Saturday, December 15, 2007
When I was in my mid teens we lived near Disneyland. You could see the Matterhorn on the way to school (if you knew where to look). During summer the fireworks boomed nightly at 9 pm.
In 1984 my parents bought annual passes for my brother and me. We could go whenever we wanted! Disneyland became a weekly treat that I never tired of. I knew every detail of the park and the attractions within. I soon came up with a scheme where I could hit nearly every ride in one day by hitting the popular ones (Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion) when the park opened and the less busy ones (Peoplemover, Monorail, Mark Twain (the steamboat) and the Enchanted Tiki Room) during the day. I knew where to get a burger without standing in line. I knew where to see the Electric parade without waiting on the curb for three hours. When crowds or parades jammed the park, I knew the alternate routes to get where I wanted.
Disneyland never bored me. Each land and attraction put you in a remarkably believable world. For example, when you were in Adventureland, you weren't in a place with jungle decorations- you were in a jungle, thick with palms, broad leafed plants, and thatched roofs. Step a few yards away and you'd be on Main Street, with fresh paint, flower beds, and trolleys. The Pirates of the Caribbean didn't take you past a parade of pirate scenes- it put you in the action: a skull talked to you, bullets and cannons fired over your head, and the burning town seemed ready to collapse on you.
Sometimes my brother and went to Disneyland after school. We'd take the city bus, check into the park, put our homework in the lockers and stay until they shooed us out (politely) at closing time. Then we'd hang out at the Disneyland hotel until our parents got off work and picked us up. Years later they told me they figured we'd get into less trouble at the park than hanging out, unsupervised at home.