Probably one of the best decisions I could have ever made when I moved to Los Angeles in March 2012 was getting a Southern California Residents Pass to Disneyland. It was purchased in the splurge of excitement of moving to this sunny beach-like state, prior to the job struggle and apparent poorness that comes from being an aspiring writer/actor. You may think that money should have been spent elsewhere, or, in an opposite thought, you may think a nicer pass should have been purchased (mine did have quite a few blackout dates) but, nonetheless if I could give any advice for a California newcomer it would be this:
Get an annual pass to Disneyland.
Why? Because, and I say this with no hint of irony, Disneyland is truly the happiest place on earth.
And there are going to be times when things are bleak, when you are depressed, you are broke and scared and worried about life. And in that first year (or second or third) with that pass in your back pocket you can at the very least give yourself a day to take your mind off your sorrows and just go to fucking Disneyland. I mean, you already have the pass. So use it.
And use it, I did.
In total my boyfriend and I went to Disneyland around ten times in the year that we had our pass. We went on one black out date (which meant we had to pay, but at a discounted rate) and pretty much paid for our pass and then some. We were okay with some restrictions because, quite frankly, it’s nice knowing what days are busy at Disneyland to steer clear of. And by the end of this year we had become bona fide Disneyland experts, and it is why I am writing this blog today. To pass some mad knowledge on to you, a potential Disneyland attendee.
I would keep this knowledge all to myself if it wasn’t for one sad fact, which is that our pass expires at the end of the month. And, after a long discussion, Zach and I have decided to take a Disneyland break. This time around the annual pass renewal will just have to wait. 2013 should be a new discovery of what else LA has to offer. So this isn’t goodbye, Disney, but it is a long see-you-later. Sigh.
So, without further adieu. Here are my THOUGHTS, TIPS AND TRICKS TO ENJOYING DISNEYLAND – THE FUCKING HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH.
Note: This is not a family read despite it being about a family park. Sorry offended googlers.
Ten Basic Things To Make Disneyland Better Than You Ever Thought Possible-
- Don’t Have Kids. – Perhaps the reason I am so in love with Disneyland is because I am enjoying it on a strictly adult level. Zach is the perfect companion, and while it is fun to watch the excitement and joy in kids eyes when they see Mickey for the first time or when they get on a ride they are pumped to be on, the joy is completely stripped away when they get cranky, or hungry, or throw tantrums, or are tired or scared or any number of things annoying children seem to do. I love being around children, waving at them in line, smiling at them eating cotton candy, eyeing life moments of joy, but at the end of the day my trips to Disney were fun because I didn’t have to put up with their bullshit. It was me and Zach against the world. Plus, we walk a hell of a lot faster.
- Always End On Pirates. – Pirates of the Caribbean is the ride we probably went on the most this past year. I think on the whole it is the most solid Disneyland ride. The line is never too long because the boats fit like twenty people at once. The length of the ride is solid, it’s slow and you feel like you get your money’s worth. The Disney magic is all there, they really take you to a world of pirates and scally-wags with so much eye candy you almost don’t know where to look. It’s not scary, a plus for me. And every time we went on, we tried to find something new, which is entirely possible no matter how many times you ride. Pirates is very instilled in Disney lore and even the updates with Jack Sparrow now on the ride isn’t as annoying as you think. By the end of a Disneyland day, Zach and I always enjoyed jumping on Pirates one last time. Giving it a salute, knowing we’d go home after one last good fun ride.
- Play Bingo. – The last few times we went to Disneyland, we composed a small bingo card for people watching. It’s a great way to pass line time, and a fun experiment to get creative on the Disney clientele you will see. All walks of life go to Disney, it’s like the ultimate Where’s Waldo. Sometimes we did easy ones (a kid who is asleep), medium (Dad wearing Goofy ears) to really hard (an obscure Disney character costume) but Disney would never let us down on getting a bingo. Example bingo squares: a kid with light up shoes, fanny pack, a kid using a toy as a weapon, a crying baby, a kid who is really really excited, a girl dressed like a princess, an inappropriate shirt to wear to Disney, an employee who seems to really like their job, an employee who is over it, a sun hat, an Asian taking photos, food all over someone’s face, popcorn on the ground, a teenager who is texting, a pin trade, an act of discipline, an awesome Disney moment. I’d steer clear of Mom Jeans, as it means you are looking at women’s butts all day and debating if it is in fact a mom jean, so yeah, not all that fun. BONUS: If you get a blackout, you get to treat yourself to a churro.
