In which I strut
So we’re finally ready for the whole reason that we made the trip down to DisneyWorld in the first place: Villains Night, which now seems to have become “Unleash The Villains”. The crowd levels at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT thus far had been very low, so we were extremely excited as we rode the boat from Beach Club to Hollywood Studios. There was almost no line at the entrance and the park didn’t seem very busy as we entered around 4:30.
There was a large stage set up in front of the Sorcerer’s hat, and large video screens featured Unleash The Villains graphics and countdown timers.
We had Fastpass+ reservations for the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, so we made our way around the lake, where we saw several of the Meet & Greet locations that would be used when the Villains Party started at eight. We also visited a store and inquired about event merchandise, but were told that the merchandise could not be sold before 8pm when the event started, so they suggested checking back.
And I become a strutting star
Indy is a classic stunt show under the guise of shooting movie scenes. The casting director, director and crew talk to the crowd through three scenes of Indiana Jones movies, starting with a temple scene, moving on to a bustling Cairo market, and finishing with the Nazi airstrip in the desert. We were among the first few people to be let in and told we could sit anywhere we wanted, so we took a spot in the front row, just to the left of the production booth. Aly had never seen this show before, and we mentioned that they take volunteers from the audience to act as extras in the show, and wondered if she’s like us to try and get picked as volunteers. She enthusiastically suggested that I try to be selected.
Rachel and I had seen the show several times, but not for many years. It was ridiculously hot, with a heat index of 106 degrees, boiling even in the shade of the amphitheater. That was one downside to being among the first seated, we had a long wait while they brought in the rest of the crowd. Aly’s excitement grew as the crowd filed in and we started to see some of the cast and crew start to appear. I spotted the woman who I guessed was going to be the casting director as she made her way to the production booth right next to us, then gave her a little smile and nodded at Aly sitting next to me.
After a bit of pre-show introduction, the casting director informed the crowd that they were looking for volunteers. She started out a bit to our left and took three volunteers up onto the set, where she had them scream as if they were in fear. She then headed over to the far right side of the crowd to pick another group of volunteers and had them do some silly stunt to prove their mettle before sending them off to wardrobe. She then came to the center area for one last group of volunteers, so I stood up for a third time and waved my hands in the air, with Rachel and Aly on either side of me screaming and pointing at me.
I was called up with another guy and two women, and our group proved our readiness to be extras by posing. The first guy was made to balance on one foot laid out, while the two ladies were posed looking at him saying “OMG!” The casting director said she had something special for me, and took me back towards the set a bit before revealing what that special something was.
She demonstrated it for me first, with a hip-swinging catwalk-worthy strut, completed by a finger-in-the-air disco pose.
I steeled my concentration, then. I. strutted.
Note the lack of humor or self-consciousness. I strutted for my daughter’s entertainment. Rachel grabbed a very short video with her iPhone, but ran out of storage space while recording, so I only have a tiny sample for you.
I have not received calls from any modeling agencies looking for strutters like myself, in case you were wondering, but I am available to strut at charity events, weddings, and bat mitzvahs. We were then taken up to the top of the amphitheater to sign a waiver and get costumed up for our roles in the show.
One of the extras in my group had a GoPro head-mounted video camera, which seemed to amuse the crew and cast quite a bit, as they kept coming over to talk to her video camera. The overall experience was a blast, and I will definitely try to volunteer again in the future. It was hot as heck, but tons of fun. Aly was very pleased when I returned to my seat near the end of the third act, and we had a fun conversation about the show during our walk to dinner at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante.
Beware flying cupcakes
We then checked in for our dinner at Mama Melrose’s, where we waited more than 35 minutes to be seated for our reservation. The food was excellent, and our server Simon was excellent as well, but another server, Joyce, dumped a cupcake on our camera, our bag, and some merchandise we had purchased. Not only did Joyce not apologize nor attempt to clean up our gear, she actually asked Rachel to pick the cupcake up off the floor and put it back on her tray! We had to spend about ten minutes trying to clean sticky sugar and syrup off my camera lens and our park bag. This may have been an ominous sign about the night that we missed.
As I mentioned though, our server was excellent, and Aly loved his Birmingham England accent. Aly had spaghetti with meatballs, though she barely ate her entree because she ate so much bread. We shared a fresh mozzarella appetizer, and then I had the Carne di Italia pizza, which was excellent. Rachel had the Penne alla Vodka, which we both liked a great deal. Aly was offered two dessert choices: the typical DisneyWorld ice cream sundae, or a Spaghetti and Meatball cupcake. She wisely chose the second, and when it arrived, we understood why it had taken us so long to clean off of our stuff after it was dumped on us earlier. It was a giant chocolate cupcake topped with spun sugar frosting made to look like spaghetti, all topped with a chocolate cake meatball that even had shavings of white chocolate made to look like fresh-grated parmesan. The cupcake was finished with strawberry syrup to act as marinara, and not only was the whole thing incredible looking, it was incredible tasting.
On the way into dinner, Aly had spotted something in a store window that she thought would make a perfect present for Rachel’s upcoming 40th birthday, so she asked me to take her to the store to help her buy it. After dinner, she presented it to Rachel:
If you can’t read the plate on the Oscar trophy, it reads “Best Mother”. Well duh, kid, she took you to DisneyWorld for two days and left your sister home!
We traversed the back of the park with the requisite stops at the Singin’ In The Rain umbrella and the giant Coke bottle.
We had a Fastpass+ reservation for Toy Story Midway Mania, so we had less than a five-minute wait before riding one of our favorite attractions. In a rare upset, I snuck by Rachel and Aly got her all-time high score. It was now just after 8pm and finally time for the Villains Night, but that turned out to be such a disaster that it warrants its own post.