunteers, I raised my hand and was picked to be at Station Two (of four), the station in charge of the electronic sound effects and the monster's voice. She told me, and three other lucky volunteers, that we'd watch the brief film once with the audience then add the sound effects the second time through.

When we went inside to the theatre, I stood at the console in the front of the auditorium looking it over when a "cast member" came over to tell me, "Let me get this mike to your height. Say everything nice and loud and keep it clean." He then winked, winked, and winked. It was obvious that he had to say "keep it clean," but if I could think of anything "good" to say, I should say it.

Next, the audience coordinator came over to me and asked my name. She said to leave my headphones on and walked to the next station.

When the movie began with its original soundtrack, the other three participants and I heard the audience coordinator give us specific instructions at about 150 word per minute, like, "Brittany, here you'll stomp on the wood plank. Justin, push the bomb fuse. Courtney, whirl the wind." I couldn't quite follow where to push which button; I was still trying to think of something better to say than what the audience coordinator (sorry, can't remember her name) suggested.

Anyway, once the film was over, she told everyone but me to remove the headphones and proceeded to introduce us one by one to the audience. I was smiling ear to ear, thinking about how I'd wished I'd shaved that morning, as I told her my name and made a sample monster growl.

When the movie began again, the other audience participants were busy creating their sounds while I was still trying to think of something great, and slightly dirty, to say. However, after I pushed the doorbell button, I said, "Oh, my pizza's here." just as the audience coordinator had suggested. I didn't think the audience would be able to hear me, but as I only had a one-eared headphone on, I heard them laugh.

The next couple of minutes were frantic as I was still trying to say something great, while pushing the right buttons at the right time. I managed to think of a "My darn leg!" as the hunchback limped along and a "Oh, a piece of gum!" as he picked something off the bottom of his shoe. When the hunchback looked through the peephole to see Chevy Chase, I said, "Hey, it's my dad." and that was it for my dialogue. I hadn't thought of anything brilliant, but I still had buttons to push. Unfortunately, the screen must have been several hundred more feet away than it appeared since the bomb exploded on screen two seconds before it was heard. -- Well, ok, it could have been because I pushed the button late two seconds later, but I doubt it. [Sarcasm]

When the movie was over, we headed out and I was on such a high. I had a great time and couldn't stop talking about it. Larry said if that was the case, I should change my major to being somewhere in front of the camera. Who knows... we all know I have that exhibitionist personality. *laugh*

From The Monster Sound Show, we went to the Voyage of The Little Mermaid. The lasers were the kooolest part of the show, and the completely black clad puppet performers were an ingenious idea, but the real life singing of the girl playing Ariel was less than wonderful and put quite the damper on the whole effect. It sorta killed the whole thing with that "Once someone does a song great, anyone doing it less than that great, makes it suck" phenomenon. [ B- ]

The last ride of the day was The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a thirteen story elevator drop. Larry and I knew my mom is deathly afraid of heights and would never get on the ride if she knew exactly what was to happen, so we did our best to hide the "Warning! This attraction..." signs which were all along the line. -- She did see one, but it was in Spanish. She asked where one in English was, but we said we didn't know.

When we got through the line and onto the elevator cart which carried approximately 20 people, Mom had seen a few people scream through the tower's open doors, so she had a relative idea of what was to happen, but nothing specific. So, anyway, the ride began upward and we saw a few lighting effects to simulate ghosts and levitation. She said something about how it was actually a ride and not just an up & down drop and that her nerves had calmed. The elevator then went up again and out on a track, floating several feet above the floor beneath. We got to the end of the track, couldn't see anything, and then it dropped. We all flew out of our seats!

The elevator shot back up to the top, paused, then fell back down as Mom clung t-i-g-h-t-l-y to my arm. We were free falling above the seats for a few seconds before the ride stopped. Katie, Larry, and I had a great time, but Mom was still a little shaken up as we walked off. She couldn't stop talking about how she'd ridden it, and I must admit, I was amazed she'd done it myself. (When my brother and I got her on the water log ride at King's Island a few years ago, she cried.) Anyway, she made it and the day at MGM ended on quite the happy note for everyone.

March 15, 1997


After we left MGM and had dinner, Larry and I left Mom and Katie at the hotel to go back to Disney World's Pleasure Island. As you can be 18 to enter, but 21 to drink, I showed my ID (which is now finally real ) as I followed some guys who were in the 18-20 range. "Yee-ha. I'm an adult," I thought to myself.

When we got inside, there were people everywhere. Most were college-aged and dancing in the street as they drank beer. There wasn't a visible gay person in the crowd, but the sight was still koool.

After walking around a bit, I suggested we go into one of the clubs, which had it's entrance on the second floor. When we walked up the stairs and got to the rail overlooking the dance floor below, I saw several hundred kids smashed together jumping around. The "This is koool!" feeling I had before had left. I wanted to be one of those kids down there, jumping around with a bunch of my friends from college, having a great time, getting drunk and just generally being carefree. Ever since high school, I'd always wanted to go to Florida with a group of friends on Spring Break, to just hang out there without any supervision, to do whatever, to be the reckless guy that hides way deep inside of me most of the time. Chris and I thought we were going one year, but as we were still in high school, his parents wouldn't let him.

Anyway, I'd always wanted to be in the spot where those "kids" were and so, I got depressed. I managed to hide it and said that we should go see what else Pleasure Island had to offer, and we left.

