My earliest memory is when I was three-years-old. My parents had taken me and my sister to Disney Land for the very first time. Oh, I was so incredibly excited to meet my HEROS, you know, Mickey, Donald, Pluto and Goofy! We went to Fantasy Land and rode the rides. I remember soaring on the back of Dumbo, laughing with the thrill of the wind cutting through my hair, and we flew so very high…at least from the vantage point of a three-year-old, and my Mother let me control Dumbo…up and down, up and down. My joy of flying began on the back of Dumbo that very day.
The next ride was a thriller! Mr. Toads Wild Ride. I stood behind my father and sister, holding my mother's hand. My sister is 21 months older. For a three-year-old that meant she knew EVERYTHING. Well, imagine my excitement as we approached the front of the line, watching all those cars go by with kids at the helm, turning that wheel. I'd never DRIVEN a car before, but my mother let me fly Dumbo and she assured me I could DRIVE the car! My sister and father hopped into their car ahead of me, she always got to do things first. Then it was my turn. My TIME to DRIVE a car! OH, I was so excited, and so was my mother. She told me I WAS IN CHARGE. She wasn't going to take over the very important task of driving.
Oh, this was my MOMENT! A thrill in the making. So, off we went….
(For those who don't know, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is one of those where the steering wheel controls absolutely nothing, it's a rod that spins behind the plastic ‘dash' of the car and the car runs on a predetermined track. No matter how hard you STEER you are destined for the path the ride designers envisioned. At THREE, this was a part of Disney Magic I DID NOT UNDERSTAND.)
So, my every excited three-year-old self took over control of my very important task. I steered my way along this crazy drive, venturing into the land of Disney's adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, one of the two segments of the feature film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
I have cut in an edited version of the RIDE from Disney's Wiki – Wikia…so you will get the FULL MEASURE OF THE HORRORS VISITED UPON MY THREE-YEAR-OLD SELF!!!!!!
Guests enter a recreation of Toad Hall. A large mural shows the adventures of Mr. Toad and his motorcar, foreshadowing various scenes in the ride. Guests hop aboard miniature early 1900's-era multi-colored motorcars.
Passengers begin their journey by crashing into Toad Hall's library. They then careen through the fireplace. Narrowly avoiding a falling suit of armor, the passengers break through a set of doors to find the interior hallway of Toad Hall in disarray.
Upon leaving Toad Hall, guests travel through the countryside. Guests head for the docks and get the impression that their car will plunge into the river, but quickly make a sharp turn and enter a warehouse where they crash through a brick wall as the warehouse's contents explode.
They then head out into the streets of London, avoid a close collision with a delivery truck and enter Winky's Pub. Passengers then enter the town square, where the cars wreak further havoc on the citizens. Next, guests enter a jury-less courtroom, where the riders are proclaimed guilty by a judge (based upon their poor driving, I suppose).
The cars then enter a dark prison cell before abruptly turning right and landing on railroad tracks. The cars bounce along the tracks in the dark before colliding head-on with an oncoming train.
Guests then arrive at the ride's final scene: a tongue-in-cheek depiction of Hell. The entire room is heated and the scenery features small devils who wiggle up and down. A large devil, who resembles the Judge points guests to the left, indicating “redemption“. Near the end of the scene, a towering green dragon emerges and attempts to burn the riders to a crisp. A glowing light is seen in the back of its throat and we hear choking, coughing noises.
Granted the reprieve from the demon judge, the passengers eventually “escape” to the unload area, where they disembark.
THIS WAS THE HORROR I ENDURED (crashing, careening, breaking through doors, plunging into a river, crashing through more doors, colliding with a delivery truck, judged guilty, going to prison, descending into hell, being burned to a crisp!)
AND YES, MY MOTHER KEPT HER WORD. SHE DID NOT TAKE OVER THE DRIVING FROM MY TERRIFIED SELF.
Now, her perspective was much different than mine. This is not a terrifying ride…to an adult…She was trying her hardest to make it FUN for her daughter. When we entered HELL, she laughed because she believed I was having a BLAST, when in fact I was TRAUMATIZED beyond belief.
My FIRST FULL MEMORY?
I remember getting off that ride and making the decision then and there that I would RUN AWAY from my mother who had laughed at me. My mother never saw me walk away, she was too busy laughing and telling my father and sister who'd got off their ride ahead of us, how much FUN I had had. They laughed at me too.
So, I walked away from them! Because three-year-olds are very rationale, and I was exceptionally independent.
I REMEMBER staring up at the Dumbo ride, wishing I could fly away, and getting VERY, VERY, VERY scared, because I couldn't see my parents anymore and I didn't know what to do.
Don't worry! This story has a happy ending. My parents found me, tears streaming down my cheeks, but they found me. Our next ride was Peter Pan. We sat in a ship. I didn't have to DRIVE, but I did get to FLY!
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