It was going to be the cliché spring break that every college kid dreams about – ten college friends and Disney World.
We ranged from nineteen to twenty when we flew out that March bound to meet up with our friend who had worked with the Disney College Program. The shenanigans began almost immediately. As this was just barely into the year 2001, we were still able to carry on liquids such as beverages in a bottle. Including, for some involved, spiked juice and pop bottles.
I can actually say that this did not include me as I very logically, at the age of twenty, gave up drinking for Lent that year.
You may have surmised from the fact that we were college kids going to Disney World over spring break that we could be a kooky bunch of friends. This was true and the inside jokes, that still run through my head and aren’t really that funny, started almost immediately in the airport. To this day when I hear the last name Marshall, somewhere in my head rings out a deep voice paging in the airport for “Bill Marshall.”
Aboard the plane, we were scattered a bit as we had not all booked our tickets at the same time and on the same transaction. We were cruising along having just enjoyed the complimentary airline food–or at least we picked at it—when the pilot put the fasten seatbelts sign on warning us that there was turbulence ahead. I continued to eat my meal, although I can’t remember what it was I know it was meat because we flew out on Friday and I refused to eat it during Lent.
Suddenly, as the flight attendants were about collecting trash and trays, our plane dropped.
And I thought I was going to die on the way to Disney World. The woman next to me, whom I had chatted with about the meat in my meal, grabbed my hand as we well in a freefall and said, “Pray for me.”
I was praying. It probably didn’t last as long as I think it did, but the freefall seemed to take 15-20 seconds. One of the flight attendants flew up from the floor, hitting the ceiling of the plane. If you have ever watched the pilot of Lost, that is what it looked like for that poor woman.
When the pilot finally gained control of the craft, there was mass chaos as my friends and I looked for each other from seat to seat. And my best friend searched for her bottle of booze that had flown up and way amidst it all.
She was very upset by this fact.
There is something about nearly dying, and this is very cliché, that brings people closer together. (Not to mention the loss of alcohol to students under 21). Upon touching feet upon airport flooring, we were immediately swapping stories of how we survived the traumatic incident.
And then, we got over it because we couldn’t wait to start our Disney vacation.
We had reserved two rooms at the Disney Institute. There were five boys and five girls, but upon checking in we immediately divided not into boys’ room and girls’ room. Rather, it felt like an episode of Survivor as we formed alliances and bunking partners. There was a couch and two double beds in each room and decided sleeping in the room would be more awkward with four people than the couch. So I took the couch and had my own room.
I think it was a fair trade off.
Our first full day in Florida we didn’t actually go to the park. Instead, we decided we would go and lounge by the pool. Our nearly deadly flight had landed really late, or really early depending on how you look at it, so we slept in and then some. As we sat by our hotel pool, our pseudo-host who had worked at the parks, decided we should try and go to the beach at the Polynesian Hotel.
“Just walk through the hotel like you belong there,” he said.
So we did.
And we enjoyed the beach vacation for a while. Until an attendant asked to see our room keys which were required to be on the beach. We were busted and sent on our merry way.
Perhaps not quite so merry, but we were on our way.
And it was time for food. Downtown Disney does not require a ticket…so we decided we would eat and explore there. I am pretty sure that McDonald’s was stopped at, although I thought we ate at the House of Blues or another New Orleans type restaurant. It was near the little ferry ride that ushers people around the hotels complexes. Perhaps we just thought it would be fun to ride around.
We found our way back to the institute, and the party began. There was spying on strip poker, and a lot of drinking. I, of course, was sober. So I made fun of the drinkers. And there was plenty to be made fun of…It was also the night we discovered that the neighbors were early to bed and early to rise Disney park attendants.
Finally, the next day we made our way to the parks. But first, there were Donuts in Bed. We had grabbed donuts the night before, and I served my roommates their breakfast in bed…henceforth spoken as Donuts in Bed similar to the way the sketch Muppets in Space was introduced. This seemed a fitting allusion to start our day at MGM, where we did indeed see Muppets. Only, they were in 3D and not space. Our favorite ride of the day was the Tower of Terror, which drops you straight down. We rode it over. And over. And over. It was also where my dancing fad was born. It started off with a lovely Pulp Fiction impression outside the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster…with my fly down.
Despite the fact that we should have been exhausted, we decided it was a good night to go out. There was an 18+ dance club at Downtown Disney and we were going. There was some pregaming as we were all under 21, and under the mislead belief that in order to dance booze had to be involved. As I wasn’t drinking, my awkward dancing would have to do.
Upon entering the club we were given a certain color ID bracelet because we were under 21. There were different color bracelets for those of legal drinking age. A couple of my girlfriends befriended some older guys who were purchasing them beers.
A security guard noticed them, grabbed them, and the rest of us watched as they were marched out of the dance club.
We were terrified! Were they going to get minors? Were they going to lose their Park privileges? But when they met us outside, they recounted their punishment.
The verbal warning they received, and I still quote this to some extent to students, was “Do not mistake Disney’s kindness for weakness.”
They lost their bracelets for the evening. That was it.
There was much celebrating back in the room.