As it was nearing midnight, we watched the "New Year's Eve" celebration on the west end, then entered the country western bar. On the way from the parking lot, I'd drunk two alcoholic drinks (not sure exactly how to describe them... they were two cans, about 8 ounces in size, with 15% alcohol by volume... Strawberry Daquiri and Sex On The Beach), so I was hoping to get drunk... but those, and the Jell-o shooters I had at the first dance club, didn't have any effect except making me have to pee.

And so, when we got into the country western bar, I went to the restroom. Standing at the urinal was a stocky guy with nice broad shoulders. Both urinals and the one stall were in use, so I had to wait. As he finished, he shook it and contracted his butt muscles. Yee-ha!

When I'd finished, he was still at the mirror primping. That seemed like quite the long time for a straight guy to "arrange" himself, but I welcomed the opportunity to look at him as I washed my hands.

When I returned to the sitting area, I found Larry and we sat watching a couple on the dance floor. I watched the guy from the restroom return to the bar area and sit next to a women with whom he was with.

Shortly, Larry asked me if I wanted anything to drink and I said no. He went to get himself something and returned with a glass cowboy boot filled with a blue margarita. He said he'd gotten the glass for me, so I thanked him and once again reminded myself that I was there with him, and that I loved him, and that I shouldn't make known my state of mind about not being with all the kids.

He then asked me what I thought about the cowboy who was sitting next to him. I said he looked ok, and Larry said he thought he was really cute. I think he then asked if I'd mind if he talked to him and I said that I didn't, that he should "go for it." He talked for a minute or so then returned his face towards me to say that the guy was from Atlanta, down with his parents, and straight. (As we hadn't seen a single identifiable gay person the entire night, and as he looked too "hick" to be gay, I already knew that last part. )

Anyway, once Larry'd given me the lowdown on his little cowboy friend, I told him about the guy I'd seen in the restroom. He checked him out and said that he, too, thought he was cute enough and looked like he was one of those guys that could go either way, but who'd forced himself to be straight.

A while passed, then Larry asked me if I wanted a drink again. I said, "Not really," but he said he was going to get me something anyway. He turned, asked the cowboy on the end if he wanted something, then returned a few minutes later with a rum and coke for me. He added that he just realized the cowboy guy wasn't 21. I said that I knew that.

A while more passed, as we listened to the band, and just talked about nothing in particular, then I suggested we go see what else was there. We found several hundred people dancing in the middle of the street as we went outside. I picked up a handful of confetti and threw it above Larry as we walked along the sidelines and watched people get singled out to appear on a jumbo television on the opposite side of the streetway. It was quite a sight, but I still had that feeling of an outsider looking in. We went past the entrances of the other dance clubs, but ended up back at the original one with the 50-80's music and the kids squeezed on the dance floor.

After another blue Jell-o shooter for me and a drink for Larry, Larry asked if I wanted to go down on the dance floor. I said that I did and so, we went down in the crowd and began dancing along the edge. We danced for a few songs, and even did the YMCA with the rest of the crowd. I managed to catch the eye of one nice looking girl, so semi-flirting with her was koool, too.

At around 1:30AM, I said that I was ready to go and we headed back to the car. In the parking lot, I complained about not being drunk after all that alcohol and walked the parking lot lines just to prove that I wasn't the least bit drunk.

On the drive back to the hotel, I began talking about how I'd wished I'd been down with those kids. Larry explained that I was way too critical of other people to ever be in that space, that they were all acquaintances who didn't criticize or really express themselves. I realized that he was right, but that has always been part of the appeal, just hanging out with people who were acquaintances, acting crazy, not really caring what they thought, because I didn't really care about them... but that's not the type of person I am. I'm a guy who wants friends whom I do care about and who are close to me. It's a Catch 22... but a longing nonetheless.


Wednesday morning, we all headed to the Magic Kingdom with Warren and Selma, who'd arrived from their nearby Florida house the night before. After riding a few kiddie rides like the carrousel and "It's A Small World" to keep Katie happy, we went to The Haunted Mansion. After making it through the elongating room, we separated into groups of three to get into the Tilt-A-Whirl-like people carriers. Things were going great, with Katie sitting in between Larry and I, until about mid-way through the ride when the cars stopped unexpectedly. We were in a particularly dark section, and Katie began to get scared. We told her it was ok, squeezed her a little tighter between us, then the ride began again. When the ride was done, she said she had fun and was ready to go on another scary ride.

The geography of the park, however, suggested we should go to the Country Bear Jamboree. I'd remembered it from my childhood as particularly cool. (Don't think I'd created any different way of spelling it back then. ) It was just as I'd remembered. The bears were just as wonderful as when I was a kid. The three "hecklers" on the wall, the taxidermied moose, buffalo, and deer, were just as "alive" as I'd remembered. It was great. [ A ] -- The animatronics of the bears seemed far superior to the anamatronics of The Great Movie Ride. I, of course, realize that's because humans are much more familiar with the nuances of other human faces than with the faces of talking bears, and in turn, are much more aware when something isn't exactly right, but The Country Bear Jamboree still gets my vote as the best attraction in the park.

March 21, 1997


Well, I returned from Kentucky and Florida almost a week ago, so here's just a little more to bring you up to date.

Click here to move on to the next set of entries.

© 1997 Justin Clouse

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