Did you know that it is virtually impossible to get a drink in Disney's Magic Kingdom? An alcoholic drink, I mean. You can buy these great big McDonald's style cartons for about $14 (about £10.60) which you can refill (at participating outlets) throughout the park as many times as you like with your favourite soft drinks. But I mean a beer. After three days of very hectic and very dry scurrying around theme parks we decided to make our last day in the resort a bit more of a drinky day. But Magic Kingdom was a bad choice for that particular aim.
There are bars, or at least places that have names that make them sound like bars or pubs. It is just that none of them seem to sell any alcohol. Who would have thought that Gaston's Tavern would be an alcohol free zone, save for their own brew which costs around $15 (£11.40) a pop? Before we discovered this we had to discover Gaston's Tavern, which managed to stay hidden from our admittedly average powers of navigation for around 15 minutes. In the end we had to ask for direction that we would have been 15 minutes better off without. Other culprits in the field of Sounding Like They Serve Beer But Don't are Liberty Tree Tavern, The Sleepy Hollow, The Diamond Horeshoe, The Friar's Nook and Tortuga Tavern.
Now let's talk about the word Tavern for a while, shall we? You will see that it crops up in a number of these beer-less establishments. It is defined by Wikipedia as 'a place of business where people gather to drink alcoholic beverages and be served food, and in most cases , where travellers receive lodging.' I can't comment on whether or not any of these places were offering a bed for the night but if they can't sort you out with half a Bud Light then expectations shouldn't be too high. I know that the name Magic Kingdom properly suggests a fairly young target audience but this being the 21st century I was still slightly baffled and what looked like a total and utter lack of regard for thirsty adults. You can probably buy beer in the restaurants but we didn't have time for that. Magic Kingdom and Epcot are not easily negotiated in a single day if you stop off in a restaurant for a full meal and a couple of pints.
So we pressed on. Something else not aimed at adults is 'The Muppets Present....Great Moments In American History'. But The Muppets, like many things in Disney, is one of those things that although blatantly aimed at children has something for adults of a certain age to enjoy too. Even if it is only nostalgia, and remembering has a three-year-old you used to be afraid of Sam Eagle, but now you can only think of how much he looks like former Liverpool butter-fingered buffoon Sander Westerveld. See if I'm wrong;
The Muppets, Sam, Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and Fozzy are joined by one actor playing the role of an 18th century town crier because guess what, the 'Great Moment In American History' that they are going to talk about in today's show is the Declaration Of Independence in 1776. Apparently there are other 'Great Moments' which they use when they need to change up the show but I couldn't shake the feeling that the American Independence theme was a slightly predictable one. Like getting to the end of a Danny Wilson gig, noting that they haven't done 'Mary's Prayer' and spending not too much time wondering what they will do for an encore.
Still, what is not to like about Kermit as Thomas Jefferson, Gonzo as John Adams and Fozzy as Benjamin Franklin? Miss Piggy spends much of her time implying that to prevent her from playing George Washington would be some kind of sexual discrimination and so, as always happens with Miss Piggy, a true satire on the female diva, she ends up getting her way. For his part Sam constantly interrupts from the window across the way at the currently closed Hall Of Presidents, while much of the action goes on in the windows of the Heritage House. Well, the puppeteers need somewhere where they can stay out of sight, but the voices are genuinely provided by those who provide them on the telly.
You might think it a little bit beneath your intellectual level but if you have ever been to the Hall Of Presidents, currently closed so that they can presumably add an animatronic version of orange-faced misogynist Donald Trump to the collection, you will surely agree that the space is currently being used to much greater effect.
I could recount the experience of Stitch's Great Escape but why don't you just go here for a brief overview. The experience seven years on is the same but different if you know what I mean. Still no option to transfer from your wheelchair, still a lot of wafting and whizzing past your head, and still containing some unpleasant bodily emissions from the title character;
So let's skip straight over to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. It is not dissimilar to Toy Story Midway Mania over at Hollywood Studios but it can't quite match it for playability. The targets are mostly stationary but are referred to as 'Z' insignias in the blurb. Basically round, stripy disks with a great big 'Z' which you have to try to hit with your laser gun. Unfortunately there is no visual evidence of where your shot has landed, just a red laser light showing you where to aim. So throughout most of the ride you won't be certain which targets you hit and which you did not. Where I found it did better Toy Story Midway Mania is in the access department. I had no need for Hightower-like seat removal here and most mobile wheelchair users should be able to transfer to the vehicle easily enough. There may be a contingency plan for anyone who cannot, but since I didn't have that problem I never found out. I know, annoying. This happens to me a lot. Someone will come back from a fantastic holiday and wax lyrical to me about how much I would have enjoyed it, but then stare blankly at me when I ask them if everything they have been describing is accessible. They don't know because they don't need to. Then again, they are not writing a disability-focused blog about their life experiences are they?
When you leave the ride you pass through a room which has one wall covered in photographs of people recently on the ride. There is a scanner by each image, but after a few minutes perusal we are sure that there is no photo of us. Emma gets into a right tangle after scanning her Magic Band (remember those?) for reasons that are best known to her. Anyway, she frets about being charged for someone else's photographs but that threat never materialises. I still have no idea how you go about getting your photograph on that wall and why you need the scanners beside each image but to be honest I am not sure I need to know. I hate having my photograph taken at the best of times, but judging by some of the ridiculous faces pulled by the people in these photographs this would be a whole new level of Photo Hell.
Thirstier than Bill Weberniuk after a stint in The Priory we took in a parade on the way out of the park as we made our way to towards the much more drinker-friendly Epcot. Parades seem smaller now than they did in 2010. The park staff still cordon the road off and make a very big deal of it when a parade is due, but whereas they seemed to go on for a good half an hour back then the one we saw seemed to last only half of that. I can only conclude that this is because they have realised that if people are standing around watching people dressed up as Disney characters dance around on large wagons then they are not spending their money in the restaurants. Which is the only place they sell any beer in the Magic Kingdom.