Tuesday, 27 March 2012

DisneyQ - Part Seven

DisneyQ is a Disney/Star Trek crossover novel that I wrote in 2008.

If you missed them, here's Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six. You are probably best starting at the beginning, or none of this is going to make sense.

Here's Part Seven

Chapter Twelve

It had been a pretty slow day for Ryan Jackson, manager of Fantasyland. While his job sounded whimsical and magical, it was actually pretty run of the mill; there really wasn’t a whole lot of granting wishes and making magic happen like people assumed. But he was happy in his role and occasionally those moments did pop up where he would have the opportunity to do something special or arrange something that could make a person or family’s dream come true. So far, today wasn’t one of those days.

He had started the day, as always, by walking his area of the park; making sure everything was clean, everything was running, everything was ready for the day ahead. After quick informal meetings with the head of staff at each of the attractions under his domain, to make sure there were no pressing issues, Ryan headed back to his office to take care of the paperwork. With so many staff members working within the fantasyland area, there were always holiday forms to authorise, sick forms to approve; and the countless other issues that arose with having staff.

They were also coming up on year end, and that meant Ryan would have to present his report on Fantasyland operations over the last twelve months. There was no way to get around the facts, Fantasyland was the home of some of the oldest rides in the park and many of them had never been upgraded; this meant both breakdowns and a lack of easy accessibility for guests in ECVs or wheelchairs. His desk was littered with reports, graphs, statistical sheets and random pieces of paper with jottings all over them. Ryan wasn’t worried though, his staff had good morale, there had been no major accidents or incidents in the year and capacity rates were good and steady; it would be a breeze. He was actually more interested about trying to convince the powers at be that the space behind Pooh’s Playful Spot could be so much better utilised and making the plea to receive the Little Mermaid attraction that he knew was in planning stages for California Adventure on the went coast.

He was just thinking of what to have for lunch when a siren throughout the building began to sound. He sat upright in his seat, the siren only went off when something major was happening in the park above. It was a mere fraction of a second before his phone rang, he picked it up immediately.

“Ryan Jackson;” he answered

“Mr Jackson, this is Richard in control, we have a situation.”

“I can hear the siren; what’s happening?”

“We don’t know sir, we are getting mixed reports and from our own monitors we are seeing things that we find hard to believe?”

“Like what Richard? Please be more specific.”

“Like Dumbo flying a hundred feet in the air with guests still aboard, the horses on the carousel all galloping away from what we are hearing, Peter Pan and Captain Hook are duelling for real.”

“That’s impossible!”

“I said it was hard to believe sir. We are also getting similar reports from around the park, there’s been a fire reported in Adventureland, and what is thought to have been one of the ride vehicles has launched into space from Space Mountain.”

Ryan was dumbfounded, he had no idea how to respond to the information he was being given.

“Sir,” Richard spoke again, “we’ve been given the order to evacuate the park, but due to the unusualness of the situation we’ve been asked to contain and safeguard guests in central locations until they can be evacuated in groups.”

The business side of Ryan took over, he still wasn’t sure what was going on, but if his managers had already decided to evacuate the park he knew what he had to do. “Get the cast members to start ushering guests into Pinocchio’s Village Haus. Get as many cast members that are on break into there as possible to start tending to them. I will get there as soon as possible to take control of the situation.”

“Yes sir.” came the reply.

Ryan hung up the phone and took a deep breath; he was still doubtful of what he had been told but there was only one way to find out. He grabbed a walkie talkie and attached it to his belt, then headed for the corridor that would bring him out at the Village Haus.


Jonathan looked at the utilidor map on the wall, stairway #16 from which he had come was the closest to where he needed to be, but obviously that wasn’t an option. He would have to use stairway #13 which would place him near Country Bear Jamboree and then go around the back of that building and cut through behind the magic carpets and enchanted tiki room in order to get back to the pirates courtyard. Not the best of routes but his only choice; he had to hope he could get to Ray, if he were still alive, and both get back to safety before the Pirates recognised him.

"Recognise me;" Jonathan said aloud, "that's it!"

As he made his way down the corridor he quickly removed everything he could that enhanced the Jack Sparrow look. He had grown the facial hair and dyed it black but removing his wig revealed a short blonde haircut. Next to go were his jacket and shirt, followed by all the clip on jewellery. Finally he brought his hands to his face and used his own sweat, of which there was plenty of, to smudge any remaining make up into a senseless covering; wiping as much as he could onto his removed shirt.

In the few minutes it took to reach the exit, Jonathan was sure he looked a complete mess; most importantly though he was sure he didn't look like Jack Sparrow. He slowly opened the door, creeping his head around the side. Nothing. Grabbing for a nearby chair he placed it so it would keep the door open in case time was of the urgency on his return; then he started to make his way around the back of the Country Bear Jamboree building, peaking around each corner before making the turn.

Along the way he passed the back entrance to the shows control room, the door to the outside was very unusually left wide open. Jonathan peeked inside, maybe he could get some help from anyone operating this attraction; it was completely unmanned. A glance at the screens, that monitored the inside of the theatre, sent a chill down his spine and gave him his answers. "The bears are alive?" he questioned with both intrigue and fear as he saw the animatronic bears from the show ripping the stage, set and seats apart as if they were wild animals.

Suddenly it all made sense; the likenesses of the pirates and the speech coming straight from the ride; there weren’t imitating the ride, they were from the ride itself. Control had said that things were happening that couldn't be real; "is this what they meant?" he thought, "Could it really have been the robots that attacked us?" A banging on the door reminded Jonathan that there wasn’t much that separated the room he was in from the theatre he was watching on the screens. He had to leave but he couldn’t allow the bears to get loose. He shoved a table in front of the door and on his way out closed the door behind him. Being an outside security door he hoped it was made of sturdy stuff.

He continued on his path and soon was able to see around the corner of a building that overlooked the main courtyard. Ray still lay there, not moving; “please Ray, please still be alive;” Jonathan prayed. He looked towards the direction of the utilidor he had used for his escape; he couldn’t see it from here, but he knew he would be able to from where Ray was; which meant they would be able to see him as well. However, he didn’t need to be able to see the utilidor entry point to see the flames and smoke coming from the area; just like in the ride, the pirates were setting fire to everything they could in their search for Captain Jack.

Jonathan decided he couldn’t wait any longer, he had to get to Ray and he had to do it now. The pirates seemed to be completely ignoring the area from whence they had come; he could only hope they continued to do so. He was now very glad he had propped the door open, he was going to have to carry Ray and swiping his identity card would have cost him time.

He ran over to Ray as fast and quietly as he could; as he approached he got his first look at the pirates by the far utilidor; none were paying any attention in his direction. He dropped to his knee as soon as he reached Ray; there was a lot more blood now than there had been when he left him only a few minutes ago. He reached for Ray’s neck to feel for a pulse, praying in his head as he did. He massaged his fingers around and felt it; feint but there. “Thank god;” he said not even trying to hide the smile across his face, “Ray, it’s Jonathan. Can you hear me?”

He got no reply.

“I’ve got to stop the bleeding,” Jonathan thought. He had been given only the most basic of first aid training; this was going to be mainly guesswork. He looked up to check on the pirates, still no sign of them showing any interest in him; the change of appearance appeared to be working. He ran the few meters between where Ray lay and the nearest merchandise stand; deserted but still wide open. He grabbed at whatever came first, long sleeve shirts, scarves, t-shirts; then he returned to Ray and padded the sword wound as best he could, securing the bandage by wrapping and tying the scarves around his body. He hoped it would be good enough.

Scooping Ray up, Jonathan started to make his way back to the utilidor; he could feel his legs getting weaker by the step; Ray was not a light fellow. As he left the possible eye sight of the pirates he took one last look, nothing.


Jennifer held Samantha as they disembarked the ride vehicles as soon as it pulled around to the load/unload area; both of them shaking but relieved. Graham was scrambling as much of the spilled contents of the bag back into it in a way it could be carried. Cast members rushed to them to make sure they were okay and ushered them to an area where they could sit down.

“What happened in there?” Graham asked a cast member approached him; “the ground seemed to be way below us, the characters seemed alive.”

“We don’t know Sir;” came the reply, “please come with us, we want to get you to safety and we would like to let a doctor check you all over to make sure you are ok; if that’s ok with you of course.”

“We’re physically fine, but I would like some space to be able to comfort my daughter, as well as what she saw she also lost her favourite toy in there; that’s what she will remember tomorrow.”

“I’ll make sure you have a room where you can be alone Sir, and I’ll arrange for someone to bring you some toys for your daughter.”

“Thank you.”

Jennifer, Samantha and Graham were led into the backstage area and what seemed like underground. If it had not been under such circumstances, this would have been a dream come true for Jennifer; she had always wanted to see behind the scenes. It didn’t seem to matter now.