For eight minutes. Before the neighbors called security on the group.
We realized that this was going to be a regular occurrence every night we were in our rooms. We didn’t really think we were wild and crazy kids, there were ten of us and there were people talking after ten. Maybe we were louder than we thought we were, and we apologize now for our thoughtlessness.
Especially because the majority of the group has kids now.
The morning after the Club incident, there were a few people who chose to sleep in. The other four of us decided we were going to check out the latest addition to the Disney family of parks – Animal Kingdom.
I say this, and not too proudly.
It was my most normal part of the trip.
I feel as though I need to keep repeating that I was sober throughout the entire trip, because looking over photographs one would think that was wasted. All the time. Rather, I like to think that the majority of the trip I was simply embracing the inner child while at Disney World.
The wildest thing that happened was that we mistook one of the performers for our friend sleeping by the pool back at the resort.
Eventually our other cohorts met us at the Magic Kingdom. We were going to hit the last of the parks, Epcot, to watch our friend Andy’s sister march with their high school band around the park, so Magic Kingdom was our afternoon.
From said afternoon, and evening, such fabulous group lexicon was born. For example: hot coffee man. You may think that this had something to do with an attractive barista in the park. Even though I did frequent the coffee shop by the pool of our resort daily, hot coffee man was actually a super hero that my friend Amy and I invented while waiting in line for the “It’s a Small World” ride. Coffee is hot – if someone is attacking you, we decided, you should throw it at their face.
There should all be a super hero who goes around saving people in this manner.
He could also be hot.
The growth of the group lexicon, and indeed the culture that would henceforth define us, makes almost no sense to the outside observer. Actually, the farther I get from the trip and time period in life, the less it makes sense to me.
It does not stop me from laughing out loud while alone when I hear certain phrases or even fragments of said phrase.
In short? Our inside jokes are still hilarious though their origins were so banal.
The intensity of the group was both binding and restricting.
What if you weren’t there when the latest addition was initiated. Traipsing through a bunch of families at Epcot the next day, it became apparent that we would have to break up the gang for smaller posses.
Thus the day of my progressively weirder photos emerged. The group of friends I was with encouraged this and whichever country I happened to be visiting I chose to pose in a semi-appropriate fashion.
This was only punctuated by my random eighties and nineties dance moves being busted out.
As entertainment for the rest of my gang, one of these dance breaks was located over a fountain that emerged from the swirled paint on the ground.
It was not sprouting water one second and the next I was soaked.
It was a truly classy moment for me.
I was matched in classiness by my best friend who wore one black flip-flop and one blue the entire day.
We all came together to watch our friend Andy’s sister march and met up again that evening for fireworks.
It allowed us a fairly early evening and the following day was slow…our week catching up with us. The morning was wet and we watched a lot of television with the closed captioning on. The person typing the translation was horrible, and from this lazy day came the vocabulary word Snoofment. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the actual word was supposed to be.
Our accomplishment for the day was making dinner reservations with characters. Without Jon, our tour guide.
It was our last night and this was supposed to be special.
If Captain Hook wanting to have an orgy with us was special, then we definitely succeeded!
After our fancy dinner, we changed and prepared to go to Magic Kingdom at night. It was staying open extra late to allow people to ride. As we flew out at about 6 the next day, we figured we would stay up almost all night and go home. We stand up all night. The insanity which had been temporarily tempered by the calm day was ignited with the lack of sleep. When you are posing for pictures with bowls on your head, and you aren’t me, the. It is probably an indicator that you are tired.
When you are having conversations about the Double Tree logo and how much you like it, and laughing hysterically about it. We arrived in Minneapolis safely with no falls from the sky but the knowledge that our stupid Disney World lingo would forever bind us to the survival of our fall from classy.
Appendix A: Fleugen das Trippens Memordah (Translation: “Of the Trip Memories.”
Mullet Count—It began at the airport in Minnesota. Spring Break is the time of year where all types of travelers emerge. Especially the Mullet Wearers. We also found man of them throughout Disney World from other regions of the country.
“Come on Ride the Train”—To get from one park to the next we needed to take the monorail, or the train. If one person did not break out into the verse of the Quad City DJ’s classic, I am sure there would have been an accident aboard.
“Bridget, your zipper is down” – My strange ability to break into random dance moves that were not hip began in the lobby of the Disney Institute on the first night. The next day at MGM while reenacting part of the dance from Pulp Fiction, it was loudly shared with the crowd that, indeed, my fly was open.
“Blancos basuros” – A reference to the mullet count and the sneakiness with which we were referring to a common phrase at the time “white trash.”
“blah, blah, blah, HA HA, HA!”—In an effort to boost the prevalence of “Das German,” in our discussions, this was occasionally thrown in as we walked around the park in an effort to fool those around us into thinking that we are from a different country. Picture a minion speaking in German.
Hook getting in trouble for wanting an orgy. – A common reference to the fact that Captain Hook was enamored of our group and also, probably, a college student himself.
Das German – The faked language used around the park in order for us to convince people that we were from Germany. Except, of course, the actual people visiting who spoke German.