- Buy A God Damn Churro. – What the hell is it? I don’t know. Why is it so good? I don’t know. How many calories does it have? Fun fact: everything at Disney has zero calories. Fuck the turkey legs, fuck the corn dogs, the popcorn, the gumbo bread bowls, the pretzels shaped like Mickey Mouse, the epic ice cream sundaes, the Dole Whip outside of the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, we have had them all and though they are all very tastey (Turkey leg, what crack is in you?) the churros are where it’s at. $3.75 a piece son. Eat it slow. Eat it good. Totally worth it.
- CAPTAIN EO You Guys. – Hey, did you know there is a 3D movie from 1985 starring Michael Jackson as a space ship captain with characters very similar to the Lucas Films Universe directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the man who also directed The Godfather, and said 3D movie contains the lines “Hooter, be quiet! You’re going to have us killed!” and is about a rag tag group of space people who go to a planet to teach about loving from the inside through magic robot dance moves and cutting edge special effects that has a tin man claymation-ly turn into a drum kit and evil chord people turn into a chorus line and has Angelica Huston as an unrecognizable space queen and all of that is shown in a theater that literally moves and grooves to the 80’s beat and is in Tomorrowland and runs every twelve minutes? You’re welcome.
- Swag It Up. – If there is ever a place to dress up like a god damn fool it’s Disneyland. (Well that and ComicCon, amIrigthnerds?) Disneyland is the only place where a grown man can wear custom made Mickey Ears and the person next to him sans ears looks like the asshole. There are buttons for every occasion, get one on your birthday, your first visit, or just in case you are celebrating something. (I snagged one that says I’m an Honorary Citizen. I have no idea what that means but fuck yeah.) That said, be thoughtful with your Disney outfit. It needs to be something that you can move in, get wet, and get churro sugar on, yet also picture worthy and cute. I usually settle on a normal t-shirt with a Disney button, sunglasses, jeans, my green converse and then I top the outfit off with a dangly pair of Mickey earrings that I get compliments on all day.
- Indiana Jones Is The Best Ride To Get A Fast Pass To And Really Is The Just The Best Ride Period. – Undoubtedly Indiana Jones is the best ride in the park, (If you disagree, like, seriously? What? You’re lying.) but it’s a little too quick to wait for two hours to get on to. Fast Passes are Disney’s way of relieving you of some line burdens. You go to the ride entrance, grab a pass, and the pass tells you what time to come back later where you can skip the line and the waiting. The trick with getting a fast pass is that you can only get one at a time (you can’t stock up on Space Mountain, then Indiana Jones, then Splash Mountain all at once.) So I say if you are going to start your day right, the first fast pass should always and forever be Indiana Jones. The ride is so freaking awesome, but the line itself is a tight squeeze and awkward, unlike say Star Tours which has a very interactive Star Wars line and Space Mountain which is at least outside the majority of the time. Then pass the line, help Indiana save the day and high five. Fast Pass success.
- Hidden Gems Of The Otherwise Inferior California Adventure – This entry has its own sub-list but suffice it to say California Adventure, adjacent to Disneyland and all its glory, is the weaker of the parks. But instead of shitting on the lack of epic rides, boring street performances, way too long of a name (seven syllables doesn’t fall off the tongue) and ho-hum atmosphere, I’d rather look at California Adventure as the dinky sidekick to the superhero that is D-Land. Robin on his own is pretty boring but paired with his legend (Batman/Kermit, you pick the analogy) Robin is pretty tits. Here are my suggestions to making California Adventure all that it can be. Just do these things and skip the rest of the rif-raf. (Like the Phineas and Ferb Interactive Music Show. What. The. Fuck.)
- Walk in, go immediately to Cars Land and get into the single riders line for Radiator Springs Racer. It’s the best ride there, the newest ride there, and Fast Passes will be long gone, so just bite the bullet, do the single rider, and enjoy.
- After you get off Radiator Springs Racer, take a moment to enjoy how much Cars Land replicates Radiator Springs from the movie, but then seriously just leave and head to the boardwalk to get onto California Screaming, the only ride on the boardwalk that’s worth it. It’s a longer roller coaster, it’s fast, and it’s narrated by Neil Patrick Harris. Yay.