Philippe watched as first rope pinged off the railings as soon as the train charged into it; its speed far too great for the rope to hooks to handle.

The second did much the same although not with so much speed and force. The hill was starting to take it’s toll on the train, he could tell it had started to decelerate.

Philippe forced himself to take his eyes off the train and get to the top of the lift hill; although very much with his head over his shoulder looking backwards.

The third rope held. It was being pushed up the railing at quite a speed but the hooks were able to hold. Only when one of the hooks hit a join in the railings with a vertical bar did the push slide halt and the hook break. The train was now moving much slower but was still moving forward, closer to the apex of the hill.

The fourth rope also held and Philippe allowed himself to breath for a moment but it too eventually gave way to the runaway train’s brawn just as the front of the engine peaked over the apex of the lift hill.

They were running the trains at full capacity today, the engine and five carriages, holding a maximum of forty five people. Pretty soon gravity would start to work against him as the train’s momentum would be helped by more weight over than apex than on the hill; at which point all would be lost. Philippe knew that he must stop that from happening and came to the conclusion that the only way to achieve this was to remove the possible weight tipping the balance in the wrong direction. It was against every rule in the handbook, but he yanked the bar release lever on the first carriage, letting the bars off the passengers laps. If the train did go now, the movement and G-forces of the ride would almost certainly cause the passengers to come out of the carriage unrestrained.

“I need you to get out the carriage, quickly and carefully, please help each other onto the steps where you will be safe;” Philippe shouted to make sure he could be heard over some of the frantic passengers who were in tears.

Almost the entire engine car had now made it over the apex, it was the heaviest part of the train and would be putting a lot of weight on the wrong side of the scale. As Philippe started releasing the second carriages safety bars he noticed some leaning over the edge of the back carriage and trying to do the same to their own.

“Sir!” Philippe shouted, “I need you not to try and leave your vehicle”

“Screw you!” came the reply

Philippe ignored the comment understanding everyone was under a lot of pressure. “Sir, if you leave the vehicle we will lose the weight advantage; we need as much weight in the back as possible.”

“Get us out of here;” came the reply, this time more afraid than offensive.

“I’m trying;” Philippe thought to himself as he continued to work.

By the time Philippe was releasing the third carriages safety bars most of the first car had also crossed the apex of the hill. Thankfully the passengers were at this point helping each other with the men helping the women down onto the stairs and in some cases coaxing some of the more afraid passengers out of the cars. However, as the third carriages passengers alighted the train started to move forward with a little more momentum.

“The front of the train is heavier than the back!” Philippe shouted, “I need as many people holding the train steady as possible.”

The men all grabbed whatever non moving part of the vehicles they could as Philippe released the fourth safety bar lever; the fifth having already been released be the passenger who thankfully had taken heed and stayed seated. The passengers holding the train back were beginning to struggle to do so and were shouting that they could only do so a little longer.

“I need all children to be passed out of the train now.” Philippe shouted and the adults inside the train quickly did as asked passing any children to those who had already escaped and to safety.

“Ok,” Philippe continued, “I need everyone else to get out at the same time, we can’t afford to have anyone left in the train when we lose a significant amount of weight in the back. Please all get to a position where you will be able to climb or jump out when I say so and once you are out please help hold onto the train.”

“HURRY!!” shouted one of the men trying to hold the train back

“Everyone ready?” Philippe asked more of a warning, it had to be now or never, “on three.”




Cameron turned his vehicle to the right. As he entered the room he saw that there was only plain wall to the left so he felt safe to have his back to it and give his full attention to the other side. In front of him was Zurg in his now failing and half broken spaceship; sparks of electricity were fizzing and there was a smell of smoke in the air. Despite Zurg’s complaining about how he had been foiled, there were Little Green Men crawling over his ship and a level of joy coming from them. Cameron sighed with relief and sat back in his vehicle as did many of the other guests he could see; it was over.

Suddenly a roar came from Zurg and a laser beam emanated from his spaceship, ripping into a vehicle just four vehicles in front of his own. When the light from the beam dissipated there was nothing left, just a smouldering pile of burnt slag where the vehicle used to be; a family wiped out.

Cameron and the other riders in the room grabbed their laser guns and started shooting wildly at Zurg and the remains of his space craft; obviously not as disabled as first thought. The LGMs scattered as the fire fight began and Zurg screamed in anger. Being one of the larger rooms of the ride, many vehicles simultaneously started to fire in unison, small explosions going off as the individual parts of his ship broke away or were destroyed. Zurg fired again; Cameron winced not daring to look which poor people would be killed this time. Thankfully when he dared open his eyes he could see no obviously missing vehicles; “he must have missed;” he said to himself as he renewed his firing.

Zurg’s spaceship succumbed and with a final explosion it ceased to be. Zurg himself managed to escape the fireball but was captured by the LGMs and their claw device just prior to the unloading bay coming into sight. This time it really was over.


“We’ve got to get off the river” Alvin said to Bob as they heard the war drums getting closer, “we always joke about them being cannibals, what if they are cannibals now.”

“What do you mean Al?”

“Thank about it. You said the lions were eating the zebra and that the explorers were pretty much real humans. I just got attacked by a bloody hippo and my prop gun fired a real round of ammo. I don’t think it’s stretching too far to suggest that the native tribe will be a real native tribe; and I for one don’t want to drive through the boat ambush scene.”

“It sounds crazy, but I agree.” Bob responded.

“So how do we get out of this?” Alvin asked, “going back through the elephants doesn’t sound like a great option either.”

“How about we go by land? After all, this is where you can hear the parade’s if you listen real carefully; Main Street must be close.”

“It is,” Alvin confirmed, “I just don’t know what it on the other side of the banked hill between it and the back of the Crystal Palace; there could be a wall for all I know.”

 “I’d take a wall over hungry cannibals or elephants.”

“Me too, power the boat over to that bank it looks like the bank is a little lower.”

Bob chuckled, “you do realise that if we are massively over reacting we’re going to be deep in it for trespassing all these guests over the back of this ride.”

Alvin took the microphone on the Senegal Sal while Bob started to steer the boat towards the shore they had picked out. “Ladies and Gentleman; obviously that level of attack isn’t what we are used to, and to be honest, neither Skipper Bob nor I know what is going on. We apologise for what just happened. We have decided that in the interest of your safety, it would be wise for us to vacate the ride vehicles and leave the jungle completely. To do this we are going to usher you through the back of the ride area which should bring us out behind Main Street. Does anyone have any questions?”

The boat was oddly silent, many of the passengers from the Amazon Annie obviously still in a level of shock from the attack.

“Ok, Bob is going to bring the boat as close to the bank as he can; should you fall in the water please do not panic, it is clean we merely add the murky colour; it is also only three feet deep so can be easily stood in.”

The guests merely nodded in understanding.

As the boat pulled up to the bank Alvin decided it would be best to get out of the boat himself and help drag it in as close as possible. He stood up on the edge and jumped into the water, two wet feet were the least of his worries. The guests all gasped as Alvin disappeared into the water; head and all. Within a second he resurfaced gasping for air; it was obvious that the river was not the mere three feet deep as thought. He made it to the bank where he pulled himself up and regained his breathing pattern.

“You ok?” Bob shouted

Alvin just nodded still regaining his breath.

“Ok folks,” Bob said turning to the guests; “it appears that all bets are off, please take nothing for granted as being part of a ride; and please do not go into the water.”

Alvin regained his footing and as Bob pulled the boat alongside the bank Alvin grabbed the side and pulled it in. Together they started helping the guests off the boat and onto the shore. There were around fifty of them all together; and the men in the group all started to help the women and children whether family members or not.

They were just evacuating the last members from the boat when the noise of the war drums definitely got louder. Alvin and Bob looked to the opposite shore of the river and sure enough they saw some of the village natives appearing from between the trees.

“Bob; get the people moving over that hill, I’ll catch up.”

“What are you going to do?” Bob asked.

“I’m going to see if the gun was a one time deal or not; but I can’t with the guests here.”

“Ok, don’t stay here too long though.”

With that Bob started leading the way for the guests and very soon disappeared over the horizon of the hill. Alvin hoped that it led straight into the car park behind Main Street and from there safety wouldn’t be an issue. The guests were shaken and wet from the hippo attack, but there had thankfully been no injuries.

By the time they were gone though, more natives had amassed on the opposite side of the river and were pointing at him. One of them had tried the river and found out how deep it was; Alvin was now very thankful it was impossibly deep. Alvin reached into the Senegal Sal and retrieved the shotgun, again it looked like a simple prop; detailed but obviously fake. He aimed at one of the native tribe but he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. They may have been statues somehow brought to life, he couldn’t believe he was even considering that as a plausible reasoning, but they looked as human as human could be; and Alvin wasn’t a killer.

