June 25, 2011

A ride that was all downhill

Walt Disney World in Orlando is a place where you can pay more than $100 a day for the privilege of sauteing in 90-degree heat while you stand in line 98 percent of the time, waiting for something to happen the other 2 percent.

We spent a couple of days there to celebrate the fact that the thermometer topped 90 with high humidity — ideal conditions to wait in line for a ride.

And what rides they have.

My favorite was called Thunder Mountain Railroad. My wife had gotten wind that this was tame enough for her to spend an hour in line waiting for a seat. The way she figured it, it was a piece of the Old West, wherein miners deposited the ore they'd hacked out of the mountain into a slow-moving rail car for transport down to flat land to take to the assayer's office. The ride would probably last two or three days for the entire journey, as those trains didn't travel very fast.

So we stepped to the back of a line we couldn't see the beginning of. Anything to make my wife happy, that's the way I look at it.

Come to find out, the train didn't turn out to be so pokey after all. In fact, the Thunder Mountain Railroad was ahead of its time. It was a roller coaster disguised as a train.

Old Thunder Mountain RR reached speeds estimated, by my wife, at several hundred mph. Just as you were reconciled to going that fast in one direction, the contours of the hill would come into play and you'd be heading practically 180 degrees opposite.

We had no idea there was any big hurry in getting that ore to the assayer's office, but apparently there was. If in the 19th century gold were being yanked out of the mountain and delivered to Fort Knox by this conveyance, it's no wonder our country prospered.

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