- After that go check out the line to Toy Story Mania. It’s bullshit that this interactive carnival ride game has no Fast Pass, as it is basically the same ride as Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters in Disneyland, and yes Disneyland does it better as Astor Blasters is better and it has a fast pass, but if the wait for Toy Story Mania is under forty minutes, which is never, hop on and be sure to pretend shoot to the little five year old across the way who is pumped for the ride to start and just needs a play buddy anyway. If this ride breaks down, it’s the funnest ride to break down on because you get to practice shooting targets which can only maximize your points at the end. If none of this is true, fuck it. Skip Toy Story Mania and get a churro. Yes, California Adventure also has churros. Thank god.
- Skip Grizzly Run as it’s always closed, skip Goofy’s flying school as it’s for pussies, and head to Bugs Land but only for the 3D show of It’s Tough Being a Bug. This one is neat and also surprisingly terrifying, and it is rare that I see a child make it all the way through so you basically get the theater all to yourself.
- After Bugs Land go get a beer. Or a margarita. Or a glass of wine. Because about the coolest thing about California Adventure that gives it any sort of credibility and D-Land seniority is the fact that you can purchase alcohol. But please, don’t chug a beer and get on a ride. You’ll vom. Gross.
- Go to the main street or whatever (I am not bothering to learn the boring land names of California Adventure) and see the stage show of Aladdin because they totally pull out all the stops with that thing, that is if sitting and watching a show is your thing.
- Skip Souring above California, it’s clunky with the video edits and kinda boring. Skip Tower of Terror because Disney World in Florida does it better. Even skip the Finding Nemo hidden gem you were told about because it is not really a hidden gem, just an improv show with the digital turtle from Nemo that is catered toward children who really really want to tell the turtle their name. Go on Mike and Sully if you want, see what I care.
- See Muppets 3D. Yes another 3D show, but it’s the god damn Muppets, show some damn respect. They will make you happy all day. ALL DAY.
- Go on the Little Mermaid ride thingy. Again, Fantasy Land kills it with the Dark Rides (more on those later) but it’s never a long line for Ariel and if you’re like me and know every single sound (not word, sound) of the Little Mermaid movie, you’ll be pretty nostalgic and happy.
- Saving the best two things for last, head to Ariel’s Grotto, get a fancy alcoholic beverage, and, are you ready for this? LOBSTER NACHOS. That’s right, they have combined LOBSTER with NACHOS and my mouth will never be the same again.
- After eating NACHOS with LOBSTER on them ($13 people. Splitsies that’s $6.50 for lobster) wait for it to get dark and have your mind blown by the night show of World Of Color. At nighttime at Disney, there are basically three shows you can see. There are fireworks around the Castle, the show Fantasmic in New Orleans Square, and then California Adventure does World of Color. I have seen them all and California Adventure takes the cake. World of Color is a water and light show that will make you cry with how beautiful Disney was in it’s heyday of making fucking amazing films. They try to make you get reserved seats. We did when my parents were in town, which required us to buy an expensive meal (Thanks Mom!) but seriously, the show can be seen from a mile away so don’t worry about it. Just watch and sing and go “oooooo pretty.”
- Besides all that California Adventure is like that sequel to a movie you loved. You ran out and saw the sequel, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the orig. California Adventure knowledge bro! End the list within the list and get back to the list.
- Make Small Talk – Everyone is really happy to be at Disneyland. Sometimes the most sincere and happy moments comes from chatting with the family you are sitting next to on the shuttle, the older couple who are on their own vacation in line for Cars, or the employee who knows everything there is to know about Dole Whips.
- Pee At The Entrance Then Get In Lines 17 And 18. – Start your day by emptying your bladder in the most empty park bathroom (the ones right before you go in) and then go to the consistently two shortest lines. They are in the middle and folks with strollers usually bail at line 10 or 11. Bam.
Hope that was a nice Disneyland warm up for you. Next up:
THINGS TO DO IN DISNEYLAND IF YOU ONLY HAVE ONE DAY IN DISNEYLAND
- Get a Fast Pass To Indiana Jones (see above).
- Go on Haunted Mansion and anticipate all the crying babies at the elevator part when the lights black out and a loud thunder cracks, revealing a dead person in the rafters. I get it, kid, noises are fucking frightening.
- Go on as many Dark Rides as you can. Dark rides are basically indoor cart rides that travel through specifically lit scenes. It’s what Disney is famous for. If you only have time for a few, go on Peter Pan’s Flight and, a personal favorite, Mister Toad’s Wild Ride.
- Try to do Star Tours twice because it has up to four different simulations so your journey into Star Wars will always be unique.
