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I’d only been in the Magic Kingdom for an hour, and I was ready to kill someone.

We thought we were being smart – yeah, it was Saturday, but it was the “off season”, the perfect time to go. Cool weather, and the legions of people who descend upon the park like Xerxes’ hordes wouldn’t be massing at these particular Hot Gates until summer.

Right.

The first indicator that we were in for a time – the temperature at 10:00 was 85 degrees. We hit the road at noon – Anaheim’s about an hour from our house – and the mercury was hitting 92. Goddammit. The plan was to meet Beth’s parents at the entrance plaza at 1:00. We arrived at the park at 12:30, and were greeted by big flashing signs that said PARK IS VERY BUSY TODAY, which was nice but not necessary, as we sat in a line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot. A half an hour or so later, after meeting up with the in-laws, we made our way into the park.

It was packed. I did a mental exercise – calculated the number of times I’ve been to Disneyland over the course of 37 years (at least 30) – and with great certainty proclaimed that this was, by far, the most crowded I’d ever seen it. It was like Vegas on New Year’s Eve, without the fires and half-naked chicks hanging from streetlights. Six figures’ worth of humanity, most of them with kids, all of them sweaty and seething.

The highlights: the tattooed guy who kicked his son in the ass – literally, gave the kid a kick in the ass – for walking too slow; waiting an hour for lunch (a half hour to get our heat-lamped burgers and fries, another half hour to find a place to sit); watching as a family of five cut in front of us into the line at Mickey’s House via an emergency exit door and listening to the mom proudly telling everyone in her family that she didn’t care who she pissed off, she wasn’t “gonna wait in no line to see no motha-fuckin’ Mickey Mouse” (to his credit, her husband talked her into leaving, partially because her kids were all teenagers who really could have given two tin shits about getting their picture taken with Mickey, partially because he took a look around and saw murder in the eyes of every adult that had been in that line for 45 minutes before they jumped in); standing by/waiting for a table with my hungry squirming son in my arms – we had a late dinner, thanks to more waiting in lines – a table occupied by some twenty-something shithead and his girlfriend, who had finished their dinner when we got to the restaurant twenty minutes before and were ignoring me, instead choosing to pretend to read their park map (it was upside down; finally, the guy’s girlfriend hustled him out of there, having heard enough of Lucas’ crying, and presumably having realized that making a guy stand there holding his crying kid makes you a twat of the highest caliber). We were at the park until 9:00, when we looked down and saw Lucas passed out in his stroller. Leaving was imperative; the fireworks were starting (the kid slept right through ’em) and if we didn’t get the hell out of there before the other 97,739 people, we might never escape.

Some forty eight hours later, I’m still exhausted. Lucas, however, is still feeling the Disney buzz, talking to whoever will listen about the “pirate ride” and the Teacups and his new favorite, the animatronic parrots of The Tiki Room. Which, come to think of it, still put on a fine show.