March 23, 2013

Is it True? Tourist Edition

There's an old party game where everyone says or writes two interesting or unusual things about them, one true and one false; then everyone has to guess which story is real. So here's a blog version of "Is It True?" These are two vacation stories, and it's up to you to figure out which one is real.

#1 Disney Distress

When I was around twelve years old, a friend's family invited me to go with them on a weekend trip to Walt Disney World near Orlando. (It was a driving trip since we lived about 200 miles away.) 

My friend and I were free to roam the Magic Kingdom on our own and had quite a distressing experience on the It's a Small World ride. Disney describes this ride as embarking "On a whimsical boat ride past a jubilant confection of singing children from around the globe." Others describe it as an extremely slow boat ride where they play that annoying song over and over and over. If you don't think this song would get on your nerves, try playing this video from an unknown person on You Tube a few times in a row. The song starts around 20-seconds in:


So here's my unusual and distressing experience. All the boats stopped, and we were stuck in the middle of the ride for a long time. The song kept playing (over and over and over!), and the "jubilant confection" of dolls kept dancing for what seemed like about 20 minutes. Eventually, the song stopped but the dolls kept dancing for a while longer. Employees (or as Disney calls them, "Cast members") were walking from boat to boat letting people know there was a mechanical problem and they were working on it.

Finally after what seemed like about an hour, the workers had to help each stranded passenger climb out of their boats to a hidden walkway and out a secret back door of the ride to an employee-only area. Then they walked us all back around to the main part of the park.

So is it true? Was I really stranded in Disney's It's a Small World ride?
#2 Adrift at Alcatraz

When I was about twelve or thirteen, our family took a really great vacation to San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. During that trip, we did the famous tour of Alcatraz Island, the former prison that used to house the worst-of-the-worst offenders. 

Alcatraz Island (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

To get to and from the island, you have to take a boat ride on the Alcatraz Cruise. The ride to the island was fine, and the tour was very exciting.

It was on the boat ride back where we ran into trouble. History (and the tour guide) tells us that no prisoners ever successfully escaped from Alcatraz because the current in San Franciso Bay was too strong to swim. Everyone who attempted to swim to freedom was pulled out to see and ended up drowning.

I wasn't sure if we were going to make it either because the engine malfunctioned on our boat. The workers were running around frantically trying to fix it as we slowly began drifting toward the Golden Gate Bridge and, presumably, out to sea to meet the same fate as many daring prisoners. I don't know why they couldn't just drop an anchor and stop us from moving.

Finally, after what seemed like an hour, a couple of Coast Guard rescue boats showed up and   
were able to stop our wayward vessel. The rescuers helped each passenger climb from the tourist boat onto the Coast Guard boats for our ride back to shore.

So is it true? Was I really stranded on a boat in the choppy waters off Alcatraz Island?

Only one of these harrowing stories is real.