- Go on Astro Blasters. The line is never long, and you get to use a laser gun to defeat Zurg.
- Splash Mountain, do it. But ladies, if you are going to sit in front bring an extra pair of panties so your vagina is not wet all day. Side note: the big splash at the end is not even the worst time you get wet on the ride. The worst time is the first hill into the black light portion of the Briar Patch. They trick you. Be prepared.
- Walk on Main Street. They pump the smell of cotton candy and popcorn from the vents and play swanky tunes. Keep an eye out for the speediness of the cleaning crew. You spill it, it’s gone in half a minute. Magic. And while you are there, take a look at the Fire House. Walt Disney had an apartment on top of it, and a light is lit in the window in his honor.
- Storybook Canals – It’s this simple boat ride that has you look at really detailed miniatures from fairy tales, but I think the simplicity and details of it is what Disneyland is all about.
- Walk in the Castle to see the story of Sleeping Beauty. Because it’s your chance to walk in a castle, doy.
- Take an inappropriate side picture of the statue with Mickey and Walt, because from a good angle Mickey’s nose looks like Walt’s penis. Hahahahahhahahahahahahaha. Maturity.
- Space Mountain, cuz it’s famous.
- Captain EO because it should be more famous.
- End on Pirates.
FOR THOSE WHO PLAN ON GOING TO DISNEYLAND A BUNCH:
1. Do a “Shitty Disney Day.” – Take a day to go on all the rides that seem boring, or aren’t popular, or aren’t… cool. For one, you can get them out of the way and have the badge of “welp, did that.” For another, you might find something that is just yours to love. Zach and I did it once, and we didn’t find true gem, per say, but like sex and pizza, a bad day at Disneyland is still pretty fucking great.
Things we did on our Shitty Disney Day:
- Great Moments With Mister Lincoln – Dude, Walt had a super boner for this president. And while the waiting room is neat and historic and shit, the show starts with an a cappella group singing old yankee doodle songs, followed by a robot Mister Lincoln doing an unfamiliar Lincoln speech. It’s a site for sure. A WTF site. I’m glad I did it.
- Steamboat Willy – On Main Street there is a theater that shows Steamboat Willy and other early Disney cartoons on loop all day. The theater is in the round, with five or so screens playing different clips. It’s nice for today’s short attention spanned world, as your eyes can jump from story to story. It’s crazy to see how far Mickey has come. He’s an empire now, but to start, he was kinda a little whistling shit. I’m glad I did it.
- Went Into Every Store On Main Street – Did it. Not worth it. Neat to discover a magic shop though. And an art gallery. I mean, seriously, does Disneyland just have fucking everything? (The answer is yes. Including a petting zoo.)
- Went on Mark Twain’s Riverboat – BOOOOOOOOO.
- Went over to that Tom Sawyer Island Thing – In theory this is a good idea. Great area to let kids run around and blow some steam. Has a very Goonies ‘you make your own adventure’ vibe. But I am not a child who needs to blow off steam and I am too big for those weird caves and suddenly I was forced to be on an island until the ferry came back to get us. Next!
- Tomorrowland’s Innoventions – where the magic of Disney comes to die. It’s suppose to be about futuristic technology and learning about high tech houses and shit, but if I wanted to play video games all day I would have… wait, I never want to do that. Double lose.
- The Tiki Room – It’s dark, they sell Dole Whips and a bunch of robot birds sing at you. But the birds are so old that you mostly hear the clicking of their plastic beaks instead of them singing. I think it exists as a cool down event. Not everyone can have the energy of me and Zach to run to every ride that’s dope. Some people just want to sit in the dark and listen to singing South Pacific birds. Kind of adorable. In a creepy way.
- Adventures of Winnie The Pooh – I feel like there are two types of girls: ones that grew up LOVING Winnie the Pooh, and others who did not. I was the latter. Whatevs.
- Tarzan’s Tree House – This would be a pretty neat walk through, if it weren’t for the fact that you have to rely on other people to enjoy it. Face it, a person is considerate, by groups of people stop where they want, ball hog photo ops, and stand in the way of what would otherwise be a solid tree house walk through that tells the story of Tarzan. You would think this would be the same with the Castle walk through but maybe Sleeping Beauty gets some more damn respect in her castle as opposed to Tarzan who is some sort of asswipe with a Phil Collins soundtrack.