“We’re fucking.” – During the first evening of debauchery took place in the neighboring hotel room to mine. They were set up the same way, there was a door leading into a sleeping area as well as a wetbar/living-type area. A group was playing strip poker in the bedroom area and every time those of us outside knocked, this was the standard answer.
“13”—One of our friends studied ASL in college as her “foreign language.” The number 13 was apparently two fingers pressed together and twitched twice. The dirty connotation that went along with this became a rallying cry for our posse. ASL included in the cry, for those around us this would benefit.
“With the sister and the band and the playing…”—A reference to Andy’s sister playing at Epcot the day we chose to visit that park. Subsequently used to help define the rest of the week’s plan.
“I’m calling 9-1-1 –for real.”—While lounging around the pool one day, there was a young boy playing by himself. He kept saying this, whether it was to us or the imaginary playmates he had, we are uncertain. Either way, a child in a pool saying they will call 9-1-1 was concerning. Group assumption: Must be the child of the neighbor who would call and complain about the noise after 9 pm.
Kristina dies in the shower. – My best friend showered one day, okay, probably more than one day and she fell in the shower. It sounded like the entire bathroom caved into the floor below. We obviously assumed that she had died.
BEEP BEEP YEA—My understanding of where this onomatopoetic phrase emerged was from when we initiated group movements. In order to get the herd going, this call would be proclaimed. Then we would just say it randomly when there was a lull in conversation. My memory might be slightly hazy on the origins.
The snoring impressions—Our beloved roommate, who shall not be named, suffered from sleep apnea. The race was to fall asleep before he could so that you wouldn’t be kept awake by it. (Another win for sleeping on the couch I the next room.) One night, my friend, Katherine, crept around the room to the sonorous crescendo and decrescendo of the sound.
Boob pageant – On our clubbing night, the girls were out. I don’t mean us, I mean our chests in lowcut tank tops. The three ladies in my room held a pageant with a winner, a runner-up and Miss Congeniality. The picture exists somewhere in the article, you may assign those monikers as you deem appropriate.
“I like the Doubletree hotel logo.”—After staying up all night at the park and then getting a cab to go to the airport, we were in fine spirits. The giant Van-Cab that we requisitioned to be our chariot to the airport that morning erupted into sleepy-drunk giggles as one of us commented on the joy the double tree logo brought.”
“Jay-mee-on and Lin-deemon. HA HA HA HA.”—With the German and the speaking, we adapted two of our friends’ names into fake German to be spoken when we ran out of things to say in our made-up language. Again, picture a herd of minions parading around.
“Bill Marshall. Paging Bill Marshall.”—Before we even left Minnesota the first quote was born. The repetitive call of “Bill Marshall, paging Bill Marshall,” as we waited for our plane was so engrained in our brains that TO THIS DAY if I hear the last name Marshall, the entire phrase rings through my head.
Naked Guy—I am a daily runner, and there was a little pond in the middle of our resort complex that I would run around daily, even back then. On the first day that I was up and at ‘em to run on the trail I made a few laps. The lower sliding glass doors were usually, at this time of day, covered with the full- length blinds. All but one room. Upon my second pass of the room, I glanced over. It must be human nature. There, just as alluded to on episodes of Friends, was an ugly naked guy. I ran faster to get by and thought, well perhaps I accidentally caught him. The next time around, darn it if I didn’t look again, and there he was. Still in the glass door. Still naked.
“We don’t spit in Minnesota because it freezes before you hit the ground.” – At one of the parks my attractive friends seemed to have a magnet attached on the southern gentleman. At one point, as they were walking along with the group, one of the jail-bait boys spit on the ground, probably a mouth full of chaw. My friend, in an effort to ditch the little kids announced rather loudly that “We don’t spit in Minnesota because it freezes before you hit the ground.” They believed her.
“8 Minutes from the time they got back…8 Minutes!”—As previously mentioned, our closest neighbors at the Disney Institute did not take very kindly to us staying up later than they did. Upon returning from our friends’ narrow escape at the club, it took eight minutes for us to get a call from security that we were being too loud. We barely had time to speak out loud.
Por favor montegonse alejado de las puertas.—Every time the group rode the sky rail to the parks, we were advised to stay away from the doors as they closed and opened. The musical cadence of the Spanish version, or our attempts at it, were chorused amongst the group every time as well. I am sure this was quite annoying to native Spanish speakers as well as other riders alike.
“Marco…I hate this game.”—Upon our afternoon in the pool, we commenced to play Marco Polo as any group of college age kids would do. Our dear friend, who had spent the majority of the time in the pool pretending to snipe the squirrels about us, realized that he indeed hated that he could not find anyone in the classic children’s pool game. This was decided midgame in the phrase, “Marco…I hate this game!”
Dancing in the institute lobby for that family—The dancing phase I was going through did not end even as we left the institute lobby. The early morning/late evening insanity of our exit from the Disney…World left me dancing one last time in the lobby of the Institute while we waited for our giant van to pick us up. There was a little family that was checking out as early as we were, probably headed for our same flight, and the small children were very, very unhappy about the hour. So I danced for them hoping to increase the smiles. It didn’t work. I guess, even after all week there, I was not Disney certified.