A couple of the natives started to swim across the river; Alvin knew he had to do something. He aimed the shotgun at a tree to the side of the largest group, wanting to scare them off like he had the hippo; and fired. Again, and unbelievably, the shotgun let out a live round and while he missed his intended target he did get the tree next to it. The natives took notice, those swimming towards him retreated and those who had seen him fire looked at him in stunned amazement.

He allowed himself a quick smile, his tactic had worked and he was holding them off. He was about to turn and run up the hill himself, where he could take another shot to make sure they didn’t try and follow him again, when he suddenly felt a sharp pain in the side of his neck. He brought his hand up to find it, it felt like an insect bite, but instead what he felt was a blow dart. It was just a short second later when he dropped to his knees, his legs refusing to take his weight and soon after that he found himself laying on the floor, unable to move his arms or his legs.

Alvin remained perfectly conscious, he could see and hear everything, he just couldn’t move; not his arms or his legs, not his neck, not even his mouth. His range of view was mostly the sky above but it was soon interrupted by the first of the natives standing over him, dripping wet from crossing the river. As more and more of them came into his view he resigned himself to his fate; his face showing none of the terror he was feeling inside; his body numb.

...........To Be Continued

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

WDW 2012 - The Schedule Takes Shape

So, last week I talked about our trip to Walt Disney World in October and how we would be trying a lot of new things on this trip as for once it would be adults only thus giving us freedom of late nights, fine dining and adult only experiences.

Well; after a lot of thinking, juggling things around and a few tough decisions I have WDW2012 V.1.0 . . . . . . ta da!

Before I get to the details, I should make a couple of honourable mentions. While I know a good deal about restaurants from what I hear on podcasts, previous experiences or world of mouth; there are a few websites that I tend to go to for restaurant or Disney Dining Plan details. These are:
So, here is the current version of the schedule...

Saturday 27/10

By the time we get to the hotel and checked in at the Contemporary, it will likely be about 6.30pm. If there is no Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party that night, we will likely pop into the MK for a few hours and catch the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes. If there is a party then we may scoot around to Epcot, otherwise we will just chill at the hotel. Either way we will get a quick service dinner in one of the three 

Magic Kingdom: Dinner: Either Peco's Bills or Columbia Harbour House
Epcot: Dinner: Quick Service: Undecided
Resort: Dinner: Quick Service: Undecided

Sunday 28/10

Our first full day at the parks will be spent at Hollywood Studios. We are likely to be joined that day by my brother in law so this is probably the best park for a day of fun rides with a late teen of course topped off with Fantasmic

Lunch: Prime Time 50’s Cafe
Dinner: Fairfax Fare

Monday 29/10

We will be getting to the Magic Kingdom at rope drop and after hitting a few of the big rides and checking out the new Fantasyland before getting to play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. At around 6pm we will head on over to the Wilderness Lodge by boat, and after dinner we will head over to the Boardwalk (probably by taxi) for a night at Jellyrolls.

Lunch: Quick Service: Be Our Guest (if open) or Pecos Bills or Columbia Harbour House
Dinner: Table Service: Artist Point
Night Time: Jellyrolls

Tuesday 30/10

The whole day will be spent at Epcot enjoying the Food & Wine Festival. While neither Tara or I really drink wine, we loved eating around the world in 2009, so this time we will be dedicating an entire days eating to sampling the world wide treats. This will probably use all our Disney Dining Plan snack credits and more.

Wednesday 31/10

Wednesday will get off to a slowish start as will be a late night. We will start the day by taking a trip around the resort monorail loop to visit Kona Café for breakfast. We will then spend the late morning and early afternoon in the Magic Kingdom before grabbing an early dinner, getting changed and then partying all night at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Breakfast: Kona Café
Dinner: Chef Mickey’s
Night Time: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Thursday 01/11

After another slow start to the day (as getting Tara out of bed will be harder than walking onto Toy Story Mania at midday), we will spend the morning at Downtown Disney before returning to the Contemporary. The afternoon will be taken easy, probably in the Magic Kingdom enjoying some ambiance and getting some autographs.We will hopefully get to enjoy either Wishes or HalloWishes from the upper floors of the Contemporary in the evening.

Lunch: Earl of Sandwich
Dinner: California Grill
Friday 02/11

Friday will be Animal Kingdom day. We will get there for rope drop and enjoy Expedition Everest before taking part in an early Wild Africa Trek experience. After the day at AK we will head over to Port Orleans for a night in the company of Yehaa Bob.
Lunch: Yak & Yeti (Table Service)
Dinner: Undecided (Quick service at either Contemporary or Port Orleans)

Night Time: Yehaa Bob!!

Saturday 03/11

Our last full day will be spent back a the Hollywood Studios to start although we may end up doing a little park hopping if there is anything left we haven't done and want to.

Breakfast or Lunch: Quick Service: Undecided
Dinner: Citricos

Sunday 04/11

Depending on what time our transfer to the Disney Dream is, we will get some breakfast andspend whatever time we do  have in the Magic Kingdom saying goodbye.

And then it's off to the WDW Radio Dream Cruise 2.0!!!

So, thats the plan at the moment. Some things may change and there's some undecided's to be filled in; but most of it will likely stay like this. It should be fun!!

Let me know what you think of the plan below

Speak Soon :)

Monday, 19 March 2012

DisneyQ - Part Six

DisneyQ is a Disney/Star Trek crossover novel that I wrote in 2008.

If you missed them, here's Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five. You are probably best starting at the beginning, or none of this is going to make sense.

Here's Part Six

Chapter Eleven

Philippe grabbed for his radio. “Control, this is Philippe Picard at Big Thunder Mountain, we’ve got a serious problem, the mountain has caved in. I repeat the mountain has caved in.”

Philippe didn’t believe the words he was saying himself, he questioned if those at the control station would believe them before looking at the security camera and seeing it for themselves. However his attention was taken when he saw and heard the train whiz past travelling on one of the lower parts of the track; the final high speed section before the end of the ride.

“Mon Dieu! Ca marche toujours!” He said aloud to no-one; reverting back to his native tongue. All around people were starting to scream and point as they registered the same thing he had. Those who had just passed him to enter the line came running back out again.

He brought his radio to his mouth again. “The train is still running!” he shouted.

“We can’t stop it!” came the reply, “It’s not responding to the emergency breaks, it came through here and made it over the first lift hill by momentum.”

“What do we do?” Philippe asked in a frantic voice

“There’s nothing we can do, the lift hills are deactivated; we just have to hope that gravity takes its toll and that the train will roll backwards and get stuck in the dip when it can’t make it up the second hill.”

“Did you see the speed the train is going, we can’t risk it making it over the second hill, if it does then it will crash on the third.”

“What can we do?”

Philippe didn’t have the time to answer, it would only be a matter of a couple of minutes until it was too late. He ran to the supply closet located close by and pulled out the ropes used when further crowd control line forming was required, they were made from a thick rope and had hooks on the ends; they would have to do. Slinging them over his shoulder he quickly made his way through the access tunnels that are unseen by the guests and as fast as he could ran up the stairway that led to the bottom of the second lift hill. The years in the vineyard were paying off now as Philippe was amazingly fit from working the fields and with sheer determination was able to run up the stairs at a good pace.

As soon as he was in the open he could see how close the train was, it was thirty seconds at most from starting to climb the hill and definitely travelling faster than the 36mph it was designed to. The hill itself was quite steep and with the winch turned off there was a chance that the train wouldn’t make the climb, but it was too much to risk. He thought himself lucky that it was this lift where he could make his stand, the first and third lifts were indoors and didn’t have step access either side of the track; this one, the only outdoor lift, did.

Philippe pulled the first rope from his shoulder and slung it over the railing on the far side of the track, he pulled it tight so the hook grasped around the hand railing alongside the stairs and then fastened the hook around the near side railing keeping the rope as tight as he could in a hurry. He then climbed a few steps and repeated the process, he only had five ropes and he knew he would need to intersperse them throughout the hill.

He had managed to get four ropes set up in such a manner before the train reached the hill; he knew he should get the fifth done, but he couldn’t take his eyes of the train that was heading straight for him.



"This is really gonna feel like a disappointment when we only creep up the hill." Casey called out; the girls all laughing at the comment.


"Here we go, two miles per hour!" Tiffani quipped.


The girls all jumped as far as their harnesses would let them as a huge booming noise coupled with intense heat come from the back of the rocket.

"Ignition sequence activated." came over the speaker; barely audible over the noise.

"What's going on?" Shayla cried out to the others but her voice was completely drowned out.

The rocket started to move only it didn't trundle up the lift hill as it had done for the last thirty two years; it stated to move, faster and faster, accelerating continuously. The girls were thrust back into their seats, the G-forces much higher than any previous ride; their hands gripping the arm rests out of fear.

Casey tried to scream but she couldn't open her mouth; the pressure on her face unbearable. She knew the props on hill like the back of her hand, the right hand turn into the first dip would be approaching; "just a little further," she thought.

