Monday, April 12, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

(Warning this is a super long blog!)

There is something so wonderfully magical about Disneyland that even hoards of whiney children, massive strollers ramming into you at every turn, and 50 minute wait times cannot bring you down. Even technical difficulties on Splash Mountain, couldn’t dampen our 20 something year old spirits. Walt Disney truly got it right when he made this fantasy land.

Our morning started out by Melisa and me waking up with far less sleep than recommended by the sleep gods. Alisha made us her famous 50 cents breakfast. Breakfast was scrambled egg with chives and cheese atop of a cheese roll. The carbs were for an instantaneous burst of energy and the protein was to give us the stamina needed to outlast even the most sugar fueled 7 year old. It was delicious and nutritious.

Our next stop was coffee and the ATM machine, because even dreams come at a price. The drive from Long Beach to Disneyland was a short one, and the only traffic we encountered was in the Disneyland parking garage. As we took the escalator down, the excitement was tangible. Our chariot (tram) awaited to take us to our magical destination. We did a quick elementary school group high/low five to pump us up, and off we went.

As we entered the gate the first priority was a bathroom stop. I almost held it. As I took in the sights and sounds of Main Street USA, I let out a small “awwww.” Disneyland does not skimp on details. Everything from the flowers in the window boxes to the Juliette balconies look authentically cute.

Walking down Main Street we saw Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The castle is synonymous with Disney. It symbolizes every child’s dream before they become jaded by the harsh reality that life is not a fairytale after all. The castle seemed smaller than I remember, however I am bigger. Even though life isn’t a fairy tale, Disney gave us three musketeers a chance to forget about all the evils in the world for one long imaginative filled day.

We took out our trusty map and planned our day. Our plan of attack was to start in Adventureland and make our way around the park. However, our plan was flexible. Indiana Jones was our first stop. After waiting for 5 minutes and the line moving 2 feet, we decided to get on the “Fast Pass” plan. Next to staying the night in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the fast pass is Disney’s best idea. We simply put our tickets in the fast pass machine, and received a pass for Indiana Jones, that had an hour block of time where we could return and skip ahead of the line.

Fast pass in hand we went on to the Haunted Mansion. The magic of Disney was on our side, as there was no line for the Haunted Mansion. The three of us shoved our cheese roll filled hips into a single cart and off we went. The ghosts and goblins had their little party…as Madame Leota summoned the spirits in the sĂ©ance room. We even picked up a ghostly hitch hiker on our “doom” buggy. I’m surprised he found space between our cheese roll hips.

With a few minutes to spare before Indiana Jones we attempted to go on Splash Mountain, unfortunately it was out of order. This is a shame because Alisha and I convinced our gullible friend Melisa that she wouldn’t get wet at all. So on to Winnie the Pooh's adventure. This ride may be for little kiddos, but the day was all about rekindling our childhoods. It was a blast; Pooh bear sure knows how to have a sweet time.

Pirates of the Caribbean, yet another Disney favorite, had for some reason a short line. So on we went. Pirates of the Caribbean has been updated since the release of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Some extremely convincing Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow puppets are now on the ride. This prompted me to ask Alicia, “Is that an actor?” Thankfully Disney left many of the classics, like the auctioned off brides chasing the pirates around in circles, in the ride. The best part of the ride had to be us three ladies simultaneously swinging our arms side to side and singing along to, "Yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me!"

To waste time we took a gander up the Tarzan tree house. The steps went on forever. At the end we agreed that made room for more theme park treats. The tree used to be modeled after the Swiss Family Robinson’s tree house, which I much prefer to Tarzan, however Disney has to keep up with the current kiddo trend. Oh well, I’m probably the only person concerned with the Tarzan tree house formerly known as the Swiss Family Tree house.

Finally it was Indiana Jones time! Fast pass in hand, we skipped past the sad little line waiters to the front. Fortunately we got to sit in the front car. Alisha drove, and she did a fine job avoiding the giant snake, weaving in between arrows headed straight for our dream filled brains, and ducking under a boulder that was bound to crush us. As we got off we were pumped. We hummed along to the theme song, “Dunn du-dun dun, dun dunnn dunnn, dunn du- dun dun dun dunnn dunn.”

We grabbed a fast pass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and were forced to skip over most of Frontierland as Tom Sawyer’s island was closed for renovations. We tried the Matterhorn but the line wrapped around the snow covered mountain. Disney forgot to put a fast pass machine on this ride (silly Disney!) so Mr. Toad’s wild ride was in store. Alisha flirted with Mr. Toad. I drove Melisa and myself, with our destination being the same as all others who dare to ride: Hell. Luckily it’s just pretend and our angelic selves exited the ride unscathed.

Thunder Mountain railroad was fun. The western themed ride jerked us around and caused concern as to whether my head band was going to fly off. If it did, it totally would have been worth it.

Lunch was in Fantasyland as we couldn’t bear to watch a western musical show at the bbq place in Frontierland. We were unable to find places to sit inside or outside the restaurant, so we ate our underwhelming hamburgers next to the Dumbo ride.

Fantasyland, my favorite, was packed with strollers, tiny children, and long lines sans fast passes so we went to Tomorrowland to get a glimpse into the future. While we got a fast pass for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blast, we rested our laurels on Captain EO’s 3D adventure. With the recent passing of Michael Jackson, Disneyland brought back the version with him in it. (Not very futuristic of you Disney.) Still there was no wait, and it was fun to put on large yellow glasses. Alisha particularly loved it, because she got to put the glasses over her glasses. Captain EO turned Alisha from “four eyes” to “six eyes,” now that’s futuristic…

Autotopia was next. Autotopia was not as awesome as I remember. Maybe because I now can drive a real car that is more powerful than a lawn mower? Whereas last time I drove the little car, my driver’s license was a distant dream. Alisha’s car kept dying, and Melisa got the periwinkle convertible that I desperately wanted. Still it was fun, since Alisha’s car kept dying I accidently bumped her, which caused Melisa to bump me, creating our own mini version of bumper cars.

