Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Excerpt from A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World Vol 1: "An Architecture Lesson from Pirates of the Caribbean"


One of the best parts of writing the volumes of A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World is the research that I do. In college, I worked at the reference desk of the university library, helping students, community members, and professors on research, utilizing the databases, microfilms, microfiche, and stacks to find the information they needed for papers, essays, and monographs. It was a fascinating job and one that has definitely helped me in finding the information I needed to complete my first two volumes of my book.


However, through my research, I've learned the different layers of history that went into the attractions--things that Imagineers didn't have to include. While a teacher who went through four-and-a-half years of history instruction in college, there was a lot about different attractions' details that I was completely unaware of. Take, for example, Pirates of the Caribbean: I would not have known any different if the buildings in the attraction were simple stucco with red clay tile roofs. But Imagineers didn't stop there: they layered detail upon detail to ensure the accuracy and complete story immersion for guests aboard the attraction. This has created a deeper experience for me as a resort guest. Now, while I'm a total nerd (and not just a Disney or history nerd, either), I don't spend the tennish minutes aboard the ride vehicle drifting through the Caribbean waters saying to myself, "Hey, that's Spanish Gothic architecture!" or "What a lovely bellcote!" However, possessing an understanding of these things allows me to place myself in the specific space and time the attraction takes place, to, just for a few minutes, suspend my disbelief and fully enjoy the attraction.


Below, you'll find the first part of my chapter on Pirates of the Caribbean from A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World Vol. 1. My hope is that this will give you a feel for the level of depth and research that went into the writing of these books and will inspire you, if not to read what I've put together, to do some of your own research to enrich your experience at the Walt Disney World parks and resorts.


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“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!”
These nine words constitute one of the most popular attraction soundtracks for any Disney guest at four Disney resorts around the world. Guests board twenty-four passenger boats, sail through a series of caves, past a ship battling with a Spanish fort, and through a Caribbean town being ransacked, and eventually burned, by a rowdy group of flamboyantly dressed, earring-wearing, drunk, pirates speaking the stereotypical vocabulary of legends.

            The idea for a pirate-themed attraction began early in the developmental stages for Walt Disney’s first theme park, Disneyland, which opened in 1955. Due to the success of the Walt Disney Productions film, Treasure Island starring Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins and Robert Newton as Long John Silver in 1950, Walt decided he wanted some sort of attraction where guests could walk through a wax museum depicting pirates engaging in different roguish situations, such as ransacking a town. Because of the complexity and evolution of the attraction, the attraction did not open with the park in October of 1955. Shortly after the park’s opening to the public, Disney and his Imagineers began working on a series of pavilions for the 1964 New York World’s Fair for companies such as Pepsi, General Electric, and the state of Illinois (which would feature attractions such as ‘it’s a small world’, Carousel of Progress, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, respectively). Throughout this process, the Imagineers developed what became known as Audio Animatronics, a form of robotic figure that looked and behaved like a human, while at the same time, able to perform for hours on end. Disney decided quickly to evolve his wax museum pirate attraction into some sort of ride-through attraction with Audio Animatronic pirates, giving thousands of Disney guests the classic attraction that exists today.

But how accurate is this beloved attraction? Are the events, locations, and characters true to history or based heavily on the myths of Blackbeard, Davy Jones, and Long John Silver?

            The story behind Disney theme park attractions begins before guests even step foot into the attraction building. This is no different when guests approach the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park. Pirates of the Caribbean is located in Adventureland, one of seven themed “lands” or areas of Walt Disney World’s first theme park, which opened in 1971. On the border of where Adventureland and Frontierland meet stands the area once known as Caribbean Plaza, complete with light brown stucco buildings roofed with red clay shingles. However, the focal point of this area is the Pirates of the Caribbean show building, dominated by a tall clock tower. In 2006, shortly after the release of the film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, the ride was refurbished, featuring the addition of elements from the film. A mast featuring a black sail and the skeleton of a pirate was added to the front of the building, while a banner quoting some lyrics from the ride’s well-known soundtrack was painted on the building.

           

Exterior Architecture

The façade of the building is loosely based on El Castillo de San Juan del Morro, a Spanish fort that dominates the coastline of Puerto Rico just outside the capital of San Juan. Also known as El Castillo del Morro, the fort was built in 1539 by the Spanish conquerors of Puerto Rico and was used to protect the city of San Juan and its harbor from sea bound attackers. Over the next few hundred years, the fort and its walls were improved upon, adding thickness to the walls and, eventually, a lighthouse. The exterior architecture of the show building and the design of the buildings throughout the ride is consistent with the Gothic architecture of seventeenth and eighteenth century Spanish Caribbean colonies.

            While El Castillo del Morro is located on the island of Puerto Rico, the architecture on the exterior of the Pirates show building and that of the sets in each of the show scenes is most consistent with the Spanish colonial architecture found on the islands of Cuba and the Dominican Republic. For example, transverse mason arches are used throughout the façade and queue of the attraction. A transverse mason arch is an archway where blocks are arranged in an arch, running from one wall or column to another. The block at the tip of the arch is situated at a ninety-degree angle to the blocks adjacent to the columns or walls, with the blocks between the edges and tip are tilted at varying degrees.

            Another form of architecture that is featured in the attraction and consistent with Spanish colonial architecture during the 1700s is the nave arcade entryway. A nave arcade is a stretch of a room lined by columns linking arches. This architectural feature was often used to make a room appear larger than it truly was. The nave arcade architecture can be found in the open-air entrance of the attraction queue, leading up to the actual entrance of the building. Large columns hold up the ceiling, supporting arches, and leading up to the large double doors of the fortress.

            Also common in colonial Cuban architecture was the decorative roofing and roof lines. Many of the important buildings (such as churches, palaces, and other governmental buildings) had roofs with red clay shingles, which helped keep the interior of the buildings cool during hot days. Beneath the clay shingles were long timber rafters spaced a few feet apart. Both of these architectural features can be found on the exterior of the show building.

            Sitting just above the entrance to the open-air arcade of the queue, perched on the roof, is an aesthetic (and functional) feature known as a bellcote, or in Spanish, as an espadaña.  A bellcote was usually found on churches, missions, and forts, and could feature up to three large bells used to signal different events. The bellcote sitting atop the queue is not functional, of course, but rather elicits the colonial Spanish architectural feel of the attraction.

            The large clock tower that stands guard before the entrance of the queue is of distinctly colonial Dominican design. Rising to twenty feet and capped with a pyramidal prism, this rectangular tower was often used as a part of church and mission architecture during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These towers rarely had clocks in them, however, but instead housed large bells, similar to the bellcote, to signal parishioners and villagers of different events.


Interior Architecture

            The architecture of building facades throughout the ride are also consistent with designs being used throughout seventeenth, and eighteenth century Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Take, for example, the scene where guests first see the landing party dunking the mayor in the well, trying to find out the whereabouts of the town’s treasure and Jack Sparrow. The exterior of the buildings are made of a stucco material, consistent with architecture throughout the Caribbean during the Gothic period. The buildings are roofed with red clay tiles, which were used throughout Cuba. On the ground floor of the building behind the pirates dunking the mayor, arches crowned with transverse masonry are used once again. The windows of the building are recessed, and have sash shutters, which were prevalent with architecture throughout the Dominican Republic. An example of the evidence of sash shutters in this scene is where the brave wife of Carlos (the town mayor) leans out of the open window above the well and yells at her husband, “Be brave Carlos, don’t be cheekin!” Balconies stretch along the upper stories of the buildings, lined by metal banisters and railings, which was used in Puerto Rican architecture.

            A second example of Gothic architecture in the Spanish Caribbean colonies that is accurate throughout the attraction is the “Wench-for-a-Bride Auction” scene. Once again, guests find red clay tiles used for roofing behind the women waiting to be auctioned off. Sash shutters can be found covering the windows on the second floor of the buildings in this scene, as well. Across the canal from the auction sit various pirates, attempting to bid for the potential brides. Behind the pirates, once again, are transverse mason arches, stone blocks situated in a way to evenly distribute the weight and pressure of the heavy stone walls. Balconies with decorative metal railings found in Puerto Rico are used here, as well, with sash shutters covering the doorways opening onto the balconies.

            There are other architectural details that are historically accurate throughout the attraction. Covered walkways native to the Dominican Republic stretch through the town in the scene where the pirates are chasing chickens and being chased by rolling-pin-wielding women. Heavy, rectangular towers tipped with domes and supposedly housing bells, also native to the Dominican, sporadically rise behind buildings throughout the town. Sash shuttered windows, covered public walkways, balconies beneath overhanging eaves, red clay tiled roofs, and transverse mason arches can be found throughout the scene where the drunken pirates sing to the guests while the town burns to the ground around them.

            Whether it is the way arches are lined with stones set in a way to equally distribute the weight and pressure of the stucco walls, the wooden sash coverings over windows, the red clay tiles on the roofs, or the balconies that hang over the show scenes, the architecture throughout the interior of the attraction reflects historical accuracy of the Spanish Caribbean colonies during the Gothic period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


Queue and Loading

            The queue of Pirates of the Caribbean contains highly detailed scenery and set pieces that transport guests back in time. After passing through the open air nave arcade entryway of the attraction entrance, guests pass through heavy wooden double doors and into the Spanish fort. The queue is lit by small lanterns placed sporadically. While these lanterns are powered by electricity, during the seventeen hundreds, these passageways would be lit by candlelight and torches, creating a similar dimness throughout the halls. Due to modern fire safety laws, real fire torches and candlelight was not used to brighten these dark passageways.

            Not surprisingly, transverse mason archways are used throughout the passageways, keeping the architecture of the attraction consistent. The dark and dankness of the queue, while maintained by the modern use of dim lighting and air conditioning, creates the sense of being deep within the Spanish fort. In fact, during the Spanish colonial period, the Castillo del Morro had walls that were up to eighteen feet thick, preventing attackers from being able to blast cannon balls through the walls or easily dig their way through the walls and into the forts.

            Similar to medieval castles, different portions of forts had different uses. The queue winds its way through numerous rooms of the fort. One section that the line runs through is the armory. This room contains piles of cannon balls and numerous cannons. Some of the cannons are pointed out of holes in the walls to ward off invaders. Most armories would be deep within the fort and beneath ground level to prevent enemy fire from entering the room. If a cannon ball from enemy fire had entered the hole in the wall and landed amongst barrels of gun powder, the resulting explosion would have blown the entire room apart, exposing the interior of the fort to the outside and allowing invaders to enter the fort. However, colonial forts did have rooms similar to this near the exterior wall to repel invaders.

            Another portion of the fort that the queue passes through is the dungeon. This dungeon presents some historical inaccuracies. The first inaccuracy is its position in the fort. The dungeon is located adjacent to the exterior wall of the fort, where the queue “exits” the fort and into the “town” where guests load onto the ride vehicles. Dungeons would also be towards the middle of the fort and below ground level. If a dungeon was on the exterior wall, and a cannon ball crashed through the wall, it would create a hole allowing prisoners to escape. Also, a dungeon on the exterior wall would allow prisoners to escape through the windows of the cell, if the prisoner was lucky enough to saw through the iron bars over the windows. Another historical inaccuracy of the dungeon is the position of the prisoners within the cell. One of the well-known scenes of the queue is that of the prisoners’ skeletons seated at a chess board. Instead of allowing prisoners to move freely throughout the cell, prisoners would instead be chained to the walls, either hanging by their wrists or thumbs, their feet not touching the ground. However, to add humor to the attraction and in order to keep its family-friendly status that Disney is famous for, the attraction’s creators opted to place the skeletons at the famous, unwinnable chess board.

            Upon “exiting” the fort, guests find themselves in a small port town through which a canal runs inland. Because the main form of transportation of goods during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries involved shipping, towns would be located along rivers, streams, and canals. When goods were produced, they would be put onto canal boats, called bateaux (French for “boats”, bateau is singular form, pronounced “bah-toe”), and shipped toward the port, a small town located where the river meets the ocean. From there, the cargo would be unloaded from the smaller boat and onto a ship bound for the Americas, Europe, or other island colonies.

            A bateau was a shallow, flat-bottomed boat that is pointed at both ends. By making the boat shallow and flat-bottomed, colonists were able to load heavy cargo into the boats. Bateaux could also carry between one and twenty men, depending on the size of the boat. The average size of the bateau was approximately six feet in width and forty-five to sixty feet long, with an approximate depth of three feet. Bateaux were moved either by the rowing of occupants or by floating slowly on the river’s currents until anchored at a destination. Bateaux could also be used to carry travelers up- or down-river to explore, or in the case of pirates, to maraud and terrorize.

            Interestingly, the ride vehicles for the attraction are modified versions of bateaux. Comparing the historical bateau to the ride vehicles in Pirates of the Caribbean, we find many similarities and a few very minor differences. The ride vehicles are also shallow, flat-bottomed boats ending in a point at both ends. The ride vehicles are able to carry heavy loads of cargo (passengers). The ride vehicles are approximately six feet wide and are about thirty feet long, with a depth of about three feet. The ride vehicle bateaux also float with the current of the ride path. While historical bateaux could carry approximately twenty men, the ride vehicles can carry up to twenty-four passengers, with four passengers in each row.

            Immediately prior to loading on the ride vehicles, guests pass a cave, situated to their right. Guests can’t see deep into the cave, but rather can see flickering torchlight and hear the sounds of someone digging in the sand for treasure. This is also somewhat accurate. While burying treasure was not as prevalent as treasure being sunken in ships, there are historical records of some pirates burying their treasure. One example is that of the Puerto Rican pirate, Roberto Cofresí, who, after giving a portion of his treasure to the needy of his village and spending a portion of his own share, buried the rest in caves for safe keeping until his return.

            After boarding their bateaux ride vehicles, guests pass through a series of caves, through a “waterfall” from which Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest appears and warns the guests. Because the forts along the coasts of Spanish colonies were built high up on rocky cliffs, caves leading to underground rivers and harbors were real, but were a rare find.
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To read more about Pirates of the Caribbean and other Magic Kingdom attractions, pick up a copy of A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World Vol. 1 here!
Read about Spaceship Earth, Storybook Circus, the Country Bear Jamboree and more by picking up a copy of A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World Vol. 2 here!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Magic Kingdom At Night

Walt Disney World is a magical place. But Disney magic takes on a whole new meaning once the sun goes down.

This is not a post about Disney fireworks, castle projection shows, or nighttime parades. I'm going to be honest with you: I haven't watched a Magic Kingdom fireworks show since my age was in the single digits, I've never seen a castle projection show in person, and when we took our kids to Disney for the first time two years ago, we didn't even bother to stay for the nighttime parade. In fact, we bypassed the parade completely by entering Casey's Corner and walking our way through the Emporium all the way to Town Square and exit the park. Now that I think about it, I don't think I've seen a nighttime parade since SpectroMagic replaced the creepy clowns on the balls with the face characters (which I was very upset about, by the way).

Previous creepy mask face creatures of (literally) nightmare-inducing horror. 
Most recent creepy face creatures that I avoided at all costs (even as an adult).



No, instead this post is about the magical experiences that occur in the hours of darkness at The Magic Kingdom (see what I did there? 😏). About an hour before the first nighttime parade, the back three quarters of the park begin to clear out as many guests begin to line the streets of Main Street USA and Frontierland in preparation for the parade (well, I guess began...there's no nighttime parade as of when I'm writing this article). Let me share one helpful tip with you that I've learned the hard way: if you don't want to get stuck in Adventureland and the west side of Main Street for about an hour to an hour and a half during the parade, plan ahead. Once the parade begins, the likelihood of you crossing the parade route to get to the east half of the park will be severely limited.

Because a sizable number of guests are viewing the parade and subsequent castle projection and fireworks shows, this leaves much of the rest of the park cleared out, or at least a more sparse grouping of people. This creates the illusion that the park belongs to you. Yeah, it's nice that there are fewer people around the attractions so that you might actually stand a chance getting on Peter Pan's Flight without having to wait 270 minutes in a claustrophobic queue with a bunch of sweaty and screaming toddlers. But there is so much more to appreciate at night than simply taking advantage of the shorter lines.

Take, for instance, the fuller immersion of the lands and story of the park just through the addition of lighting. For example, Tomorrowland seems to come more alive, at least to me, in the dark. The electronic background music that plays throughout the land seems to mesh a lot better when the neon lights and spinning planets that are lit up over Astro Orbiter are admired down the Avenue of Planets.



Or take, for example, Storybook Circus. One of my fondest recent memories of visiting Walt Disney World happened back in 2012, when my wife and I visited for our second anniversary (this was the same trip she almost killed a giraffe at Animal Kingdom Lodge and when we ate at the Coral Reef, all while evading a hurricane). It just happened that my aunt, uncle, and younger cousin were visiting Walt Disney World at the same time as us, and we had coordinated our plans to spend the evening together at the Magic Kingdom after dinner. It was late and the park had pretty much cleared out. We ended up over at Storybook Circus to ride Dumbo, which was one of my cousin's favorite attractions that trip and one of the few that my very pregnant aunt could actually ride. My cousin decided after a spin on Dumbo that she wanted to ride the Great Goofini, so my uncle took her over to ride it three or four times, while my wife, aunt, and I sat and talked while sitting on a low wall overlooking the dueling Dumbos. We didn't get to see my aunt, uncle, and cousin very often, as they, like the rest of our family, lived in Michigan, while my wife and I lived in North Carolina. It seems insignificant, but for me it was a special few moments with a family member that I had been very close to growing up, highlighted by the beautiful lighting of the fountained Dumbo spinners and the bare bulb sign of the Great Goofini.



