A week ago, if I had received a phone call informing me that I had won an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland, my response would have been, "Uh... Could I get the cash equivalent?"
I had no interest in Disneyland. I never went there as a kid. And if my parents had presented to me the option of a vacation for my birthday (something my parents wouldn't have done if they had the means to do so; it was a different time when I was a child), I would have opted for Paris or London or the beach. Disney wouldn't have entered my mind.
But two guys I've met here in Palm Springs are all about Disney. They proposed and I accepted. It seemed like an appropriate way of introducing myself to Southern California.
Thus, yesterday morning, I was leaving my beloved Palm Springs and headed to Anaheim.
On the way, we watched a DVD about Disneyland and listened too a Disney sing-a-long CD. So the pump was primed.
So you go up to the gate and you pay the price of admission and there you are in Disneyland! And sure enough, there was Mickey and Goofy and Minnie. First order of business was to get something to eat. We went to a restaurant on Main Street U.S.A. There were about eight things on the menu, but it took them forever to come up with our orders. What up wid dat?
But after a mediocre lunch, we started in on the rides.
The rides were great.
I had never quite realized how much Disney had seeped into our collective unconscious. Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Frontier Land... I knew what the deal was before I set foot in the Magic Kingdom. Space Mountain by far was my favorite of the day, but the Haunted Mansion was also pretty great. When I was a young'n, I had a record called "Disney's Sounds Of A Haunted House." It was basically a collection of sound effects strung together with a narrative. I was enthralled by it. And there I was, listening to it all, and seeing the ghostly figures dancing in the ballroom and the terrified gravedigger and the ghostly bride.
The attention to detail at Disney is incredible. Everything you're seeing is just so well thought out. The plantings are great, the design details are flawless. It was all pretty impressive.
There's this addition to Disney that's only a few years old. It's called Californialand. In the northern part of Californialand, there were pines and ferns and such. And some really cool rides. The elevator ride in the Hollywood Hotel totally rocked, but one of the highlights of the day was Soarin' California. It was basically watching a movie, aerial shots of various places in the Golden State, but it was maginficent. You're suspended in a chair and the photography is magnificent. And while "flying" over the orange groves, you smell oranges. And over the waves of the Pacific (so close!) you smell the salt air. When they showed Palm Springs (golfing? all they could come up with was golfing?), we all gave a little cheer.
At about 9:00 p.m., I had had about all the happiness I could take. We went on a couple more rides, one of which, Splash Mountain, involved me getting wet, and then headed for home. On the way to the gates, I noticed something: Main Street U.S.A. bears a strong resemblance to Doylestown, PA. It apparently was modeled on Walt Disney's home town, but it sure could be the county seat of Bucks County. The implications of that are way too much for my sun-baked brain to comprehend at this point.
Late at night in Palm Springs, the only thing open is Denny's, so that's where we went for dinner. Opening the door of the car in the Denny's parking lot, I felt that great warm air. I was home. Home again. Back from my adventures. Back in the desert.
Getting some food put me in a better disposition. I think I'm starting to have blood sugar issues. And then it was back to my humble abode. The place is still empty, my furniture won't be showing up until about September 12th, but it's the place where I live here in Palm Springs.
As far as I'm concerned, this is the happiest place on earth.
The attention to detail is terrifically impressive.
(Main Street USA = Doylestown)