"The Happiest Place on Earth"
We just returned from a somewhat spur of the moment trip to Disneyland in CA.
At Thanksgiving I wanted to get some time with the family away from our normal routine away from Central Oregon. It has been a busy year with a lot of changes and I decided we needed some "get away and have some fun" time as a family.
So, I planned a 3 day trip to Disneyland for Beth, Jarod, and me. Kiehl and Aaron (Kiehl's boyfriend) drove down from northern CA to meet us, surprising Jarod, and we all had a blast!
My recollection of Disneyland is back into the 1960's and 70's. The only time my kids went to Disneyland as a family was in 2003 for a single day. Jarod didn't really remember much about the park since he was only 3 at the time.
For this trip, however, we made some memories and had a lot of fun together.
E-Ticket vs. FastPass
Long gone are the days of the A, B, C, D and E tickets for rides. Today, it is a single admission with all rides and attractions included.
As in the past, Disneyland (TomorrowLand specifically) showcases some leading technology and a peak into the future. It was fun to see the contrast in technologies....BUT, it was also amazing to see the longevity of the rides built in the 60's and 70's (Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan's Flight, Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, which is now Tarzan, etc). Obviously, these attractions have been refurbished and upgraded, but they are still enjoyed by young and old.
For example, compare the technology of the Matterhorn (opened in 1959) to California Screamin' (opened in 2001). Both attractions are roller coasters, but the technology and construction behind them are different...or they had better be...I don't think I would like to do the inversion (upside down loop) on the Matterhorn, but it was a thrill on California Screamin'.
Another interesting contrast is Peter Pan's Flight (opened in 1955) to Soarin' Over California (opened in 2005), the latter being my favorite attraction. But on my very first ride on Peter Pan's Flight in the 1960's I would have never imagined an 87 seat IMAX simulator that would give us the experience of hang gliding over California scenery.
Again, it was just flat out FUN to be there and experience the new and exciting adventures.
Clean & Friendly
As in the 1960's and now 50 years later, each morning and all through out the day, EVERYTHING was in place and clean...AND, it was rare to see anyone picking up anything, working on the backside of an attraction, a character out of costume, or the inner workings of the park. Every employee, every vendor, every character, every attraction were "ON" the entire time we were in the park. Granted, there were some power interruptions during our visit, but all in all, everything and everyone were in character to make it the "happiest place on earth".
For me, the two (2) biggest disappoints of the park were The Haunted Mansion and Fantasmic! night time show.
For some reason, I remember the opening of The Haunted Mansion. One year we were at the park and it wasn't open and then the next year (1969) it was open. My first time through scared me and I remember being amazed at how they got ghosts to fly over our heads, tombstones to talk, and eyes of marble busts to follow us as we moved.
This season The Haunted Mansion was overlaid with Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and was very tacky. It was the worse Disney quality I have seen and ruined the tasteful sophistication of the original Haunted Mansion.
Fantasmic! was also a disappointment. It was loud, dark, and not as fun as World of Color in the California Adventure Park.
I remember seeing stage acts like Donnie and Marie Osmond, The Jackson Five, and others during my boyhood. This year, we only saw Mickey and the Magical Map, Newsies street performers, and Star Wars Jedi Training.
If I remember correctly, the stage for Star Wars Jedi Training was the same stage for Donnie and Marie Osmond and The Jackson Five.
The trip did what we wanted...it created a memory for all of us. After the trip Jarod commented, "to tell you the truth, I was not looking forward to going to Disneyland with just mom and dad. But, when I saw Kiehl, I was glad she was there, and it was fun having Aaron along." He also admitted that it was a lot of fun to go with mom and dad....and Kiehl and Aaron too.