Sometimes darkness creates an opportunity for adding story elements, as well. For example, the Haunted Mansion seems to become "more alive" after the shadow of darkness has fallen like a death veil. If the effect is working during your trip, you may see a ghostly light moving from window to window as though someone is carrying a lantern or candle through the mansion. During the evening hours, the howl of wolves or coyotes can be heard in the distance. There are also times when a strobe light simulates the flashing of lightning on the mansion, accompanied by a clap of thunder. These lighting and sound details can only be experienced at night, adding to the magic of this park later in the day.



I would argue, however, that the best place to spend the evening and nighttime hours in the Magic Kingdom is Adventureland. There is just something about the claustrophobic feeling of the dense jungle closing around you while flickering tiki torches light the area and the steel drum background music echoes through the land. One of my favorite Adventureland details, and I'm not sure if this is an effect that is still active or not, used to scare the crap out of my family. At night, the sounds of cannon fire could be heard occasionally from the cannons watching guard in the clock tower outside Pirates of the Caribbean, accompanied by steam issuing out of the barrel after he erupting cannon ball. Again, this effect was only active at night, which made it more startling because of the loud explosions in the pitch dark.

Some people argue that certain attractions should be experienced both day and night, as the darkness and mysteriousness of night brings a new dimension and side of the attraction's story. I couldn't agree more. However, while some argue that the best nighttime attractions are Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, I would argue that the best nighttime attractions are the Jungle Cruise and the Swiss Family Treehouse. There is just a sense of more laid-back adventure riding through the pitch-black darkness of the Jungle Cruise rivers, lit only by the search light mounted to the front of the boat, and the darkness seems to create a sense of intimacy between the passengers and skipper, more-so than one experiences during a daytime cruise. Darkness also creates a sense of serenity and peace in the boughs above Adventureland in the treehouse home of the Swiss Family Robinson. The vertical distance from the ground as well as the branches and leaves, both natural and Imagineer-made, that populate the area around the enormous tree, seem to block out the noise from the park and attractions below. The height of the platforms also provide some excellent night views of Adventureland, as well as the Magic Kingdom as a whole, that cannot be seen anywhere else in the park.



Once the fireworks have concluded, the park pretty much empties out, giving you a true opportunity to play and be spontaneous in the park. In fact, in certain parts of the park, you might not see another family or another person, creating the illusion that the park is yours alone. Take, for example, the time I was on vacation at Walt Disney World in my college years with my parents and teenage brother. We were in the Magic Kingdom around eleven o'clock and the hub had pretty much cleared out. We were taking our time leaving Liberty Square and heading toward the park exit, when we decided to stop on one of the bridges and peer into the canals. I turned and looked for my brother over my shoulder to see him standing against the railing, his hands in his pockets, peering into the black water below. At first glance, I thought he was urinating into the canal, and I called him out on it. The four of us laughed, because it was very obvious Sam was doing no such thing, but he quickly pretended like he was while I snapped a quick picture (#WeirdKisteHumor). Something like this would not have been possible during the daylight hours. Now, I'm not advocating that everyone go and pretend like they are peeing in water features throughout Walt Disney World, but this kind of spontaneity and playfulness only exists in the hours after the park has cleared out and gives way to the cover of darkness.

Hah...sorry, Sam ;-)

So next time you have the opportunity, I really encourage you to take a few moments and enjoy the peace and beauty that is the Magic Kingdom after dark. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Disney Dining Plan: Is It Worth It?

Welcome to this month's Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are sharing parts of a Disney vacation that people often ask, is it worth it?



I like to eat.

In fact, as I thought about how to start this post, my mind immediately went to some of my favorite restaurant and dining experiences at Walt Disney World.

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café. Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn. Be Our Guest Restaurant. The Electric Umbrella. Yak and Yeti.
One of my favorite quick-service restaurants, located at Epcot!

My mouth is literally salivating just thinking about the chicken fingers and fries that I always get from the quick service restaurants.

But the problem is that with as expensive as a vacation to Walt Disney World is, one's dining experiences often suffers. Does our family really need to go to a character meal or eat at the Be Our Guest if we are purchasing a three day Park Hopper for each member of our family of five, as well as staying at Port Orleans Resort: Riverside? Maybe we should just stick to PopTarts each morning for a late breakfast and a quick service meal for dinner...

The nice thing is that this is a decision that you don't have to make!

Instead, you can choose the Disney Dining Plan!

The Disney Dining Plan has different levels guests can purchase to add to their vacation package (as long as they stay at a Disney resort hotel and purchase theme park tickets), tailored to their vacation budget and the type and number of meals they would like to partake in during their trip.


There are three levels to the Disney Dining Plan (all prices are based on a five night trip for a family of four, added on to the price of your resort and park ticket prices):
-The Magic Your Way Package Plus Quick Service Dining ($691.83) gives guests access to two quick service dining meals per person per night, two snacks per person per night, and one insulated drink mug that can be refilled at your resort hotel.
-The Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining ($943.06) gives guests access to one quick service meal per person per night, one table service meal per person per night, two snacks per person per night, and one insulated drink mug that can be refilled at your resort hotel.
-The Magic Your Way Package Plus Deluxe Dining ($1,454.26) gives guests access to three meals per person per night from any category per night, two snacks per person per night, and one insulated drink mug that can be refilled at your resort hotel.

To really understand what you get when you purchase the Disney Dining Plans, we probably need to define the different levels of dining experience one can experience:

  • Quick Service is also known as counter service and is similar to fast food restaurants. This is a dining location, usually in the parks but also including resort food courts and a few locations at Disney Springs, where you stand in line to order your food, pick it up at the window, and find an empty table at to enjoy your meal. These dining locations usually have limited menus, featuring on average no more than five or six options to choose from. Meals at a quick service dining location usually run anywhere from $8-$14 dollars per person. Some of my favorite quick service locations are Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe and Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn in the Magic Kingdom, the Electric Umbrella at Epcot, the Backlot Express at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe at Animal Kingdom, and Wolfgang Puck Express at Disney Springs, as well as the numerous resort food courts. 
  • A Table Service meal is a (sometimes) more laid back experience. Upon checking in, a host or hostess walks you to your table, where they give you a menu to order from. This is a full-service dining experience, where patrons can order soft drinks, alcoholic beverages (not covered by the Dining Plan), appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts. Because you are at Disney World, these table service meals are usually themed and sometimes feature entertainment. Meals at a table service dining location can run anywhere from $14.99-$59.99 per person. Please remember that most of these table service dining locations require advanced dining reservations (ADRs) that can be made on Disney's website up to 60 days in advance. Some of my favorite table service locations include the Liberty Tree Tavern and the Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, the Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and the Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe at Disney Springs. 
  • A snack is exactly what it sounds like. These small items can be redeemed at many locations throughout the Disney resorts and parks at locations including food courts, quick service locations, and even food kiosks. Some examples of what qualifies as a snack is a muffin, a piece of fruit, a box of popcorn, an ice cream bar, a bottle of soda, or even a cup of coffee.
Yummy Disney cookies (almost too cute to eat)!

Yummy cupcakes from the Boardwalk Bakery count as a snack!
There are often coolers in resorts' food courts filled with snack items.



And of course, my favorite Disney treat, the Dole Whip, counts as a snack credit, too! Yessssss!

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's look at some "disadvantages" that many see with purchasing the Disney Dining Plan:

1. First is obviously the price. The Disney Dining Plan must be paid for ahead of the trip at the time the entire package is paid in full. This amount may seem like a large cost to justify, especially months ahead of actually taking the trip. My wife and I have often had the "dialogue" about whether we could justify spending $700 on food for a five day trip.

2. The second argument against the Disney Dining Plan, honestly, doesn't make sense to me. A lot of people argue that they don't purchase the Dining Plan because of the quantity of food that you get with your meals. I don't see this as a problem, because as stated above, I like to eat. However, when visiting a table service or signature dining experience while on the Dining and Deluxe Dining plans, not only does your meal include a full entree with accompanying sides, but also a dessert. Now, again, I personally don't see this as a problem ("free" dessert with every sit down meal?) but some prefer to not eat such large, heavy meals while traipsing miles through crowded theme parks in central Florida.

"Free" Dessert???

Regardless of these two "disadvantages," I find that there are more advantages to the Disney Dining Plan that motivate me to purchase the plan when we book our vacation to Walt Disney World.

1. Refillable drink mugs. Included for each member of your party is an insulated drink mug that can be refilled an infinite number of times each day of your vacation at your resort. Because these plastic mugs are insulated, they can hold both hot and cold drinks. Therefore, you can refill your mug with soda, Joffrey's Coffee, water, and other drinks available at the resort food court or dining location. Now, not that I've ever done this, but I have "heard of people" who bring their refillable mugs when they resort hop (like riding the Monorail loop or go listen to YeHaa Bob over at Riverside) so they can take advantage of the soda fountains at the other resorts too. Disney's expectation, however, is that these mugs are only to be used at your home resort, but, I mean, it's not like there's anyone policing the soda machines...
My beautiful wife holding a refillable drink mug.

2. Ease and Freedom. The nice thing about the Disney Dining Plan is that it is linked right to your MyMagic+ account and your Magic Band or room key. After ordering at a quick service location or at the end of your meal at a table service location, Cast Members simply instruct you to tap your Magic Band or swipe your room key, automatically deducting your meal points from your account. No carrying around cash or a credit card, no fumbling in a bag or back pocket for your wallet required! No lifting of the sweatshirt tied around your waist, embarrassingly revealing your fanny pack, needed (again, not something I've done any time over the past five years...)!

Does anyone actually wear fanny packs anymore??? Because I don't...👀😐😶

3. Price of meals. Let's say that you decide to go with the Magic Your Way Package Plus Quick Service Dining at a total price of $691.83 added to your five day trip. This is actually a discount on food if you "go big" at the quick service locations. "Why?" you ask? The Quick Service Dining Plan allows you to not only purchase your entree at the dining location, but also a soda. So let's say that you spend $14 per person at the quick service location for two meals a day (lunch and dinner) across your five day trip. That totals out to $700 spent on food during your trip. And that doesn't even include breakfast! So let's say you spend an additional $6 per person on breakfast each day...that brings your total up to $850! Rather than spend that money, using the Quick Service Dining Plan allows you to get your two counter service meals with drink, as well as eat a muffin or piece of fruit (or if you're like me...nectar from the gods--erm I mean coffee) for breakfast, using one of your two snack credits per day. In the end, you'll be saving $150!

4. Cheating the system. After taking multiple trips to Walt Disney World on the Disney Dining Plan, my wife and I have found ways to "cheat the system." For example, let's say that you decide to go with the Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining. This package provides you a counter service meal and a table service meal each day, as well as two snacks per day. Table service meals at Walt Disney World range anywhere from $14.99 to $59.99 per person. Since Disney doesn't designate what table service restaurants you can or cannot use your dining credits at, you can choose to use your daily credit on a more expensive, exclusive, and/or "fancy" dining experience (although some table service restaurants require the use of two table service dining credits, so make sure to check into that ahead of time). This includes character dining experiences! My recommendation is that if you want the best "bang for your buck," visit Disney's website and go to their dining page. Here, you can look at the menus for each restaurant on property and can learn what restaurants take how many dining credits. For example, you can dine at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Hollywood Studios, where meals run for an average of $20 per entree. Or, you could choose to eat at Boma, located at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, which averages $45 per person. Both meals only take one table service credit! The Sci-Fi is a fun, immersive dining experience, but serves your basic theme park fare of burgers and fries, with a limited selection of other entrees. However, Boma provides patrons with an authentic African buffet dining experience, giving diners the options of salmon, turkey, ribs, striploin, and many other higher end foods flavored with an African palate. If you prefer a quieter, higher-end meal, by purchasing the Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining, you are getting more for your money by going to one of these higher-end options. Character meals are also only one table service credit on the Dining Plan. So if your little one wants to meet Mickey and Minnie or Cinderella and Belle, you can enjoy a meal with "character" at one of many dining locations (many of which would cost an average of $40 per person if you pay out-of-pocket). Some examples of this include Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot, the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios, the Tusker House Restaurant at Animal Kingdom, and Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort.
Liberty Tree Tavern

The Crystal Palace
Another way my wife and I have figured out a way to "cheat the system" deals specifically with one of my favorite breakfast locations on Disney property: the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland. While this new(ish) restaurant is a deluxe and elegant table service restaurant at dinnertime, during breakfast and lunch the restaurant serves as a quick service dining location. This means that if you have purchased the Magic Your Way Package Plus Quick Service Dining, you can still enjoy this wonderful and well-themed table service dining location using one of your quick service dining credits! Just be sure to secure an Advanced Dining Reservation ahead of time, as the stand-by wait to get into this restaurant can be quite lengthy without one.
Be Our Guest Restaurant
5. Budgeting. Disney vacations are friggen expensive. I don't think any of us would deny that fact. However, more often than not, when we book vacations, we only book the resort and park tickets ahead of time, meaning that we then have to come up with some sort of vacation budget for our trip. That means that we have to estimate approximately how much we will spend on things like meals, souvenirs, and entertainment (Characters in Flight? Mini golf? Water parks?) and set aside additional monies for them prior to our vacations. And unless we end up pulling extra money from somewhere else, this could lead to meals and/or experiences being cut out of the vacation should we exceed our budget. When you purchase the Disney Dining Plan, it is included in your total vacation cost that needs to be paid off before your vacation. This means you don't have to budget for meals ahead of time, but rather could choose where you want to eat when you get "rumbly in your tumbly."

6. Free dining. Who doesn't like free stuff? I mean, someone offers me free food? Holy cow. I would be in heaven. I mean, it's amazing enough if I'd be in Disney World, but having free food at Disney World? Where can I sign up??? No, this wish doesn't require pixie dust to grant the wish, just a little bit of planning and travel flexibility. Every year, Walt Disney World offers special vacation offers for free dining if guests travel during certain dates. This means that guests who travel to Walt Disney World during certain times of the year (usually the "slower" times of year) and stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel are eligible to have a free upgrade of the dining plan added to their vacation package. However, there are some stipulations. In addition to being required to visit during a certain date range, guests usually have to stay at a moderate or deluxe resort and purchase a certain number of theme park days on their ticket. The free dining plan is usually an upgrade to the Magic Your Way Package Plus Quick Dining. Check on Walt Disney World's Special Offers page throughout the year for more information.


So what would a hypothetical day look like for my family on the Disney Dining Plan?

  • On the Quick Service Dining plan, usually we start with using our snack credits for breakfast. We might use our credit to get a muffin or piece of fruit or carrots and hummus. We wouldn't need a beverage with our breakfast, because we could just bring our refillable mugs with us to the dining hall and fill those at the coffee percolators or soda fountains instead. For lunch and dinner, we would choose a quick service dining location located where we planned on spending our day. For example, if we are hanging out in the eastern half of the Magic Kingdom, we may decide to eat at Pinocchio's Village Haus or Cosmic Ray's depending on how busy the restaurants at that time. Or if we decide to spend an evening riding the Monorail around the resort loop, we might decide to disembark at the Contemporary to eat at the Contempo Cafe. The Quick Service dining plan gives you the flexibility and ease of deciding where to eat without having to budget or plan ahead with Advanced Dining Reservations. It allows for a truly spontaneous vacation experience.
Casey's Corner

The Riverside Mill Food Court at Disney's Port Orleans: Riverside Resort
  • If my wife and I decided to purchase the Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining plan, we would likely start the day off the same way, redeeming our snack credit for breakfast. One big difference between the Quick Service and table service dining plans, however, is the necessity of making advanced dining reservations, which requires guests to make daily plans up to two months in advance. For example, during our last trip, we decided to have breakfast at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. Because of the popularity of this restaurant, even though it is considered Quick Service at breakfast, we had to make advanced reservations, and were lucky enough to score an ADR at 8:15 in the morning. This meant that when we finished our meal around 9:00, we were able to hop on some of the more popular Fantasyland attractions just as the Magic Kingdom was opening. Because we ate at the Be Our Guest, that determined ahead of time that we would be spending the day at the Magic Kingdom. In the scenario where we got our snack for breakfast, we might spend our day at Epcot and get a quick service meal at La Cantina de San Angel, located across from the Mexico Pavilion (can you say "churros"???). This would maximize our park time during the peak of the day's activity. However, after the sun goes down and things start to become calmer and more peaceful at Epcot, we might decide to have a romantic table service meal at the Coral Reef (read my review of the Coral Reef as an idea romantic meal). Again, the necessity of having an ADR for the Coral Reef required us to plan our day around Epcot two months in advance, meaning that this was the day we had to book our Epcot FastPass+ reservations, as well. Purchasing the Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining requires more planning ahead of time and less spontaneity, so make sure you account for that.
My dad and I at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

Tony's Town Square Restaurant on Main Street, USA
The Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot


While the Disney Dining Plan can potentially be a large amount of money to have to shell out prior to your Disney vacation, I do believe that it is well worth your money in the end. It provides a less stressful experience while on your vacation and allows you instead to enjoy the magic of Walt Disney World on a moment-to-moment basis.


For more opinions on what is & isn't worth the splurge at Disney, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Is It Worth It? Loop:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

My Kids Ruined My Life

I sound like a horrible parent and a horrible person, don't I?

Before you start trolling me, let me explain. Maybe it would help if I told you what my life was like before my wife and I adopted our kids.

I used to sleep in until the last possible second. On weekends, I might sleep in until ten or eleven o'clock in the morning. I'd wake up with the sunlight streaming between the slats of my window shades. I'd get up, wander into the living room, flicking on the coffee pot on the way through, and turn on the TV. I might watch some Doctor Who or Spongebob or something while my wife showered and got dolled up.

