May 2023

First trip to Disney World

Parker's Prose by Parker Senska

Last year, Mom and I decided we would celebrate our 60th and 30th birthdays with a trip to Disney World. I’d never been there, and she hadn’t since my brother, Rob, was 12, so it was time. My uncle Mike and aunt Tam decided to come with to help celebrate and took care of booking the rooms at the resort. Mom was already counting the days, months in advance. I told her she’d be waiting a while, and she countered that the time would go by in a flash. 

Well, I guess she was right! Tuesday, April 25, after we finished sending the paper to the printer, I met Mom in Forestburg, and we were off to the Sioux Falls airport. Donna Bracha had luckily agreed to drop us off and pick us up so we could avoid having to pay for a parking space while we were away. Our plane left Sioux Falls at 5:30, had an hour layover in Minneapolis, and we landed in Orlando at 11 that night. Mike and Tam picked us up in a car they rented and drove us to Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, where we would be staying until Monday. It was here that I first learned just how expensive Florida could be – $5 for a bottle of water!

We slept in a little bit to recover from the trip before getting on the next bus to Magic Kingdom. At the park’s security gate, Mike, our group’s designated pack mule, was stopped to have his bag checked, which would be a continuing trend with each park we visited. We perused some of the shops on Disney’s Main Street while waiting for one of the parades Magic Kingdom has throughout the day to begin. Mom assured me how much I would love them, and, while initially skeptical, I have to admit she was right. The parades aren’t overdrawn. They’re short – about 15 minutes – moments of music and fun. It helps that the parade music is so dang catchy too. Be prepared to have it stuck in your head all day!

We first visited Tron’s Speedway, which was not very speedy. I had the pedal floored and was still getting rearended and passed! Afterwards, Mom and I split off from my thrillseeking aunt and uncle so they could go enjoy their rollercoasters before joining up again, something that would happen every now and then throughout the trip.

Mom and I rode Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (a simple ride that condenses the story of the Little Mermaid down to its songs) and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (a shooting gallery ride) before meeting up with Tam and Mike again to watch the Country Bears show (though it was difficult to understand what they were saying most of the time) and ride the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. We also caught a glimpse of a musical show in the afternoon at Cinderella’s Castle, which involved Mickey and crew inviting guests from Disney movies. I’d like to see the show in full someday. We attempted to catch the Magic Kingdom light show at the end of the day, but a bout of rain ruined that plan. Luckily, we had the Park Hopper plan, so we would be back to try again.

The next day, it was off to Animal Kingdom. The park has animal pens sprinkled throughout, but it’s a coin toss if you’ll be able to see any specific one, whether they’re hiding well or have been taken inside for food or rest. 

We first descended down below the Tree of Life, which was carved with animal silhoettes, in order to watch the Bug’s Life augmented 3D show “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” Before it began, the attendant pointed out the door for those too frightened by the experience. How bad could it be, I wondered. A few minutes later, we’re being prodded by wasps, and giant spiders are descending from the ceiling.

With that nightmare over, I wandered around the carnival while the others enjoyed a Dinosaur ride. However, it was $6 a pop to play, and with all the people competing against each other for the prize at each station, I didn’t want to be matched up against a kid and deprive them. After regrouping, we saw “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue and Beyond!”, a musical retelling of Finding Nemo by the fish tank gang where the actors dressed up and controlled large puppets of the characters.

This was the day we began purchasing Genie+, which, in theory, is supposed to allow you to get into rides more quickly for the day. However, the way it’s set up, you’re likely only going to be able to reserve a spot in the lightning lane two hours in advance, as they only allow a certain amount of spots to be reserved each hour among the Genie+ purchasers. In addition, you can only reserve one attraction at a time. So with it already being the afternoon, we didn’t get much use of it this day.

While Mike and Tam went off to ride another rollercoaster, Mom and I visited the Maharajah Jungle Trek. We hit it at a bad time, apparently, because almost all of the animals were hidden away inside. We did manage to spy some deer, a large, sleeping bat, and many, many birds. It took us a moment to realize a whooping sound we were hearing was coming from one of the larger birds.

After that, we took in the Festival of the Lion King (a live show with music, dancing, and tricks) and Feathered Friends in Flight (a comedic show that shows off bird tricks). We then rejoined with Mike and Tam to hop on a safari. My favorite part was getting to see a lion sleeping soundly on a cliff. Such a big, sleepy boy!

