The Magic of Disneyland

I thought this would be a good time to share some Disneyland memories.  This piece was originally published on on June 10, 2004.  The photo is from Google Images.

Disneyland at night

The Magic of Disneyland

We all know Disneyland is a magical place. That’s especially true for those of us who live on the opposite side of the country and can only visit occasionally. And if there are a few disbelievers out there, I have two stories to illustrate my point.

The first is courtesy of a dear friend. (Although he has recounted this in print as well as giving me the complete version in person, I’m choosing not to use his name.)

It was summer, circa the late 1980s. Time to make the annual pilgrimage to Southern California for the NFFC Convention. And, of course, visit Disneyland.

Our hero flies into LAX in the early afternoon and rents a car. He drives straight to Anaheim, but does not go to his hotel. Instead, he heads straight into the Disneyland parking lot, weaving his way through the orange cones to find a spot closest to the entrance. In virtually one motion, he parks the car, jumps out, and dashes into the park.

After several fun-filled hours, it’s time to check into the hotel. As he walks down Main Street, USA toward the gate, my friend suddenly realizes the car keys are not in his pocket. “Oh, great! I was in such a hurry I locked the keys in the car.” But, comforted by the fact that this would certainly not be a first for Disneyland, he was determined not to let this little detail ruin the rest of his day. Disneyland Security must have a lot of expertise in helping people get into locked cars, right?

When he got back to his car he immediately noticed two things: all the windows were so completely fogged up he could not even see inside, and there was a note under a windshield wiper: “Please come to Disneyland Security.”

By the time he arrived at Security, he had begun to realize what he had done. Not only had he hurried away as soon as he had parked, not only had he forgotten to take his keys before he locked the car, but he had even forgotten to turn off the engine! With the air conditioning running on high.

But isn’t it comforting to know Disneyland Security is close by? They were quick to assess the situation and retrieve his keys. Another happy ending!

My second story involves me, when I was living in Garden Grove from 1982 until 1986. During this period, Fantasyland had been completely renovated, and it reopened as the new Fantasyland on May 25, 1983. Around that time I had purchased an annual pass, and was visiting the park about three times a month. Also sometime during this period (I can no longer remember exactly when) it was announced that Tinker Bell would once again introduce the fireworks by flying from the top of the Matterhorn.

I made sure I was there to see Tinker Bell’s first return performance. At the appointed time, I found a prime viewing area behind the castle. Right by Storybookland, it gave me a perfect view of the Matterhorn. Then I could turn around and watch the fireworks as they seemingly burst right over my head.

Of course other people were also there. It wasn’t packed, but there was a nice mix of adults and children, all waiting to see the fireworks, too.

So I stood there staring up at the top of the Matterhorn, waiting for the announcement. And I stood there…

After what seemed like several minutes, I reflexively glanced around to rest my neck.

What I saw surprised me. All the kids in the area were talking, laughing, and running around. They didn’t seem the least bit interested in what was about to happen. It was the adults who were patiently standing like me, facing the Matterhorn, looking up, mouths agape.

And then it hit me — only at Disneyland would otherwise normal adults stand for minutes at a time and stare at a fake mountain to see a fairy appear.

And I think of this every time I watch a Disneyland fireworks show.


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