Only the rocket didn't slow and turn; instead when the tracks banked right, it dislodged from them and kept its angle of accent. All six passengers were terrified, none could even move.

Like a bullet through paper, the rocket tore through the infamous white cone shaped roof of Space Mountain leaving Tomorrowland, the Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida, North America, the planet Earth behind it. It danced through space, around asteroid belts, past nebulae and super novas. It travelled faster and father than any human built rocket ever had; speeding past distant worlds, through distant galaxies.

It would have been quite amazing for them had the passengers’ heads not exploded during takeoff.


The monster got closer and closer; Cameron leaned back as far as he could, trying to keep as much distance between it and himself as possible. He was about to scream when a laser beam ripped through the monster causing it to explode on contact; it shattered into pieces and into dust. He looked to his left where he saw two teenage boys in the vehicle behind him on the track, one of them still poised from firing; a look on his face that showed the same level of disbelief that Cameron himself was feeling.

A quick scan around the room confirmed a chilling thought; "it's all of them."

And indeed it was; what seemed like tens and tens of these wooden monsters were stating to attack the vehicles. To make matters worse the ride was made to be a 360 degree shooting galley; now it meant they were all being attacked from every angle, including above.

Cameron grabbed both the guns on the front of his vehicle and started shooting at anything that moved. There were crablike monsters, snakelike monsters, ones with 3 heads, some crawled, some flew; thankfully they all disintegrated with a direct hit from the laser blasters.

He returned the favour to the teenagers in the vehicle behind, a monster had latched onto the back of their vehicle without them knowing, it had been about to swipe at them when Cameron saw it; he fired.

Lights continued to flash all around the room as the battle raged on. The other guests in the vehicles around Cameron had realised the same as he had and were shooting at the oncoming creatures. Shooting at any of the static objects for points had become a moot point; most people were shooting purely for survival. Cameron never actually saw a monster make contact with any of the passengers, there had been some close ones but they were all picked off before managing to strike; he was glad for small mercies.

His vehicle went though the archway and into the next room. Cameron checked the sides and back of his vehicle; he didn't want any unexpected hitchhikers. In front of him was Zurg, manipulating the controls of his spaceship; but while Zurg himself was rather terrifying the passengers seemed in little danger from him and they rode past. Some tried to shoot him but it was of no affect, the lasers unable to pierce the hull of his ship.

Again, the vehicle went though an archway and into the Space Room tunnel that would lead to the final scenes of the ride. Cameron took a moment in the complete darkness to calm his nerves and try to rationalise what had just happened. Suddenly what was supposed to be a video projection of a space fight above him started, only there was no way that this was any ordinary video. It had depth and a natural look, and what’s more, Cameron could feel the heat every time there was an explosion; what they were witnessing seems as real as other cars on a road just in front of him. He saw the Hidden Mickey planet fly past him, he didn’t even care. With a final explosion and a sudden impact of heat on his face, Cameron watched as Zurg’s ship was hit and spiralled out of control just as the ride vehicle was about to exit the tunnel into the room ahead; he grabbed both guns ready for whatever was next.


Jonathan’s eyes widened as he watched Ray fall to the ground after Captain Barbossa had run him through with his sword and removed it. It had happened in seconds, nothing he could do. The sword dripped with blood as the Captain lifted the sword to Jonathan’s face.

“Put up yer white flag ye scurvy scum.”

Jonathan did the only thing he could think of; it had worked for Captain Jack Sparrow in the movies; it was worth a shot now with nothing else coming to mind.

“Look over there!” he shouted and pointed to nothing in particular behind where Barbossa stood.

It worked; all the pirates, not the brightest bunch, turned around to look. As soon as they did Jonathan ran as fast as he could away from the ride which formed a dead end and towards the main pathways that led to the rest of the park. A look behind alerted him to the fact he was being chased; a knife flying past his head and embedding itself into a tree only served to clarify that assumption.

Jonathan knew he couldn’t run into the main sections of the park, it would be too dangerous for the guests if these Pirates, whoever they are, kept throwing knives. They had probably killed Ray, the bastards, but it had been him they wanted; well, Captain Jack Sparrow anyway. “What is going on?” Jonathan thought as he ran, “the explosion we heard, and now this? It’s like they’re mimicking the story of the ride, plundering a settlement to get to Sparrow; or me".

“Where do I go?” Jonathan panicked, his determination for self preservation battling his need not to put others in danger by trying to get lost in a crowd.

Thankfully between the explosion and what had happened to Ray, most guests had either run away or taken shelter inside buildings, and those who hadn’t seen it themselves got the message pretty quickly and followed suit. Jonathan hoped no-one would try and get in the pirate’s way lest they suffer the same fate as his colleague. By the time Jonathan had escaped, even though it had only been maybe thirty seconds, the area of Adventureland had almost emptied out.

Then it came to him, the parade route starts from a gate between Adventureland and Frontierland. “The Ultildoors;” he said to himself, “they wont be able to follow me down there.”

Jonathan looked over his shoulder; he had a decent lead but not more than a few seconds. The entrance to the utilidors was not far away; his hand scrambled in the hidden pocket inside his elaborate costume for his staff identity card and as he approached the entrance he pulled it out, swiped it through the scanner on the wall and waited for the light to shine green to grant him access.

As he opened the door he glanced at the oncoming pirates, they were heading for him and were not far away, they would know exactly where he went. He ducked inside, pulled and held the door to until he was sure the magnetic locks had resealed. Not long after he felt the door lock into place, he heard the first bangs on the outside and the voices of the pirates as they tried to gain access but could not.

Jonathan allowed himself the shortest of seconds to regain his breath and composure; he was holding himself together but barely. It had been a risk using the entrance to the utilidor, if his pursuers were cast members, not that he believed they could be, they would be able to follow him and he would have lost his distance advantage. Satisfied that they wouldn’t be following him, he headed down the stairs to the ground level of the park as quickly as he could, his legs tired from the run, trembling in fear. At the bottom he was able to use one of the wall telecom units in order to call for help; just maybe Ray could be saved, Jonathan wasn’t able to clarify one way or the other before having to escape. He pressed the intercom button.

“This is Jonathan Rose to anyone who can hear me. I’ve heard an explosion coming from Frontierland and have been attacked by men dressed to appear like the characters from Pirates of the Caribbean. They have already attacked one cast member who I believe possibly to have been killed outside the attraction and are currently located at the entrance to the utilidors between Adventureland and Frontierland. Help me someone please.”

“This is control;” came a frantic reply, “we’ve got all hell breaking loose; we will get a medical team to Adventureland as soon as possible but we have incidents all over the park and shit happening that cannot be real. If you can help the cast member in any way, please do so.”

The connection went dead.

“What is happening?” Jonathan thought to himself, the utilidors were deserted, usually you would be able to see or hear at least one other person even in the most remote areas. “I need to get to Ray,” he said to himself, “if there’s to be any chance for him, I have to get to him.”


Recovering from the flash themselves, Jennifer and Graham both turned towards Samantha as soon as they heard her cry of distress. They immediately saw her pointing towards her pony toy which dangled off the front of the boat, only being held in place by its legs straddling the very tip of the décor. Jennifer made a move towards retrieving it but it was too late, as the boat jerked forward and around the corner the pony fell off and headed for the floor below.

“Great!” Jennifer thought to herself expecting to see the Pony bounce off the mermaid lagoon floor 5 feet below any second; “we’ll have to ask a cast member to retrieve it once we get out the ride.”

But it didn’t bounce, it kept dropping and dropping, getting smaller and smaller the further it fell. Both Jennifer and Graham watched in confusion as it continued to drop and then as if to enforce the impossible sight they were seeing, the mermaids on the rocks seeing the falling pony dived into the water and swam away just before the pony finally hit the water with a splash.

“Did you just see what I saw?” Graham said in disbelief.

“If you saw what I saw then we’ve spent too much time in the sun this morning.”

“Pony fell in the water!” Samantha screamed, confirming what both her parents had thought they’d seen but neither wanted to say.

The boat continued to fly around the mermaid lagoon and onto the Indian village, where again, the parents were left stunned. The Indians, Tiger Lilly included, were not just posed or making basic movements; instead they were dancing around the camp fire with full movement, their fire burning bright, sending smoke into the air, and singing.

The boat lurched around another corner and the family found themselves flying through Captain Hook’s boat, Wendy and the boys fighting the captors while on the mainsail Peter Pan and Captain Hook duelled in a sword fight. Pan and Hook were going at it tooth and nail, and as the Roberts’ vehicle sailed underneath there was a sudden jolt as extra weight landed on the back.

