Those two words have either jump-started your salivary glands or caused you to double check your search engine filters. For those unfamiliar, Dole Whips are the spectacular combination of soft serve (most often Pineapple flavored) ice cream and Pineapple juice. These delights can only be found in the smallest handful of locations on this planet, the greater percentage of which are found on Disney property. Mine waits for me at the Magic Kingdom, just over the bridge in Adventureland and is one of the most important appointments I keep in the year. This sounds silly, I know, but I learned the hard way one year when I failed to stop by. A mistake I have not repeated since.
I walked past the counter that year, several times in fact, always looking up at the peacefully inviting sign which reads “Aloha Isle: Refreshments”. And each time I had either just eaten and was quite satisfied or on my way to dine with no intention of spoiling my appetite by prematurely engaging in my love affair with this frozen treat. Thus, I missed it.
In this world, in my experience, you are either actively engaged in an emotional relation ship with the Dole Whip or you are not. Certainly, there are those who can dabble and enjoy, then walk away, never to give it thought again, and there are those who don’t particularly care for them at all. Then there are those of us living in shame, afraid to admit our shortcoming. We often find ourselves at the gas station, our thoughts drifting from the display on the pump, instead recalling the sound of the machines as they work their frozen magic, the cold perspiration on the cup in our palm, and the bite of the first drips of citrus as it caresses our tongue sending serenity to every inch of our nervous systems.
Observe any given snake-like line, wrapping itself neatly around the side of the Aloha Isle and respectfully out of the thoroughfare, and you may see one or two people breathing strangely or gently dancing on the balls of their feet. Look closer, however, and you may notice my category, identified by an intently focused look, an inexplicably warm smile, and beads of sweat dripping from the brow. We are less easy to spot in summer, but sweat just the same regardless of season, temperature, or time of day.
In subsequent years the Aloha Isle became a destination. As hordes pushed past to line up for a Jungle Cruise one way and to press themselves into small gaps from which to glimpse a parade going the other, I gently and inconspicuously sidle up to the counter and try, with great desperation, to not appear the wolf in tourists clothing that I truly am. Having had a great deal of practice, I may even appear calm to the unwitting passerby. Take a closer look, though, when next you fix, and observe just how far away you are from those machines and the Cast Members as they graciously pass your ambrosia along, hoping, I am certain, to retrieve their extremities intact after delivery. Disney knows we’re out here and has been kind enough to consider the safety of their Cast Members in a fashion not too dissimilar from banks and their tellers.
Of course, there is no true cause for concern. The truth is, like reverse Kryptonite, I start feeling better the moment I’m through the turnstiles, trotting down Main Street, turning left past Casey’s, and crossing the two bridges, breathing a sigh of release upon the mere sight of the sign.