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  • I've dreamed of being in a movie my whole life. Drama, comedy, western, anything. Well, a few years back I had my chance.

    Sort of.

    I was on vacation in Walt Disney World with my mom, dad, brother (Rob), and aunt. One of the parks at WDW is Hollywood Studios, a park centered on movies, television, animation, and all the magic in between. We entered the park with the intention of going on some rides, eating some good food, taking a lot great pictures, and most importantly having an amazing time.

    The Tower of Terror, The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours, all of the classics. We rode them all and screamed our heads off. It was shaping up to be another day in the place where magic lives. So as we went along we stopped by Disney's Back Lot Tour, a ride go on every time we visit, but today was different. Today would be one of a kind.

    The ride is pretty straight forward. You get on a tram and go in and out of sets, costume departments, wood shops, and onto a lot where vehicles, airplanes, and spacecraft reside from movies past. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, lots of really cool stuff from some of my favorite movies. The tour ends with a special effects show involving fire, rain, gushing water, and some cool hydraulic effects.

    Before this all starts there is another special effects demonstration, showcasing some action movie effects involving naval battles. I've seen it a bunch of times, but it's still kind of a nice treat to see what a little bit of air, water, and computer programming can make. Before we entered the water tank area, we were greeted by a cast member. Myself and my brother were approached and asked if we wanted to participate in the demonstration.

    "Sure!"

    So off we went to suit up for the demo. I gave my dad my camera to take a few pictures. Little did I know he would snap this beauty at the top of the page. Rob and I walked off, ready for the "shoot." We put on our blue rain gear and heavy duty rubber boots. Both myself and my brother have large feet (14 and 15 to be precise) so situations like this can be cumbersome, but Disney had it covered. A very good sign.

    So when it was time the other patrons of the ride entered the water tank viewing area. They announced the volunteers (there were two others who were picked). Myself and Rob took our positions on the deck of a replica PT boat. One of the other actors took his place at the wheel. Our roles were of sailors scrubbing the deck. The action was a surprise attack from the enemy, involving machine gun fire, torpedos, and lots of fire and water.

    The stage was set. The mood just right. The cast member in charge of the production took his place at the controls.

    "Action!"

    With towels in hand we got down on all fours and began scrubbing. I think I really nailed my character. Suddenly the sounds of airplanes filled the air. Our ears perked up like watchdogs. We scrambled around to try and look for signs of the fighter planes. Then a strafe run swept through the water. Spouts of water shot up all in a row. Knowing that this was movie magic I had nothing to fear, but seeing the little columns of water shoot up into the air like that was surreal.

    Then we were told to look off the port side to see a torpedo approaching. A stream of bubbles rushed towards the hull of the ship and ended with a "Kaboom!" A huge ball of water shot up and covered the deck. We were hit! I lurched backwards from the shockwave. I was really hamming it up.

    Then silence. We were alive, for now. Overhead we heard the roar of more plane engines. This time they were bombers. From the other side of the tank we could see the bombs being dropped. Geyser after geyser shot out of the water, making their way over to our boat. We were surrounded. The above picture is the crescendo of the performance as the bombers pass overhead.

    The battle was over. Applause ensued as we went backstage to get out of our now completely soaked gear. We met our families and rejoiced. It was one of the highlights of the whole trip. Year after year we have gone to that ride and always dreamed of participating in the special effects demo. It's not quite the real acting gig I dreamed about, but it will certainly do for now.
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