Later in the afternoon, my wife and I might go drive around town just to get out of the apartment, take an afternoon nap, go out for lunch and dinner, and then go hang out at Target or something until ten or eleven o'clock. We'd get calls from our church friends at nine o'clock on Friday nights to hang out or meet at the local bar, and we'd drop whatever we were doing and head wherever to meet up with them for a cold drink, staying out until midnight or one o'clock.

We'd go where we wanted, when we wanted, whenever we felt like it. We could be selfish, swear without consequence, watch PG13 or R rated movies in our living room at 7:00 in the evening, and practically walk around our apartment naked if we wanted.

No big deal.

And then, on February 9, 2015, we welcomed two little boys into our life, and four months later, their teenage sister (read more about our adoption journey here  and here).


Because the boys were only three years old, I could no longer sleep in.
Instead, I got up early to make the boys breakfast and see their faces light up at the prospect of eating "dinosaur oatmeal."

I could not get a restful sleep through the night.
Instead, they would cry out in the middle of the night, not knowing where they were, calling for "mommy" and "daddy" and would fall asleep in my arms as I rocked them on the edge of their beds, fully putting their trust in me to keep them safe, provided for, and loved.

I could not stay out late with our friends or meet up at all hours of the night.
Instead, we spent more of our time at home, teaching our boys how to read or playing Uno as a family of five, the three kids being goofy with each other.

Instead of my house being peacefully silent, it became filled with laughter.

Instead of being immaculately clean all the time, the house became full of Lego creations and works of "art" plastered to my fridge.

Instead of being able to sit and watch my television shows or play video games on my Wii, I get the opportunity to do more laundry, cooking, and cleaning. This gives me an excuse to serve my wife, to help her out and show her how much she is loved and appreciated.

Instead of spending all our free time with friends who are single or newly married, we instead are able to spend our time with other couples who are either starting a family of their own or already have kids the same age as ours, creating some amazing relationships.

Instead of spending a quiet evening at home with my wife after the boys go to bed, I've been given an amazing opportunity of supporting our teenage daughter at her tennis matches, swim meets, BETA Club induction, and her winter sports court ceremony.

Instead of sitting in bed and watching our shows on Netflix or taking an hour reading before bed, my wife and I get to pour into and invest our time talking to our daughter about her school day, to support her in her endeavors, to watch Prom videos and makeup tutorials and show her how amazing and special of a young lady she is and how much she is loved by her mother and I.


So, yes. Becoming a parent absolutely ruined my life.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Disney Fan Fiction: "Tourist" Chapters 13-Epilogue

This is a Disney fan fiction I wrote back in high school. I thought it would be entertaining to post it online.

To read previous chapters click here.
                                                              13

A dark shadow fell on Cap. He looked up to see Jolly standing over him. He had his arm extended toward the car. In his hand, he held his police issue revolver. The car sped up and hit a speed bump. Flying up six feet in the air, the Sedan hit the ground with a clunk. The car wasn’t slowing down and it was about thirty feet away from the security personnel and the downed detective. Jolly aimed his revolver at the two front tires and pumped a few bullets in them. The car stopped and flipped forward, exploding in a ball of flame. Smiley grabbed his cell phone and dialed the number for property fire department.
The driver’s door to the Sedan popped open and a figure crawled out. The figure was on fire. Flame seemed to erupt on his head. The skin of the human torch was bubbling and the person writhed on the ground. Jolly ripped his coat off his back and smothered the person with the coat in an attempt to put the fire out. At last, the struggle subsided and the figure grew still. Jolly pulled the coat off the figure, who was extremely burned. Smiley ripped his cell phone off his belt and called for an ambulance. Jolly bent down and stared at the man on the ground, who was grunting in pain.
“What is your name?” he asked the man.
“Tony Escabana,” the man on the ground whimpered.
“Why were you going to run over Mr. Mitchell?” Jolly asked Tony.
“I was hired to kill the stupid- ” Jolly cut him off before the hit-man offended anyone with his language.
“Who hired you?” he asked.
“Some guy that called me. We never met.”
“WHAT WAS HIS NAME?” Jolly yelled at the man, trying with all his might not to shake the hit-man.
“Jason Euchre,” Tony said in pain, gritting his teeth.
Jolly looked up as an ambulance came screaming around the corner. He stepped back to stand next to the other two detectives. The ambulance pulled up and two EMTs opened the back of the ambulance, carrying a stretcher. They ran over to Tony and lifted him onto the stretcher. Strapping him on, the paramedics lifted him into the back of the vehicle. They turned on the siren and sped out of the parking lot, heading for the hospital.
The three detectives turned around and walked into the mysterious world known as the Utilidors of the Magic Kingdom.
When the Magic Kingdom was built in the mid sixties, Walt Disney had the contractors build the theme park approximately ten feet above the ground. He did this for many reasons. One was so that Cinderella Castle could be seen from far away. The major reason, however, was so that a series of rooms, tunnels, and offices could be on the lower level. This lower level was called the Utilidors. It was also known as the city below the Magic Kingdom. Below the hustle and bustle of the park, there were staff break rooms, a cafeteria, a room where all the people that dressed like Mickey Mouse got their costume (known as the Head Room, because this is where they picked the costume heads up), the wardrobe building, maintenance areas (such as places where garbage is kept and the rooms where sound effects and music for the rides are), and a series of tunnels labeled three ways: each land had a color (Fantasyland was pink, Adventureland was green, etc), a picture depicting one of the most popular rides in the land (Fantasyland was Cinderella Castle, Adventureland was Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) and the actual name of the land, all on the wall, so cast members didn’t get lost.
Taking off his sunglasses, Cap took a deep breath as he walked into the air conditioning of the Magic Kingdom Utilidors. He looked at the wall; the color pink was expressed as well as a flying elephant, a castle, and the word FANTASYLAND. Looking across the hall, Cap noticed a small hallway with a sign pointing toward the Wardrobe Department. He walked down the hall and saw a door on the right marked “Locker/Changing Room.” He looked to his left and saw a door marked “Wardrobe.” He opened the door and held it for Smiley and Jolly.
Cap looked around in amazement. In front of him was a desk like at a Laundromat. A woman was sitting behind the desk. She was young, with curly brown hair, which was up. She had pink lips, green eyes, and tan skin. When she smiled at the three men who had entered, Cap noticed that she had very white teeth. Smiley walked up to the desk. Cap glanced at her name tag and saw it read “Tara Noble, Magic Kingdom Wardrobe Building, Cincinnati, OH.”
“Hello, Tara. My name is Smiley Roberts. I am with the Walt Disney World security.” With this comment, she had a worried look on her face. Smiley chuckled. “Don’t worry, ma’am, you are not in trouble. I have a friend here that is here for a job.”
“Ah, yes,” Tara’s face brightened, looking relieved. Looking at Cap, he noticed how young she was. She looked to be maybe twenty-six years old. She was very beautiful.
Lifting a portion of the counter to let Cap in, she glanced at a piece of paper on the counter. “Is your name ‘Trevor Darsk’?”
“Yes,” Cap responded. Smiley informed him that he had to take an alias for his own protection.
“Right this way, please,” Tara motioned behind the counter.
“Excuse me, but what time is his lunch hour?” Smiley asked.
“One PM,” Tara responded.
“See you then, Trevor,” Smiley said.
“Bye, guys!” Cap said.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Jolly said, tipping his Orlando Magic cap at Tara. She smiled as the door shut.
“So, Trevor, would you like to begin your training?” Tara asked Cap, looking up at him, smiling.
“Let’s get to it,” he said. She handed him his Disney name tag. It read “Trevor Darsk, Magic Kingdom Wardrobe Building, Grand Rapids, MI.”
Cap pinned the name tag to his shirt. “Thanks,” he said.
“Here is your Walt Disney World ID,” Tara added, handing him a card that closely resembled a Drivers’ Licence. It was a temporary one, so it didn’t have his picture on it. “This will get you into the parks free, as well as discounts in restaurants, stores, and the hotels,” Tara explained. “Shall we begin the tour?”
Cap took his first good look around of the actual Wardrobe Department. The ceiling seemed to stretch up for a good fifty feet. Merle wondered if the Wardrobe building was actually a part of an attraction so that the efficient amount of space could be used. Looking all around him, Cap realized that the Wardrobe Department was a jungle of conveyers, metal, and moving hangars, kind of like a dry cleaner’s heaven. Cap stood staring up at the ceiling and jumble of moving parts with his jaw hanging.
“Mr. Darsk?” Tara’s sweet, innocent, young voice snapped him into reality.
“Coming, Tara.”
“This is the main computer. When someone comes in, you simply slide his or her ID card through this slot and the computer will read the bar code. The computer will then send for the cast member’s costume, via the conveyers. They will usually give you a old costume. You will then hang it on another conveyer, which will bring the old costume to the laundry room. This way, Trevor,” Tara said, leading him into the next room. When he arrived, he saw any Laundromat’s idea of heaven. Lined up against the wall were close to twenty heavy-duty washers. Against the other wall were an equal amount of dryers.
“The Magic Kingdom employs somewhere around 15,000 employees, and all of them need a costume. It’s our job to clean and service them. Unless this is something you wanted to do, you shouldn’t really ever need to come in here. Hey, Joy!” Tara waved at a woman putting wet clothes in one in the dryers on the other side of the room.
“Hey, Tara!” the woman named Joy said in the most perky voice Cap had ever heard.
Tara led Cap into the next room, which was the dry cleaning area.
“This is where most of the clothes go after they are dried,” Tara said, walking up to one of the women reading a magazine in the dry cleaning department.
“Trevor, this is Claire Free.”
Cap nodded to her. Claire smiled back.
“Finally,” Tara began, leading Merle into the last room. “This is the hanging room. This is where clothes are hung and organized into attraction categories. For instance,” Tara walked over to an area labeled “The Haunted Mansion.”“This is where all the costumes for the cast members that work at the Haunted Mansion are kept. And over there,” Tara motioned to the left, “is where all the costumes for the cast members that work at the ‘It’s A Small World’ attraction are kept. This part of the department is operated by computers. The costumes are conveyed into the room and sorted into the attractions by the bar code on the tag.”
The two walked through a door to arrive back in the original room, where the computer was.
“Now that you know how everything works here, why don’t you take care of it for a little while? I have a break so if you have any questions, Claire is in the back room. You can just call her from the phone, here,” Tara pointed the telephone out.
“I’ll be back in about a half hour, Trevor. Good luck!”
“Thanks, Tara. Have a nice break!” Cap said. She smiled as she grabbed her handbag from the cubby under the counter with her name on it. She snuggled the purse under her arm and walked gracefully out of the room, holding the door for a woman with untidy white hair and round-rimmed glasses that hurried into the room.
“Thank you,” the woman mumbled.
“Good morning!” Cap said cheerfully.
“Hello,” the woman mumbled under her breath. She shoved her ID card into Cap’s hand and he took it, slowly. “Come, now. I don’t have all day. I’m running late as it is,” she snapped. Cap looked at the ID card. The woman’s name was Emmabella Scrooj.
“My, you look nice today, Ms. Scrooj,” Cap complemented.
She looked up at him.
“Who are you?” she asked in a snobbish voice.
“The name’s Trevor Darsk. I am new at this position. So, you work at the Haunted Mansion, eh? I was at that attraction the other day and saw you. I said to myself, ‘My, that woman sure does a good job at fulfilling her role. She sure knows how to do her job.’”
Emmabella’s face lit up like a lightbulb. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Cap said. He was on a roll, now. Best to keep going with the momentum he had. “I said to myself ‘I sure hope I can be as good a cast member as she is, someday.’”
“Oh, Mr. Darsk, is it? What are you doing after your shift is done tonight?” she asked, blushing.
“Umm,” Cap cleared his throat. “I-I’m taken. Just trying to spread the happiness of the Disney spirit, Ma’am.”
Cap swiped Emmabella’s card through the computer. A metallic whirr was heard from the machinery in the next room as the conveyers began moving. An old fashioned black maid’s dress with white frills around the neck and arms came soaring overhead on a hangar. The hangar stopped and Cap gave Ms. Scrooj her costume.
“Thank you, Trevor,” the older woman said in a flirtatious voice. Cap tried to fake a smile and did so, unsuccessfully.
“See you tomorrow, Ms. Scrooj,” Cap said as the old woman walked out the door.
Cap looked down at his hand that still held Emmabella’s ID card. He ran out from behind the counter toward the door.
“Wait, Ms. Scrooj! You forgot your ID card!”

                

Sean opened his mouth and howled in pain. His mouth burned in anguish.
“I told you the fries were hot,” Becky laughed.
“Well, I thought they would cool down after being out of the stir-fry basket for fifteen minutes,” Sean said.
“Hello, we’re sitting under the 93 degree sun of Orlando, Florida. Do you think that maybe the sun could keep grease covered french fries hot?” Donny asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Sean laughed. He blew on his fries and stared at them as they burned his hand. Dropping them onto the picnic table, he waved his hand in the air and quick grabbed his ice cold soda mug. “Hot, hot!”
Donny and Becky laughed. Sean quickly wolfed down the last few fries in his fry bag and sipped the straw that led into his soda. Becky smiled at her boyfriend as he looked over at her. Donny and Becky stood up with their garbage and carried it to the garbage cans. Dumping the refuge into the container, they whispered to each other. They walked back to Sean, who was getting to his foot and helped him back to the chairs. They put Sean into his wheelchair and gathered all their belongings.
“Aren’t you guys going to keep going down the slides and stuff?” asked Sean.
“We had other plans,” Donny said, casting a secret smile over to Becky.
“What’s going on?” Sean asked.
“You’ll see,” Becky said.
Donny pushed his friend past the ski resort looking merchandise shop toward the park entrance. The trio exited the park, making sure to get their hands stamped, just in case they decided to go to a park later that evening, and made their way toward the bus stop that would bring them back to their hotel.