Animal Kingdom closes sooner than the other parks, so we hopped on the bus to try our luck again to see Magic Kingdom’s light show. Standing on the street, as time slowly ticked down, we watched the glowing Cinderella’s Castle grow more and more detailed, and when the clock struck 9, the music began. With each song, the castle’s design changed, and characters would show up on its walls and terraces. All the while, fireworks burst around it. And, at the show’s climax, Tinkerbell made an appearance, floating through the sky above the crowd, her wings aglow in green. It was a spectacular show and a must see should you ever go! I snagged some ice cream before we left (chocolate, of course), which came adorned with chocolate Mickey Mouse ears, and that was the end of our time at Magic Kingdom. 

If I were to grade both parks, I would give Magic Kingdom a B+ (enjoyable and an exciting atmosphere, but not enough attractions that were to my taste) and Animal Kingdom a C+ (recommended to go at least once, but not really enough to warrant subsequent visits).

On our third day, we ventured to Hollywood Studios. My family is big into Star Wars, so we started the day by meeting with characters from the series: BB8, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader. Chewbacca, translated by an attendant, complimeted the Critical Role Pride shirt I was wearing, which said “Don’t forget to love each other.” Chewbacca, “A very important message.”

On our way to the new Star Wars section of the park, we stopped and saw Muppet 3D. (My favorite part of the show was probably Statler and Waldorf.) We then hopped aboard Star Tours (where the ship, piloted by C3PO and R2D2, tries to escape the Empire) and Smuggler’s Run. 

Smuggler’s Run may have been my favorite ride in all of Disney World. You and five others control the Millenium Falcon in an attempt to stop a transport of goods being delivered to the First Order. One pilot (yours truly in this case) steers the ship left and right, another steers it up and down, two others control the guns, and the remaining two are engineers that repair the ship of any damage it sustains. The room moves with you as you steer, making you feel like you’re actually piloting the ship. The steering is very sensitive, and we ended up not doing super well, but it was still a lot of fun.

The Star Wars section of the park is very immersive, with many of the cast members walking about and interacting with guests. Mom got called out by one (in character) for trying to take a picture of Kylo Ren. 

We weren’t able to ride the final Star Wars ride, Rise of the Resistance, at the time, as they seemed to be having issues, so when deciding what to do next, Mom and I saw the Frozen Sing-Along started in seven minutes! So, splitting from Mike and Tam, we raced across the park, went the wrong way once, and managed to arrive just as it was starting. The show entailed two historians telling you the tale of Frozen, with the songs from the movie dispersed throughout, and you better believe I belted out when Let It Go started playing. The show ended with snow showering down on the audience as Elsa sang a Let It Go refrain.

We met back up with Mike and Tam to ride Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, where you are brought into the cartoon to ride Goofy’s runaway train while Mickey and Minnie try to rescue you. It was cute and fun. There was even a point where the railcars we rode stopped and began dancing at a dance lesson, like you would expect in a cartoon.

Afterward, I convinced Mike and Tam to go on the shooting gallery attraction Toy Story Mania with me. Genie+ came in handy, as the queue for the lightning lane was nearly empty, and we were able to get inside in a matter of minutes. While Tam, unfortunately, had to sit by herself, Mike and I got very competitive on who could get the higher score. I had a good lead the whole way through, but it was the bonus round at the very end where my uncle managed to steal the win from me!

Rise of the Resistance was back up and running, and though there was an hour to wait in line, there wasn’t much else to do until Hollywood Studio’s light show Fantasmic that night, so we got in line. We found it wasn’t as long of a wait as we thought, including interactive moments with actors near the end to help pass the time. The ride was enjoyable, similar to Runaway Railway, but there was a drop near the end that startled me enough to grab onto Mom’s arm.

Mike wasn’t sure he wanted to stick around for the light show, but as soon as he learned fireworks were involved, he was in. While he and Tam went to eat, Mom and I hurried over and got our seats saved. Fantasmic was a show of lights, water, and pyrotechnics, which featured both animated and live action characters as Mickey fought against the villains to protect the realm of dreams. Another great show! It wasn’t until we were leaving that I noticed another show was currently going on where we had ridden the Runaway Railway. Apparently, Hollywood Studios has two lightshows to enjoy. I’ll have to be sure to catch the other one whenever I visit again.

Hollywood Studios was by far my favorite park Disney World had to offer, with many fun rides and attractions to partake in. I give it an A.

The fourth day we spent at Epcot, a park that mainly features a world showcase, with sections around the park’s lake themed after different countries.

We began by riding Spaceship Earth, a trip through time that shows the advancement of humanity and finishes with you answering a few questions to determine what kind of future you would create. Getting off the ride, you enter a room with games featuring technology that could exist in the future, such as remote surgeries or vehicle AIs that help you drive.

