AN: I’m always in a Disney hype, I love going to Disney World and exploring the history of the studios, the animations, etc. I also am someone who believes that there’s too much hate and judgment in the world against others. I am often told I should grow up because I love animation and going to these theme parks that some may say are childish or a waste of money. Well, I am who I am. Deal with it. Hope you enjoy this little story, I may actually write a proper story about these characters someday!
The axels of the bus squeaked along with each bump in the road, the occupants often tossed in their seats. A diverse mix of people lined the aisles, many of them turning their gaze to the windows as they watched the Orlando streets zoom by. Of course, there was always going to be the curious sort, their expressions twisting with judgment as they followed their targets.
And today, it seemed Barton was the main attraction. His husky form burned under the heavy gaze of a certain family. Their young daughter remarked about his Disney-esque Hawaiian shirt, ginger beard, bulky physique, and the prominent rainbow armband that hugged his wrist. Such a large bear of a man aiming for Disney World, the daughter’s questions were quickly matched with her mother pulling her child closer and whispering something incoherent to Barton. He didn’t have to hear what she said to know what judgmental slurs she offered her own flesh and blood about him.
Barton was on the edge of thirty years old, sitting alone on this bus filled to the brim with families of all shapes and sizes heading towards the happiest place on earth. To many, his being there was suspect, rumors circling the seats that there was some creepy man poised on a bus filled with children. Mothers hugged their children to their sides while fathers eyed down the stranger without remorse. All the while, Barton rolled his bright blue orbs before turning his gaze to the world just beyond his looking glass.
In the distance he saw the tip tops of attractions he was quite familiar with. The backside of Hollywood’s Tower of Terror climbed towards the sky, already the screams of free-falling gusts echoing through the land. A teetering ship was poised at the very top of Typhoon Lagoon, spouts of water shooting out on occasion at the water park. Spaceship Earth, or as many who have never ventured to Epcot have called it…the giant golf ball at Epcot…shimmered in the sun, a magnificent sight for any Disney fan. As they surged past the various parks, excitement climbed into Barton’s soul as he realized they were closing in on his destination: the Magic Kingdom.
Monorails charged on the rail lines above as the bus turned towards the drop-off point, already his eyes glittering at the sight of the Main Street USA Train Station that acted as the gateway into the park. The bus rolled to a stop at the designated overhang, guests practically flying out of their seats to disembark from the vehicle. Barton dared to have that similar excitement; however, a frown formed on his lips as he noticed the haunting glares of the parents all around as they forced their children from the bus.
Barton chose to wait a few moments for the bus to unload the majority of the guests before he decided to make his journey to the front, the man offering a kind gesture of thanks to the driver as he disembarked. Carefully he stepped along through the crowds of folks now waiting at bag check, the bear soon finding his way towards the magic ticket scanners. Carefully he lifted his wrist to show off his custom Tiki Room magic band, the magic signaling his arrival to the park. Strolling in with an excitement in his step, his bright blue orbs then scanned the world about him for familiar faces.
Sure, there was those same glares, the judgmental whispers of parents rather nasty to be said in such a magical place. But again, Barton didn’t care much for their attention and chose to ignore them. After all, what mattered most was to find those who loved him for him…
“Oh oh oh, there he is! Barton!” A familiar call rang out towards the topiary Mickey Mouse at the center of the train station, the bear of a man turning his gaze to see a pale, freckled woman with bright red curls darting over without a care in the world. She weaved through the families and ignored the calls for her to run as she then launched herself at the man, throwing her arms around him in a great big hug.
Barton nearly toppled over at the embrace, a chuckle raising in his throat as he placed the woman onto her feet. “Hey there Ruby,” he mused as he held the woman’s hand, allowing her to spin and show off her sundress themed for Merida and matching Mouse Ears glittering with green and gold embellishments. “New outfit huh?”
“Made it last week for the vacation! I’ve got a few new ones to show off this week, one for each park!” The woman declared proudly before she turned to wave at their small group making their way through the crowd. Barton was impressed on how such a loud and proud woman such as Ruby could ignore the judgmental glares of parents leading their children into the Magic Kingdom. He had to admit, he was jealous of her bravery and attitude. “Over here!”
