Monday, July 06, 2009

Critter Country

We continue on past the Haunted Mansion in the same general direction, which brings us into Critter Country.

The starring attraction here is, of course, the wonderful Splash Mountain. The best-themed log flume ride anywhere, in my humble opinion, it is brimming with the wonderful characters from Uncle Remus’s tales in the all-but-buried-and-forgotten Disney film Song of the South. We follow Br’er Rabbit as he sets out to find his “laughing place,” all while being stalked by the wily Br’er Fox and dimwitted Br’er Bear. It’s great fun, a good story, with great music, and oh yes, a five story plunge into the briar patch.

The question is, do we want to ride it? The general consensus among the ten of us – with Brandon and Benjamin dissenting – is, “Thank you, no.” We’re dining in Club 33 in an hour and a half, and while we’re not exactly “dressed up” for the occasion, we are wearing clothes that are slightly nicer than your average park-goer’s. And somehow we don’t really want to have to dry off before our meal, or worse, enjoy it while wet.

So what’s left? Winnie the Pooh! The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is just beyond Splash Mountain. Yes, it’s a pretty simple ride geared for kids, but all of us in our group are kids, just with varying amounts of mileage!

Pooh has a wait time of 10 minutes. Love these short wait times! The queue area outdoors is cutely themed, and Winnie the Pooh music is playing. Huh – the ride actually has an outdoor boarding area. That’s something you don’t see in Florida, as best as I can recall.

The ride vehicles are as whimsical as you’d expect, basically oversized beehives, dripping with honey, turned on their sides. A “Heffalump bee” is riding on the back of each car. Too cute. My mom loves that little touch.

I ask the CM at the load area if any of the rows have room for longer legs, and he directs me to the front row. All ten of us load into two consecutive beehives. As I squeeze into the front row, I find myself wondering what the leg room is like on the other rows, since it sure isn’t too roomy here! Oh, well, dealing with subpar legroom is one of the very few downsides to being tall.

The ride is fun – a standard Disney dark ride with one scene after the other from the Winnie the Pooh books – the blustery day, Heffalumps and Woozles, and more. The Disney fan in me knows that there’s an Imagineer tribute to the previous attraction that filled this space, the Country Bears, and that it’s easy to spot if you look backward at the right moment. The problem is that I don’t know the exact place it’s located. Sure, I might spot it eventually if I keep looking backwards, but I also might miss the rest of the ride then!

We finish the ride, and – hey! There’s Tigger!

Yep, everyone’s favorite bouncy orange Pooh friend “T-I-Double-Guh-Er” is greeting a line of people near the exit. None of our gang seems particularly interesting in waiting in line to meet him, but we do hover nearby for long enough to snap a picture when he’s between guests.

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