It took him at least four Rum & Cokes to get through dinner with the kids.
They sat across from us at the Coral Reef in EPCOT, and to be fair, his kids were more sedate than many we'd seen.
The Coral Reef was comparatively tranquil, with its floor-to-ceiling fishtank view and contemporary blue decor. Stingrays, sharks, and god knows what-all drifted by, pretending not to notice our plates of Blackened Salmon and Broiled Lobster Tail... After a day of punishing ourselves in the Orlando sun, it seemed the place to be. Plus, they offered a decent 22-ounce glass of their own house ale, which was surprisingly good. Or was it the heatstroke?
Several years ago, when traveling with a very different crowd in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, I learned that sunstroke can make crap beer seem like God's own nectar. Tecate in the states never has the magical, life-giving quality that it did after ten hours of boiling radiation on the sun-blasted, bone-white coast of Mexico. We built an enormous, elephant-sized bonfire on the beach and watched the moon rise through a velvety gauze of cheap Tecate... it was one of those Lovely Scenes in Life that are impossible to repeat. And with good reason.
But I digress...again.
Of all our Disney dining experiences, the Coral Reef was the best. But when our anonymous Dad slumped away, leaving his rum-stained glass and credit receipt, it seemed clear that Disney must test the very limits of a parent's stamina. There was a stink of defeat about his table, and it reminded us that our weekend was almost over.
We left the restaurant with bellies full of seafood and beer, and went directly to the GM TEST TRACK ride.
The gimmick here was to simulate the stress-tests auto makers inflict upon new cars: Shock tests on bumpy hills, sudden stops, temperature shifts, etc. The ride takes you through all these stages, and it's fun without being too fun.
After this, you're thrust out on a track where you accelerate quickly in the open air. That was MUCH better, particularly with all the beer in our guts for ballast during the 65mph banked turns. It was nearly closing time, and there were no lines. NOBODY was waiting when our ride was over, and so, with some mildly desperate pleading, we were permitted to ride again.
Just please unhook and re-hook your seatbelt, and have fun!
When that ride concluded, our pleading was more desperate. We had lost all dignity. One more time? Who could say no to such an innocent group as we?
When THAT ride was complete, we were down to our last 7 minutes before the park was due to close, and we deployed the Secret Weapon: the silent, pleading eyes of inbred cocker spaniels. Around we rode again, but it was to be our last time.
The night was drawing to a close, and there was barely enough time to race back to the Magic Kingdom for their ceremonial fireworks. From there it was a mad sprint to Space Mountain, and from there, sadly, to reality.
The morbidly curious can view the full set of photos here.