“I just flipped off President George. I’m goin’ to Dizz-knee-land.” –DaDa
Leaving Big Sur and the incredible beauty of Highway 1 behind, the gang made way for Disneyland and the grand finale of our California adventure.
Going to Disneyland was a big deal. First, because it gave us something to lord over the kids while hiking in Big Sur or waiting for dinner service in Santa Cruz: “if y’all wanna go to Disneyland you better start behavin’ right now.” Not that it was effective, but psychologically, having the threat in our arsenal was comforting to us adults. Second, it was going to be a fun, relaxing end to our trip. Physically taxing and frustrating at times, sure, but at Disney, the only decisions that need to be made are which Fast Pass to grab next. Disney properties are so detached from the world at large that the mind can virtually shut down while within those magical gates. It’s worth every damn penny just for that.
The final reason Disneyland was such a big deal was the ability to say we’ve been there–to climb another rung up the parenting wall of fame. I mean, lots of people go to Disneyworld where we live. Lots of Californians probably hit Disneyland. But how many kids get to do both? (Not many, I say, as I pat myself on the back.)
Lest I get too paternally cocky here, I must confess that in keeping with the rest of the week, I made a major mistake. I insisted we be at the gates at opening. My reasons were sound–that’s when the weather is best and the lines are shortest. I was right about that. In fact, we would have been unable to ride the new signature Cars ride if we hadn’t gotten there when we did. I got in line for a Fast Pass when we entered just after eight a.m. Forty-five minutes later I had a ticket for us to ride at 7:15 p.m. Fast Passes were all gone by late morning leaving those without tickets an hour and a half wait in the cattle line. But. But…
We arrived in Anaheim the night before at 10:30. Scamp went to sleep after midnight. She was a very. very. tired. five year old. all day long. We should’ve slept in.
Nevertheless, on the whole our two days at Disneyland were fantastic, not counting two or three Scamp blowouts on the first day. As penance for my ill-advised insistence on entering early, I carried Scamp around on my shoulders most of the day. My severely bruised ribs served as a constant reminder of the need to improve my decision making skills.
Some random observations about Disneyland:
It is like Disney World, but different. Smaller, but ingeniously imagineered through landscaping (walls of hedge) and ride design (using lots of vertical space) so that it seems large. There are a number of different rides, new ones like Cars and Indiana Jones and classics disappeared from Orlando like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. They have Space and Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad and Pirates of the Caribbean. And of course the wasted space of Huck Finn’s Island and the incredibly short and boring steamboat ride.
On the down side, and I don’t know if it was just a bad day, but I have never seen so many break-downs and stoppages for maintenance.
Sleeping Beauty’s castle looks like a hovel compared to Cinderella’s, but from a certain point of view, it’s sort of elegantly understated, more child-friendly and less dramatic and imposing. They both have their charms as park centerpieces, though castle photo ops at Sleeping Beauty’s Disneyland are not in the same league as Disneyworld.
At Disney, I am constantly amazed by one thing: the ongoing evolutionary experiment that is the Fast Pass system. For those who don’t know, the most popular rides with the longest lines have a Fast Pass ticket dispenser associated with them. Rather than stand in line, you can get a ticket for later in the day to come back and skip the line. I swear to God, on some rides the Fast Pass let you return in 90 minutes and the line was 60 minutes. We would ride 3-5 other attractions and come back with no wait at Soarin’ or Star Wars while the intellectual dregs of our society wilted in the regular line. I always like making eye contact with these cretins relying on the rail to remain upright while passing them by at a sprint-walk in the fast lane.
In Santa Cruz and Big Sur I could not help noticing how fit people were. I remarked to my gang at the lack of obesity in California and chalked it up to their good weather and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. My assumption about California fitness was challenged at Disneyland.
That’s about it. Like almost all our trips, this one was possibly the best ever. Scamp came home with a Donald Duck and a Mickey Mouse to keep company with the Minnie and Daisy she got in Florida. I came home with those bruised ribs, a bruised ego, and 720 photos of one of the better weeks in a pretty good life so far. We started looking ahead to the next trip during Christmas holidays. Because travellin’….well, that’s how we live happily ever after at our house.