We then wandered over to ride Nemo & Friends. It was a slow ride that featured the characters from Finding Nemo searching for Nemo as he explored the ocean. It did earn a chuckle from me when Peach the Starfish begged us to take her with us so she could stop having to listen to the characters sing the same song over and over. The ride dropped us off in the aquarium, and after taking in everything there, we moved on to Mission Space. 

I was warned by one of my friends that Mission Space is infamous for causing motion sickness, but my arm was twisted to go on an easier “green mode” version of the attraction they’d added, where instead of journeying to Mars, the rocket you board instead travels around the world. It was a pretty tame experience, so I’d recommend that route to anyone who would like to experience the ride but are prone to motion sickness. Once the ride ended, we were once again led into a room with games, this time themed around space travel.

We started our walk around the lake, taking in the architecture and the shops. The ponchos we bought came in handy, as we got caught in a couple, short rainstorms. We stopped in France to watch the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, which centered around a strange retcon where Gaston’s henchman LeFou aided Belle and the Beast. 

Once we had finished walking around the lake, it was our scheduled time to get on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. We foolishly didn’t do much research on the ride beforehand, and as we were suddenly blasted backwards down a steep hill, I let out a “Nononono!” All I could do was close my eyes and hyperventilate as I waited for the ride to end. Or for myself to die, whichever came first. Had we known it was what my uncle would later call Disney World’s “strongest rollercoaster,” Mom and I never would’ve ridden!

Mike and Tam agreed it was our turn to pick a ride, so we journeyed back to Norway to hop on Frozen Ever After, a fun little watery journey to and from Elsa’s ice palace.

We caught the lightshow around the lake before leaving the park, and I once again noticed fireworks happening elsewhere in the park, this time near the Epcot globe, so it seems this park also has two different lightshows to take in.

Overall, I would give this park a C-. There just aren’t that many attractions, and I’m docking it extra for the rollercoaster of regret.

This is where the story takes a turn for the worse. During the night, I woke up with a bad fever and cough. I would find out after I got back that, yes, I’d caught the dreaded COVID. The next day, we went shopping at Disney Springs, which is a shopping district with most of the items you can buy in Disney World’s shops. The others had been on the fence about going, but I said we should go because I didn’t want to sit around all day. We didn’t stay too long, however, which I didn’t complain since I felt completely rundown.

Following a quick nap back at the resort, Mike and Tam treated us to a birthday supper before we went on a boat ride along the river. The last thing we did was check out the outdoor pool we packed for but never used, then it was off to bed so we could get up at six in the morning to hurry to the airport. 

Overall, despite getting sick and dealing with screaming feet from the eight miles we walked everyday, it was a fun trip, and I hope to experience the Festival of Fantasy again soon.

2023 State Track for SCW was nothing short of amazing. All of our athletes went out and performed as hard as they could. There is just something special about watching our Blackhawk athletes compete at the highest level. 

Jeff Boschee defended his State Class A Boys high jump title winning it for the second year in a row. He was also awarded the Gold Medal Award for winning the high jump for all three classes with a leap of 6’ 7.25”! 

Lizzy Boschee placed eighth in the girls’ 300-meter hurdles after setting a new personal record (PR) in the prelims! She also set a new PR in 100-meter hurdles and place ninth! 

Cody Slykhuis was in the middle of the pack for boys’ triple jump and increased his mark every jump. He may not have gotten on the podium this year, but it’s definitely something to be proud of finishing in the top 24 in state Class A. 

Tyson Eddy was faced with being in the first heat with some of the fastest times in 300-meter hurdles, and what a race it was! He came out of the blocks great and was keeping up with the heat. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the books to make it to finals this year as his spike clipped one of the hurdles, but he looked great running! 

Toby Kneen had his ups and downs this year and was reminded it only takes one throw, and that is what he did at regions to make it into the state meet for boys’ discus. He was able to get three marked throws and finished with a mark of 127’ 10” in a loaded class A field. 

Our community has a lot to be proud of with all of our kids as they represented our schools with class and showed how well we can compete with the best. 

…See pictures in this week’s issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal!

On Friday, May 19, the Artesian Fire Department was called to the Richard and Louise Alt residence to fight a fire consuming the Alts’ barn. Once they got to the location, they contacted the Town and Country Fire District of Woonsocket to come and help fight the blaze. It took the fire fighters about three hours to work on extinguishing the flames, and once they were done, the barn was a total loss, and the east side of the Alts’ home was heavily damaged on the outside. In addition to the damage to the two buildings, there were three classic cars and many personal belongings that were all in the barn and lost in the fire. The cause of the fire has not been determined, and there were no injuries reported.

…See pictures in this week’s issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal!

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