Peter Pan had jumped off the mainsail to avoid a swipe of Hook’s sword landing directly on the back of the vehicle. Hook followed him down plunging his sword as he dived at his nemesis; but Peter moved, deflecting the sword from his body using his own knife. The deflected sword pinged from the contact, only barely missing Graham, who had turned as the boat jolted from the weight hitting it from above. Samantha and Jennifer both screamed as they saw Hook’s sword plunge past Graham in the back of the boat and into the family’s travel bag situated next to him. The bag ripped open from the attack, spilling nappies and baby changing supplies everywhere. Hook swiped at Peter again, this time Peter ducking and letting the sword whiz over his head; and again only for Peter to jump the attack. As Peter landed the boat tipped backwards a little the weight becoming too much for it to carry; the girls screamed again, Jennifer holding Samantha tight.

Graham had an idea, he grabbed his camera from around his neck and turned it on giving it a second to power up. He waited for Peter to have his back to him so he would be able to get a direct look at Hook’s face.

“Hook!” Graham shouted as he lifted his camera. Hook redirected his glare from Peter to Graham just behind him.


Hooked reeled backwards from the light bulb going off in his face, Peter saw his opportunity and sent Hook plunging from the boat falling into the sea below. Peter turned around and gave the family a smile as he jumped off the boat and onto Hook’s ship just before the family’s vehicles turned the last corner of the room and sailed into the next.

Graham turned to his family; Samantha had tears on her face but she wasn’t crying, she just seemed a little startled, Jennifer was more concerned for Samantha than herself who she still held tight; none of them had a clue what or how they had just witnessed what they were all sure they had just witnessed.

“Are you ok?” Graham asked. Jennifer just nodded as she kissed their daughter on the forehead and whispered words of encouragement to her.

The boat flew into the final room where they were greeted by the sight of Peter, Wendy and the boys standing on Captain Hook’s ship victorious; Peter even shouted his thanks to Graham for helping him to defeat Hook. The family were in too much shock for the gratitude to mean anything. As they turned around the corner of the ship Graham had the sudden thought of what was next.

“Jenny, cover Sammy’s eyes;” he said in a careful whisper. Jennifer didn’t question why, she gently turned Samantha’s head into her chest and held her tight effectively blocking her view in the cuddle.

Graham’s thoughts had been correct. The end of the ride was supposed to be a comical moment with Captain Hook saving himself from Tick-Tock the crocodile by having a foot on either jaw prying them open and calling for Smee to help him. The sight that greeted the boat as they passed overhead wasn’t so comical; some of Hook was left, an arm, some torso; but the crocodile had taken care of most of the body and enjoying every bite.

Alvin had killed the speed of the boat as soon as he realised it was off the track, the boat drifted a little, situated between the last scene and the next although out of sight of both. He had explained to the guests he was having a slight technical difficulty and they seemed to be ok; thankfully they were nicely shaded by the trees so the heat wasn’t too bad. Alvin gave the boat a little speed and tested the steering; amazingly it seemed to work, it shouldn’t but did.

As he looked up, past the end of his own boat he saw the next boat approaching; he decided it would be best to wait for it to approach and see if the other skipper had any advice; worst case scenario the other skipper may have an idea what to do, Alvin had tried to contact control on the walkie talkies and gotten no reply.

The other boat slowed as it neared, it didn’t take long for Alvin to notice it too wasn’t on the usual path; “two boats come off the track?” he thought to himself; surely that can’t be. The other boat came right up close to Alvin’s boat and the two skippers leaned close to communicate without everyone hearing. “I’m off the track and not getting any response from control.”

“Me too;” Skipper Bob replied, “I got a blinding reflection and then realised I was off the track but the boat seems to be steering for real so I thought it best to just continue and get back to the docks; haven’t been telling as many jokes though.”

“You got a blinding reflection too? So did I just before I realised the same thing.”

“Really? That’s a little freaky.”

“Did you try and contact control?”

“Yep, nada; something is definitely not right here. Are they upgrading the scenes at all?”

“Not that I know of; why?”

 “I just back from vacation and this is my first time around the river today. But I was about to use the sleeping zebra line when I noticed that lions were actually eating the zebra.”

“The lions are always eating the zebra.”

“No, Al, I mean they were eating the zebra; ripping, blood, the lot.”

“That can’t be, I’ve been around over a dozen times today and didn’t notice anything different.”

“So I don’t suppose the explorers up a pole were more animated and screaming with moving mouths either?”

The comment made Alvin laugh.

“Oh this has got to be a wind up; good job Bobby, you got me.”

“Al, seriously, this is not a wind up.”


“We gotta get back to dock”


Both skippers returned to their boats controls to make announcement’s to their guests. If the boats were able to steer then getting to the docks shouldn’t be too difficult; they were already half way around the river course. Still, what Bob had said about the changes to the scenes both confused and worried Alvin; “he must be imagining things,” Alvin thought, “but with everything else that going on who knows.”

He took his microphone; “Ladies and Gentlemen; as I said before, we’re suffering some technical difficulties, it seems to be affecting the whole attraction and not just our boat. I’m afraid I’m going to have to take us straight back to the docks where hopefully we can get this sorted out as quickly as possible. To be on the safe side, I’m going to ask that everyone come sit in the middle seats of the boat and not use the outside edge seating.”

Alvin decided this would be best as passengers did have a habit of letting arms dangle over the side of the boat and he wasn’t too sure how good his steering would be. As soon as the guests had made the move to the other seats Alvin started to give the boat some power; he kept it very slow at first while he worked out the extremes of manoeuvring the vehicle.

With the other boat, the Senegal Sal, just behind Alvin steered his boat around the corner to where the hippopotamus pool would be. The track was laid out so that the boat would weave between the sunken models; the skippers would have to be very careful to match the same pattern or else they would be hitting one of them. He looked to the right where the first one should be; nothing. “This can’t be?” Alvin mattered under his breath. He looked to the left where the next ones should be bathing; this would be where he would normally say “Last week, they overturned six of our boats. Only five of them were mine though!” but again nothing.

Suddenly the boat jolted to the side, like it had been side swiped in a car accident and several of the female guests screamed. Alvin looked in that direction and there it was, a full size hippopotamus and it really was ramming the boat; and winning. The guests all scurried to the opposite side of the boat to get as much distance from the hippo as they could but this just made it easier for the boat to be tipped. The boat started to take on water, Alvin knew he had to do something but the only thing he could think of was to follow the normal storyline for this part of the attraction. “Real hippo; real gun?” he thought, “can’t hurt to try.”

He picked up his gun which was only a prop that would make a good but obviously fake sound effect; aimed; fired. He wasn’t expecting the recoil and he fell backwards into control panel. “What the hell is going on here?” he muttered; the guests all turning to look at him with a look of shock and terror on their faces. It had fired, the prop had actually fired live ammo; he didn’t know if he had hit or not, but the hippo retreated.

“We’ve got to get out of here.” Alvin announced to the guests. The Senegal Sal pulled up alongside and Bob motioned for the guests to cross from their boat to his which they started doing.

“Did you see that?” Alvin asked Bob; “the hippo attacked me, it really friggin attacked me!”

Bob didn’t have time to answer though because before he could both skippers heard something they both feared; the war drums of the native village.


The bride in the attic had always been a part of the Haunted Mansion ride, but always very vague in storyline. Different people would tell different stories of who she was and why she haunted that space; stories were told about how she was murdered on her wedding night by her new husband, how she jumped out the window on her wedding night in a fit of madness, or how her husband had found her and her lover in the attic and killed him; hence her glowing heart. A metal post, that had once been fixed in cement outside the attraction and later removed by being sawn at the point of protrusion, had left a visible metal ring in the ground. Folklore had it that it was the bride's ring tossed out of the attic window, in front of which it was situated, and that it had melted the ground on which it fell. Even cast members would claim it to be a part of the Mansion's story when giving tours; although it never officially was.

But now the bride did have a definitive back-story and she definitely wasn't the victim this time. Now she was Constance, the bloody bride who married six men for their money before beheading them with her axe. Surrounding her would be the portraits of her dead husbands and their wedding cakes as she would gloat about getting everything she wanted and always getting away with the murders.

Mike knew there were three main things to look out for while passing her. Firstly her wedding ring would sparkle, secondly the axe would appear in her hands and finally all the heads of her previous husbands would disappear in the portraits.

As he approached he could see the decoration around her and a side glance of her dress that shone in the simulated moonlight coming from the attic window. However, his attention was suddenly taken away from her when he realised his own wedding ring was sparkling much the way he had expected to see Constance’s react. Mike chuckled to himself, “must be something in the lighting that reacts with gold,” he thought when a sudden movement claimed his attention and he looked up.

Standing in front of his doom buggy, axe in hand, stood Constance. “no-one mentioned that she now moved;” Mike thought looking at the beauty of the bride in front of him, how real she now looked now her face was internally projected; but then her face turned from one of beauty to one of rage and her eyes burned with fury.

“Till death do us part…” she said as she lifted the axe.

“I do…I did…”

Mike’s last thoughts were of his wife Stacy as he watched the axe swing towards his head.