- Toon Town – This is an area of Disneyland that is strictly built for photo ops and for little kids to be little kids. It was neat to go in the evening and have a peek at Mickey Mouse’s house all by ourselves, though to be honest it felt kind of creepy in the sense that we were in someone’s home while they weren’t home. Plus I can’t imagine the germs in this place. Gadget’s Coaster is there and it’s for kids, a good first coaster for little tykes, but when I realized they were talking about Gadget from Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers (who by the way, is worshipped like a God in Russian cults. Look that shit up.) and NOT Inspector Gadget, yeah, boo. Thumbs down. I get Toon Town’s existence though. Where else does the Fab Five live?
- End on Pirates. Just for good measure.
2. Oh My God, GO DURING THE HOLIDAYS. – Probably the greatest thing about having our annual pass was the fact that we got to go rediscover the changes made at Disney during the rush of holidays at the end of the year. It is like being a kid all over again. With the slightest changes, Disneyland become like a refurbished old toy.
Halloween – The whole park is decorated in big orange and yellow pumpkins and gourds. It feels like fall in there. The streets smell like pumpkin and Halloween candy and swag and merchandise is dipped in the crispness of fall. LOVE. Plus, Space Mountain finally becomes cool. I’m sorry but as is, Space Mountain is just a roller coaster in the dark. I don’t seem to love it like others do because it disorients me from not seeing anything (you could throw me in a washer/dryer and get the same effect) and I’m not sure what the story is with it anyway. (Most rides have a solid back story to it, Space Mountain is about going into space? For some reason?). But, during Halloween, Space Mountain becomes Ghost Galaxy, and suddenly the coaster becomes. There are now various light displays, sounds, and ghosts jumping right at you and POOF and new, kick ass, scary ride is born.
Christmas – CAN YOU IMAGINE? Trees, lights, carols… I have a lady boner right now thinking about it. The Haunted Mansion is completely transformed to be The Nightmare Before Christmas themed. It’s a whole new ride, you guys. Gingerbread is pumped through the Main Street vents. Muppets 3D becomes a 3D Pixar Christmas Movie. The castle has snow on it. The daily parade is all for seeing Santa Clause. In the evening they bring a boring old choir to sing hymns and even though it’s boring it’s still pretty because the Allstate Spokesperson is reading the story of Christmas and even if you’re not religious it’s cool to hear the All State dude. It’s a winter wonderland and all is right in the world. When we went, it was raining, they had hot cocoa and I got into the Christmas spirit. Life was good.
3. Eat At The Blue Bayou – That’s the fancy restaurant that is actually in the ride of Pirates. So romantic and fun and the food is good and expensive, so seriously only do it as a last hurrah, not as a frequent flyer.
4. Go On Secondary Rides – You know, the rides that aren’t vital to awesome (as listed in the one day agenda above), but are pretty solid in enjoyableness (thus not part of the Shitty Disney Day) They include: Snow White, Pinocchio, Jungle Cruise, Flying Dumbo (legendary Dumbo), Tea Cups, Alice In Wonderland, Finding Nemo Sea Voyage (which would rise in ranks if it had a fast pass), Thunder Mountain Railroad and maybe hop on Haunted Mansion for a second go about. Also, end on Pirates.
5. Go When It’s Raining – you feel like you have the park to yourself. Plus, playing in the rain is always fun.
6. See The Daily Parade Once, Fantasmic Once, and the Fireworks Once. – They are all pretty impressive. If anything it blows your mind with how many people work at Disneyland. There is someone whose job is “Flamenco Dancer Next to Lion in Parade” and another who is “Flying Tinkerbell Acrobat Who Lights Fireworks” and another who is “Mickey in Fantasia Gear” or “Mickey in Tuxedo” or “Mickey Conducting Shit.”
7. Eat Some Ice Cream. – If you’re filled up on Churros, the next best thing is an Ice Cream Sundae. Again, no calories at Disney.
8. Watch Jedi Knight Training in Tomorrowland– Kids with light sabers, defeating Darth. Adorable, it is.
9. Go to Lego Land in Downtown Disney – There’s actually a lot of stuff in Downtown Disney but it is overshadowed by the sheer awesomeness of Disneyland itself. Most stuff is “whatever” shopping, places for those who are there a week to spend their cold hard cash, but Lego Land is fucking lego land, complete with epic Disney characters made out of thousands of tiny lego pieces. And kids are super pumped to build shit which makes the “engineering is cool even though I don’t have an interest in it” side of me happy.
