Some time ago, I found myself down in Tomorrowland at Disney with the family. We were standing outside the Buzz Lightyear ride waiting for our FastPasses to become active.
FastPasses are a great thing at amusement parks. At Disney, each of the most popular rides offers a FastPass which you can go and get from a cluster of automated kiosks outside the ride. Because there are several kiosks – and operating one takes about a minute – there is virtually no line to get the FastPass. When you get it, it has a range of times printed out on it, indicating when you can come back to the ride and get on. These times are typically a couple hours after you get the FastPass, so the drill is to get the FastPass, go do other things, and then come back. For example, if you get your FastPass at 9am, it will probably be for 10:30 to 11:30. You would come back between those times and go through the “FastPass” line, which is typically only a 5 or 10 minute wait.
We had arrived at Buzz Lightyear prior to the start of our FastPass time, so we were standing outside, chatting and watching the crowds go around us.
While we were standing there, Buzz Lightyear came out and started signing autographs. A crowd immediately swarmed around him, and the Disney handler quickly formed it into a line. Not being interested in autographs (and since the kids didn’t really know who Buzz Lightyear was at that point), we drifted a little distance away.
That’s when the drama started. This time, for a change, it involved someone other than me.
A dad and his 5 year old were jogging over towards the ride, and when the child spotted Buzz, he called out. “Look Dad! Look! It’s Buzz Lightyear!” This was one excited kid. He was hopping up and down, pulling on his dad’s hand to go see Buzz.
The dad glanced at his watch and then at the line. “Our Fastpasses expire in just a couple minutes. Let’s see Buzz after the ride.”
Seemed reasonable to me. I joined in the general murmuring of assent among the onlookers to the drama. It felt nice to be an onlooker for once.
“No! He might not be here! He might be here for only a little while!”
“Look, if we don’t get on now, we’re going to have to wait a long time, and we might not be able to do it.”
At this point, he was gently pulling his son towards the FastPass line, away from Buzz. With an impressive twisting yank, the boy managed to free his hand. The rest of us gave a little appreciative “ooh”. Fortunately, they didn’t notice.
“Dad”, the boy said, “you don’t get it! That’s a ride. A RIDE!. It’s just pretend! That’s the real Buzz Lightyear! It’s really him! We could meet Buzz Lightyear!”
Silence rippled through the watchers as the dad looked at his son. Finally, he sighed. “You’re right, son. You’re right. Let’s go.”
He smiled tiredly at all the onlookers (like me) who were all busily trying to look elsewhere. “Anyone want a FastPass?”
That was a stylish thing to do, and another grateful parent took him up on his generous offer.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to watch the boy meet Buzz.
Our Fastpass became active while they were still in line, and when we came out Buzz and his entourage were gone.