...........To Be Continued

Friday, 16 March 2012

WDW 2012 - Let The Planning Begin

Yay!! It’s that time of the year again!! We are 7 months away from the next trip to Walt Disney World and thus it is time to start planning so that we are all ready to book restaurants when our 180 day window opens.
Now usually, while complex, there is usually a pattern and standardisation to what and how we plan our trip; but this time is different. And that difference is Gage; or in this case, lack thereof. For Tara and I, this will be our first trip to WDW without Gage since 1999 which was before we really appreciated all that there is to do at the parks. So for us, this will be a chance to do things that we normally wouldn’t; be it eat at restaurants we normally wouldn’t (due to his picky eating; yes he has had just a plate of fries at Le Cellier and a plate of rice at Teppen Edo before), go to places that are 18 or over that we couldn’t, or just burn the midnight oil a bit because we don’t have someone who wants to go to bed and is literally falling asleep on us (as long as I keep Tara loaded up on Redbull). While we will obviously be missing our Gagey, this is going to be a great trying new things experience.

Also to complicate things a little, this time of the year has both the Epcot Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties in full swing, so extra planning will need to be built in to allow us to not only enjoy both of those, but also work around the Magic Kingdom being closed most nights. We are staying at the Contemporary and have free Disney Dining Plan (which I wasn’t going to pay for this time), so that also incentivises us to use the credits as much as possible.

So what is on our list this time?

Well, restaurant wise, we want to try both California Grill and Artist Point for dinners; Pecos Bills for lunch and Kona Café for breakfast; these will all be new experiences. The two dinner choices are both places that would be a nice meal for two that Gage wouldn’t really appreciate. As we are staying at the Contemporary, eating at the Cali Grill seems natural and we plan to match it up with the fireworks viewing; although not sure it will be Wishes or Hallowishes that we see (not that it matters). We usually visit the Wilderness Lodge on each trip, but usually for the Whispering Canyon Café; it will be nice to try something different there. I may have eaten at Pecos Bills during a visit pre-1999, but I do not remember doing so (we usually ended up at the Village Haus); so that is mostly just because we can eat there on this trip as Gage wont eat a burger but Tara and I love a good one. And Kona for breakfast is a matter of ease as we will be on the monorail resort loop which means we can finally try Tonga Toast (although it may be a little too cinnamon-y for me).

Another big question will be whether the Be Out Guest restaurant will be open by that time as the date for that part of Fantasyland is still slated as “late 2012”. We may need to make an unfortunate cut at a later date if we want to make it a table service meal or just experience the counter service this time and build it in for the next trip (although that may not be until 2014)

Other first time experiences on our list include closing the Magic Kingdom as we have never gotten to see the Goodnight Kiss; and this time hope to at the end of the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on Halloween night. We also want to see the later Yehaa Bob show at the River Roost as we so enjoyed the earlier show on a couple of occasions last time but were never able to stay out for the second set. And at last there is a night at JellyRolls on the cards as that is somewhere we have wanted to try for years but obviously couldn’t with Gage. I have long been a fan of duelling piano bars since discovering Howl At The Moon while travelling the USA in 97; so I am really looking forward to this. Our last new experience will be to partake in the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom which looks awesome and gives us a reason to visit AK other than for autographs and the Yak & Yeti.

And then of course there will be all the new things in the park that have or will have come about since our last visit in August ’11. There is actually a lot more than usual this time, as a good portion of “New” Fantasyland should be open to some level by then so we can check that out. Kim Possible will have changed to Agent P by that time so we will probably play that while we are experiencing Food & Wine. Test Track may have undergone its changes so we will see what they do there. And Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom will be played, so I am going to have to build a bit more Magic Kingdom time into the schedule to play that (which is again complicated by the MK closing for parties in the evenings).

A few old favourite restaurants will also be sneaking in, the Yak & Yeti, Prime Time 50s Café and Chef Mickeys are all bound to end up on the final plan and I wouldn’t mind giving Ohana another go for dinner as we were too tired to enjoy it the last time we ate there. We have also shortlisted Hoop De Doo as something we could try for a first time, and I would like to experience the Hollywood Brown Derby as well; but we will have to see how everything works out.

So, that’s our current situation, a lot of wants and ideas and no plan as of yet of how to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit; that’s the next challenge and I’ll let you know how we get on later.

Speak Soon :)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

DisneyQ - Part Five

DisneyQ is a Disney/Star Trek crossover novel that I wrote in 2008.

If you missed Part One, and all the explanation as to why I wrote it, you can find it here
And then you can find Part Two here, Part Three here and Part Four here.

Here's Part Five

Chapter Ten

Mike Ridgway was in awe; everything had been perfect so far.

He was in his doombuggy and was just reaching the top of what used to be called the Grand Staircase but was now being referred to as the Escher room; a 3D recreation of the famous picture where staircases led in all directions with no discernable bearing.

He had managed to time things just right in the end; Pirates and a trip on the Jungle Cruise, with skipper Chuck, had been fun and he had returned to Liberty Square just as they were starting to let people onto the Haunted Mansion grounds. He kept his fast pass in his pocket deciding he wouldn't have to line up anyway, "May as well keep it and ride a second time;" he thought knowing that by the time he came out the line would be much longer.

The stretching room looked fantastic, the wood redone, the paintings touched up and the Dorian Gray morphing picture completely redone using newer technology. And the new sound system was amazing; creaking sound effects added to the walls and Paul Frees’ original recording never sounded so crisp; now being played through sixty four speakers it floated around the room.

Mike was the last of his stretching room group to board the doombuggies as he had lingered after the doors had opened in order to hear the gargoyles speak, most people didn't even realise this little bonus existed; and then he had taken his time walking through the newly decorated loading area. He wanted to have a doombuggy to himself, as he didn't want to risk sharing a vehicle with someone who might ruin the ride, so he made sure the last of his group had boarded before he approached the entry platform. He had actually managed to build a buffer of four buggys between himself and the last people to board; “great”, he thought, “I won’t even be able to hear them.”

As he reached the top of the Escher room he was greeted by the new blinking eyes all around which as the light slowly came up just enough to see the details sunk into the pre-existing wallpaper that lined the Endless Hallway, which led into the conservatory and the Corridor of Doors. Mike was amazed, the details and improvements were there but they were so subtle and in keeping with the original ride that while they enhanced the experience immensely nothing looked out of place and the new elements didn’t make the old elements seem dated.

“No wonder the net is going crazy over what they’ve done;” Mike thought, “this is how a refurb should be.”

The next room was one that Mike had been really waiting for; the semi circular Séance Circle acted as the turning point of the ride where Madame Leota summons the ghosts and ghouls of the house to make themselves appear; until this point in the ride you never actually saw any apparitions. The effect used here had been in place in Disneyland for years and was the most demanded effect to be brought into the refurbished attraction by the fans online. No longer did the crystal ball, which contained Leota’s head, sit in the middle of the table; now it floated around the middle of the room sweeping up and down and from side to side, while the table, candlesticks and instruments around the room also floated and gently moved around it.

Mike couldn’t help the huge grin across his face, he was thoroughly happy with everything he saw. However as he neared the end of the Séance Circle, the largest single area in the ride because of the way it loops around one big stage area, there was a very bright flash of light.

“Bloody idiots using their flash on dark rides!” Mike thought; obviously the next group of people from the stretch room elevator were closer behind him than he thought.

However, his annoyance at the flash was soon overshadowed as he entered the balcony overlooking the Grand Ballroom. He had heard that the Peppers Ghost effect had been enhanced using directional lighting but he wouldn't have believed the difference it made without seeing it with his own eyes. The ghosts enjoying the banquet below looked positively alive, their colours vibrant, their movement so smooth; they looked like they were actually moving creatures, not just reflected spinning mannequins.

As he neared the end of the balcony his doombuggy turned; Mike knew what this meant; the attic was next and his date with Constance, the bloody bride.


Philippe Picard had found it to be a pretty normal day so far. The sun was hot but not totally unbearable; there had been a constant flow of guests into the ride and a few minor breakdowns but nothing that had caused any problems.

There was a flash of light, nothing blinding but there, he figured it must have been the sun reflecting off something metal someone was wearing that had caught him in the eyes. Philippe blinked which cleared his vision but as he looked around the panoramic view in front of him he saw something that could only be described as bizarre.

From where he stood at the foot of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasyland was across the Rivers of America, the expanse of water which separated Frontierland and Liberty Square, and just a little further out of sight. Over the tree tops and buildings, which blocked the view so guests couldn't see one land while in another, he saw the silhouettes of the Dumbo elephants flying through the air. "They shouldn’t be that high," Philippe thought to himself; "they couldn’t be that high," he corrected himself. What's more, from his viewpoint they didn't appear to be attached to the cylindrical drum that drove the attraction. Philippe rubbed his eyes again thinking the flash of light must have been making him see things, but when he reopened them they were still there; “something is very wrong here;” he muttered under his breath.

