Of Disneyland & Memory

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*Not all images belong to me.  For what I borrowed, thank you.  For what I didn’t, I’m sorry.* 

Disneyland is a polarising place.  For those that love it, it’s a magical obsession.  For those that hate it, it’s an overpriced land of extravagance. 

I am of the former persuasion. 

Having just returned from a two day, three night trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea I will submit the things I learned from my trip to The Happiest Place on Earth. 

Did you really pay 20 dollars for that? 

0520wall20of20hatsOne of the most amazing things about Disneyland is that they sell the most ridiculously overpriced novelty items, items that cannot be used without some level of embarrassment on the days following a Disneyland trip, and people buy them up like crack.  I saw endless items that were obnoxious to the point of being an eyesore but countless people dropped nearly 40 dollars for them.  I cannot remember a time in my life  that I saw a person wearing their ‘special’ Disney purchase outside of the park.  So you spent all that money on something you would love intensely for one day?  It’s like people become drunk on the Disneyland experience and cannot fathom their life outside the park.  Buying a bright orange Tigger hat complete with tail is not only normal, but expected.  They must wake up the next day feeling like an alcoholic, take one look at that ridiculous purchase and think, as many of us have at one point or another, “I am never going to drink again as long as I LIVE!”

This attraction brought to you by Tampax, for when you are riding your own Splash Mountain.

japan20900I understand how business and promotion works.  I am not, contrary to how this post will end, 4 years old.  It was still sad to see that every ride now has a sponsor.  I don’t know that the LA or Florida Disneyland’s are like this, but the Japanese Disneyland had a sponsor for every ride.  It was VERY subtle and you really had to be looking to see it, but when you got to the main sign for any ride, there it was.  “Space Mountain” and under it: brought to you by Coca Cola.  It made me think of Fight Club.  “When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.”  

Disney at night is my personal heaven.

IMG_2710Disneyland during the day is always a bit congested and can feel really hectic.  When the sun sets and the lights come on it is a world of quiet tranquility.  This is an odd statement seeing as how there are roaring rollercoasters and shouting people just like during the daytime, but the night just seems more peaceful.  The night also brings on the light parade, the fireworks (in the current case it’s a projection mapping show too.)  The night time is when Disney becomes truly magical.

Disneyland engages all 5 senses like very few things can.

tumblr_m74w38a4x51ragq9ko1_500People who had one home they grew up in their whole life talk about how that place brings them back to being a child.  I had many homes, so I don’t know what that feels like.  I think it feels something like going to Disneyland for me.  Why?  Because Disney is amazing at engaging all five senses.  The magic kingdom layout is almost identical no matter which park you go to, thus the sights are familiar and comforting.  Then there is the lingering smell of caramel and the tastes of the  candies, the sounds of all the familiar jingles, even the feel of the railing, the faux wood they use in the lines for many rides, is the same.  I was half a world away from the place of my birth but, if only for a moment, I was back home.  Looking at the ride attendants in their familiar costumes and listening to all the songs and jingles I have heard so many times, I could have been back in California.  It was an amazing feeling.

Going with a 4 year old is like going with a schizophrenic

301054_429772953724432_2061724935_nTaking my daughter for her first trip to Disneyland was sensory overload for her.  She wanted to do everything, all at once, RIGHT NOW!  She wanted to buy everything in every store.  She wanted to touch everything.  She wanted to ride all the rides at once.  Except the ones that went into a dark place, those could go blow, until she got used to the idea, then she wanted to ride again.  NO, she was not going to GET OFF the ride.  She was going to ride it again, thank you. Daddy, tell that stupid person we aren’t getting off!  I was dealing with a person broken by joy.  But still…

Going with a 4 year old is pure magic

IMG_2748As insane as my daughter made the Disney trip I cannot image going without her now.  Her reaction to everything brought back the magic so many of us lose the older we get.  That is what Disney brings out in me, and it brought it out in my daughter as well.  The look on her face when she laid eyes on THE Mickey Mouse was akin to looking at the combination of a person who has just come face to face with God and a teenage girl who is kissed by her idol crush.  There was screaming, there was crying, there was twitching, and there was the idiotic smile only the truly joyous could possibly conjure.  Everything about Disneyland made her smile.  Watching the light parade with her brought me back to being 4.  All of it was amazing.  It’s a parade of lit up floats but to her it was 100% magic.  I could see it in her eyes.  My heart was full to burst with the joy she was radiating. 


I learned a lot this trip.  The joy and freedom my daughter felt being at Disneyland reminded me why I love it so much.  It is also the very reason why so many people buy the stupid Tigger hats.  Because Disneyland is a place where you are supposed to just be happy.  It’s a place where you are allowed to be 4 as well, even if you’re 90.  No one judges because we are all in it together.  It’s a huge playground and the age requirement is 4.  You can’t be older to ride that ride.  So we buy our stupid hats and we breathe in the sweet smell, hum all the silly jingles and wave like idiots at Mickey when he waves at us… or even when he can’t see us.  It is a place of unparalleled freedom and happiness.  As adults we resent the prices and the crowds, we curse the lines and get frustrated at how stupid some people are.  In the end, if you choose to focus on these things, you may well come to hate Disneyland.  For me, I will never be able to see anything but the joy and nostalgia it holds for me.  I picture myself as an old man, sitting with my grandchildren watching the light parade that I watched as a child and remembering that there will always be a place, if only for a day, I can be a kid again. 

When our trip came to an end I was carrying my daughter to the train.  She was strung out from two days of the ultimate high and ready for sleep, but then she saw a huge picture of Mickey Mouse waving goodbye to everyone, saying, “Come Back Soon!”  The fuse was ignited one last time and, screaming Mickey’s name in my ear, my daughter let the magic erupt one final time.  I couldn’t help but smile like a big, dumb idiot.  She waved at Mickey with all her four year old might and shouted, “Mickey, bye bye!  Thank you, Mickey!  Let’s play again!”  Knowing then that her time at Disneyland was really over, she buried her face in my shoulder and cried. 

So did I.

Thank you, Mickey, for everything. 

10 thoughts on “Of Disneyland & Memory

  1. Wow Jon!! You made me cry you big dummy!!! Amen to it all. I, brother, feel the exact same way about Disneyland. It truly is magical and if you miss it, you miss out on quite a bit – joy, excitement, happiness, family, togetherness – it is a special place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is true. It is the same as the Stitch popcorn bucket I bought. I know that can be part of their ‘Disneyland’ costume and they will wear it each time, but many people only go to Disneyland once every 4 or 5 years. That is an expensive piece of clothing for only wearing it once every 4 years. Don’t get me wrong, I still do it too, but it is a bit silly when you really think about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed your post — so many things resonate. We did a 3-day full immersion in Universal Studios Orlando recently and it felt like you had to buy every stupid hat, key chain and plastic cup emblazoned with their logo. But despite how it just goes against all logic, it’s part of the crazy experience and we can be kids again….together with our kids. Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

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