10. Fuck It, Get A Hotel – What’s better than spending one day at Disney? TWO DAYS AT DISNEY. Go to hotwire. Get a deal. Enjoy the fact that most hotels are equipped to be for families so most rooms are large with a pull out couch and multiple TV so there’s room for a whole family but guess what you aren’t a full family there is just two of you in this big ass discount room with comfy beds and a kick ass shower plus a pool downstairs. After seeing the fireworks, it’s amazing to go back to the hotel on the shuttle all the hotels provide, lay in the fluffy bed that isn’t yours and have a cocktail while watching HBO, knowing you will be back at it again tomorrow.
11. Last – and this is a last hurrah suggestion: Start Searching For Hidden Mickeys. For those of you who don’t know, basically Disneyland and everything in the Disney Universe is littered with hidden mickeys. They are so much fun to search for, but I warn you, it’s super addictive. They become something you are doing more than enjoying the food or the rides or the day as a whole. That’s why I say if you are there for one day, forget it, enjoy the experience and bask in the wonder of how a park can be so full of happy fun. I will tell you that a lot of the magical ambiance is because of the very hidden mickey purpose, which is that Disney is always trying to be very special, even if you don’t notice it at first. By cleverly inserting various Mickeys, the park is stepping into your subconscious and making your experience that much more unique. Most would call this mind control scary, but I think it’s bomb. And once more, putting off the Hidden Mickey search will make the finds that much more rewarding. Saying “wow, I have been on this ride a million times and I have never noticed that before,” will make you remember it forever. At the end of this blog I am happy to post my list of eventual Hidden Mickey finds, but please use only if you are a repeat Disneyland Offender. That is my Hidden Mickey wish.
Wait, do I have more thoughts on Disney? Yes. Yes I do.
DISNEY IS NOT PERFECT – THINGS THAT SUCK AND THAT YOU SHOULD AVOID.
- It’s A Small World – Never ever ever ever ever ever go on small world. It’s awful. It’s everything awful you think it’s going to be. It’s that same damn song over and over. It’s weird boats in weird water. It feels like you’re floating in an old warehouse that didn’t know what to do with all it’s leftover tissue paper and office holiday decorum. The robots are outdated. The worlds are mildly racially offensive. And there is no hipster part to it where it sucks so bad that it’s cool again. It just sucks. Also, even at Christmas when they switch up the song to include Jingle Bells, don’t let that fool you. It still sucks because really Jingle Bells is Christmas’s version of It’s A Small World. Save yourself. Don’t do it.
- FUCK AUTOPIA – Autopia. What is this nonsense? It’s like go-carts without any of the fun of go-carts. It reeks of whatever gas is used in said cars. It’s ugly. And there’s always a long line making it seem deceivingly fun but it isn’t so what give? Perhaps it’s fun for little kids to get to drive but come on! Kids, real driving is more fun than this, and seriously, real driving is not all that fun after a while.
- The Walking Paths in Adventureland and Tomorrowland. – It’s a war zone. Beware of strollers, picture takers and people who walk in side by side in a line of five or six. Be ready to break off a cute hand hold to get ahead of these assholes. If your partner loves you, he’ll understand. Only the weak surrender. The strong survive. And apparently the one guy headed north in an area where you should only walk south.
- When Rides Stop – It sucks. And sometimes it’s scary. It happens.
- Matterhorn – Can you say overrated? The Matterhorn is this towering mountain thing with a roller coaster inside and is consistently disappointing. Probably the only neat thing about the Matterhorn is that there is a basketball court inside for Disneyland employees to shoot hoops and play some b-ball, but that does’t help us park guests now does it? It’s slow. The bobsled sitting is uncomfortable. It’s constantly breaking down and every time I think about the Matterhorn I think about the time we road it with my Dad (at that point we had never ridden it) who sat uncomfortably in the back with his replaced knees awkwardly bent and left the ride with a calm “I did not like that ride.” (Don’t worry. We did Indiana Jones next as a trump card. Indiana Jones solves everything.)
- Club 33 – So Disney has this exclusive club that is fancy shmancy and hidden and only allows VIP people in. While it’s fun to find the sign and read about this secret Illuminati-like society, like seriously, fuck that. Why would you do that Disney? It sounds like zero fun to leave a park full or rides and churros to go to what I am sure is just a fancy room with fancy food and that’s all. It’s a Damn the Man moment I have with Disneyland regarding that stupid club. Why you gotta be all elite, Disney? If the park was sinking in the ocean would Club 33 members get the lifeboats first Disney? Huh? Huh?