And as he said those words his ears were assaulted by the loudest crashing sound he had ever heard; his first thought was that a bomb had gone off. He frantically looked around in an attempt to identify the problem and when he turned around he saw a sight that made his knees almost give way under him. The tallest mountain that formed the Thunder Mesa mountain range, the final rollercoaster lift hill of the attraction, wasn’t there; all he could see was rubble, smoke and dust. That part of the ride was made to simulate a cave in, but it was just a few moving boulders on hydraulics accompanied by sound and lighting effects, it couldn’t actually happen; but what he saw in front of him contradicted that.


Cameron had made good progress so far, he had acquired the two photographs at the Indy Speedway, he had then gotten another at the Astro Orbiter, another on the TTA and four in the final scene of the Carousel of Progress. His next step was Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin for which he had just joined the line. Unlike the Indy Speedway and Astro Orbiter where Cameron could get his photo’s without actually partaking in the attraction, this one he would have to ride to get his prize. He also couldn’t Fast Pass the attraction because of the eight Hidden Mickeys on the ride, two appeared in the line itself.

Cameron hated this attraction; to him it emphasised some of the worst Imagineering in the park, and worse yet, it had been introduced into his precious Disneyland as well some years later. They hadn’t even bothered to create a new ride system or track for the attraction, the vehicles were of a standard omnimover style and moved along the exact same track that had been in that building since If You Had Wings first opened in 1972. Anyone who had ridden the original ride enough times would still be able to recognise the rooms and tell you what used to be there. In fact, in Cameron’s opinion, all they had done when making this the Buzz Lightyear attraction was paint the entire place black, throw in some lighting effects, a few basic large models, some basic 2D painted plywood pieces with targets on them; and then create a buggy with laser guns that could tally the target hits using a pretty basic laser feedback technology. To Cameron, the only impressive part of the entire attraction was the Buzz Lightyear animatronic in the queue area which was, and continued to be, one of the most sophisticated animatronics ever designed with a backwards projected face and a stunning range of movement.

Finally the line moved far enough for Cameron to capture his first Hidden Mickey. It was on a map of the local universe, disguised as a continent of a planet; a beautiful side profile of Mickeys entire head, nose, chin and ears protruding. Cameron took both close up and long shots of the Hidden Mickey and then made the appropriate amendments to his PDA file. But he didn’t have long to wait until he reached the line’s second Hidden Mickey, another planet this time made up of green spheres, 3 of them forming the head and ears. Again Cameron took the pictures and made the appropriate changes to his PDA file.

Eventually Cameron made it to the ride vehicle boarding bay; he requested a vehicle to himself and got his camera ready; making the necessary adjustments to best capture the picture in the dark. He didn’t even bother reaching for his laser gun, he wasn’t going to play along. He turned his vehicle forty five degrees to the left, knowing that his first Hidden Mickey would be on his left hand side in the battery room; he decided not to turn his vehicle completely as he wanted to be able to see it coming.

“There it is;” he thought as he saw it, his camera was already turned on and waiting, flash charged. He took the long shot while still at a little distance; then he zoomed straight in framing the Mickey shape in the middle of his screen and waiting for the right moment. As he reached his closest point to the design he pressed the button and got his picture.

The next Hidden Mickey wouldn’t be until the Space Video room; Cameron sat back and went over the locations of the final two during the ride in his mind so he would be ready; in both cases they would be the planet seen in the earlier maps again, only this time in “real” form that he would be flying past. The remaining Hidden Mickeys would all be in the post show area. Cameron didn’t know what he hated about this ride more, it’s tackiness, cheapness, relation to computer games or just that despite all that, it was one of the most popular rides worldwide. He entered one of the lightening sequences between rooms where a strobe light was flashing; flash, flash, flash, FLASH.

“Damn, that last one was bright;” Cameron thought to himself, he wasn’t even looking up but it got his attention.

He felt his vehicle shake and he looked up, there was a monster, one of the ones from the ride with the target on his chest, on the front of his vehicle and it was climbing towards him, its mouth moving, arms waving, eyes blinking. It was still a 2D piece of wood but there was no doubt about it, it was animated in a way that he had never seen and couldn’t be possible; it was almost like it was alive, and it was attacking him.


“Try it now” Manny called out to Phil who was in the control room just off the main show theatre. Manny was on the main stage and had finally made the adjustments he hoped would allow the show to be opened to the public. Today’s problem with the show mechanics had been quite serious, normally it was something far less complex; Manny was annoyed the attraction had been down for almost half the day.

He saw the mechanics start to move, Phil having initiated the sequence from the other room. The curtain to the side of the main stage started to open to reveal Big Al, the largest and in this case the malfunctioning animatronic bear in the show. The soundtrack wasn’t playing, but that didn’t stop Manny from singing along as the bear twanged his guitar string and moved his head and lips.

“There was…” Many sung; “blood on the saddle. And Blood all around. And a great, big puddle of blood on the ground.”

The curtains shut and Manny smiled; Big Al was fixed.

“We’re good,” Manny called out to Phil; “run the finale with sound just to make sure.”

Manny moved just off the stage as he saw all the mechanisms kick in that would bring all the bears from the show onto the stage at the same time. The music hit and the bears all started moving as programmed running through the routine without issue. “Fixed for another day” Manny muttered to himself.

“Everything look ok from in there?” He called out; knowing Phil would be watching all the monitors himself as well as checking the various readouts.

“Yep, we’re ok in here boss.”

Manny turned to where Big Al was situated, he wanted to make sure that animatronic made it through to the end without getting stuck in a movement loop; the problem he hoped to have fixed. Suddenly there was a bright flash of light. Manny blinked but recovered quickly, concerned that there had been a spark of some sort close to his face. He looked around, no bright lights, no fires; then the thought hit him; “no music”.

“What was that?” he called out.

“Don’t know boss, bright light got me right in the eyes.”

For the first time since the flash of light, Manny’s eyes focused on the bears in detail. They weren’t moving in their usual manner, they weren’t even standing normally and they had all dropped their instruments. Their eyes looked wider, their mouths looked to be snarling; “do I hear growling?” he thought to himself.

The thought, or at least any reaction to it, came too late.

Phil was still blinking to clear his eyes of the after effects of the flash of light. He looked at the monitors in front of him; and gasped. He had looked just in time to see Big Al, jump from his podium directly for Manny, swiping his paws at the same time. Henry wasn’t far behind him and as Phil watches in horror, all of the bears made their way down from the stage; some attacking Manny, some ripping at the chairs and the set pieces. Phil thought he was going to be sick, he saw the Sun Bonnet Trio all grab one of Manny’s limbs and start pulling in different directions; fighting over his body.

Finally a scream escaped his body and as soon as it did, he knew he had made a mistake. Wendell and Earnest took notice of the sound and as Phil could see from the monitors were heading towards the room that he was in. Phil panicked, he looked at the door that separated the control room he occupied and the main theatre; “it’s still open!” he realised. He rushed over to it, he could see the bears coming towards it and they sped up, they must have seen him. He slammed the door shut and flipped the locking mechanism. He then bolted for the emergency exit at the other side of the room that would lead directly to the outside of the building. He smashed into the emergency release bar, the door flung open. Phil ran and ran and ran not noticing that the door hadn’t shut behind him.


“We’re in the front!” Tiffani boasted to the others in their group as they waited by the gate for their rocket to arrive.

The pair of girls, having experienced Stitch’s Great Escape, had met up with their group of friends outside Space Mountain and after getting drinks were now ready to travel through the cosmos.

There were nine of them in total; an eclectic mix of backgrounds and personalities brought together by a shared love of Disney. Four of them lived in Celebration and went to the same school, while the other five had been originally brought into the group as friends of one of them; but they soon become part of the gang.

Tomorrow would be Shyla's birthday, so, as was tradition in their little group, today they would do all her favourite rides; starting with this one. Standing with Tiffani were Casey and the birthday girl Shayla. In the back half of the rocket would be Robby, Erica and Scott; Jared, Kisara and Jenai would follow in the next rocket.

The empty rocket pulled up in front of them and the six of them all took their seats.

"You know they've finally scheduled the mountain for refurbishment next year?" Casey said from the middle seat.

"Really?" Came the reply from Tiffani behind her.

"Yep, they've already got the closed signs backstage; April to December next year."

"Nine months!?" Shayla cut in from the front; "they're closing the mountain for most the year."

"That's gotta be one hell of a refurb to take that long." theorised Casey.

"Maybe we're gonna get the fast launch like they have in Paris;" suggested Tiffani, "that would be so much better than the slow lift hill."

"That would be very cool;" agreed Shayla "but seriously; nine months?"

With an air pressure noise the rocket started to trundle forwards to where it would turn and leave the lit waiting area and be plunged into darkness.

