Desperately Seeking Donald

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Places: Florida #4: Go to Disney World (Summer 2002)

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It’s every child’s dream to go to Disney World. What could possibly be more exciting than giant castles and every Disney character you could imagine coming to life before your eyes? And as indisputable proof that they existed, you could even collect their signatures in an autograph book. So, naturally, that was what I set out to do. Getting autographs was the big thing back in my day. The more you had, the cooler you were. And word on the street was that the hardest autograph to get was Donald’s.

So, throughout all the adventures, I kept my eyes peeled. I had a grand old time at Splash Mountain (Read: I threw a fit because I was so terrified of anything remotely roller coaster-ish, and then I wanted to do it again after we went). I decided to be brave and go on Goofy’s Barnstormer Roller coaster (it’s a junior roller coaster that goes 25mph and only lasts for one minute). And I practiced the skill of keeping my eyes closed during the Haunted Mansion (Not because I was scared; it’s a valuable skill to have. Since then it has come in handy for several naps and a handful of Goosebumps movies).

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Then, a few yards ahead of me, I spotted Donald, finishing up autographs for a group of adoring children. As he started walking away, I felt instinctively that this was my only chance. I had to act. I dashed after him, my autograph book dangling in my outstretched hand. All of a sudden, the crowds had completely disappeared and I was standing in a nearly empty lot. Ahead of me, I saw Pluto take off his fluffy head and tuck it under his arm. Donald was gone. Before I could panic, Mickey Mouse appeared in front of me. He didn’t say a word (none of the characters speak; I’m convinced they’re all mute), but he began shepherding me through the gates of a wooden fence with this ancient woman standing guard out front. I could see my dad rushing towards me. I was horribly confused. I hadn’t noticed those things when I’d bolted in. Apparently, the ancient guard-woman hadn’t noticed me either.

Looking back, I realize that breaking into a restricted area is something I should be wary of in the future. And, needless to say, I did not get the coveted autograph. To this day, I am convinced that Donald is a ninja. Or that perhaps Disney airlifted him out of there because they want to preserve his reputation. I mean, do you have a better explanation?

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What are your Disney World adventures? Have you ever gotten Donald’s autograph?

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