Last week, Toby Joe and I met the ENTIRE family down in Florida for a reunion, which had been planned nearly a year and a half ago. We left last Sunday on an afternoon flight that was scheduled to touchdown in Orlando at around 4 in the afternoon.
Have you ever put something off due to unwarranted dread up until the very last minute and once you finally decide to go ahead and do it, you look back and you regret the fact that you hadn’t discovered/attempted/embraced said dreadful deed before your time was up? That’s how I will begin to describe Epcot’s new ride Mission: Space. We didn’t actually try it out until Friday, our last day there. Add to that description a (permanent) plastic barfbag holder, some claustrophobia, Gary Sinise and a whole lot of biting back nausea and you have an overall description of the ride. Oh, but I forgot the most important part; It’s frickin’ brilliant.
The ride simulates traveling into space. It begins at Cape Canaveral and ends on Mars. The warnings thrown all over the inside of the ride were almost more frightful than the actual ride. And I’m convinced they are (along with the sick individuals waiting for their braver [or dumber] loved ones who can’t stop riding) the main reason the line never broke a 5 minute wait; people are made to fear it. Not that said fear isn’t warranted. Toby never made it on. Especially after I got off the ride the first time and told him I had to bite back vomiting as that horrifying yet familiar feeling of nauseous warmth moved from my head all the way down to m my toes. Some of you might think I’m exaggerating. I’m glad I’m not. It was, by far, the most exciting “ride” I’ve ever been on.
First, they strap you into this rather small vessel. You’re to share it with three other people. Up until you actually enter the vehicle and pull down the safety bar, you’re able to bail. (I bailed twice, actually. I bailed twice even AFTER going on the damn thing once before and knowing what to expect.) But once you’re in that seat, you’re captive and the only thing left to do is keep your eyes open at all times, and stare at the monitor straight ahead of you no matter what happens.
Blasting off was the worst part. The vessel you’re in moves so you’re lying on your back. At that point, the monitor shows a blue sky. As the countdown begins, smoke fills the screen and then it happens – the weirdness.
What you’re seeing before you on the monitor is forward movement, yet you’re not actually going anywhere. Your body begins to feel heavy, your cheeks move to the back of your neck and your fat moves in alongside of you; the ride is spinning to simulate the speed at which one takes off. And then the warmth hits. While this was happening, a sound came up from my throat. While sounding it out would work best, it might be written like this:
Before you know it, you’re breaking through clouds and you’re floating through space. And somehow, they simulate weightlessness. And somehow, my brother, my father and I spend hours trying to figure out how. Without a point of reference, there is no way of knowing which way you