“What are we going to do?” Sean asked as the three got loaded on the bus.
“Will you just chill?” Donny asked. That made Sean quiet. Sean sat in the handicapped seat, while Donny and Becky sat close and whispered back and forth to each other. As the three got off the bus, they continued to whisper while Donny pushed Sean back up to their hotel room. Becky went into her room and the boys went into their room.
As soon as their hotel room door closed, Sean began to get angry.
“ARE YOU MOVING IN ON MY GIRLFRIEND?!?!” he yelled.
“No, we’re just planning a special evening for you,” Donny said, truthfully. “Hey, we have a message on our voice-mail.” Donny picked up the phone and pressed a button on the receiver that allowed him to access his voice mail. A familiar voice came from the other end of the phone.
“Hi, Donny!” It was Candy. Donny resisted the urge to say hi back, realizing that it was just a recording. Besides, he didn’t want his best friend to think he was a sensitive weenie.
“I am so sorry I forgot to mention I got transferred to another shift at the hotel. The woman that replaced my shift knew we are going out and thought it would be funny to tell you that I was at another place, completely. I am now working during the noon to eight shift. You are probably freaking out, trying to find me. If you get this message during my shift, come visit me! Talk to you later. Oh, by the way, I am getting off for tonight for Sean’s special night. I did get us reservations at the show for five. Talk to you later!”
Donny replaced the phone to its receiver and glanced at the clock. The digital face read 12:56.
“Who was that?” asked Sean.
“Candy. She works here still, just during a different shift. Let’s get showered, then go see her.”
“Sounds good to me. I don’t need to shower, so you can have it. I’ll just give myself a rubdown with a washcloth,” Sean said.
“Alright. I’ll be out in five,” Donny said, closing the bathroom door as Sean hopped to the sink and began cleaning himself. After washing his face, chest, and arm pits, Sean peeked his head into the bathroom to ask his comrade a question.
“What kind of clothes should I put on?” he asked.
“Put on one of your nice polo shirts and your pair of khaki zip-offs,” Donny shouted over the loud noise of the water hitting the shower. Sean closed the door and hopped back to his bed. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he leaned forward and pulled his drawer in the bureau open. He pulled on his zip-offs and his orange and navy polo shirt. He slipped his green baseball cap onto his head and put a shoe on the one foot he could. The bathroom door opened and Donny came out wearing his boxers. He walked over to the bureau and grabbed a pair of his jean shorts. He grabbed his orange button up shirt and put on his nice shoes that closely resembled bowling shoes.
A knock on the door was heard and Donny opened it to reveal Becky wearing a nice tee-shirt and knee-length skirt.
“What’s the plan, Donny?” she asked.
“We’re going to go down and see Candy. She’s working at the front desk. Apparently, she changed shifts, not positions,” Donny explained.
“Cool, let’s go!” Becky said.
The threesome closed the hotel room door and made their way toward the elevator, Becky pushing her boyfriend down the hall. Once arriving on the ground floor of their building, the elevator doors opened to reveal the south-western theme of the hotel Donny never had the time to see, as he was so busy with the case. The hotel had been given a desert-like theme, with large boulders stuck in the ground, tall weed plants, and cacti adding to the Disney-like scenery. He even noticed three rocks placed in the organization of a familiar Disney character. He pointed out to his two friends, who laughed. Opening the doors to the lobby nearest the children’s center where the television was located, Becky allowed Donny to take over Sean and push him through. Looking up, she noticed a picture of three sunflowers on the opposite wall also forming a Hidden Mickey. She smiled and pointed it out to the two guys. The laughed and gave Becky a high five. Donny looked over to the front desk to see his girlfriend beaming at him. He waved as two older people walked up to the counter to check in. Donny, Sean, and Becky lined up behind the senior citizens, patiently. When they left, the three friends moved up to the counter, Sean trying to see over the counter, Donny and Becky leaning on the counter. Donny quickly slipped Candy a quick kiss.
“How are ya?” he asked.
“Good,” she said, smiling.
“Hey, Candy,” Becky said, giving the girl behind the counter a thumb’s up.
“Hi, Becky.”
Sean and Donny looked flabbergasted.
“How in the world did she know your real name?” Sean asked, astonished.
“Because, I knew I could trust her. Besides, it’s a girl thing. The thumbs up signal was our hi sign telling Candy that you boys know my real name,” Becky responded.
“So, what time are you getting off?” Donny asked.
Candy looked at her watch. “About 3:15. It’s 1:45, right now.”
“Alright,” Donny said. “We’ll be back at about three, okay?”
“Sure,” Candy said as a family of seven people walked up to the counter.
The group headed back out of the building the same way they came in. Walking across the sidewalk, the three made their way for La Marina, a bicycle rental center. Donny walked up to the counter and handed over a twenty dollar bill, getting the group a four-person bicycle with a roof made of tarp covering it. Donny and Becky helped Sean out of his wheelchair and into the front seat. Donny seated himself behind the steering wheel on the left side of Sean and Becky seated herself on the right side of Sean. Because of Sean’s broken leg, he could not pedal so he was seated in the middle where no pedals were there for his feet to touch.
Donny and Becky began pedaling out of the El Centro area, across the bridge, and past their building. They made a left turn, crossing a bridge suspended over Lago Dorado that would bring them to the Dig Site. Circling the dig site once, they pedaled past the Ranchos buildings and headed back to the Cabanas. Parking the bike on the side of the sidewalk, the three walked toward the lake and each grabbed a hammock to lay on. Relaxing on the hammock for fifteen minutes rested Becky and Donny up. After the resting period, the three re-loaded up on the bike and pedaled back over Lago Dorado back to the Dig Site. This time, instead of circling the Dig Site to the Ranchos, they turned left toward the Casitas. Circling back toward El Centro, Sean’s two friends had to hurry, as the one hour limit to the bike was almost complete. Arriving at La Marina, Donny put on the brakes. Becky helped Sean off the bike and into his wheelchair, which had been left at La Marina while the three were on the biking expedition. Donny wheeled the bike back to the building and thanked the man for allowing them to use the bike. Looking at his watch, Sean realized that they still had fifteen minutes left until Candy got off her shift.
The three moved back into the air conditioned shelter that housed the lobby. Donny and Becky walked, each on either side of Sean, who wheeled himself for a change. The three made a quick stop to La Tienda, the small grocery store in the Pepper Market. While there, the boys each bought their girls a soda; Donny bought one to bring back to Candy, once she was off her shift. Still with five minutes to spare, Sean wheeled himself over to the nearest bench, parking himself to the left of the bench. Becky sat next to him, with Donny to the right of her. Sean looked down the row at two of his three best friends.
“Why are you guys having a special “Sean Night,” or whatever it is?” he asked.
“Because you are the one who has had to go through so many tough things while on this case,” Donny laughed.   
“Besides, today is your birthday,” Becky said.
“Really? What’s the date?” Sean asked.
“July 22,” Donny said, glancing at his watch, which showed the date above the time display on the face.
“Happy Birthday, honey,” Becky said, leaning over and kissing Sean on the cheek.
“Thanks,” Sean said with a shocked look on his face. “I was so wrapped up in the case that I totally forgot that today was my birthday.”
“Well, Candy should be done with her shift, now. Let’s go pick her up so we can leave for dinner.”
The trio made their way toward the lobby, where Candy was already off the job, out of her uniform and into dressy Florida clothes. She had touched up her make-up job and made her hair look a little nicer, as well.
She grabbed Donny’s hand as the group walked out of the lobby through the front entrance out to the El Centro bus stop. They caught a bus from Coronado Springs, to the Magic Kingdom. From the Magic Kingdom, they caught a bus to the Fort Wilderness Campground. Arriving at the camp ground, the group found a resort adjacent to the Fort Wilderness Lodge that was an actual campground, where people could camp out in a tent or recreational vehicle. Standing outside a banquet hall in the center of the campground, close to one hundred-fifty people were checking in with a host, getting their pictures taken, or just standing around talking. Candy walked up to the host and checked in. At approximately four forty-five PM, the doors of the banquet hall opened and the two hundred or so people filed into the building.
Walking into the dimly lit saloon-like room, Sean noticed a stage in the front of the room with dinner tables seated on the floor area. Lining the perimeter of the dining area, was a balcony about fifteen feet above the lower level. Sean, Becky, Donny, and Candy sat down at a table somewhere in the middle of the room.
“What is this place?” asked Sean.
“This is the Hoop-de-Doo Musical Revue,” Candy said. “It’s a western-themed dinner show. They have very good food, and the show is awesome.”
“Sweet,” Sean said.
The lights dimmed, waiters came out and set bread on the tables, taking drink orders. Suddenly, western music began pumping out of the speakers as six people came out onto the stage and began singing. Candy leaned over to Donny and whispered into his ear.
“My twin sister Mandy is in the show. She does a great job. She’s the one with the blond hair. It’s a wig, of course.” The actors began moving out into the audience. Mandy passed the kids’ table, and quickly glanced at Donny. Raising her eyebrows at Candy, she quickly whispered,
“Niiice.”
She kept walking and disappeared into the loft where more tables had been set up. Mandy disappeared for a second, only to appear next to the railing, clapping and singing with the rest of the actors.
The part of the balcony Mandy was in was very bare of audience. The only people in the area was an older couple. The woman was in a shawl with curly white hair. The man, Sean noticed, was the mysterious man that showed up everywhere. He was bald and had bushy brown eyebrows. Mandy continued her little dance in the balcony. The audience’s gaze shifted to the stage where a man in a bowler cap and suitcase was seen dancing and singing. Suddenly, a scream pierced the air.
Looking up, Donny saw Mandy hanging over the edge of the balcony. She was grasping to the balcony with her fingertips. Donny bolted out of his seat. Measuring the distance, he realized he was ten feet away from where Mandy would hit the floor. In order to get to her, he would have to go around the table. Then, he would have a clear passageway to the landing point. Mandy’s fingers were slipping. Looking over at his girlfriend, Donny realized for the first time that Candy was screaming in agony as she watched her sister’s last moments on Earth.
                                                              14

Cap sighed. It was almost his lunch break. There was still no sign of Jason Euchre or anyone that needed a strange costume. Looking at his lunch, he started his countdown until lunch; he still had twenty-three minutes. He put his elbow on the counter and rested his chin in his palm. The door opened and he bolted upright, to look more professional. Tara walked in. She was almost a half hour late.
“Have a nice lunch break?” Cap asked.
“I’m so sorry, Trevor. My boyfriend met me at my car unexpectedly and took me out for lunch. We went to the Garden Grille and our food took forever to get to our table,” Tara apologized.
“Really? Where does he work?” Cap asked.
“The Jungle Cruise,” the young woman explained.
“Cool,” the self-proclaimed ‘Trevor’ responded.
“So, Trevor,” Tara began. “How is your first day going?”
“Kinda slow,” Cap said.
“Yeah, it can get boring around here, especially at this time of day. But someone needs to be here in case someone does show up,” Tara said.
“I think tomorrow I’m going to bring either a book or my nephew’s video games, to pass the time.”
“Why don’t you go on a early lunch break?” Tara asked, looking at her watch. The time read 12:40. “I’ll cover for you. I mean, it’s been a long day, we’re at a slow time, and it’s your first day. You can leave now, meet your friends at one, and be back at two for work. That way you have an hour and twenty minutes of work.”
“I have to be at the Fort Wilderness Campground at six forty-five to celebrate my nephew’s birthday,” Merle commented.
“That’s fine. Your shift ends at six o’ clock, anyways. We only work eight hour shifts.”
“Alright,” Cap said. “I think I’m going to take you up on your offer.” He hopped over the counter as Tara took his spot. “I’ll see you about two, Tara.”
“Alright, Trevor. Have a nice time! Hey, while you’re out, you should pick up a magazine or book or something.”
“Good idea,” Cap said. Opening the door, Cap gave a wave to his friendly co-worker and stepped into the hall.
Closing the door behind him, Cap walked out of the small hallway into the main area where the hallway to the hub was located. Not wanting to get lost wandering the Utilidors, Cap decided to go up into the park. He followed the signs on the wall that led him to an elevator that would bring him into Fantasyland. Pressing the button on the wall, Cap stepped back as the doors to the elevator opened. He walked in and turned to face the entrance as the doors shut. Playing over the speaker was some well-known music from Disney movies.
The doors opened to reveal another corridor. Following the signs on the walls, Cap came to a door. He opened the door and stepped through, bringing him into The Pinocchio Village Haus, a restaurant in Fantasyland that overlooked the “It’s a Small World” attraction. He smiled at a waitress as she passed and headed out past the guests as they ate their lunches. He squinted and pulled a pair of shades as he stepped out into the hot Florida sunlight. He was greeted by brightly colored circus tent-like roofs. He felt heat radiate off the cement into his face, making him sweat. Children holding their parents’ hands wandered around, staring in awe and wonder at the fairytale village that surrounded them.
Cap looked at his watch. The digital face read 12:50. Unclipping his cell phone from his belt, he beeped Smiley on his cell phone.
“Yeah?” came Smiley’s voice.
“Hey, Smiley, this is Cap.”
“Hey! What’s up?”
“I’m on an early lunch break. I’m going to go ride Splash Mountain and I’ll meet you in front of the exit queue at about 1:05. Is that alright?”
“Sure,” came a voice from behind Cap. “But how about we ride it with you?”
Cap turned around. Two men with facial hair, one with glasses, one without were standing behind him. They were obviously a dressed up Smiley and Jolly.
“Hey! What are you guys doing here?” Cap asked.
“We were assigned to the Magic Kingdom for the day as foxes. We’ve basically gone from ride to ride and into the shops to see how the management and service is,” Jolly explained.
“Cool.”
“Yeah. Well, let’s go. I’d like to get this ride through so that you have time to eat lunch and get back to work on time,” explained Jolly.
The three investigators walked out of Fantasyland, crossing under a building bridge. Passing through Liberty Square, the three made the unobserved transition into Frontierland. They passed Country Bear Jamboree and Thunder Mountain Railroad to the queue of Splash Mountain. They placed themselves at the back of the line, glancing at the nearest sign that signified how long the wait time for the ride would be. The sign read “Line Wait Time From This Point: 45 mins.” Cap looked at his watch. It was two minutes to one o’ clock. He still had more than an hour. If he wanted something to eat, he could always grab a quick bite from the Pecos Bill Café in Frontierland on his way back to work.
The line started to move up, winding through the turnstiles and mazes of crowd management barriers. Cap looked around at the surrounding scenery of the Splash Mountain queue area. There were birdhouses hanging from the trees, signs showing characters from the ride and the movie it is based on, Song of the South, and other pieces of scenery that was pertinent to the ride. Issuing from the birdhouses came little voices that resembled that of a chipmunk’s (if a chipmunk could talk).
A sound of the bird snoring could be heard from the nearest birdhouse. It continued for a few seconds until a chipmunk voice was heard.
“Honey, wake up,” came a female bird voice.
“Wha...?” asked the male bird voice.
“You’re snoring,” the female explained.
“Really?” asked the male.
“Yes, now go back to sleep.” The snoring resumed.
The line winded up a staircase and into a building. The queue led the trio past a living room complete with a fire and a shadow of Br’er Frog smoking his pipe, sitting on a rocking chair. The trio walked through a cave and blinked as they exited out of the cave and stepped into the sunlight. Looking around, Cap realized they were in a small secluded town somewhat similar to that of Pirates of the Caribbean or the Maelstrom.
A cast member near the ride boarding area asked how many were in Cap’s “party.” He responded with “three.” The cast member led the trio into a line where they would board into their log-shaped boat that would carry them into the world of Br’er Rabbit and hundreds of his audio-animatronic friends. The log that was already full of people pulled away and the people lifted their hands in excitement as their log slowly pulled away into the tunnel ahead of them that carried them into the mystical forest where the story of Br’er Rabbit took place. Another log pulled forward; Cap noticed that a statuette of Br’er Rabbit was mounted to the front. The log stopped and the automatic barriers in front of Cap opened to allow passage to the log.
Cap stepped into the log, sitting down and putting on a seatbelt. Smiley sat down next to him, while Jolly was sitting behind the two, next to a Portugese woman that spoke no English. The woman said something to Jolly in Portugese. Cap turned around as the lap bar came down on his waist.
“What did she say?” Cap asked, not expecting an answer.
“I’m pretty sure she wanted to know why the ‘old man is shaking. Is he scared of a baby ride like this?’” Jolly interpreted.
“I didn’t know you spoke Portugese,” Smiley said.
“I don’t. Portugese is very close, however to Spanish,” Jolly explained.
“I’m not SCARED!!!” said Cap, his voice getting higher and shriller as the log began moving with a jolt. The woman began laughing. Cap turned around and began white-knuckling the lap bar. Jolly, Smiley, the Portugese woman, and the other riders raised their hands in excitement. One young college student in the front seat clapped his hands.
The log drifted into the tunnel where it took a small lift hill to the top of the mountain. Exiting the tunnel, the log floated on a river that curled around the top of the mountain. Cap gripped the lap bar as hard as he could.
“Cap, chill. The hill isn’t until the very end. Relax, we’ve still got close to ten minutes,” Smiley explained.
“I know, I’m just warming up the ole gripping muscles,” Cap said, trying not to sound cheesy. Jolly and Smiley laughed. The Portugese woman asked what Cap said and Jolly translated for him. The woman belted out a loud laugh that made Cap jump in his seat. That just made her laugh even harder.    
The log floated around to the front of the mountain, where the view was magnificent. Cap noted aside of his state of panic that he could see for miles. He spotted Spaceship Earth and the Tower of Terror. Cap was so mesmerized that he didn’t notice the small hill until the log shot down it. Cap screamed in terror as the log shot down ten feet into the river below.            
“Cap, cool down. What’s wrong with you? You loved Rock N’ Roller Coaster. How come you don’t like this? It’s not much different,” Jolly said, leaning up to talk into Merle’s ear.
“I don’t know. I just have never liked the log flume rides,” the detective answered. “It leaves a funny feeling in my stomach I don’t get from roller coasters.”
The river curved around a bend right in front of the big hill. To the right of the river, was the hill that can be seen from the outside, in Frontierland. To the left of the river was part of the briar patch. Suddenly, the log stopped while it was on the bridge between the big hill and the briar patch.
“Why did it stop?” Cap asked nervously.
“Don’t worry, there is probably a congestion of logs up ahead and we have to wait until the logs move a little faster and get farther apart. We should be moving in no time,” Smiley said.
Just as Smiley explained, the log jolted and began moving. It curved into a cave on the side of the mountain. Cap realized it was really dark inside, but his eyes quickly adjusted to the lighting change. The first thing Cap noticed was audio-animatronic animals in a forest scenery on either side of the river.
The log moved through the story of Br’er Rabbit, who was trying to escape his predator, Br’er Fox and his lackey, Br’er Bear. Through the whole ride, Br’er Fox tried to capture Br’er Rabbit so he could eat him. Each time, Br’er Rabbit escaped. Br’er Rabbit mentioned that he was going to escape to his Laughing Place. Merle noticed on the side of the river a sign that pointed the direction to the Laughing Place. The area got darker as the log progressed until it was pitch dark. Suddenly, the log shot down a double-humped hill in the pitch dark. It slowed to a splash at the bottom, as Cap realized he was holding onto Smiley in a bear hug. He looked at Smiley who was not smiling and Cap let go. Looking at the surrounding area, he realized that Br’er Rabbit’s Laughing Place was an underground cavern full of crystals, stalagmites, stalactites, and geysers. Cap noticed a racoon floating at the top of a geyser spray. Smiling, he hummed along while the forest creatures sang the Laughing Place song.
Looking ahead, Cap noticed that the tunnel sloped upward ahead. That sight wiped the smile right off his face. He looked up at the ceiling to see a gopher shoot back into its hole after saying “FSU!”
“That must be the confrontational gopher,” Cap thought to himself. Suddenly, Cap felt the log tilt backwards. He looked forward to see a hole into the outside about two hundred feet above him. The lift hill was at approximately a 45 degree angle. The log stopped again. Merle looked over at Smiley.
“Congestion of logs?” he asked. Smiley nodded. The log began moving. Looking to his left, Cap noticed Br’er Fox holding Br’er Rabbit by the ears.
“Please don’t eat me, Br’er Fox,” Br’er Rabbit said in a southern voice.
“Oh, I’m going to eat you, Br’er Rabbit. You are going to taste good, too,” Br’er Fox laughed.


