Sunday, July 19, 2009

If your heart is in your dream . . .

. . . no request is too extreme. Not even going back in time 50 years and being an 8-year-old kid at Disneyland.

OK. I wasn't able to actually be an 8-year-old kid, but I sure acted like one. I screamed my head off during all the "mountain" rides: Space, Thunder, Splash. I talked to all the creatures in Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Snow White, and Peter Pan. I twirled those Teacups at nausea-inducing speed and sang along with the birds and flowers in The Enchanted Tiki Room. In short, I channeled my inner 8-year-old. And it was incredibly therapeutic.

I got to go to "The Happiest Place on Earth" twice during my recent visit to Anaheim: once with Lil Sis and Bro-in-Law - full day fun - and once on a Twilight Pass with a friend from work once all our work-duties were done. I thoroughly enjoyed both visits.

After years of frequenting DisneyWorld in Florida, I finally got to return to the original park that my family ventured to in 1959. Yes, my Golden Anniversary. No matter how many times I was told that DisneyWorld is massively larger than Disneyland, I just couldn't believe it in my 8-year-old-memory head. Once I went back to the original, I can attest that, yes, it is teeny-tiny compared to DisneyWorld.

My recap? Here 'tis:

  • Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty castle is almost laughably small. I had forgotten that it looks so different from DisneyWorld's Cinderella castle. All I can say is, when Sleeping Beauty wakes up and sees how gigantic Cindy's castle is, she is going to be right pissed!

  • The great thing about little Disneyland is that it's very doable in just a few hours. Things aren't as spread out as the Florida park. It's cozier.

  • Disneyland has a few rides that DisneyWorld doesn't, mostly rides I remember from my visit in 1959: Alice in Wonderland, Storybook Land, Pinocchio. Evidently, DW doesn't have a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride anymore (What's up with that? It used to have one.). Of course, DW has rides that Disneyland doesn't have, so I guess it's a wash. But even the same rides are different in the two parks.

  • You get to go to Hell and back in Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. There's something satisfying in that. (To DisneyWorld: Put that ride back!)

  • Disneyland has New Orleans Square (with Pirates of Caribbean, Haunted Mansion). DisneyWorld has Liberty Square (with Hall of Presidents, Haunted Mansion - Pirates is in Adventureland, I think, at DW). Nice restaurants in New Orleans Square, by the way.

  • The Astro Orbiter that brother David loved "shifting gears" in during our 1959 visit has been revamped to look more Jules Verne than the NASA-type rocket orbiter of 50 years ago. So, in a way, the Orbiter looks more 19th-century than Jetson-like. Interesting.

  • Loved the Buzz Lightyear ride, shooting my ray gun and racking up points. Woo-hoo!

  • No Carousel of Progress. :-( Guess we've just progressed too much (though I think it's still at DisneyWorld).

  • Matterhorn - great as it was when brand new in 1959, though I did remind Lil Sis that the thing was 50 years old as we ascended the first hill. Probably not good timing.

  • The new E-ticket rides in 1959 were The Matterhorn, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarines, and the Monorail (probably not really an E-ticket) - all still going strong. Alas, the 20,000 Leagues theme has been changed to Nemo - very disappointing. Go back to 20,000 Leagues, Disneyland!

  • Worst ride? Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom. A lawsuit (or 50) waiting to happen. I love thrill rides, but this was just jarring and jolting. It hurt! Yuck.

  • Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse has been changed to Tarzan's Treehouse. I'm a little sad, but I can live with it.
So, if your dream is to spend a little time as your 8-year-old self, try Disneyland. It's cute as all git-out. And thanks again, Mother and Daddy, for showing us the Happiest Place on Earth fifty years ago.


chux said...

Where do I start on this. Did you mean to sound quite so grumbly? (new word alert)
I looooove this place, it has a wonderful family vibe that makes you feel and happy. An Odd feeling for a hulking 39 year old man to have and to admit - ha ha.
I guess I might have a different take if I did Disneyworld.
I like the Nemo update over the old 20000 leagues thing before. It really needed spicing up. As far as the Indiana Jones ride goes, we agree as a family it was our favourite of the whole park! We did try something more modern when we went into the Californian Adventure park, but it just didn't 'cut the mustard'. It was like another imitation theme park that didn't come up to scratch.
Its quite possible that I am too easily pleased living in the UK where we don't really have anything that genuinely compares to it, even Disneyland Paris!!

thanks for the post and the nostagia!

all the best

MaryB said...

Oh, Chux, I really didn't mean to sound grumbly about Disneyland. I thoroughly enjoyed myself both times I was there. I *do* disagree with your take on 20,000 Leagues vs. Nemo (thought Nemo was pretty lame - perhaps just a refresh of 20,000 was all that was needed) and on the Indiana Jones ride (I'll take Space Mountain or the Teacups any day!). Disneyland was wonderful and I enjoyed going back after 50 years. I think that Disneyland is better if you have young families (say, kids under 8-10) and DisneyWorld is better if the kids are older. Both parks are clean, "safe and happy." Don't know about Disney/Paris, but both CA and FL are terrific. (Try FL sometime and let me know what you think.) Cheers!