I never have good ideas. Well, rarely. It’s even rarer that my good ideas make it out of my head and into the real world in any fashion. So imagine my delight on the day several months ago when, during one of the thousands of Disney-related conversations I’ve had with my gentleman caller, the concept of the Hitchhiking Ghost’s Day Out was born.
It was so simple, I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been attempted before: Someone takes a cardboard hitchhiking ghost (one of the three spectral vagabonds who appear at the end of Disney’s classic Haunted Mansion attraction) with them to the resort, and somehow manages to smuggle it onto every picture-taking ride in both Disneyland and California Adventure, at long last justifying the Ghost Host’s warnings of spirits tagging along after you exit the attraction.
I commissioned the ghost (Ezra by name) from the insanely talented Miss Samantha. I secured park entry from a beloved friend who shall remain nameless, in case this sort of thing is officially frowned upon. My boyfriend and I had one day — not even a full day, and a holiday at that — to accomplish our task. I planned meticulously. I crafted a narrative for the photos (terror, a little less terror, confused terror, bemusement, boredom/”hey, he’s kind of handsome”, and finally, seduction/irritation), because six pictures of just us screaming would probably get old. I put Splash Mountain at the very end of our attraction list, knowing that one good dousing would send our fragile phantom back to regions beyond for good. And then…we were off.
FIRST SETBACK: We couldn’t enter the parks until 11:00, and DCA opened at 9:00, meaning that unless we wanted to spend 90 minutes of our seven-hour day in line for Radiator Springs Racers, we’d have to nix that one. No problem. Just split the difference between confused terror and bemusement on our California Screamin’ photo, and we’re good. SECOND SETBACK: Against all odds, we manage to get Ezra set up while hurtling through Space Mountain at breakneck speeds. We pose impeccably, Ezra comes out unscathed, and we race to the photo station…to find that the enthusiastic tween girl in front of us was apparently having the best time of her hateful little life, and chose to express that by throwing her arms into the air right in front of the damn ghost. We’d only gotten one FastPass for the ride, and by the time we got off it was too close to our designated leaving-time and the standby queue was too long to give it another go. Yet more proof that tweens are the absolute worst. THIRD AND FINAL SETBACK OMG: I was banking on the Splash Mountain photo. That was going the be The One. I’d sit in the very front, I’d put Ezra right behind me, and Tony would sit behind that. We’d shriek our heads off. It’d be the last photo of the day, but the first of the series, setting the tone and becoming the perfect standalone image from the bunch. Time was running short (as was energy) (and patience) (…and tempers). We arrived at Splash Mountain with mere minutes to spare before our 7:00 PM departure deadline, clutching our FastPasses, our eyes wild with the kind of madness that can only be born of trying to fit too much Disney into too little day. But something was wrong. The mountain, though alive with the sound of singing animatronic stereotypes, was too bright inside. The famed drop was dry as a bone, with nary a log to be seen. And the doors to the ride itself were shut tight, flanked by five or so cheery cast members whose only job was to tell me that yes, the ride was down, but would probably be up again later, maybe, though they couldn’t say when, so sorry, have a great night! And that, dear reader, is when my brain broke and I internal-temper-tantrumed myself all the way back to the Mickey and Friends parking structure for the long drive home to the Bay Area, which accidentally (mercifully?) ended up with us being the only guests in a fancy/creepy Microtel somewhere called Wheeler Ridge.
So. What we have here is not six perfectly-executed photos, but three-and-a-half pretty okay photos that kind of tell a story but are mostly just silly. But how about that Ezra, amiright kids? Dude looks fantastic. With a little love and a lot of tape, he might be up for another attempt someday. Except that by that time, everyone else will have stolen the idea and done it with way more style and success than I could ever hope to achieve. THE MAGIC OF THE INTERNET.