The log continued upward. About one hundred feet later, Br’er Rabbit was hanging above a pot that resembled a cauldron with fire flaming below it.
“You can eat me, you can do anything you want to me, Br’er Fox. Just whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch,” Br’er Rabbit pleaded.
“You know what? I think I am going to throw you into the briar patch, Br’er Rabbit,” Br’er Fox said evilly. The log eased to the top of the hill and tipped over the top of the mountain at a 45 degree angle. Cap screamed.
He looked straight ahead to see a giant briar patch rushing toward him. Looking at the fake plant as he rushed by it, he noticed a door with the words ‘B. Rabbit’ engraved on it with a welcome mat on the ground and a rocking chair next to a window. The log shot past the briar patch and landed in an underground river below the briar patch. The log splashed to a slow speed as water rushed over the front of the log and hit its passengers in the face.
The river carried its passengers up a small hill and past a wooden walkway in Frontierland. There were spray guns lined up with people behind them hosing the log riders with hard spurts of water. The guns were the kind you put a quarter into for a minute of spray time. The log went up a small lift hill into an old mill. Cap turned to Smiley and asked,
“There isn’t another hill, is there?”
“No,” Smiley laughed. The log turned around the corner and entered a bayou where a large river boat was rocking. The river boat was covered with approximately twenty audio-animatronic animals, all singing the song, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” which was one of Walt Disney World’s theme songs. As it rounded another bend, Merle noticed Br’er Rabbit sitting on his front porch rocking in the chair with his hands behind his head. Mr. Bluebird was sitting on a nearby tree branch, talking to Br’er Rabbit about his close call with Br’er Fox and his sidekick.
The log floated back into the loading station and the lap bar rose. Cap quickly undid his seatbelt and bolted onto the platform. Turning around, he waited for Smiley and Jolly. Jolly bid the Portugese woman goodbye and walked with his two friends out into the exit queue. The exit queue led them to Splashdown Photos, where the picture of the log rush down the hill. Everyone had their hands up and a smile on their faces...except for Cap. He was halfway under the seat in front of him, his eyes rolled back into their sockets and mouth open so wide, his head looked as if it were about to tear into two pieces. The Portugese woman walked by laughing to herself.
“What did she say?” Cap asked Jolly.
“Do you want me to lie or be honest?” Jolly asked.
“Completely honest.”
“If I were to translate it into English indirectly,” Jolly began. “She basically said ‘What a weenie.’”



Cap walked to the counter of the Pecos Bill Café across the sidewalk from the flume ride in Frontierland. He ordered a cheeseburger basket meal, complete with a soda and french fries. He said goodbye to his friends who were off to ride Pirates of the Caribbean as undercover foxes, once more. He ate walking back to the Wardrobe Department, sliding his ID card through the slot that allowed him into cast member entrances back stage of the park.
He walked through the Utilidors and into the small hallway that led to the Wardrobe Department and locker rooms. He opened the door and saw that Tara was sitting at the desk, obviously waiting for him. He glanced at the atomic clock on the wall. It read 2:04.
“I’m not in trouble, am I? The line for Splash Mountain ran kind of long. Then, I had to wait in line for lunch for like ten minutes,” Cap explained.
“Like ten minutes?” Tara asked.
“Okay, it was close to ten minutes. Smart aleck kid,” Cap said, smiling.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s your first day and you’re still getting used to the area. I’ll cut you a little slack,” Tara said. “Now will you get over here and work? I really have to go to the bathroom.”
Cap smiled. “I’ll handle it. Go ahead.”
“Thanks,” Tara said, not bothering to go through the doorway, but jumping instead over the counter.
“Take your time!” Cap called out the door as it closed. He could hear Tara laughing as the door closed behind her. He decided to try to jump over the counter like Tara did. He looked around to see if anyone was around. No one was, so he stepped back and got ready to get a running start. He started jogging and leapt over the counter, but tripped on the edge and went sprawling, sliding over the counter and landing on the other side of the edge.
He pushed himself off the floor to his feet, facing away from the door and began brushing himself off and checking for scrapes and bruises. That’s when he heard the laughing. He turned around to see a man with a black moustache with his arms crossed. The man was somewhere around six feet tall with short, dark hair and piercing eyes. He walked up to the counter and handed Cap his ID.
“I’ve never seen you here before,” the man said, sticking out his hand. “Jason Euchre. And you are...?” Cap returned his handshake.
“Trevor Darsk,” Cap said, trying to stay cool. Here was his man. All he needed to do was figure out what this guy had to do with Lucas Winkler/ Louis McGrogen.
“What can I get you, Mr. Euchre?” Merle asked the man in an overly kind voice.
“Let’s see,” he began. “I think that today I am slotted to dress like an old man. I’m going to need a bald cap, eye brows, a fat suit, a plaid shirt, and jean shorts.”
Joy walked through the doorway with her handbag under her arm. Her face lit up when she saw Jason.
“Hey, Jay!” she said.
“Hello, Joy,” Euchre replied, kindly.
“Trevor, I’ll grab Jason’s costume for you. I do everyday he comes in. What can I get for ya, hun?” Joy asked.
Jason repeated his list and Joy left the room.
“So, what park to you work at?” Cap asked curiously.
“Good question, Trevor,” Jason complimented. “I actually don’t work at just one park. I actually at all of them. I’m a traveling actor, if you know what I mean.”
Cap did. Stanley had told him about it when he was at home. When Stanley’s family was at Disney World a few years before, they noticed that the same man who acted as Regis at the Who Wants To Be a Millionaire: Play It! attraction at MGM, was the same guy that played one of the emcees at the Festival of the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom. After talking to Stanley’s uncle who worked at the train in Animal Kingdom, Cap learned that many people that work in the show business at a Disney World theme park travel and act as other characters in the other parks’ attractions.
“What park are you working at today?” Cap asked.
“I’m actually acting as the director at MGM’s Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular,” the suspected criminal accomplice explained.
“Interesting,” Cap said. Joy walked back into the room with a basket full of Jason’s costume.
“Did you need makeup, Jay?” she asked.
“No, I got my own in the locker room,” the man answered.
“Alright,” Joy said. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”
“I’ll be right back, Mr. Euchre. I have to get something real quick. I need to get you-umm-uh...,” Cap stammered.
“Shoes that go with my costume? Wow, Trevor. After one day of working here, you sure are on top of things. I totally forgot about that.”
“Yeah, I’ll be right back,” the undercover worker said.
He walked back into the break room and quickly put Jason’s ID onto the copy machine. He clicked the enlarging button and pressed the copy button. The machine copied the identification card. He quickly took the copy off the printer, folded it in half a few times and buried it deep in his pocket. He came back into the room, looking confused. Joy was still talking to Jason.
“Umm, Joy? I just remembered that I forgot where the shoes are kept. Could you go find them for me?” he asked, handing Jason his ID back while looking at Joy.
“Sure, Jason what kind do you want?” she asked.
“Get me a pair of brown tie-up shoes and a pair of black socks, please,” Jason requested. The woman flashed Jason a thumbs up as she walked through the door into the costume room. “So, Trevor,” Jason said in his deep voice. “Are you enjoying your job here?”
“It’s alright,” Cap said.
“Do I know you from somewhere?” Jason mumbled to himself. Cap shrugged. Joy came back through the door and handed Euchre his brown shoes. “Thank you,” he winked at Joy. He turned on his heel and walked out the door.
“Well,” Joy said. “I have to get back to work.” She left the room for her own work station. Once she was gone, Cap quickly pulled the ID copy from his pocket.
“Strange,”said Cap. “This must have been taken before he grew his moustache.”
“It was,” came a voice from in front of him. He looked up. Jason Euchre stood in front of him.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware you were still here,” Cap laughed.
“I brought this back,” said the angry man across the counter. He shoved the box over the edge into Cap’s lap. “Can I ask why you have a copy of my ID?”
“It’s something new that administration wants done, I guess. They want a copy of everyone’s ID on file,” Cap lied.
Jason’s face lit up. “Oh, okay. Well, have a good day then, Trev.” Jason walked across the room and closed the door behind him.
“That is definitely not Louis McGrogen or Lucas Winkler,” Cap said aloud to himself.

                

Jason Euchre walked nervously into the Men’s Locker Room across the hall from the Wardrobe Department. He already was wearing his uniform; he was dressed and ready for work at Spaceship Earth in EPCOT. His former partner had called him over his cell phone so he took a break and drove to the Magic Kingdom to get his friend a new costume to disguise himself from the teen detectives. He walked into the locker room to see his friend putting the finishing touches on his old man costume.
“Hopefully this will throw the teens and their stupid companions off,” Jason’s ex-partner said. “I’m sick of them snooping. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet but I have to get them off this case before it’s too late!” The man turned away from the mirror to reveal to Jason a fat old man with bushy brown eyebrows. “Wish me luck, Jason!” the man said in an evil voice.
                                                               15

Cap finished the work day without any action. He had only a few people come in to turn their costumes in and one person pick a costume up before he got off work at six o’ clock. Tara let him out a little later because he had arrived back from lunch break late. A still disguised Smiley and Jolly met Merle at the back entrance to the Utilidors. The three men loaded back into Smiley’s car and headed back to Coronado Springs, where the two foxes dropped Cap off. They gave him directions on how to get to the Wilderness Campgrounds from the Coronado via the bus systems and bid him farewell.
He walked to his room and let himself in, quickly taking a shower and getting dressed. He wanted to be waiting for the four teens when they got out of the Hoop-de-Doo musical dinner show. Looking at his watch, he noticed the time was six forty-five. He had fifteen minutes. He ran down to the bus station and caught the nearest bus, which happened to be the Magic Kingdom and transferred onto a bus that took him to the Fort Wilderness Resort. He arrived at the campground shortly before quarter to seven. When he arrived, he noticed an ambulance parked out in front of the Hoop-de-Doo building.

                

Donny dodged the tables and people running amok. He saw as Mandy’s fingers slipped from the railing and she flailed for something to grasp. Diving, he flipped over onto his back and skidded to a stop right beneath the girl, as Mandy caught the floor ledge of the balcony, which overhung an three inches from the railing. She grasped it for a split second, during which Donny had barely enough time to get to his feet. Moving like a lightning bolt, he shot to his feet and put out his arms. She fell screaming and into the young detectives arms. The force of her landing sent both of them to the ground. Donny and Candy’s twin lied in a pile gasping for breath. Donny sat up, lifting the girl’s torso to help her sit up. She stood up and smoothed out her skirt, then helped her sister’s boyfriend to his feet. She leaned over and planted a big kiss on his cheek, leaving red lip prints. Candy walked over and did the same to his other cheek. He looked over at Sean and flashed him a thumbs up, smiling.
“Ha, I got kissed by twins!” he giggled. Mandy wiped the lipstick off Donny’s cheek, giggling.
“He’s a keeper, Candy,” she said. A man who Donny thought to be the show’s producer ran over to the group.
“Is everyone okay?” he asked.
“No broken bones here,” Donny said.
“I’m fine, boss,” Mandy agreed.
“Alright. We called an ambulance just for safety precautions. It should be here in a few minutes. As soon as everyone checks out okay, you are free to go,” the producer said.
The group walked outside. The three teens and their wheelchair confined friend moved onto the porch with the producer. All the people from the audience were gathered around the porch. Many of them had their arms crossed. As soon as Mandy and Donny walked outside, applause reached their ears. The two waved, playing along.
“Alright, folks. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. What happened tonight was merely a twisted ankle. Unfortunately, one of the main characters won’t be able to perform for awhile. If you would like, we would like to either refund your meal or reschedule your show for a later date. Just call 407-WDW-DINE, touch 55 on your in-room phone, or visit the Guest Service desk at your hotel and we will sort this out for you. Thank you for your cooperation and have a good stay at the Walt Disney World resort.
The ambulance pulled into the area; people moved out of the way, clearing a path for the emergency vehicle. The doors opened and two paramedics helped Donny and Mandy into the back for a quick physical.
Sean, Becky, and Candy waited outside on the front steps of Hoop-de-Doo Hall. Sean noticed a clean shaven man walk up to the ambulance and peek inside, then make his way toward the steps.
“Hey, Uncle Cap,” Sean greeted his uncle.
“Hey, Sean. What happened?”
“My twin sister was performing and fell over the edge of the balcony. Donny saved her. The paramedics just wanted to check them out to make sure that nothing is broken or anything,” Candy explained.
“Okay. That’s good. I was hoping no one was seriously injured,” Cap said with a sigh of relief. He sat down on the steps next to Candy and Becky. Ten minutes later, the doors of the ambulance opened and Donny and Mandy stepped out.
The ambulance pulled away as Candy stood up and hugged the two kids, one in each shoulder.
“We’re going out tonight to celebrate Sean’s birthday, Mandy,” Candy explained. “Would you like to come along?”
“Sure, if it’s alright with Sean,” she said smiling at the boy in the wheelchair. Sean blushed.
“Of course. The more the merrier, I always say!”
The group walked down a wooded path that led them to the Wilderness Lodge Resort, a ski lodge-like hotel complete with a log cabin exterior, totem poles, fire places, and a geyser. The group looked around the lobby and caught the first bus to the Magic Kingdom. From there, the group transferred onto the monorail, where they rode in the second car. As the group was loading up, Mandy wheeled Sean to the front of the Monorail. She knocked on the door. The door opened and a man in a pilot uniform stuck his head out the slightly ajar door.
“Hi, I was wondering if my friend could ride in the cockpit. You see, it’s his birthday and I thought maybe he could sit up here. We’re only going to the Contemporary and I thought it would be a nice treat.”
“Sure,” the pilot said cheerily. Mandy helped Sean out of his wheelchair and into the small cockpit where a black couch waited for him. The door closed and Mandy pushed the wheelchair into the second car where Becky, Candy, Cap, and Donny were waiting.
“My name is U. Phoric. You can call me Captain. Everyone else does. I’ve been the Monorail pilot here at the Walt Disney World resort for close to fifteen years, which makes me a senior in my position.”
Sean looked around at the cabin of the Monorail. In the back of the cockpit was the black love seat couch he was sitting on; his leg propped up on the opposite cushion. There were panels of blinking lights and a CB radio. There was also a system monitor and a security panel. The security panel was mostly made up of video screens, which allowed the pilot to see what was going on in the Monorail cars of his train.
A rumble reached their ears as the train started up, heading for its first stop, the Grand Floridian. “Looks like we got a storm coming,” the captain said. Sean just nodded.

                

Mandy slid into the second car of the monorail just as the doors slid to a silent close. There was a bench at the back of the car occupied by an old man. In the front of the car was another bench, where Cap, Candy, Donny, and Becky were sitting. Donny was staring intently at the old man, as was Cap. There wasn’t room left on the bench, so she held onto a ceiling handle. The Monorail started off with a jolt. As soon as the Monorail cleared the loading building, the group flocked to the front windows to see the passing scenery.
“It’s getting dark out there. Do you think we’re getting storms?” Donny asked.
“They’re a little late, but it sure looks like it,” Candy commented. Mandy agreed. Suddenly, the sky outside turned pitch black with storm clouds. It was almost impossible to see the upcoming Grand Floridian Resort due to the darkness. Donny noticed it was darker than twilight. Everyone was too fascinated with the coming storm to notice the old man in the back pry open the car’s control box with his switchblade. No one noticed as he clipped the wires labeled “lights”, until it became pitch black in the Monorail car.

                            

“Uh oh,” U. Phoric said.
“What?” Sean asked.
“The lights in car 2 are out. I think I’m going to call back there and see if everything is alright.”

                