In the end, I know in all my trips to the Happiest Place On Earth, I am far from being an expert on the place. I know I left with stones unturned and much of this junk I’m spewing is regurgitated from my own internet findings. That said, for me Disneyland wasn’t all the Fast Pass action and line mastery and epic shows that made each trip so fantastic, it was more of the happy fleeting moments I shared with someone I love very much, my boyfriend of seven years, Zach. Every time we played bingo, we always searched for a “Magic Disney Moment” a happening that stuck with us and maybe, in all the difficulty that has been this life chapter, this move to LA, this wobbly career start, maybe these magic moments we found meant that just for a day we could forget all our worries and our strife … and perhaps recognize how happy we are and how much we are in love.
So I end my rant on:
MEMORABLE DISNEY MOMENTS
– The very first time we went of Splash Mountain, we didn’t plan our faces for the picture, we just enjoyed the drop and then raced to see how the infamous Splash Mountain pics turned out. Zach was in the back seat and his eyes were wide and his mouth was cheering. I was right in front of him and I was smiling big, barely keeping my eyes open because of the wind. THEN, in front of us, sat a large man with sunglasses who looked like Secret Service Dan, a man who had zero fun on Splash Mountain. His face was stone cold, his sunglasses not budging in the wind. Secret Service Dan was over it. There was no joy in the splash, and Zach and I were dying laughing to be able to snap a cell phone picture of elated Zach, joyful Alison, and Deadface Dan as our first Splash Mountain photo. We have since posed and planned what our amazing Splash Mountain pics would be, but nothing has since topped that guy.
– Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is a ride where you go into a real submarine and out of the tiny windows you watch a colorful and creative story of Finding Nemo. It is quite remarkable eye candy, but the first time we rode it there was a newborn who could give a fuck. The family in front of us was a way well behaved family of six, complete with a baby who sleept soundly on her dad’s shoulder for the majority of the line. She was one of those babies with big saggy cheeks and dolled up in pink with a pony tail on top of her head, just stinking cute. Right when it was time to load in the submarine, she woke up and I was worried she was gonna cry the whole time. But she didn’t. Instead she locked eyes with Zach and never stopped her gaze. We took our seats, and the baby was staring at Zach. We got the safety shpeel: baby’s eyes on Zach. Music started and the ride began, baby, still giving zero fucks, was eagerly watching Zach. The mom holding the baby was apologetic as she could feel her baby’s zeroed in gaze, but what can you do? You can’t make your baby stop looking at someone. And for some reason, despite all the beautiful colors of the Nemo World, the noises of Dory and the Sea Turtles, the shaking of the boat, NOTHING could top how fascinating Zach was to this baby. If you ask me she was more content in seeing how Zach reacted to the Nemo stimuli than the Nemo stimuli itself. She was a good baby, a quiet baby, but just a baby who really really liked Zach. She watched him the entire ride, even moving if people got in the way of her subject, and kept her stare on to the load out and I think she didn’t stop looking until we were out of her vision path and heading to our next adventure. Somewhere in the world, there is an adorable baby that is still thinking about Zach’s beard.
– There are two memorable kids I remember from people watching with Zach at Disneyland. Both occurred when we were in line to Splash Mountain, and both were amaze-balls. The first was the little boy in the line to meet Winnie the Pooh. Across from Splash is Pooh Bear’s home, so a solid way to pass the time is just to watch the gigantic line of kids getting their photo on with the man himself. Most kids smile big when they see Pooh Bear, they hug him, they pose for Mom and Dad and then they are on their merry way. But this little boy, in sneakers, sports shorts, and glasses; this boy who had the awesome bowl cut style with pale skin and blonde hair; this boy who for all intensive purposes looked like American Boy USA was genuinely meeting a rock star in Winnie The Pooh. He didn’t overreact or shout to the rafters or jump up and down or do obnoxious hyper boy things when it was his turn to meet Winnie. He instead put is hands to his face, smiled real big out of nervs, looked to his mother to get the go ahead and then nailed Winnie the Pooh with the most solid, epic hug I have ever seen. I wish someone would hug me like that. You know Winnie the Pooh is this kid’s Paul McCartney, and it was real sweet moment to see that hug.
