No, I did not expect a 10-hour wait.
If you had told me that was how long it would take for me — along with reporter Todd Martens and photographer Jay L. Clendenin — to get onto Disney’s new Star Wars ride at Disney World, I probably would have walked away and done something normal with my day. Like not wait 10 hours for a ride.
But I stuck it out. Why? Maybe because being a journalist means you sometimes can’t avoid difficult situations.
Maybe because I grew up with “Star Wars” and nothing could stop me.
Maybe I’m an idiot. All these are probably true.
We were lucky that Walt Disney World decided to implement a boarding system where, once in the park, you check in through the Walt Disney World app and get in a boarding group for the ride. We arrived at 7:45 a.m., checked in and received boarding group 89. Our estimated ride time was “evening.”
It was morning. The app said “evening.” Those are two drastically different times of day. Like, one is at the beginning of the day. And one is at the end of the day. I know this is all obvious, but I want you to know that my brain couldn’t immediately comprehend what was happening.
Luckily, Todd knows the Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, inside Walt Disney World, like the back of his hand.
He took us to the Tower of Terror, where I almost vomited.
Then we went on the Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, a hilariously dated Aerosmith-themed roller coaster where they sing “Love on a Roller Coaster,” instead of “Love in an Elevator.”
I felt sick (from the ride, I assume).
Later, we went on the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster in Toy Story Land. At the end, I felt queasy (and realized roller coasters make me nauseous).
We ate some food and sat. We walked around, then sat.
The crowds were massive. Galaxy’s Edge was packed.
A man managing the line at Oga’s Cantina, dressed as a member of the First Order, berated me because I was tweeting instead of listening to the instructions, like how long we are allowed to stay in there (45 minutes) and how we will sit with strangers.
I’m sure my wife is on his side. After all, this was the immersion part of the land. He was acting, and it was a lot of fun. But I forgot the joke I was going to tweet and was very upset. I’m sure it would have received at least four likes.
We walked and walked some more. I took more than 17,000 steps. I felt myself fading. It was too much. My feet hurt. My body hurt. My phone battery was dying.
But then it happened: Nearly 10 hours later, we got in. We rushed through the physical queue, which only took about 20 minutes, and hopped on the ride. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait.
You can read Todd’s column about the ride and watch the review video we did together, but to reiterate: It’s awesome, it’s inventive and it’s sort of insane.
And then we left, having accomplished what we came for. And it got me thinking about when I was a kid and went to amusement parks with my family.
There weren’t virtual queues. We had to physically wait hours. Thank God for technology!
With virtual queues, I was able to do other things for nine hours and then get in line. Not sit until the lower half of my body went so numb, I had to crawl across the floor to get in the ride.
But it’s also sad.
With virtual queues, kids will never get the thrill of their father sighing as they see the “two hours from here” sign.
Or looking through your soul with such anger as you tell him you have to use the bathroom.
Or, as the Texas sun beats down on the back of your neck and you sweat through your clothes while waiting for the Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas, you ask him, “How much longer?” and his response contains words my editors won’t allow on this esteemed website.
Those moments? Well, those are keepers.
Which is why I hope virtual queues remain special things and not a regular perk of all rides. Because I can’t wait until my son is old enough for me to take him on rides — and get angry at him for making me do it.