Donny spun around in the darkness. The old man was sitting on the bench with his hands crossed.
“What happened?” Becky asked.
“The lights went out. It must have something to do with the static from the storm,” Mandy explained. The phone in the back of the car where the man was sitting began to ring. The group watched in horror as he grabbed the cord and yanked it out of the wall. He then cut the wire that read “security.” A deep guttural laugh issued from his lips. No one else was laughing.
Near the car, lightning flashed. The side of the man’s face was illuminated. The old man made a quick movement. Lightning flashed again to reveal a shining blade in the man’s hand. He took slow steps toward the group, his knife hand out in a threatening manner. Suddenly, the man lunged at Donny.
The young detective grabbed the man’s hand. The elderly gentleman drove his fist into Donny’s stomach, whose breath escaped him like the whoosh of the wind. Candy screamed, as Donny crumpled to the ground, his body limp like that of a doll cast to the floor.  The strong attacker lifted his foot to kick the boy on the ground. As his foot flew towards Donny’s head, a grin came upon his face. Inches from Donny’s head, the foot was stopped by Donny’s hand. Donny shot to his feet, the assailant’s foot still in his hand. Donny threw his hand upward, forcing the attacker to flip. He landed on his back as the doors of the Monorail opened. Shooting to his feet, he sprinted out of the Monorail into the station at the Grand Floridian. Turning his head, the man sneered at the group, flashing an obscene gesture as he disappeared out of their view.
Donny brushed himself off. Candy grabbed his hand.
“We should just get off here, kids. It is probably safer to be in a light public area than in a dark Monorail car by ourselves,” Cap remarked. Mandy and Candy agreed. The group exited the Monorail while Mandy ran to the cockpit and got Sean. Sean and Mandy thanked Captain U. Phoric for allowing the young detective to ride in the cockpit.
The group walked up to the doors of the Grand Floridian, the lobby doors sliding open, a gust of cool air making their eyes water as they entered the building.
Finding themselves in the lobby, the detectives and their friends gazed at the surroundings. Against one wall was the check-in/check-out desk. In front of them was an area clustered with fluffy chairs on a beautifully patterned carpet. Near the check-in/check-out desk was a large glass elevator shaft, in which an elevator moved slowly up and down carrying passengers from one floor to the next. Against another wall of the large lobby was a huge bird cage complete with birds of many species. The group relaxed in the lobby people watching and hooped onto the Monorail, making sure not to be the only people in their car. They rode it to the Polynesian resort, a hotel with the theme of the Polynesian Islands.
After exploring the Polynesian, the group rode the Monorail to the Contemporary resort, a hotel where the Monorail rides right through the lobby. The group finished their journey as they rode back to the Magic Kingdom.
Donny glanced at his watch. The time was 7:45. The Monorail arrived at the Magic Kingdom. Sean started wheeling himself to the door, but Donny stopped him. Sean watched nervously as the doors slowly slid shut. The Monorail started off once again. It once again stopped at the Grand Floridian and Polynesian, but the group did not get off. Once the elevated train arrived at the Transportation and Ticket Center, Sean was pushed across the platform to another Monorail.
The Monorail passed the parking lots and the Walt Disney World Speedway, a racetrack right on Disney property. At the present time, there were only a few cars racing; it was probably a qualifying race, Donny thought.
The group watched out the windows of the Monorail as it glided alongside World Drive, the main highway that took guests to the Magic Kingdom. The Monorail turned towards EPCOT Center, bringing Spaceship Earth into the view of the Monorail’s passengers. The elevated train slowed to a stop into the station at the EPCOT parking lot.
The doors of the train slid open and a wave of hot air washed over the group like a wave from the wave pool at Blizzard Beach. As the six friends got on the escalator that would carry them to the parking lot of EPCOT Center, Sean told the group a story about Stanley and his experience with Monorails.
“Stanley’s family comes to Disney World about once every two years, even though they live in Michigan. When he was younger, his family used to ride the Monorails often. Stanley thought that Monorails were called Mother Whales,” Sean explained. Everyone laughed. “He would ask his mom if they could ride the Mother Whales.” That comment just made everyone laugh even harder.
“Looks like the Disney World know-it-all hasn’t always known it all,” Candy laughed.
Donny, Sean, Cap, Becky, Candy, and Mandy all sighed in laughter as they made their way to the EPCOT park entrance, walking side by side; Becky was pushing Sean. The group entered through the turnstiles, showing their hands to the entrance attendants. Their hands had a green stamp on it that allowed them to gain re-entry to the park after spending time in another park that same day. Glancing at his watch, Donny noticed that it was close to 8:00.
“Come on! We’re going to be late!” Donny said to the group. The six friends rushed under Spaceship Earth, around the Future World fountain in Innoventions Plaza, across the bridge into Showcase Plaza, and took a right, passing Canada, the United Kingdom, the International Gateway, France, Morocco, Japan, and to the USA.
The detectives and their friends ducked into the back row of the America Gardens Theater with close to five minutes to spare before the show began. Cap went to a small concession vendor and got everyone a bottle of pop and 3 boxes of popcorn to share. He sat back down right as four guys in kilts came on stage. One was carrying a bagpipe, another was carrying an electric guitar, a third was holding a pair of drumsticks, and one was positioned behind a keyboard.
“Hey, we’re the band, Off Kilter. We are from Canada, and have been together playing here at EPCOT Center for close to eight years,” the guy with the bagpipe explained.
The band began playing songs such as “Goodbye Muirsin Durkin”, “Follow Me Up to Carlow”, and a rock and roll version of “Amazing Grace.” Cap clapped and sang along to the music; he spent the first ten years of his life in Scotland, so he knew most of the songs sang.
The show ended close to 9 PM. Donny wheeled Sean out of the theater and to the Japan pavilion. Once there, the group found benches and sat down, facing the World Showcase Lagoon, the large lake that is in the middle of the World Showcase. The World Showcase Lagoon is what the pavilions of the World Showcase are grouped around.
The lights of the pavilions dimmed as a bass drum was heard over the sound systems. Giant torches surrounding the lake sprouted fire suddenly as the bass drum beat got faster. Suddenly, an orange flare soared through the sky as a high pitched squeal of a flute was heard. As the flare reached its peak height in the sky, it exploded into a firework as the music began.
The show, “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” is a unique one; the combination of flares, smoke, lasers, fireworks, and fireballs make the nighttime thrill spectacular the popular show that it is. The main crowd pleaser of the show is a large spinning globe on a mechanized raft. The globe is the only television on Earth wrapped around a sphere; it also breaks apart, spins, and sprays a fireball into the sky.
The climax of the show is the equivalent of the finale; the music was a loud, fast tempo with a big united ending, with the whole band playing. Every one of the thousands of the people surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon clapped enthusiastically. The group of friends made their way toward the International Gateway.
Passing the bathrooms on the way to the International Gateway, a voice yelled at the group.
“Hey, Candy!”
Candy looked and saw one of her friends that worked as Ariel at Ariel’s Grotto in the Magic Kingdom. The woman who posed as Ariel, whose name was Dee Light, had her daughter with her, who held Dee’s hand. The small girl, whose name was Kallie, was hiding behind  The little girl who looked to be about five years old with shoulder blade length brown hair and blue eyes ran to Candy and gave her a big hug. Candy had to stoop to one knee to hug the girl.
Dee and Candy talked for a few minutes, waiting for Dee’s husband to emerge from the bathroom.
“Daddy!” yelled Kallie excitedly, running for her father as he came out of the bathroom. The man, who was about six feet tall, with blond hair and glasses picked up his daughter and placed her on his shoulders. Dee walked over to him and kissed him.
“Your hair is different. It’s not as spiked,” Dee commented.
“I got it a little wet.” Dee looked at her husband with a strange glance. “Don’t ask,” he answered her look.
Candy introduced her friends to Dee, Kallie, and Dee’s husband, who’s name was Cory. Dee walked in front of Cory and Kallie, with Candy, Mandy, Sean, Becky, Donny, and Cap. Cory walked behind the group with Kallie on his shoulders.
“So what do you do?”Cap asked Cory. When no answer came, he turned around to find that the man wearing his daughter on his shoulders was nowhere in sight. In fact, Cory was nowhere in the area at all. He whispered his findings to Donny, who turned a pale peach color. He whispered the fact that the two Lights were missing to Candy who turned even paler. She turned to Dee and broke the news slowly and carefully.
“Dee, Cory and Kallie are missing!” Dee turned around like her torso was on a spring. All the color drained from the young mother’s face. She started rocking as she broke out into a cold sweat. He eyes rolled into the back of her head as she fell backwards. Luckily, Cap was behind her to catch her.
Candy turned to Donny. “Go find ‘Cory.’” To Cap, she said, “Check in the bathroom to find if the real Cory is in there.” Finally, Candy instructed Mandy, Becky, and Sean to stay with Dee when she came to. Cap laid Dee on a park bench, her head on Mandy’s lap. Donny sprinted off to the nearest ledge to search for the missing people. Cap sprinted as fast as his old legs would allow him to get to the bathroom. He ran inside and looked under the doors for legs. There were multiple pairs present.
“Which of you is Cory Light?” Cap yelled.
Candy ran to the International Gateway, into a shop where she ordered the man standing behind the counter to call park security. The young man complied, eyes wide.
Close to three minutes later, a man wearing complete security outfit walked into the store.
“Did someone call security?” he asked.
“I did, sir,” the young man said nervously.
“Sir, my friend is missing her daughter. We need to find her,” Candy said in a rushed voice to the security officer. The policeman pushed his cap high on his head so he could write on his pad.
“Alright, could I have a physical description, please?”
“Um, about four feet, three inches tall, brown hair, blue eyes. She is wearing pink over-alls and a flowery white shirt. She has pink shoes on with red socks underneath.”
“How old is she and what name does she answer to?” the security guard asked.
“Her name is Kallie Light and is five years old. Oh yeah, one more thing, she was last seen with a man about six feet tall, blond hair, and glasses. We thought he was Kallie’s father, Cory Light, but he was an imposter. We realized this when both he and Kallie were missing.”
“Where and when did you first realize they were missing?”
“Um, we were at the bathrooms in Morocco right after Illuminations had finished. We began walking toward the International Gateway and turned around to say something to “Cory” when we realized he wasn’t there. He had close to a  five second window to escape with Kallie.
The law enforcer tipped his cap at Candy. “Alright, thank you, ma’am. You wouldn’t by any chance have a picture of Kallie, would you?”
“I don’t but my friend, Kallie’s mother might. She is on a bench in Morocco with a few of my other friends. Would you like to ask her a few questions?”
“Yes, let’s go.” Candy led the security guard out of the shop and toward where Sean, Becky, and Mandy sat with Dee. The security guard raised his walkie-talkie to his lips and muttered Kallie and “Cory’s” physical details to other guards who would aid on the search.
When the two arrived at the bench Dee was at, the officer asked which was Dee. Sean raised his hand.
“You’re Dee?” the officer asked skeptically.
“No, just trying to lighten the mood,” Sean smirked.
“I’m Dee,” the young mother said.
“Do you have a picture of Kallie or Cory?” the security personnel asked.
Dee dug through her purse until she produced a family picture. The picture showed the three Lights sitting near a river. All were dressed formally, as if they were dressed for church.
“You can keep that picture,” Sean and Dee said in unison.
“How did you know I was going to say that?” asked Dee.
“Don’t you ever watch detective shows?” Sean asked.

                

No one said a word. Cap looked under each stall door, one by one, just enough to see their legs.
‘No, that can’t be him, his legs are too fat. If Cory looked like the imposter, this can’t be him.’
‘No, that can’t be Cory, either. The hair on this guy’s legs is white. Cory isn’t that old.’
‘No, that can’t be Cory. He is Caucasian, not African American.’
‘No, that can’t be Cory. I’m sure Cory probably has leg hair.’
Cap came to the last stall. Looking under the stall, Cap saw a pair of legs wearing jeans, but no shoes. He knocked on the door. No answer was heard. He knocked again. Still no answer. He risked a glance. Gripping the top of the stall door, Merle Mitchell hoisted himself up enough to peek over the top of the stall’s door. The man inside looked exactly like the imposter. He was fully dressed, except for his shoes. The impersonator must have taken his shoes to complete the costume. The clothes on this Cory Light were different than that of the imposter. The kidnapper must have put his clothes on this Cory Light, and this Cory Light’s clothes on himself.
Cory was slumped against the wall of the bathroom stall, completely out. Cap lowered himself from the top of the stall door. Looking at the hole between the bottom of the door and the floor, he thought to himself, ‘I can’t believe I’m going to do this. This is so unsanitary.’
Merle “Cap” Mitchell got down on all fours, then on his stomach and crawled under the door into the bathroom stall. He flipped over onto his back and unlocked the stall door. Suddenly, a loud sound of the fat guy on the end of the stall bank slicing the air with his gas was heard. A loud plop of feces splashing into the porcelain toilet bowl was heard, as well. Cap scrunched his nose in disgust, trying to rid his nose of the foul smell emanating from the bank of stalls.
Standing up, he opened the stall door and hoisted Cory onto his back, positioning the young man in a fireman’s carry.  He carried the young father to the bathroom sink and turned the faucet to cold water. He cupped his hands under the geyser and splashed the freezing water into Cory Light’s face. Cory began to come to, so to save both the man and himself from passing out from the horrid odor seeping from the stalls, he hoisted the man back onto his shoulder.
Risking a quick look at the stall, Cap thought he saw a green haze rising from the toilet cubicle. His eyes began watering from the stench. He almost vomited when a grunt came from the fat man’s stall. He hurried out of the bathroom and to the group of benches where Dee was. He noticed Candy had just arrived with the security guard.
Cap laid Cory on the park bench next to the one that Dee, Becky, Mandy, and Candy were all sitting on. Dee stood up instantly and rushed to her husband’s aid as he continued to wake up. Cap sat down between Becky and Candy on the bench.
“What did he say?” Cap asked.
“He rounded up some of his fellow security guards to find the fake Cory and Kallie. I just hope that Donny finds him first so that we don’t have to worry about being here awhile.” Candy explained.
Cap glanced around. They were the only group of people in the whole of World Showcase, as EPCOT Center was closed, now. There were traces of people every once in awhile filing out of the park. He wondered how Donny was doing...

                


Donny dodged the crowds of oblivious Disney World guests to get to the nearest ledge. He grabbed a lamp post to stabilize himself on the ledge and stood his full height to look around the area Kallie and Cory disappeared. He surveyed the crowd of people filing out of the park, no one acting to be in any hurry. Suddenly, Donny noticed a tall figure passing Italy, two countries away.
Jumping of the ledge, Donny sprinted toward Cory at blinding speed. He surprised himself at how fast he was running. It must be the adrenaline rush, he thought to himself. Within three minutes, he had arrived at Italy, but Cory was already at the Outpost. Donny put more effort into his speed and sprinted Germany as the Glockenspiel rang, signaling the time as 9:30 PM. He was gaining on Cory, who shifted Kallie’s weight on his shoulders so he could run easier.
Donny sprinted over the bridge and into China as Cory ran past the Stave Church of Norway. He knows I’m gaining on him, thought Donny. Cory began climbing the steps of the Mexico pavilion as Donny passed the small reproduction of the Norwegian church.
When Donny entered the building that housed the Mexico pavilion, he realized all the lights were on. He blinked the spots of green and red clouding his vision away and quickly scanned the room for Cory and Kallie. He noticed that cast members were cleaning up the pavilion and checking to make sure no guests were hiding out. They all froze when Cory and Kallie ran in, being chased by Donny.
“Stop!” one yelled. Cory ignored her and ran straight for the entrance queue of El Rio del Tiempo: The River of Time, a ride similar to Small World that depicts the history of Mexico.
Cory ran to the control platform for El Rio del Tiempo and pressed a green button. The boats in the canal began moving. Cory jumped off the platform and landed in the boat leaving the platform. When Donny reached the loading platform, he too pressed the green button. Right behind him was a Disney security guard.
“Stop!” he yelled.
As Donny landed in the boat, he turned and looked at the guard as the ride car began leaving.
“This man has kidnaped my friend’s daughter. I have to catch him. You have to believe me!” Donny explained as the boat passed the volcano.
“Oh, I believe it, alright. I believe that I can’t let you catch him,” the guard said, pulling his gun on Donny.
The guard quickly pushed the green button and jumped into a boat as it pulled away from the platform. He squeezed off a few shots at Donny, who scrunched down under the protection of the seat.
The boat pulled into a tunnel, back into the time of the Aztecs. All around were screens of Aztec chiefs doing the rain and sun dances. The boat drifted past more screens. One showed a woman jumping off a cliff and diving into the ocean a hundred feet below. Another showed a merchant following your boat, trying to sell various Mexican items to you. Donny popped up a second to see that Cory’s boat was floating into the next room that contained animatronic dolls participating in Cinco de Mayo. Donny glanced behind him to see the “guard” with his gun trained on him. Donny quickly ducked down just as a bullet whizzed over his head.
He decided this was when he had to make his move. Donny stood up and jumped into the scenery of the animatronic celebration. He ran and jumped into the boat Cory and Kallie were in. He then realized they were not with him. He looked forward to see that Cory had ran into the next room and was running through the scenery. Donny turned around to see that the guard was jumping slowly into the boat behind him.
Once his boat was in the next room, Donny jumped out of his boat and into the scenery, where another celebration was taking place. Looking ahead, Donny saw Cory holding a knife to Kallie’s throat.
“Don’t take another step, Michaels,” Cory said. Donny turned around to see the guard huff into the scenery. He pulled his gun out of his holster and trained it on Donny.
“Thank you, Jason, for assisting me,” Cory said.
“No problem, sir. Do you want me to shoot him?” the man called Jason asked.
“No. Oh, Mr. Euchre, here is your payment,” Cory said. He pulled a gun out of his waistline and pulled the trigger on Jason Euchre.
Donny heard four shots. Jason staggered back and fell onto a spinning carousel behind him. Donny watched in horror as Cory pushed his daughter into the canal in front of an oncoming boat. He was about to go down to save the girl when Cory squeezed off two shots at him.
“On the ground!” Cory yelled. Donny complied. Once done, Cory ran off toward an exit door hidden behind the carousel Jason Euchre’s dead body was spinning on. Donny stood up and watched, terrified as the boat drifted toward the five year old girl who was trying frantically to get onto the scenery ledge. The boat was only two feet from the girl, when she slipped and fell into the water. Donny would never make it to the girl in time.


                                                            16

The boats, the music, the animatronic dolls, everything stopped. Donny looked to see the heavy boat inches from the small girl’s body. The room was silent except for Kallie’s whimpering. Donny jumped into the canal and picked the young girl out of the water, holding her to his shoulder.
“It’s okay, Kallie,” he said to the girl, although he knew it was not true. She put her arms around his neck and her head on his shoulder as he carried her out of the ride.
Walking into the queue, Donny noticed security guards with Mandy waiting for him. He handed the girl up to Mandy and pulled himself out of the canal.
“Where is the disguised murderer?” asked one of the guards.
“He escaped through a door in the carousel room,” Donny responded.
“You didn’t go after him?” one asked angrily.
“He had a gun on me. He was going to shoot me!” Donny defended himself. The law enforcer sighed and ran off with three other guards, talking on their radios. Donny noticed that the one guard left, with Mandy was the one who originally talked to Mandy and Dee.
“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions, Mr. Michaels?” the guard asked, taking a pocket-sized spiral notebook from his breast pocket.

