"Liz! You just finished three days of work, and it's your friend Amy's 30th birthday! What are you going to do next?"
I'm going to Disneyland!
No, really. I'm going to Disneyland.
It didn't occur to me until relatively recently that I might be a Disneyland Person. My parents took me a few times as a kid, and my youth group took me a few more times after that. I went to Grad Night. Everybody in California goes to Grad Night. I'm not one of those people who wants to get married under Sleeping Beauty's castle, or get engaged at the top of the Matterhorn, or anything. It's not like I walk around with Eeyore's droopy eyes printed across my chest (...anymore). But I was talking to my office-mate a few years back, and he asked me if I went to Disneyland a lot. "Oh, not that often," I said. "Maybe once every other year?" He looked at me like I'd suddenly grown Mickey ears. "I've only been twice," he said. "Ever."
I think that, for a lot of people, Disneyland is not cool, especially if you are not eight, don't know anybody who's eight, and are at all aware of the socio-economic impact of the Disney Corporation (what my brother would once have called "media control"). And maybe they have a point, in theory. Is Disneyland part of an eeeevil corporate empire meant to take our hard-earned money and poison our children with leaden toys? Probably. But I love it anyway, and here's why.
First, Disneyland is fun. It's fun when you're four and your favorite princess is RIGHT THERE and MOM MOM MOM THERE'S DUMBO AND OMG HE FLIES! But I'm not gonna lie: I am 27 years old, and I love Space Mountain. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, too. And have you been on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride lately? Cracked out, I'm telling you. (The ride ends in hell. Yes. Hell.) I do not get tired of going fast and seeing fun things. Also, I have history with this place, like the way you have to find the constellation in Space Mountain that looks like a big oatmeal cookie and yell, "Giant cookie!" Or the time I wasn't paying attention and my backpack fell out of the Jeep on the Indiana Jones ride, and we had to come back the next day to pick it up (Public Service Announcement: The mesh pouches in front of you are there for a reason, kids!). Or the time Al and I rode the Matterhorn while perfecting our Julie Andrews impressions and watching the 50th-anniversary fireworks, which is basically a confluence of perfectly wonderful things. Who could be too highbrow for that?
Second, it's all about atmosphere, and nobody does atmosphere like Disney. I'm always amazed by the sheer amount of thought, money, and energy that goes into being The Happiest Place on Earth. Half the fun of Disneyland as an adult is how they do it, the perfect little touches and extra flourishes attached to everything, and the painstaking hiding of all seams. In that sense, it's a trivia gold mine. Did you know that there's a small basketball court inside the top of the Matterhorn? Did you know that Walt Disney kept an apartment, which still exists, above the fire station on Main Street? Did you know that the penny arcade on Main Street originally used real .22-caliber rifles and real ammo? See? Disneyland is a crazy, crazy place! This is the kind of information I'll keep (mostly) to myself, so as to not be a complete Wonder Killer, but rest assured that the Disney factoids are strong in this one.
And that, my friends, is why I'm (apparently) a Disneyland Person. See you in L.A.