A group of four others strolled up to Barton and Ruby, a tanned muscular man covered in ink and piercings strolling to the woman’s side and taking her in a loving embrace. He seemed so terrifying to some but this man grinned up a storm while he held tight to his girlfriend, the woman melting in his hold as she blushed. Beside them, a pair of caramel siblings came to file in, the thin woman offering a small grin in greeting while her tower of a brother skipped to Barton’s side with a toothy grin of his own. And last but not least a spectacled man came over, his slicked back hair kept from his gaze as he shook Barton’s hand upon arrival.
“Yeah the gang’s all here! We finally got Ernest to leave his fancy IT gig for a week to see the light of day again,” Ruby laughed with a wink towards the spectacled gentleman, his cheeks burning at her words.
“Come on now, it’s not like I live in underground surrounded by servers. I know what daylight looks like,” Ernest grumbled with a roll of his eyes.
“Yeah, when he wants to see the sun, all he has to do is look it up on his computer screen,” the male sibling, named Dominic, hummed aloud, his hand so close to Barton’s that the bear of man’s blush intensified to a shade even more blaring than the color of his wavy locks and beard.
There was a wave of laughter over the small group, all of the them brimming with happiness at being reunited in the happiest place on earth. This place, Walt Disney World, had a special place in each of their hearts…and was also played a part in their meeting together throughout the years.
Barton and Ruby were childhood friends that had lived their lives in Orlando, growing up in the realm of amusement parks. Universal Studios, Sea World, and Walt Disney World were practically their back yard as they often escaped to these places for magical fun. They were always the pair who loved diving head-first into what they were passionate about, embracing it fully without shame or remorse. Well, Ruby did without shame, Barton had that struggle early on with judgments.
They joined the Disney team in college, becoming cast members alongside Ernest, a young man who had fallen in love with the franchise with old sci-fi Disney films which included Flight of the Navigator and Tron. The three of them were inseparable, learning their personal Disney stories and meshing into a small family of sorts. They were a support system, the boys also the reason that Ruby began to dabble into fashion after her work behind the scenes on productions at Hollywood Studios.
With Ernest a frequent flyer in guest relations at the parks, it also opened up for the boy to meet Lolita, a mute girl who sought disability assistance in her visits to the parks. Since she was born, Lolita was unable to speak. However, her mother introduced her to Disney movies as a child which helped her cope with her differences. Of all the characters she saw, she connected fully to a young mermaid from the Little Mermaid series who also couldn’t speak.
Ernest helped Lolita along in the park and soon the two of them became friendly with one-another. Lolita was then introduced to the others, who welcomed her fully into their little family.
Even after their college program was finished for them all, Ruby stayed on with the parks as a costume designer. In addition, she continued to dabble into creating outfits and accessories themed around Disney in some way. In fact, it was a Figment-inspired parlor dress she’d made that caught the eye of tattoo artist Mills, the man noticing her one night at a bar and buying her a drink. Right away Ruby was a chatterbox sharing her love for Disney and fashion, in awe as the man showed off hints of Disney tattoos mixed in with the many pieces of ink he had along his body. The two soon began to date and Mills was also welcomed into the family.
And lastly, Lolita’s brother Dominic soon moved to Orlando for a job of his own and wanted to meet the family she had often written about in their emails to one-another. Both him and Barton caught sight of each other and there were hints of a budding romance but nothing official. Needless to say, he was welcomed in and found that same passion for Disney his friends had shared together.
This vacation was much-needed for the group, many of them working hard in their careers and unable to break away during the year because of it. This was their time to really revisit that passion in Disney. It didn’t matter that they were all in their late twenties and thirties. They were doing what they loved and that’s what mattered. For Barton especially, this vacation was a chance to revisit the place he loved with those who loved him for him…and wouldn’t judge him for being a thirty-year-old gay man at a park full of children and their families.
“Well, the magic awaits, shall we go!” Ruby declared, breaking everyone from their thoughts as she gestured towards the train station that was their gateway to the park. Not even once did she paid any mind to the glaring parents as she then charged forward into the park, her hand tight in Mills’ as they ran towards Main Street’s most glorious view: Cinderella’s Castle. Trotting close behind was Lolita and Ernest, the mute woman signing along to her boyfriend as he shouted her words to the others.
And last but not least, Dominic began to move after the others, pausing suddenly at the notice the familiar presence wasn’t at his heels. He turned fully towards Barton, the man noticing the familiar hesitance as he offered up a warm smile.
“The Magic Kingdom awaits for a pair of princes like us. You coming?” Dominic humming aloud, a small wave of his hand melting away the insecurities as Barton brushed past the judgmental stares to join up with his friends.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”