The Buzz Lightyear Astro Blast awaited us. Riding in the space car and shooting targets with little laser guns was just the ticket to make up for the lackluster Autotopia cars. Alisha, a budding video game expert, won, I got second place, and little Melisa bless her heart, came in last.

We decided to wait in the regular long line for Space Mountain. Melisa and I had never been on it before. When I was little I was too afraid, and during my high school senior trip it was closed. While waiting in line a group of about six 12 year old girls were trying to keep themselves entertained. They loudly chanted “boom chica boom boom boom boom” and did silly looking dance moves as they got louder and louder and increasingly annoying with their boom chica chant. After 40 minutes of ear splitting tweenage chanting they were finally let on the ride, and our headaches went away. Once we finally got on Space Mountain, Alisha warned us it was very fast and very dark. Mine and Melisa’s stomachs did a little flip flop, but we put on a brave face. The ride flung us around seemingly defying gravity as stars shot past us. The three of us could not stop giggling/screaming. We aren’t really a screaming bunch, but it felt appropriate, and for a moment we were probably as annoying as the tweenagers chanting boom chica.

On a hunt for ice cream we went to Toon Town. We played around in Goofy's play house, disappointed that we could not find the kind of ice cream that we wanted. A newly single Melisa wanted to get Mickey’s number, (because after all he has a job) but the line was way too long for me and Alisha. Pluto would have to suffice, sorry Melisa.

We tried our luck on Splash Mountain again. We were making good progress when we noticed the logs had stopped making their way over the edge of the waterfall. Once again we couldn’t get on and once again, mine and Alisha’s plan to mess up Melisa’s perfect hair was foiled.

Our dogs were barking, so we exited the park to get some food. Rain Forest CafĂ© seemed appropriate for our Disney themed day. Unfortunately the wait was an hour and forty five minutes. Where was the fast pass when we needed it the most? Espn Zone was next door, and while I may be the only person remotely interested in the games being shown on the screens, no one cared because we wanted to sit and fill our belly’s with grub. The food and service was mediocre, but our child like energy was fading and a rest was just what we needed.

After a quick stop to purchase a Nightmare Before Christmas sweatshirt for Alisha’s cold self, we went back to the park. The Matterhorn line was still wrapped around the mountain, so It’s a Small World it was. As annoying and cheap looking as It’s a Small World is, it’s still fun to look at all the puppets and think that my parents probably rode a ride very similar to the one I rode that day. A little Dutch lady greeted me, reminding me of home, and a Mountie greeted my Canadian born friend Melisa.

I desperately wanted to go on the Peter Pan ride before we left. We went to get in line, but were told the ride was closing for the fireworks show. I was disappointed. Peter Pan’s Flight has to be my favorite ride in the park. After boarding a pirate ship with a sprinkle of pixie dust, the ship magically flies over London and Neverland. It is one of the few rides left from the original Disneyland opening in 1955. It reminds me of eating air popped pop corn out of my mom’s old aluminum pot with my brother, while my mom put on Peter Pan for us to watch. Fortunately for me, I have a good memory and can imagine being on the ride like yesterday. That’s part of the magic of Disney, it leaves lasting impressions.

Our luck returned as we were the last ones let on Pinocchio’s adventure. I haven’t seen Pinocchio in forever, but the movie came back to me as we rode the ride. Pinocchio has to make life decisions: whether to go to school, go to the gluttonous-no rules Pleasure Island, or Stromboli’s marionette show. Disney may be about fantasy and dreams, but there certainly are some life lessons to be learned.

Exhausted, we decided to watch the fireworks show and call it a day. Huddled in the center of Main Street USA all eyes on the castle, we waited for Tinker Bell to fly above the castle and start the show. I’ve seen fireworks before and I thought to myself, what could they possibly do to make them any better than your typical Fourth of July? Of course Disney exceeded my expectations and outdid itself. The show is choreographed to various recognizable Disney songs, parades, and attractions, including a part dedicated to the evil Disney characters. It’s simply amazing. Julie Andrews, (Disney royalty) starts the show off discussing wishes and how they can come true. Later, Walt Disney’s opening speech is played on the loud speakers, “To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past...and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America...with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”

Watching the fire works with my friends, I couldn’t help but feel like a little kid again. In a world of wars, earthquakes, and illness, it was refreshingly uplifting to think of America as a great place. As we got back on the tram, we were deliriously tired. The three of us girls kept laughing incessantly at silly little inside jokes. We were giggling so hard our faces and stomachs ached. Childhood memories were revisited, friendships strengthened, and our hearts were happy:  what a magical place indeed.

3 comments:

  1. Oh I love it! It made me laugh out loud again re-reading our experience! I am so glad you came out with Lis - I had such a nice, well needed time with you guys!

    Oh and you left out the part where I got screamed at, after I was rude to that lady...maybe she has periods? LOL!!

    <3 Alisha

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  2. Wow, now I'm tired! Captain EO was pulled by Disney when Michael Jackson got arrested for child molestation. Commercialism wins out over integrity, even in Disneyland.

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  3. Very true Sharon, a lot of the rides have sponsers now..kinda sad, but I chose to look past that grown up stuff. I wonder how Walt Disney would feel about it?

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