Ah Disneyland, the “happiest place on Earth”. It is truly on of my favorite places to visit and I never tire of it. I have been going for over 30 years, even having memories of being pushed around in a stroller by my parents as a mere tyke. I can’t count the times I have visited since but the number must be around 50. I have read every book about the park that I can get my hands on and visited, I believe, almost all of the websites dedicated to it. I took about an eight-year hiatus from the park, from about 1995 to this year. I didn’t intend to but life moves too fast sometimes. What got me to return were two fascinating books on the park, written by David Koenig, called “Mouse Tales” and “More Mouse Tales”. The books made me so nostalgic for the place that I ended up buying season passes for my companion and myself about two months ago and we go almost every weekend.
Doing a search, I saw that there hasn’t been a thread about Disneyland for a while. I thought I would share some of my thoughts and memories and others could do the same. I would like to limit the discussion specifically to Disneyland in California (and California Adventure, if you must), if you don’t mind. My only experience with the other Disney parks is one trip to Disney World when I was about 10.
I think that Walt Disney was an incredible man and Disneyland is his legacy. He had a vision of a place that families could enjoy together and escape the harsh realities of the real world. In fact, Disneyland was specifically designed so that it is almost impossible to see the outside world while inside the park. It is an escape, one in which you are required to use your imagination and put reality on hold for a day. I think it has stood up reasonably well to the test of time, which can be proven by just watching the faces of children as they experience the park for the first time. The sense of wonder and awe as they see pirates pillaging and plundering, or view exotic animals from a jungle river, or the glee they display as Mickey walks around signing autographs, proves to me that Walt’s spirit is still quite evident in the park.
Not to say that there aren’t negatives. When Michael Eisner took over in 1984, he didn’t exactly follow all of Walt’s wishes, most notably, the idea that Disneyland should be affordable to all. Ticket prices have skyrocketed since 1984. Also, the bottom line became far more important, which meant that far more shops appeared inside Disneyland, newer rides are fewer and farther between, and many have been closed to save money. Also maintenance of the rides appears to be less frequent, causing more ride breakdowns. The worst example of this is the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which only a few weeks ago derailed, killing a person.
Still, you can’t help but be impressed by the place. I have always found the park to be exceptionally clean and the Cast Members (employees) to be quite friendly and helpful at all times. The park is run very efficiently as can be witnessed the moment you step on the parking lot tram, the first “ride” of the day.
While I adore all of the rides, my favorite, as corny as it sounds, is the Jungle Cruise, one of the original attractions. I also love the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Indiana Jones is also pretty neat, especially considering that it is almost impossible to repeat the same experience on the ride. From what I understand, there are something like 180,000 variations. The attractions I miss most are the Peoplemover, “America the Beautiful”, the Skyway, and the Submarine Voyage. It still saddens me every time I go to see the empty Submarine lagoon.
So fellow dopers, what are your memories of Disneyland? What are your favorite rides? What rides do you miss the most? Also, if you have any questions about Disneyland, I will do my best to answer them. I am by no means an expert, but I do know quite a bit about the place.