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

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