The second awesome kid we saw in line didn’t really do anything cool per say. This little girl was just sitting on her dad’s shoulders, looking over the crowd of potential Splash Mountain riders, saying little, not even smiling really. But on her head and body was the most epic costume I had ever seen in the Disney parks. Most little girls you see at Disney are in a cute princess dress or have has their hair done with sparkles and crowns and they sing to themselves and want to be told how pretty and special they are. And it’s cute and all, but this girl who was perched on her dad’s shoulders wins at life, because, as she peered over the crowd in her majestic manner, this little girl was dressed head to toe as Maleficent, the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty who eventually turns into a dragon. She had the pointy horns, the long cape, even the ruby red lips, and this badass was in fucking character. I could feel her thinking “I don’t want to be damn princess. I want to be the dragon lady.” Nailed it, kid. Nailed it.
– Here’s the story of Mister Toad’s Wild Ride. You get into a car and are clearly in the role of Mister Toad, who is just driving fucking crazy down this street; knocking over barrels, tripping bystanders, even invading a library. Mister Toad, this is a wild ride. Then we drive to the country and piss off some sheep with our erratic driving. Then we go to a bar, an explosion happens and we wind up in court where Mister Toad is most definitely found guilty. Then we drive to prison and end up by a railroad where we are hit by a train and, of course, we GO TO HELL where the room is heated and there are devils fucking everywhere and then the ride is over. I love this ride so much.
– There was one time, near closing, that Zach and I decided to hop on to Haunted Mansion one last time. There was barely anyone on the ride, so for the first time it did feel a little spooky hopping in a pod to go into the mansion. Sure enough, one of the employees, in his Haunted Bellhop Attire, locked us in and kept staring at me and Zach, shoving his face into our pod to half-sy terrify us. I giggled at this employee having some end of the night spooky fun. Obviously we were an adult couple, not fragile children, so why not fuck with us? We waved to him and coasted up the ramp in our pod when suddenly, at the point of no return, a huge BANG hit the back of our pod, complete with an evil cackle. The employee seriously followed us up the ramp, waited a moment, and tried to scare the bejesus out of us. And, for me, it totally worked. I screamed. Nicely done, bellhop.
– Probably the most magical moment was when Zach and I were at our final trip to Disney and were hot on our Hidden Mickey hunt. (Spoilers of a Hidden Mickey to follow). We had printed out a list and kept our eyes peeled all day, and it was so much fun finding them. Such good small talk with strangers and such good ways to experience rides in a whole new way. We went on Peter Pan’s Flight and had heard about a tiny Mickey in the tiny Big Ben in the room where you are flying over London off to Neverland. Zach saw it, and I didn’t. I was so bummed. Peter Pan is usually the longest line so we went on others, but I was still thinking about that Hidden Mickey in Big Ben. So, right when they announced it was closing, Zach and I made the split decision to try to hop on Peter Pan one last time. The employee, who was just pulling the rope the close the ride, smiled and let us go in. The employee running the ride did not bat an eye in anger, and just instead said, “Last but not least. Hope this final ride is a magical one for you.” And we were off, as the final people to ride Peter Pan. We had the whole ride to ourselves and Zach braced me to find the Mickey. Sure enough, their he was, his silhouette in the windows above the clock, waving. (Seriously, that is so hidden. You really have to look.) Zach gave me a kiss after I found it, and once we exited the ride, all the employees waved us goodnight, as I am certain they knew they were part of a sweet moment. It pleased them I bet. Or I hope. That late ride was one that reminded me why Zach is someone who gets me, who understands why I love this kid stuff, and knows why I love Disneyland, and how I want to continue discover and search on my own. He has enjoyed the fun along the way, I am sure. I am certain he never thought he would get a pass to Disneyland and be an expert on it as he has become. But low and behold, Zach has his favorite rides, likes his churros, and even pointed out that night how Pan’s Flight and others really allow you the time to enjoy the moment, to be in love and to enjoy finding Mickey. I think Peter Pan’s Flight will always have a place in my heart after that experience.
Dammit. Now I want to go back. And I want to end on Pirates.
– One L
“It’s kinda fun to do the impossible” – Walt Disney
Hidden Mickey’s List – just the really good ones there’s way too many
1. Peter Pan’s Flight, Big Ben
2. Indiana Jones, the temple’s right eye light
3. Pirates, the shells in the chest on the first beach, and the dangly gold jewelry in the skeleton treasure chest, the canon ball holes in the battle scene on the castle side
4. Haunted Mansion, the plates in the place setting in the ballroom
5. Star Tours, R2D2 Silhouette in line is wearing Mickey ears, the woman’s hair in the seatbelt video