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September 4th, 2023


I’m going to Disneyland!

I was born in California two years before Disneyland opened, but I grew up on the east coast and never got to visit it when I was a kid. Back in the late 50 and 1960s, travel from coast to coast was expensive, and also slow unless you had the money to fly. You either took the train or the bus, or you drove and driving it across so much vast emptiness past the Ozarks was risky. Cars back then weren’t nearly as reliable as they are today. So little Mouseketeer me could only watch the Mickey Mouse Club on TV and the Walt Disney movies mom took me to. Closest I ever came to a theme park when I was young were the boardwalks at the beach towns mom would vacation us in. Those were lots of fun, but not as much fun as I knew Disneyland would be.

It wasn’t until I was 16 that I even got a chance to visit California again, and then it was mom and me on a road trip to try and reconnect me with dad and his family in Oceano. Anaheim was just far enough away, and the traffic in and out of Los Angeles horrible enough, that everything involved in spending even just a couple days at the park, driving down, getting a hotel and buying tickets, and then the drive back, just wasn’t do-able. And there wasn’t much time until I had to be back in school and mom had to be back at work anyway,

Then, decades later, I got work that came with vacation time and I was able to visit my California family on a semi regular basis. But even then I had to be back for work so there still wasn’t time make the trip to Anaheim. But by then Walt Disney World had opened up, and a trip down to Florida wasn’t all that hard to schedule. Even better, my high school crush worked there, and encouraged me to come down for a visit through by then I was more about the road trip than theme parks.

“Come on man it’s your heritage…baseball, mom, apple pie, and Mickey Mouse…what’s wrong with you?”

I still remember that first visit and walking into Epcot and how my inner Mouseketeer came back to me. Somehow in my adulthood I’d forgotten all that. And it rekindled my faith in the human spirit. That, It’s A Small World After All, and There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow Shining At The End Of Every Day thing. I’d forgotten all those days back when I was young and we were going to the moon and I watched the first live television from overseas via Telstar, and sat at the TV Sunday’s after dinner and watched Walter Cronkite’s The Twenty-First Century and Saturday mornings watching Watch Mr. Wizard and evenings before bed watching Star Trek, and reading Arthur C. Clarke and Hal Clement and Ray Bradbury, and those days when I looked forward to whatever the future held. 

I’d forgotten how much I still needed that. And that day in Epcot, watching the monorail glide overhead, and hearing that Disney music at the entrance, and looking up at Spaceship Earth, it all came back to me.

So Walt Disney World became my thing, and I got the annual pass, and then for a few years a DVC membership, and I’ve visited at least twice a year every since, sometimes three times if I could wrangle a long weekend now and then. And since Magic Kingdom was almost a carbon copy of the original Disneyland I could be satisfied that I had my Disneyland experience after all.

But it wasn’t the same of course. And now I’m retired and I have plenty of time to go to Disneyland while I’m here in California. So this time around I set my mind to going. And I’m doing it right with park hopper tickets and a hotel in the park, which gives me easy walking access and maybe some extra magic hours too.

The Halloween after hours event was all sold out though…drat. Maybe next year.

This is almost like a pilgrimage. One of my favorite spots in Hollywood Studios is the Tune-In Lounge and I’ve sat at the bar there watching Walt Disney give the opening speech to his new theme park so many times I know it by heart…

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.

He saw it through to completion, which he never got the chance to in Florida. I really want to see this place at least once.

It’s actually more expensive even though it’s a smaller park, because so many of the perks I get having the Walt Disney World annual pass aren’t available to me at Disneyland, and the selection of in park hotels is nothing like Walt Disney World. So this may be a one shot thing, but we’ll see. Nice thing about Disneyland is it’s not in DeSantisland. The drawback is it’s so much smaller. I looked into making dining reservations and the choices are pretty limited. But then Walt Disney World is Huge. I don’t think there’s anything else like it in the world.

But there will never be another Disneyland, no matter how many copies of it they make all over the world. It’s the first one, where it all began. There was nothing like it before. I love Walt Disney World enough to keep going back no matter how ugly the republicans down there make Florida. But I have to see Disneyland at least once in my life.

2 Responses to “Finally!”

  1. Fred Says:

    was this an early birthday trip? happy birthday anyway. i was trying to be away this weekend, but didnt make it. now just trying not to work today. glad you made it to disneyland. i have been trying to plan another disney trip, but hasnt happened yet. the planned trip this fall seems to be sucking down all of the travel interest.

  2. Bruce Says:

    Not yet. I go September 24 to 28. Wish I’d brought my magic+ band because now I learn they work in Disneyland, but only the new plus ones.

    I have my WDW annual pass back now (they started selling the deluxe passes again last April), and I’ll probably go there sometime either late February or early March. I’m thinking I’ll be spending my birthdays out here in California from now on though, but maybe not. I want to see how much I like Disneyland but already I’m finding out how much smaller it is because there really aren’t many places to sit down eat there, even though there are two parks now. Looks like California Adventure is about the same size as the original Disneyland. Somehow they managed to get the land for it.

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