                


Cap looked down at Cory to see how the man was doing. He had a sizable bump on his head. A small trickle of blood issued from his bump, but not much. Small grunts came from the man’s lips. Cap smiled as the man’s eyes fluttered open.
“What happened?” he asked.
“You were knocked out while going to the bathroom, your clothes stolen by a criminal who tried to kidnap your daughter. My nephew’s friend is out trying to catch him now,” Cap explained.
Cory sat up quickly. “My Kallie was kidnaped?! Why? Oh, my head.”
“Try to lay back down, Mr. Light,” Cap instructed. “My nephew, his friend, and I are detectives. We think that the suspect is trying to hurt us by attacking those close to us. Candy is a good friend of Dee, so the criminal kidnaped Kallie, attacking Candy, in a figurative way.”
“I see,” Cory said.
“What do you remember about earlier, about being attacked?” Cap asked.
“I remember going into the bathroom and using the urinal. I walked over to the sink to wash my hands and saw an old man come up behind me and lift his cane. That’s all I remember. By the way,” Cory said, bashfully, “do you have anything I can wear, since I am only in my boxers and socks?” Cap gave him his sweater.
“What exactly did this ‘old man’ look like?” asked Sean, curious.
“He was kind of fat, with bushy eyebrows, a beard, and a cane as I said earlier. He was bald and the hair that he did have was gray.”
Sean’s eyes widened. Cory had just described the old man constantly following them around. The case was almost solved, he could feel it. He just needed to figure out who the old man was and what his motive was. He made a mental note to talk to Donny about it later.
Donny, Kallie, the security guard, and a park medic were riding on a golf cart toward the group. The medic quickly checked out Cory, while the guard exchanged few words with Dee and Candy, before he went into the bathroom to clear out the remaining guests.
After the medic was done looking over Cory, the group exchanged farewells, as the Lights exited the park via the front entrance, where their vehicle was parked. The detectives and friends exited the park as well, taking a bus to the Wilderness Lodge. When they arrived, they caught a ferry boat to the Magic Kingdom. As they neared the park, the boat slowed to a stop as floats on boats passed.
“If you look out the front of the boat, you will see the Water Pageant,” the boat’s skipper explained.
As the Water Pageant passed, the boat drifted to the dock at the Magic Kingdom. The group sat outside the park on the benches outside the gates, between the Monorail and bus stations. Donny glanced at his cell phone, which was clipped to his belt. The time read 10:09. Suddenly, the sky became ablaze with fireworks. Donny put his arm around Candy.
After the firework show was done, the group beat the crowd to the bus that brought them back to Coronado Springs. Once the group arrived at the Southwestern American themed resort, Candy and Mandy left in Candy’s car, which was parked in the staff parking lot. Cap and Donny walked up to their hotel room, leaving Becky pushing Sean upstairs in the wheelchair. Taking the elevator, Sean and Becky hummed the music played from the various shows they had seen that night.
As the elevator doors opened, Becky pushed Sean out and turned the wheelchair so she could talk to him.
“Sean, I really don’t want to go to my room. I don’t trust my father. After learning of his problem and that who I thought was his girlfriend being his therapist, I really don’t want to sleep in the same room as him. I just don’t know what to do, though.”
“You can stay in our room. I can sleep in the same bed as Donny,” Sean offered.
“Sean, thank you so much.” Becky said gratefully.
When they arrived at Sean, Donny, and Cap’s room, Sean opened the door. Becky pushed him in and closed the door behind her. Donny was in the bathroom nook brushing his teeth, while Cap was on his bunk, reading his Bible. Sean got out of the wheelchair and onto crutches, hobbling to the bathroom nook. He told Donny of his plan, who agreed.
“Just for the night,” Donny said.
“I’m going to my room to get my pajamas,” Becky said. “I’ll write my dad and Lyndi a note. They aren’t back yet from wherever they went.” Becky left while the boys got ready for bed and turned on the television. The channel was the WDW Tour channel, also known as “Zip-A-dee-Doo-Dah Day!”
A voice on the television explained the four parks. “Walt Disney World: Four parks, one dream: to make your time here magical. The Magic Kingdom: Where Fantasy Reigns; EPCOT Center: Discover the Wonder; Disney’s-MGM Studios: Where Showbiz Is; and Animal Kingdom: Nahtazu! Also, make sure to visit Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, our two water parks! Our shopping district, Downtown Disney, offers some of the best shopping experiences on Disney property.”
A knock came on the door. Donny opened it, to reveal Becky in a tee-shirt and long fuzzy pajama pants with frogs all over it.
“I am so tired, I think I’m going to turn in, now. Good night, boys,” Becky said, climbing into the vacant bed. She rolled over to face the window, away from the bathroom.
Donny climbed into bed next to Sean, who was closest to the wall, which separate the bedroom area from the bathroom. Looking over at the cot, he noticed that Cap was fast asleep, rolled on his side, facing the wall and snoring loudly.
Donny changed the channel on the television to ESPN to watch the sports highlights of the day. Sean bumped him; Donny looked over at his best friend.
“Can I talk to you a second?” Sean whispered.
“Sure,” Donny said.
“When we questioned Cory Light, this evening, he gave us a very important clue,” Sean explained. Donny sat up and opened the drawer of the bedside stand, removing his pocket sized spiral notebook. Opening it, he flipped to a new page.
“What clue?” Sean asked.
“Well, Cory said that he was washing his hands when an old man came up behind him and hit Cory in the head with his cane. We don’t know if this is the kidnaper or an accomplice. The old man was, and I quote, ‘kind of fat, with bushy eyebrows, a beard, and a cane as I said earlier. He was bald and the hair that he did have was gray.’ I’m telling you, this guy is our man! He’s Mr. Engler’s murderer! He has to be! If you think about it, all the other clues that point to Becky’s father cancel out because we now know that he is mentally unstable due to his schizophrenia,” Sean explained.
“Well, two things are going through my head, right now, Sean,” Donny began. “Number one is that you are right, Shaggy may be our killer. And if he is, we need to set a trap for him.” Sean nodded in agreement. “The second thing is this: even if Mr. McGrogen is schizophrenic, the clues still point to him. In fact, let’s say he does have the mental disorder. If he has multiple personalities and thinks that there are people out there who want to do him in that don’t exist, there is a perfect reason for him to be the perp.”
Sean nodded. “Well, I think I’m going to spend some time trying to solve this. Becky, her father, and his therapist leave tomorrow night. That means we have less than twenty-four hours to solve this baby. And there is only one place fit enough to think things over...the bathroom!” Sean stood up and hopped over to the bathroom, pulling the door shut quietly behind him, as not to wake his uncle and girlfriend.
Donny began to journal in his notebook about his thoughts.  

7/22/04
11:42 PM

Man, a lot has happened lately. We have kind of narrowed down the choices of the suspects. We still have the two original suspects (Shaggy and Mr. McGrogen/Winkler) on our list, but we have compiled a list of clues, shown below:

Mr. McGrogen/Winkler

1.) According to TPPD, kidnaped daughter and innocent person, bought fake Ids
2.) Becky seemed to get a hold of McGrogen’s business card easily as if there were many in the room. Usually if the card doesn’t have your name on it, you only have one. The business card said ‘Louis McGrogen’. It took Becky a very short time to get Sean this card.
3.) Winkler/McGrogen accidentally called his daughter Becky instead of Kara.
4.) According to the TPPD, McGrogen had the same physical features as Winkler. We now know them to be the same person.
5.) Said he was going running for the afternoon, but only went for five minutes, running Sean over when he stepped into the hall. Evesdropping???
6.) Becky tells Sean her parents are divorced yet, Lyndi acts as mother and Becky calls her ‘mom’.
7.) Candy is kidnaped and disposed of in Winkler room.
8.) Abused daughter with baseball bat...not afraid to kill.
9.) Was very good at Frontierland Shooting Arcade, didn’t miss a target. Could he be the shooter???
10.) Answered to Louis McGrogen at 8TRAX and from Yensid, his real wife.
11.) Tried drowning wife. Was he afraid she was going to talk???

Shaggy

1.) Was seen leaving scene where Sean was pushed over banister. Face of attacker was never seen and perp disappeared from plant. Shaggy was seen leaving...???
2.) Sat behind driver when bus went over overpass wall. Did he do something to driver to make the bus go over?
3.) Sat next to Sean on Kali River Rapids and offered to clip seatbelt...sabotage???
4.) Seen around other attack scenes and following us around.
5.) Pushed Mandy over edge.
6.) Attacked Cory...is this the fake Cory?

Miscellaneous

1.) Pepper on my food.
2.) Chloroformed Becky and Sean at COP.
3.) Power outage at HM.
4.) Old man kidnaped real Juanita.
5.) Fake Juanita kidnaps Candy...same kidnaper as that of real Juanita???
6.) Someone killed Juanita...to silence or punish?
7.) Hired Jason Euchre.
8.) Ransacked room.
9.) Different bullets in victims.
10.) Grudge on Englers.
11.) Many different people involved.
12.) Jason Euchre killed.
13.) “Cory”

As I said to Sean earlier in the night, if the perpetrator is Shaggy, we need to set a trap for him to catch him. McGrogens leave tomorrow night and we need to hustle and finish this case.

The toilet flushed and the door opened. Donny looked up while closing his notebook to see Sean waddle out of the bathroom.
“How did your thinking time go?” asked Donny.
“It was hard. I think I hurt myself,” Sean said as a big smile split his face. Donny laughed.
“Did you come up with anything?” Donny asked.
“I think I figured out a way to trap Shaggy.”
“How?”
“Next time we see him, we ask him a few questions,” Sean said.
“That’s all you got?” Donny asked.
“Yeah, sorry. I wasn’t really focused on that part of thinking. I was a little busy with some other things at the time, thank you very much!” Sean said.
“It’s all good,” Donny said. Sean hopped into bed, as Donny replaced his notebook to the bedside stand drawer and put the pen cap on the writing end of the utensil. He turned off the television and the bed lamp as Sean pulled the covers over himself.
“Good night, Donny,” Sean said to his best friend.
“Good night, Sean.”
                

The next morning, Donny and Sean got up early. Sean’s watch alarm went off at 7:15; he quickly turned it off, as not to wake his girlfriend, who was sleeping in the next bed. He hopped into the shower and gave himself his usual sponge bath, then dressed himself and quietly brushed his teeth. Donny and Cap did likewise. While Cap was in the shower, Donny quickly ran down to the Pepper Market’s coffee shop to get three caramel Cappuccinos and one black coffee. When he returned back at room 9503, he saw that Becky was awake, getting ready to take a shower. He handed Sean a Cappuccino, took one for himself, and gave Cap his black coffee, leaving the last Cappuccino for Becky in the sink area.
The three men exited the hotel room, leaving Becky the privacy needed for bathing and pampering. Leaning over the railing of the hallway, the three detectives sipped at their coffees and surveyed the scenery as the crisp Florida sunlight bathed the hotel property. The sunlight on Sean’s cheek was like the caress of his loving mother he received before leaving for a dangerous case with Donny and his uncle. Suddenly, a quick blur flashed below in the Mexican themed courtyard. It was Shaggy, the small fat man with thick gray eyebrows and long beard.
“That’s it,” Cap said. He removed his cell phone from his belt and dialed in a number. The man in the courtyard below moved underneath the opposite hallway. He also removed his cell phone and turned it on.
“Hello?” came a voice from the other line. The man from the opposite side of the courtyard looked up at the men. His eyes widened and he briskly walked around the corner, out of their view.
“Carl Kerkstram, this is Merle Mitchell. We need you to do an Identification Check, please,” Cap explained.
“Alright, just one moment. Okay, why don’t you give me the physical characteristics while I input them into the computer?” Chief Kerkstram asked.
“Short and somewhat large, long gray beard, bushy gray eyebrows, bald with gray crown,” Cap described Shaggy.
“Just a second, let the computer search the databases. I’m assuming this is for the whole continental United States?”
“Yeah, because this man is on Disney property. We have no idea what state he could be from. We think he may be our man,” Cap explained.
“Alright, Merle. We have one problem. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY MEN IN THE UNITED STATES FIT THAT DESCRIPTION?”
“Well, yeah. How many of them have a background?”
“Merle, that could take days to check all their backgrounds. Days I don’t have to waste,” Carl said, somewhat angry.
“I’m sorry, Chief,” Merle apologized.
“I’m sorry, too, Cap,” Kerkstram also apologized. “I’m just somewhat stressed right now. By the way, how is the case going?”
“It’s going okay. We have had some more problems. People falling from balconies, murder attempts, burning cars, the works.”
“I know...” Carl said.
“How do you know?” asked Cap.
“You didn’t let me finish. I know what you mean. That’s why I have decided to take this into my own hands. Thank you for your assistance. Oh, yes. Give my regards to the boys,” Chief Carl Kerkstram hung up the phone.
“He can’t do this!” Cap said loudly. The boys looked at him.
“Can’t do what?” they asked.
“Kerkstram took you off the case. He said it was too dangerous.” The door behind them opened up. The three detectives turned around to see a man with short, dark brown hair bend down to pick up the news paper from the floor mat of room 9502. When he stood up, they noticed it was Louis McGrogen. They weren’t sure if he still thought of himself as Lucas Winkler, so they decided to play along.
“Good morning, Mr. Winkler,” Sean said.
“Good morning, Kyle,” McGrogen said.
“I like your hair,” Donny remarked.
“Thank you, I just got it done yesterday. Do you like the color? I was sick of the blond so I thought brown would do,” the man said. “Well, back to packing. We’re leaving this afternoon, you know. As Tigger would say, ‘TTFN, Ta Ta For Now!’ Oh yes, tell Kara she needs to come back, now. We’re leaving, early.” The door slammed in their faces.
Knocking on their room door, Sean, Cap, and Donny hoped that Becky was out of the shower and dressed, so they could say their goodbyes. The door opened to reveal Becky in a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt, different than that in which she slept the night before.
“Your father said that you need to go back to your room. He said that you are leaving early.”
Becky began crying. She swore.
“He can’t do this!” she cried. She put her arms around her boyfriend and buried her face in Sean’s shoulder.
“You’d better go,” Sean said. She kissed him.
“I love you,” Becky said.
“Love you too,” Sean replied. Becky pulled away and picked her pajamas off the bed. Opening the door, she took one last look at Sean and closed the door behind her. Sean, Donny, and Cap looked out the window as the McGrogens and Lyndi carried their suitcases into the elevators. The doors closed and Sean opened the door. Cap and Donny tried grabbing him as he hopped out the door, but failed. Sean hopped down the stairs and around the corner, followed by Cap and Donny.
Sean hopped around the corner and watched as the McGrogens and Lyndi packed their suitcases into their car. Sean noticed something that looked like a ponytail or raccoon tail hanging out of a suitcase as the car’s trunk closed. Tears fogged Sean’s eyes as the McGrogens and Lyndi got into the car and began slowly driving away. 



                                                            17

“Great. One of our suspects just got away. Our first major case we tackled mostly on our own has just gone down the drain,” Donny remarked. Suddenly, a huffing, labored breathing sound was heard behind them. Donny turned around to see Shaggy running toward them. In his hand was a pistol. All three detectives put up their hands. Shaggy ran right past them, screwing a silencer to the end of the barrel. In the middle of the parking lot, the man got down on one knee and aimed his pistol at the retreating car that carried the suspect, his daughter, and his therapist.
Pulling the trigger on the gun, Shaggy didn’t move from the gun’s small kick-back at all. Sean and Donny watched in amazement as the bullet tore into the car’s back left tire. He shot the gun again, damaging the car’s back axle. He quickly put the gun away and winked at the three detectives, who stared in curious wonder.
The old man ran toward the car, which was stranded in the middle of the parking lot. Louis had gotten out of the car and was inspecting the damage, uttering profanity.
“Excuse me, but are you okay?” the old man asked.
“Yeah,” Louis said.
“Would you like me to call a garage to come pick up your car?” Shaggy asked.
“Please,” Louis said. Shaggy pulled open a small cell phone and called the garage. Ten minutes later, a tow truck followed by a familiar car. The tow truck parked behind McGrogen’s car, and the driver got out to hook it up to his tow rope. The car’s door opened and two men stepped out.
“Hello, Donny, Cap, and Sean,” Jolly greeted, hand extended. He quieted his voice as not to be heard by Louis. “Nice shooting, Kerkstram.”
“What???” Sean, Donny, and Merle almost yelled in unison. Shaggy pulled off the beard and swim cap to reveal a heavily made up, fat, Carl Kerkstram, chief of the Tampa Bay Police Department.
“I had to follow you three around to make sure that you were safe. You were working for the TBPD as unofficial detectives. Do you know how much trouble we would be in if anything happened to you?” the man in disguise asked.
“So that’s why it felt like you were following us around all the time,” Sean said.
“Yeah. Well, after listening to your conversations in your room last night, I thought you might need a little help on keeping these guys here for a while,” Carl said.
“Was it you who broke into our room?” Donny asked.
“Only after it was ransacked,” the Chief explained. “It was like that after I went in. I just bugged it after the mess was made.”
Jolly and Smiley broke off from the group and walked over to Louis, Becky and Lyndi.
“We are so sorry about your car. It will take a while to fix so we would like to give you these free ‘One Day’ park passes. According to the tow truck driver, it looks as if someone tampered with your car,” Smiley explained as him and Jolly showed the family their Disney Ids.
“Thank you,” Lyndi said.
“Sir, will you come with me please?” the tow truck driver asked.
“You can stay with your friends, Tara,” Louis said to his daughter, again using her false name. Lyndi and Louis climbed into the tow truck, which was trailed by the paralyzed car like baby ducklings following the mother.
“That was strange,” Becky said as she hugged Sean. She noticed Carl and looked at the three detectives.
“Who is this?” she asked.
“Carl Kerkstram, Chief of Police at the Tampa Bay Police Department, I am working undercover with the boys here to figure out who killed Mr. Barry Engler,” he explained.
“I see,” Becky said.
“Let’s go back to the room,” Donny suggested. When they arrived there, Cap glanced at the park maps to decide how to spend their day to keep Becky’s mind off the possible truth that her father may be a criminal.
“Hey, I have an idea,” Cap said to break the ice.
“What’s that?” asked Jolly.
“Why don’t we have a thrill ride day?” Cap suggested.
“That is a wonderful idea,” Smiley agreed.
“Let’s start at the Magic Kingdom and go in chronological order from there,” Donny said.
“Don’t worry about getting me a ticket; I have an annual pass in my wallet,” Carl said. Donny, Sean, Cap, Carl, Jolly, Smiley, and Becky gathered up their belongings and hopped on a bus that would bring them to the Magic Kingdom.
When they arrived, they gave their tickets to the turnstile workers and walked to their left after getting an electronic wheelchair for Sean. Walking through the tunnel which would take them into the park, the group quickly stole a drink from a drinking fountain on the wall. Few people were in the park, as it just opened at 9:00. Sean looked at the area in the tunnels below the train station to see locker banks, ATMs, and pay phones. The walls were decorated with posters of famous Magic Kingdom attractions such as Splash Mountain, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
The group squinted as they came out of the tunnel. Cinderella Castle loomed in the distance, at the end of Main Street, USA.
“Where should we go first?” Becky asked. Everyone looked at Cap.
“How about Splash Mountain?” he asked. Jolly and Smiley just broke out laughing.
“What?” asked Sean.
“Long story,” Cap explained.

