Theme Park Ranger
9:57 AM EDT, July 12, 2012
I hate it when I park my car at a Disney World theme park and move directly to the waiting tram, only to hear the "no further boarding" call.
As if that weren't irritating enough, it also means that I'll be the first passenger on the next tram, which will wait and wait and wait for lollygagging tourists to get their strollers folded and to figure out how to open the door. I'm sure it's mere minutes, but I spend the time calculating whether I should have just walked.
Yeah, yeah, woe is me, this is a first-world problem. I sure feel unlucky sitting there. But our theme parks are packed with unlucky characters, so in honor of Friday the 13th, here are 13 unfortunate souls living in Central Florida attractions.
•Brer Bear in Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom: He's dimwitted, and that leads to a couple of undignified appearances in the dark ride. He's accidentally strung up by his arms and feet in a rabbit trap, giving guests a big view of his broadside. Later, Brer Bear is on the business end of a beehive.
•Donald Duck in Mickey's PhilharMagic, Magic Kingdom: He dominates screen time in the "4-D" presentation, but the story has him surviving giant broomsticks, heartbreak (and electrocution) with Ariel, a harrowing magic-carpet ride, a tumble from London's Big Ben and being cornered by giraffes, all in trying to rescue Mickey Mouse's sorcerer's hat. In the end, Donald becomes a projectile and lands in the back wall and still doesn't get top billing in the attraction.
•Fisherman in "A'lure — The Call of the Ocean, SeaWorld Orlando": A human goes overboard, encounters acrobatic sea life, mythical sea dragons, an evil monarch and romance.
•Homer Simpson in Simpsons Ride, Universal Studios: D'oh! Does being a doofus make you unlucky or vice versa? Homer goes through some traumatic theme-park paces, including being pulled through a water show by a whale.
•Worker in Jurassic Park River Adventure, Islands of Adventure: It's one of the first clues that something has gone horribly wrong on our water tour: Two tiny dinosaurs struggle over the shredded shirt of an employee.
•Anonymous cow in Twister, Universal Studios: So there you are, an innocent and docile farm animal, chewing cud and, boom, a tornado blows up and turns you into a flying, now iconic, cow.
•Gardening woman in Disaster!, Universal Studios: Universal must have something against the innocent and docile. Not to be a spoiler, but nature turns on the elderly and makes it dang funny at the end of Disaster!
•Nemo and Marlin in "Finding Nemo," Disney's Animal Kingdom: The clownfish father and son are separated by an ocean and, briefly, by an aquarium. It all works out in the end, though. Nice characters have all the luck in theme parks.
•Captain EO in "Captain EO," Epcot: Michael Jackson's character has an intergalactic pressure-cooker of a job and a ragtag crew. But he's chipper about it even though his uniform surely must be dry-clean only.
•Uncle Orville in Carousel of Progress, Magic Kingdom: A man can't get any privacy in a bathroom that goes round and round.
•Five husbands in Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom: Up in the attic, five-time bride Constance is a survivor but not necessarily in a good way if her hatchet is any indication. Note that she "married up" with each go-round.
•Everyone aboard Great Movie Ride, Disney's Hollywood Studios: The entire vehicle is kidnapped by gangsters — not gangstas, that's a whole different ride.
•Yeti in Expedition Everest, Disney's Animal Kingdom: The big animatronic beast must endure horrendous strobe lighting and the knowledge that in his youth, he could come so very close swatting roller coaster riders zipping by, over and over.
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