"Happy Birthday Shayla!" called either Robby or Scott from the back rocket; she couldn't be sure.

"Thank you!" she shouted back.

The rocket pulled into launch tunnel where it came to a standstill; the anticipation of the take off. The light show began; rows of lights flashing faster and faster to simulate accumulated speed. One of the flashes seemed especially bright but was lost in the strobe effect.

A loud countdown began;



"When did they put in a countdown?" Shyla asked.


"First time I've seen it." Casey replied.


"Maybe they've started testing ideas already." Tiffani proposed.



Jonathan Rose was just finishing taking photos with his second audience of the day. If had been a large audience and so taking pictures and signing autographs was taking a long time.

"This is going to be a short break;" Jonathan thought, but he didn't really mind; he didn't usually try and eat a meal until after the third show.

The last family approached Jonathan, and Ray, as he often would when it was larger groups, spoke up.

"Captain," he said in his best pirate voice, "would you be liking me to take a group photo of yew new crew?"

"Grand idea Mac," Jonathan replied, "relieve that man of his camera and throw him over here with the rest of his lot."

The family members laughed as Mac threatened their father until he handed over the camera. Mac readied himself as the family posed with Captain Jack Sparrow.

"Say dabloom;" Ray Called out.

"DABLOOM!" they all shouted.    


Jonathan blinked out of instinct; for broad daylight that camera had an extremely powerful flash.

The family said their goodbyes and Jonathan and Ray wished then on their way and said goodbye to the crowd that still remained just to watch; they had come up with various routines over the months to end the show.

But, just as they were about to nip down the alley that would take them backstage, a huge bellowing voice came from the exit to the show building accompanied by interest from those who could see the source.

"It's Captain Jack Sparrow we're after, and a fortune in gold!" said the voice.

Jonathan and Ray both turned towards the voice and were quite stunned at what they saw. Walking out of the building came the best look a like Captain Barbossa they had ever seen, it could have been Geoffrey Rush himself and he sounded perfect too. Surrounding him were numerous pirates who all looked exactly like those from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. These were either a group of very keen fans who had gone to great expense or they had been hired as face characters and no-one had told them.

“Captain,” Ray said keeping in character, “did you know anything about th..”

A huge crashing noise came from the direction of Frontierland. The careful placing of buildings and trees meant that they couldn’t see what had happened, but a noise that loud couldn’t be good. The pair turned back towards Captain Barbossa and his apparent crew, as they approached them and Jonathan decided in light of the noise they should break character; if something had happened their main concern would be crowd control and safety.

“Are you guests or cast members?” Jonathan asked as he approached.

"Strike yer colours, yeh bloomin' cockroaches! Surrender Jack Sparrow." Captain Barbossa replied, again sounding exactly like the recording used for the ride animatronic of the same character.

“This is no time to play about;” Ray interjected, “something’s happened in Frontierland and we need…”

For the second time in short succession Ray was cut off mid sentence. This time, however, it wasn’t because of a large explosion, as it had been last time; this time was because he was suddenly aware of the sword penetrating his chest and the life draining from his body.


Dumbo had been great fun; it always was. To visitors without children an up to two hour wait time for an attraction so basic would often sound like madness; but parents with children knew why it was worth the wait.

As it was, they only waited in line for forty five minutes. Jennifer and Samantha had ridden or Dumbo wearing a blue hat and Graham rode in front. They had found out a long time ago that to get the best pictures on the ride the person with the camera should go in the carriage in front, fly a little bit higher than the intended target and lean around; they came out a lot better than any pictures from the ground ever did. Graham loved taking these pictures, Jennifer and Samantha both looked so happy as they rode together, Jennifer with her arms around Samantha; both with big grins on their faces.

Before riding Dumbo, Graham had picked up the Peter Pan fast passes so the three of them were currently in the special line heading for their boat. Peter Pan was one of their favourite rides as a family; it would be rode several times during the weekend. Having been operational since the park opened in 1971, it was a ride that Jennifer remembered loving as a child and so even though it was technically very basic and lacked excitement for adults, it was a ride that she cherished; even more so now that she could see the expression on Samantha’s face as they made their way through scenes from the famous story.

“Who do you want to ride in the front with you Sammy?” Graham asked looking down at her.

“Pony;” came the reply

Her parents laughed at the answer; Pony was the obvious choice of course, but the way she had said it had been so cute they couldn’t help but find it adorable.

“Daddy or Momma?” Jennifer asked.

“Err, Momma!” she answered.

“You’re up;” Graham said to Jennifer as they got in the right places to enter the boat. It didn’t bother either of them who she chose; there would be plenty of opportunities for both of them throughout the weekend to sit with her. They got into their boat, they got a pirate one, Graham taking the bags into the spare space at the back of the boat; Jennifer and Samantha getting comfortable in the front. With a small lurch the boat moved off, the vehicle running along a track above them attached by the mast so that the scenes could surround the vehicle below to give the illusion of flying above.

The first room was Wendy and the boy’s bedroom, a sprinkle of pixie dust and they sailed straight out the window and into the night sky.

“Nana!” Samantha called out pointing to the animatronic of the barking dog as they flew above her.

From there they flew over London, following the Thames as they circled around Big Ben and passed over Tower Bridge before flying into the stars and past the moon. They entered the next room of the attraction, through a hole in the top half of a wall made to look like flying through stars and so you could no longer see the London cityscape behind you, and in the distance was Neverland up to which they flew.

“Fire Mr Smee!” rang out, coming from the pirate ship off the shores of Neverland, the cannon lit up and a booming noise rang out.

“Fire Mr Smee!” came the shout again, again followed by the light and the noise

“They always have had that loop running too fast;” Jennifer thought to herself.

“Fire Mr Smee!” a third time rang out only this time as the boom noise was accompanied by a stunningly bright flash.

Samantha screamed as the light caught her in the eyes. She brought her hands up to her face to shield her eyes. As she did so she realised what she had done but by then it was too late.

“Pony!” she cried out.


Alvin, today known a Skipper Chuck, had just started another cycle of the ride on the Amazon Annie. His array of passengers seemed quite diverse, a few families, a few teenagers and a few middle aged couples; from the look of it, maybe thirty in total. He directed the speed of the boat while he went through his spiel, he was getting a good few laughs at even his most cheesiest of lines and was enjoying himself seeing just how cheesy he could get.

“We've now turned down the Nile river, the longest river in all of Orlando. That's right; a whole 200 feet;” a few laughs. “and if you don't believe that, you must be in denial.”

A few more laughs at the play on words.

“On the left bank there,” he said, pointing to the bank; “it's a huge bull elephant. The large sloping forehead and enormous ears mark the African bull, the second most feared animal in the jungle;” Alvin waited to see people nodding as if they were learning, “and on the other bank, THE most feared animal in the jungle; his mother-in-law.”

A few claps; Alvin was beginning to like this group of guests even more. He pushed the lever to speed the boat up to almost it’s maximum speed, a whopping two miles per hour; turning the wheel when he knew the boat would change course around the next bend. Remembering to turn the wheel was actually the hardest part of operating the vehicle as it wasn’t necessary; it was pure illusion with no actual objective.

As they turned the corner the animals on the banks came into view, Alvin continued his witty commentary as he pointed to the herd of zebras.

“How do you tell the difference between the male and female Zebras? The males have black and white stripes and the females have white and black stripes.”

Again there were a few chuckles from around the front of the boat. As the boat continued on to the end of the scene, Alvin pointed to the pack of lions who had surrounded their zebra prey on the rocks.

“Ohhh, don't worry kids. Those lions are only protecting that sleeping Zebra. Look! It's Simba and Nala from The Lion King!”

“Everybody; can you feel the love tonight…” As per usual, no one sang along, but there was a good laugh reaction.

Again the boat turned, this time to the right, where they were greeted by three safari explorers climbing up a tree to escape a chasing rhino whose tusk was mere inches from the bottom explorer’s backside.

“Hey I know that guy on the bottom, his name’s Juan. And it looks like that rhino is going to get a hole in Juan”

“Of course, it could be worse for those guys; they could be the Zebra”

He hit the speed a little, giving the boat enough power to seem like they were running from the animals and also to get around the next corner.

“We are now turning onto a pool of dangerous hippos, so please, sit still and don't rock the boat. These huge creatures are quite curious and could easily upset our boat. So please, don't do anything that might attract them!”

A flash of light caught Alvin in the eyes causing him to blink. He hated it when that happened; the sun would come through he trees at just the right angle, bounce off the water and if everything lined up perfectly would catch you right in the eyes with an almost blinding light. He took a second to recover and get a proper look in front of him at which point he realised the boat wasn’t in the usual position for this part of the river. “Odd;” he thought. He turned the wheel, more out of habit than anything else because the boat should be turning, and as soon as he did it started turning.

...........To Be Continued