My wife and I went to Disneyland. Since becoming an adult, this was the first time I was ever there without kids or a joint. No strollers, no giant diaper bags, no getting home and realizing we had left somebody. Also, we had never seen the adjacent California Adventure so we wanted to go before it eventually shuts down or is completely rethought.
We figured: go before the summer begins and kids are out of school. I guess that now means February. Disneyland was packed. There were lines for everything. The biggest: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Waiting, Space Mountain, and churros. The Small World attraction is closed for renovation (thank God). A big fence surrounds it. So the line was only a half an hour.
I wore a golf shirts and long pants. I was waaaay overdressed. Come on, people! At least the ratty t-shirts and torn plaid shorts should fit! You're going to be taking pictures in those rags.
As always, the park was immaculate ... although I could swear one of the 60-year-old maintenance men in an elf suit was a former producer of TAXI. And the teenagers who work there remain the nicest, perkiest, helpfulliest David Archuleta and Carrie Underwood clones you could find this side of Stepford.
I'm guessing the teens with major imperfections like acne or no dimples are assigned to wear those bulky heavy character costumes. It was 90 degrees and Winnie the Pooh was staggering around, tripping over strollers, kicking little tykes, occasionally sticking his head in an ice cream pushcart for relief.
Happy to say that the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride wasn't ruined by the improvements. There were a few Jack Sparrows added and a nifty Davy Jones hologram but otherwise it's pretty much the same. Oh maybe a little less raping but the spirit of fun is still there.
To avoid standing in endless lines Disneyland now offers "Fast Passes" for most major rides. It allows you to return for wait-free boarding. We got our Fast Passes for Space Mountain at 1 PM. Our reservations were for 9:30, thus saving us fifteen minutes had we stood in the normal line.
I was a good boy this trip. I did not stand up and ask Mr. Lincoln a question nor did I buy a Mouseketeer hat, have them scroll "Vincent" then rip off one of the ears.
With all the spectacular photo-ops Disneyland provides, all day long I saw people taking pictures of each other while standing in lines. We are truly a country of idiots.
Then there are the women trying to walk all day and night in ankle strap wedges. And they wonder why they're crippled by Fantasyland.
Gas prices are so high that for the Autopia, the cars are now just being pushed by Disney employees.
In a nod to health conscious California, Disneyland eateries now serve healthy food along with the usual fast food junk. My wife ordered a salad. It was the third one sold this year!
The irony of the Indiana Jones ride is that Harrison Ford probably can't ride it. It's way too violent and rugged for a 66 year-old man.
We moved over to California Adventure, which is like going from Times Square on New Year's Eve to downtown Flint, Michigan a year after they closed the GM plant.
The only thing worth seeing is "Soarin' Over California". It's a simulated hang glide tour over the state. If only I could simulate flying on American Airlines instead of actually having to fly on American Airlines.
Wandered around the park. Don't know the names of the "lands" per se but there's one that's kind of rustic that my wife just called "Wilderness Shit". They pipe in this real stirring John Williams type music and I must say, coming out of the restroom I thought there've been times when I could have really used this.
Next we encountered a beach boardwalk themed land. The John Williams music gave way to Beach Boys tunes on a calliope. All these years I never knew that "Surfer Girl" was a circus song.
Disney -- the company that brought you "Song of the South" and tar babies now presents "Pizza Oom Mow Mow" on the pier at California Adventure.
There's a big classic Coney Island style rollercoaster and something called the "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror". Not wanting my first major stroke to be in a place where the paramedics all wear Peter Pan costumes I passed on both.
We returned to Disneyland, nostalgic for the days when California Adventure used to be a parking lot.
Night fell on the Magic Kingdom and it got a little chilly. No worries. There's a clothing store every hundred feet. Me: "Excuse me, Tracy/Stacey/Kaysee/Lacy, do you have a men's sweatshirt that doesn't have Tinkerbell on it? Or Mickey in a wizard's cap? Or Mulan? Or a fucking fairy castle!?" I bought a Davy Crockett coonskin cap so at least my head was warm.
Even in the evening when the crowd thinned out there was still a 45 minute wait for the aptly named Dumb-o ride.
No trip to Disneyland would be complete without a harrowing bobsled ride down the Matterhorn. It always takes me back to my idyllic childhood, going on it once with my dear sweet grandmother and hearing her drop the f-bomb.
The Haunted Mansion is now inhabited by a bi-lingual ghost. He gives spooky instructions in both English and Spanish.
Never got to Toontown. There were enough over-stimulated, sugar revved, screaming, out-of-control little hellions in all the other lands.
And I always wonder -- how many of these children were conceived on Tom Sawyer's Island during Grad Night?
Following the fireworks and "Disney Dwarfs on Parade" or whatever the hell that noisy thing was, we dutifully reported to Space Mountain to take advantage of our Fast Pass. Wow! Space Mountain was always great but this new revamped version is awesome. You know they mean business when they tell you to take your glasses off. As I was crawling off the rocket sled on my hands and knees I said to my wife, "Now THAT'S a thrill ride!"
Finally, it was time to leave. Where did twelve hours and hundreds of dollars go? A half hour to catch the tram and another half hour to find our car in the parking structure the size of Liechtenstein, and we were merrily on our way (to hit massive traffic on the Santa Ana freeway at midnight).
I have always loved Disneyland. I'm not ashamed to say it. I am ashamed to wear any of those sweatshirts but even as a five year-old curmudgeon I marveled at the imagination, scope, and vision of this wondrous (albeit highly profitable) world. So I will be back. Soon. My Fast Pass reservation for the Little Nemo Submarine Voyage is November 21st at 6:30 AM.
You can read more from Ken at kenlevine.blogspot.com