Snow in Orlando... and it is not a Disney special effect
Published: November 22, 2006 at 1:36 PM
Snow flurries fell in December one year when I was working attractions in the Magic Kingdom. I'd just graduated from Northwestern (in Chicago!), and still had a winter coat in the closet. So I suspended my disbelief at the weather forecast and put it on that morning.
Unfortunately, most of my fellow cast members didn't even own winter gear, and there was much shivering at the bus stop in the employee parking lot.
When I got to my scheduled shift at Tom Sawyer Island that morning, I figured this was going to be a most unusual day. Since the water in the Rivers of America remained much warmer than the now-frigid air, the west side of the Magic Kingdom was shrouded in thick fog. Standing on the back of one raft in dock, I couldn't even see the mast at the front. Forget about driving these things. Or the canoes. Or the keelboats. Or the riverboat.
So that's four attractions "101" right there. Oh, and did I mention that the Mansion was down for rehab? And that Big Thunder Mountain's computers really, really don't like booting up in the cold? That left two attractions open -- and six down -- in Frontierland/Liberty Square. (This was before Splash Mountain opened.)
Since we didn't need five greeters in front of each closed attraction, early releases were there for asking. I took one, and met up with two friends to go play in the quickly-becoming-vacant parks.
Unfortunately, being Florida natives, my two friends didn't have any decent winter clothes either. So eventually we dediced to retreat to the warmth of the Land pavilion at Epcot, where one could eat lunch and hit a couple attractions in indoor comfort.
Too bad, for us, that several thousand guests realized the same thing. And that was the most crowded location I've ever seen at a Disney theme park. Forget Fourth of July. Forget Christmas. Forget opening days. I've never seen so many people crammed into so little space as that afternoon at the Land.
Hey, at least they made it warm!