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Amazing Disney Adventures

Countdown to Extinction Turns Magical

Shari of Armada, MI shares her Countdown to Extinction memory from October 1999

In 1998, when Animal Kingdom had recently opened, we visited during our vacation to Walt Disney World. My daughter, 8 at the time, went with my mother and I on the Countdown to Extinction ride and was absolutely terrified by it.

The following year, October 1999, we were lucky enough to be able to take another trip to Walt Disney World. Leah, now 9, had really been psyching herself up to ride Countdown to Extinction again … it had become her “personal Everest” <g>, and she kept telling everyone that she wanted to conquer it.

When we got to the Animal Kingdom, Leah marched us all straight to Countdown to Extinction, and got in the line with her Dad and I. After waiting about 30 minutes, we finally reached the point where you go through the doors into the actual ride loading area. I looked at Leah, and her eyes were round as saucers. “I can't do it, Mama!” she wailed. The Cast Member who was there allowed us to exit via the “chicken door,” as Leah termed it.

Outside, Leah sat dejectedly, chin in hands, with tears running down her face. At this time, a Cast Member came out of the staff door, obviously on his break. When he spotted Leah, he screeched to a halt, crouched down to her level, and asked what was wrong. Upon hearing her tale of woe, he said, “How would you like to see the ride without having to GO on the ride?” Leah's face lit up! He took us back inside and brought us to the Countdown to Extinction control room, where those who control and monitor the ride work. He showed us all of the monitor screens situated at various points along the ride route, and told Leah all about the dinosaurs we could see on the screens, including the special, funny names the Cast Members have for them. Leah could see the dinosaurs from the “safety” of the control room, and was tickled to see, on the screens, the other guests yelling and holding on for dear life as they rode the ride.

This young man, on his break, saw a little girl clearly NOT having a “Disney Moment,” and cared enough to intervene, turning a bitter disappointment into the highlight of the trip for a young guest.

Now, THAT'S what it's all about. THAT'S Disney Magic!

Unfortunately, this was before the WWWD pins, but I did fill out a Cast Member appreciation card at guest services. This young man definitely deserved recognition!

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