Half an hour later, the group was in line for Thunder Mountain Railroad. Donny had purchased a picture of their on-ride photo of Splash Mountain, as Cap had the funniest face he had ever seen going down the face of that mountain. Besides, this was the only picture he had of all them together. He just needed a picture of Candy and Mandy.
On the outside of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, large pieces of mining equipment are displayed. These pieces of machinery were actually used and bought from auctions all over the United States. The group walked up the ramp that led into the loading/queue building. The queue led the visitors through an old train station that would bring passengers into the mines. Since it was early in the park’s operating hours, the lines were fairly small. The seven friends got on the train and raised their hands as the train moved out of the station and into a cave. As the train car went up the lift hill, Sean noticed iridescent pools of water, stalactites and stalagmites, bats, and other cave-like necessities.
The train passed out of the cave and into the Disney created smokestack mountain region. The mine train raced past a flooded town, through caves, and under dinosaur bones protruding from the dirt, before arriving back in the station. The detectives and their friends unloaded and helped Sean back into his wheelchair.
“Next?” asked Donny.
“The only other real thrill ride here at the Magic Kingdom,” Cap said, looking at his park map. “Space Mountain.”

An hour later, the group had ridden Space Mountain, gotten on and off the bus, and arrived at EPCOT to ride its two thrill rides, Test Track and Body Wars. The group stood outside of Test Track, gazing at the circular building with a race track spanning the circumference of the outside. Close to every ten seconds, a car sounding like an airliner would speed by the entrance of the ride building.
“Let’s go,” Cap encouraged.
The group walked into the building, stepping into the queue line. The line brought the guests past a Crash Test Dummy exhibit, through a sound-proof room, and past televisions showing great footage of car crashes. After standing through the pre-show, the seven thrill seekers loaded into a six man car. One person had to be left behind to ride in the next ride car. Jolly volunteered to meet the others at the exit queue.
After loading into the cars, Becky helped Sean clip his seat belt. Once they cleared belt inspection, the car accelerated quickly up a hill. The car entered into an area where the suspension was tested, as well as the ABS, and night driving skills. The car passed through  heat, freezing, and corrosion chambers. After that came the collision test.
The car slowly entered the room, where the group saw the crash barrier at the other wall. The car came to a stop. Suddenly, it was off. Right before the car hit the wall, the wall split apart and two doors opened as the vehicle and its ‘test dummies’ were forced outside to do a figure-eight. The car exceeded speeds of 65 miles per hour at a banking angle of forty degrees. It came to a stop in the queue area a minute later.
Donny sighed. “That was fun.”

Four hours later, the group was done with both MGM and Animal Kingdom and back on the bus to the hotel. When they arrived at Sean, Donny, and Cap’s room, they found Louis and Lyndi waiting for them.
“Kara,” Louis began, still oblivious that his daughter had revealed her real name to her friends. “We have to remain here for the evening. Our new room number is 1294 in the Casitas section of the resort. It’s just right across the lake. We would like you home by 10:30.” Kara looked at her watch. The digital face read 4:30.
“Alright,” she responded. The girl stalled with her dad and his psychiatrist while Donny, Sean, Cap, Carl, Jolly, and Smiley went into the Michiganders’ room. Sean said he had an idea on how they could trap Louis McGrogen into revealing that he was the real murderer of Barry Engler and the attempted murderer of his wife, Margaretta.

                

Donny, Sean, and Cap walked Smiley and Jolly to the elevators to see them off. Carl informed his old friend, Cap, that he would be staying in his hotel room, which was, surprisingly on the other side of Sean and Donny’s; on one side was the enemy, on the other, the ally.
After their three friends had left, Donny, Sean, and Cap engaged in conversation with Louis and Lyndi. Suddenly, Donny’s cell phone rang.
“Hello?” he asked. “Oh hey girl! Yeah, really? Alright, I’ll send him there in a few minutes to pick it up. Thanks! Love you too, bye.”
“Who was that?” asked Sean.
“Candy,” Donny said.
“Really? What did she have to say?” Becky asked.
“Well first of all, she told me to tell you she says hi,” Donny said. “The next thing she said was actually a message for your dad, Mr. Winkler.” At this comment, Louis’s ears perked up and he turned his head in Donny’s direction.
“What about me?” he asked.
“Well, my friend works in the lobby at this hotel. She said that she just received a call from the towing company that they found a sniper rifle in the trunk of your car,” Donny explained.
“Really? That’s strange,” Louis said.
“How so?” asked Donny.
“Because, it’s a shotgun with a special scope,” Louis said, taking a handgun from his pocket. He grabbed Becky around the neck and stuck the barrel of the gun in the small of her back. “I warned you freaks to stay away and stop trying to figure this out! Now you will pay for being such snoops!”
Something flew past Louis’s face. It was a pair of shoes. When the shoes hit the concrete floor, Louis quickly turned his head to see where the sound was coming from. He quickly turned his head again when he heard the patter of bare feet on concrete. Lyndi was escaping.
“You aren’t going to breathe a word to any soul about this, Carmen Leotta!” Louis yelled. He turned his aim on the fleeing woman and shot her in the back. The bullet killed her instantly, but the bullet’s force pushed the young woman over the top of the stairs. As her body slid down the hard steps, Louis turned to face his enemies once again, only to be greeted by the fist of Sean in the mouth.
“You stupid freak!” Louis yelled. Sean tried to hobble away, but didn’t escape before he received unconsciousness from the butt of McGrogen’s handgun. Sean’s limp body went down like a rag doll.
“Sean!” Becky yelled.
“You know, I’m not surprised that you just called him Sean. I’ve known that these two were not really Robert and Kyle Markes,” Louis said.
“How did you know that?” Donny asked.
“I read Rebecca’s journal. Besides, I knew you guys were detectives since you showed up at my door that first day. You were so unprofessional and naive. No matter. Oh, by the by, I suggest you don’t follow me, unless you would like your friend’s girlfriend to die,” the criminal suggested.
Louis forced Becky down the stairs and across the lake with the gun in her back, all the way to room 1294. Cap picked Sean up and moved him into the room, while Donny stood in the hall.  Once the McGrogens were out of hearing range, Donny got on his cell phone and dialed Jolly’s number.
“Jolly Carahou,” Jolly answered.
“Jolly, this is Donny. Make me pretty.”

                

A knock was heard at the McGrogen’s hotel room door.
“Don’t you dare make a sound,” Louis McGrogen said to his daughter, who was tied up and sitting in the bathtub.
Louis walked to the door and peered out the peephole. A young woman around the age of thirty-six was standing outside the door. He furrowed his brow, confused. What was this 30 year old woman doing outside his room? Opening the door, he asked, “Can I help you?”
“Louis? Louis McGrogen?” the woman said in a southern accent.
“Yes, who are you?” Louis said, trying to act casual. The woman was about six feet tall, maybe a little taller, with long red hair, rosy cheeks, green eyes, and bright red lipstick. 
“Don’t you recognize me? It’s Rachel Gramburg!” the woman said.
“Oh my gosh! Rachel? What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Well, I was here on a personal vacation. I just arrived. I was checking in and saw your name on the computer screen. Isn’t that wild?” she said, receiving a hug from the criminal.
“Yeah, wild! Hey, would you like to go out tonight?” he asked.
“Sure,” Rachel said. “When?”
“How about right now?”
“Let’s go!”
“Where would you like to go?” Louis asked.
“I don’t care,” his online girlfriend answered, playing with her long, beautiful, red hair.
“How does the Rainforest Café at Downtown Disney sound?” asked Rachel’s boyfriend.
“That’s fine.”
“Alright, wait out here a second while I get something. Then we can go.” Leaving Rachel in the hall, Louis quickly grabbed his handgun off the bed and stuffed it in his shoulder holster, telling Becky to be quiet, that he was going on a date with Rachel Gramburg.
Meanwhile, Rachel was typing a message on her phone and sending it to a much older friend. The message said ‘PHASE ONE COMPLETE’.

                

A beep issued from Cap’s cell phone. Looking at the face, he read the message, ‘PHASE ONE COMPLETE’, which was sent from Donny, who was disguised as Louis McGrogen’s Internet sweetheart, Rachel Gramburg. He looked over at Sean’s bed. His nephew was just coming-to. Carl was holding a towel full of ice to the young teenager’s swollen cheek.
“How are you?” Cap asked Sean.
“I have a headache. What happened?”
“McGrogen hit you, then took Becky away at gunpoint. Earlier in the case, supposedly, Becky told you guys that the reason her dad and mom divorced was because Louis was having an online affair with a woman named Rachel Gramburg. Donny went undercover as Rachel Gramburg for a few reasons: so we can get Becky out of the room and so we can capture Louis.” Cap helped Sean sit up in the bed.
“Where are they now?” Sean asked as he stood up, putting most of his weight on his unbroken leg.
“Louis and ‘Rachel’ went on a ‘date.’” Sean began to laugh hysterically. “We are assuming that Becky is still in Louis’s room.”
“Pardon me a moment, I have a very important phone call to make.” Sean picked up the phone and called the front desk. “Hi, may I please speak to Candy? Hey, Candy. This is Sean Mitchell. We have a code red emergency here. Get me a custodian with a room key  to room number 1294, immediately. Thanks, bye.”
“Let’s get going. I want to be there when the custodian arrives with the key,” Kerkstram said. The three detectives ran out the door. Anyone looking out their windows toward the El Centro area would see two men running and a teenager jogging/hobbling behind with one leg in a cast.
The three detectives arrived at room 1294 just as the custodian arrived.
“Hurry, get the door open,” panted Sean. The maid nodded without saying a word and slipped the key into the electronic lock. When the green light flashed on the lock, Sean pushed on the door handle and ran into the room. The room was empty, however, the lights were left on. Looking around the room, he noticed the bathroom door was open a crack. He ran to the bathroom and burst through the doorway to find his girlfriend tied up in the tub in the same fashion they found Candy.
Sean bent down and took the duct tape off Becky’s mouth. She quickly kissed Sean. “Thank you,” were the only words she said. Sean quickly untied her arms as Cap untied her ankles. Carl snooped around the bedroom looking for evidence that would later convict McGrogen in court. Opening the bottom drawer of the bureau, he found two guns: a 12-gage shotgun and a 20-gage shotgun. Each had was specially modified with a new scope. There was also a box of shotgun ammo for each gun.
“Hey, Merle,” called Carl.
“Yeah?” Cap asked, helping Becky out of the tub. He walked into the bedroom and gasped when he saw the guns in the bottom drawer. Becky echoed Cap’s gasp.
“So that’s how he pulled it off. He made it look like there were more than one gunman that shot the Englers, but he just used two different guns,” Sean observed.
“Becky, how could you have not known that your father had these guns here?” Carl asked angrily.
“He told me that if I looked in that drawer, he would beat me with the bat again...” Becky broke down crying again.
“WHAT???” Cap yelled. “YOUR FATHER BEATS YOU WITH BASEBALL BATS?? HE’D BETTER HOPE THAT WE NEVER CATCH HIM...”
Cap never got to finish his sentence; he was interrupted by the beeping of his cell phone. Looking down at the face, he read another message: ‘RNFRST CAFÉ. MEET AT LAREDO @ CS: 8:30 PM.

                

“So what are you going to get?” Louis asked his girlfriend.
“Um, I think I’m goin’ to get the sizzler. You?”
“That sounds good,” the criminal said to his red-haired beauty.
The couple’s drinks arrived; Louis had a beer and because Rachel was really Donny, the disguised person got a Diet Coke.
The couple ordered their meals. Looking around the room, Donny noticed through his thick, fake eyebrows that the room really did resemble a rainforest. There were gorillas on a platform, stars on the ceiling, and a thunderstorm every half hour. After the two were done eating, Rachel/Donny suggested that the two go somewhere private. The young detective in disguise led the criminal to the Laredo room in the Convention Center of Coronado Springs.

                                        

Sean looked at his watch. The time was 8:15. He opened the door of the Laredo room of the Convention Center and looked around. No one was inside yet. Inside the room were many tables with table skirts. He waved Cap, Carl, and local police into the room. Each man hid under a table, making sure to cut a small hole as to see what was going on in the room. Sean dimmed the lights and hid under a table with Cap.
Just as Sean ducked under the table, the door to the Laredo room opened and a beautiful redhead walked in, followed closely by Louis McGrogen. Sean’s jaw hit the floor as he watched the redhead begin taking McGrogen’s shirt off. After it was off, McGrogen took the shoulder holster for his handgun off and set it on the ground. The redhead lied on the ground near the shoulder harness. McGrogen joined the woman. As he was getting close to her, the woman took the gun out of the harness and pointed it at McGrogen.
The redhead wiped her mouth, taking lipstick off, and ripped a wig off her head, to reveal Donny Michaels. “Get him boys,” Donny commanded. All at once, the cops, Cap, and Carl stood up from behind the tables and pointed their guns at McGrogen.
McGrogen looked shocked, then seemed to stare off towards the door. His face lightened as he smiled and yelled, “SHOOT THEM, JASON!” Everyone in the room turned and looked toward the maintenance door to shoot the ally of McGrogen, only to realize no one was there.
McGrogen turned and sprinted toward the door of the room and into the foyer. McGrogen ran down the hall toward the lobby area of El Centro. He was being pursued by seven cops, a police chief, and three detectives, one with a broken leg.
When Louis ran into the lobby, he stood in front of the fountain, facing the convention center, so he could see the oncoming police. Suddenly, he heard a voice call to him from behind.
“Hey, McGrogen!” he turned to see Donny’s girlfriend.
“Psst!” came a hiss from in front of him. Turning, he noticed his daughter, Becky, standing there. Her fist connected with his face, forcing him into the fountain. Ramming his head into the center pedestal, Louis McGrogen was temporarily knocked out cold. He began waking up when the cops arrived. They hauled him out of the fountain and were putting cuffs on him when he fully gained consciousness.
Cap got on his cell phone and called his friend, who was an adoption social worker. He had his friend fill out necessary information on his home laptop computer and told him he would sign the necessary spaces when he arrived home. Hanging up his phone, he walked over to where Becky and Sean were holding hands on a bench. Sean had a grimace on his face.
“What’s wrong?” Cap asked.
“I think I hurt my leg,” Sean grunted.
“Well, no wonder! You are running around with a broken leg. You aren’t even supposed to be putting pressure on that thing. Oh, by the way, you guys better stop holding hands,” Cap instructed.
“Why?” Becky asked.
“Since your mother is dead and your father going to jail, I have assumed the position of your guardian by adopting you. If that is alright, of course.” Becky broke into a big grin followed by tears as she rushed off the bench and embraced her new father.
As she gave Sean a hug, her ex-boyfriend whispered, “Welcome to the fam, cuz.”


                                                    Epilogue

Turning to Louis McGrogen, Donny asked, “So why did you kill Barry Engler, and attempt to kill Margaretta?”
“I own a company that does the disguises, costumes, and makeup for major movies. Because the economy is down, we asked Mr. Engler to fund part of our company. He said that he would not, that he hated movies and their impact on today’s American society. He went on to say that people in movies should not be disguised as other people; people are beautiful without makeup and costumes. My business partner, Jason Euchre, was the Engler’s oldest nephew. Since they didn’t have any children, the Englers willed everything to Jason.
“Euchre and I made a deal that if I killed the Englers, we would split Jason’s inheritance. When Margaretta lived, our chance of getting the money was shot. The only reason that we kept trying to kill you guys is that we didn’t want to be caught. Jason kept getting close to turning me in, so I killed him,” McGrogen explained.
“So who were all those different people like the old man and brawny man that kept trying to kill us? Was it more than just you and Euchre trying to get us?” Sean asked.
“Hello? I own a disguising company. Besides, as Mr. Mitchell found out, Jason had a fake Disney ID so he could get free costumes used to disguise ourselves.”
“Louis McGrogen, you are under arrest for four counts of pre-meditated murder, multiple counts of attempted murder, and three counts of kidnaping. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you,” a cop listed off McGrogen’s rights.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Louis grabbed the gun out of the cop’s holster with his handcuffed hands. Quickly aiming, he clipped off a shot, hitting his daughter just below the right shoulder. The impact of the bullet sent her flying backwards. All of the cops piled in on McGrogen, wrestling the gun from his hands.
“NOOO!!!!” yelled Sean. Donny quickly grabbed his cell phone and dialed 911. Carl quickly came forward and took off his shirt. Holding it to Becky’s gun wound, he put enough pressure on it to only leak a small amount of blood.

The ten minutes it took for the ambulance to arrive were the longest ten minutes of Sean’s life. He looked down at his cousin and saw that her face was as pale as the off-white floor tiles. He grabbed Cap, Donny, Carl, Candy, and anyone else around to pray for his cousin while she was being loaded onto the ambulance, all the while thinking to himself an idea found in the Holy Bible, “When two or more are gathered in my name, their faith can move mountains.”