On our first day at Disneyland we decided to try something new. We took some food and left all our credit cards in the hotel.
I know that’s funny. It’s kind of like saying we crossed the Sahara Desert without any water. You can’t leave money behind. The Happiest Place on Earth comes complete with an infection from pixy dust that results in diarrhea of the wallet. It’s an interesting illness that’s almost impossible to detect. You don’t feel any pain for about a month and when the trauma sets in it doesn’t ruin the Disney magic. Instead, Visa bears the symptoms.
Doing Disneyland with five kids provides a chance to build character and memories that take a lot of counseling to repress. This is a place where the overall balance of joy and anger cannot be altered. If one child is incredibly happy another one will be incredibly angry or two will be mildly upset. You will not find this in the travel literature but I will be lobbying the FDA for a warning label like they put on cigarette labels. Certain less magical moments at Disneyland may actually be more hazardous to your child’s health than smoking.
Disney ‘cast members’ are not immune from the joy/anger balance. There are plenty of Mouseholes available to ‘assist’ you with the magical experience: “get off the railing, don’t sit there, don’t walk that way, sit down, stand up, keep your hands inside the ride, don’t kick Mickey in the magic parts.” Disneyland really does make you feel like a kid again, back in kindergarten, with a really bossy teacher and a lot of inane rules. At one point I was ready to let them know where to stick their mouse ears, but after spending thousands of dollars for the pilgrimage, getting kicked out of the park wouldn’t have sat well with my constituents. “Impeach Dad” signs flashed through my mind so I kept my mouth shut.
Most of the major rides broke while we were in the park. At one point I’m not sure what was still running in California Adventure. We were just about to board California Screaming when they kicked us out because of mechanical issues. That doesn’t inspire confidence in a piece of equipment that sends you 0-55 MPH in 4 seconds. The kids were not happy until we realized that the group right in front of us were trapped for 30 minutes on the 30 degree incline that starts the ride. Maybe Disney PR can spin it as astronaut training. We tried the raft ride next but it was dry. I asked if we could perhaps go hiking in their imaginary wilderness instead. The guys that guard the entrance to broken rides don’t find that funny. As is tradition at Disneyland, Thunder Mountain Railroad was shutdown more than it was open. The piece de resistance came the last night in the last hours of our excursion – you know the time you regret not riding everything so you run all over the park like a crazy person, shoving small children and old ladies out of the way to get on every ride possible – we got on the Casey Junior ride since Devin loves trains. The boarding process involved an especially ornery, old Mousehole who when not running the train sits in his front yard yelling at kids to “get the hell off my lawn.”
I hate the Casey Junior ride. On Casey Junior I always end up in the monkey cage. This is a small, jail like, fully enclosed container that would not meet any standard for prisoner transport in this country. After the last time, I told myself I would not ever be riding in the stupid monkey cage again. Not ever. You’d never guess what happened next, but yes they shoved Devin and I into the cage with two other large guys and their kids. It was tight. The ride is short so I figured I could put up with it because my son loves trains. The ride started, ran around, and started the little climb where it plays “I think I can, I think I can.” Then it stalled. Turns out it really couldn’t. There is a lesson to be learned here kids. You might think you can but you will probably fail and strand a bunch of tourists on the wrong side of Fantasy Land for 45 minutes and make a bunch of people mad.
That ride is 50 or more years old. I would think that they would have some procedure for what to do when it breaks, but it turns out I would be wrong. At first the operator tried to start it up, but that failed. Then some other guys came, but their job was to stand there and look confused with the first guy. Then more people came so that they could be a confused mob. The Disneyland fire marshal showed up (They have their own but he doesn’t drive up in the old vintage fire truck they have parked towards the entrance. Major disappointment there). Devin suggested maybe they ran out of water. It looks like a steam train after all. I ruined the wonder and told him it probably ran on gas. No father of the year award there. I still wonder why the fire marshal showed up. Were we moments going up in a giant fireball? With all the other evening fireworks would anyone even notice? Callie tried to take a picture but they yelled at her to knock it off. One of my daughters was sobbing in the last car. It was a bibbity bobbity boched last night. After a long debate on whether they could let us walk the 50 yards back through dangerous plants, bonsai trees and mini houses they finally decided it would be best if they pushed us back. Maybe no one read through the operator manual employee manual, but it seems like it shouldn’t take 45 minutes to figure that out.
They made it up to us by giving us three butt in line passes. We had 30 minutes to use them since the park was closing early to make way for ‘grad night’ ie hormone crazed, scary teenagers invade Disneyland. The folks in Port Royal had less to fear from the Black Pearl than the poor Disney cast members. Honda sponsors the event. I’m glad the small fortune I blew on a minivan helped shorten the kid’s vacation during several nights of the trip. Next time I’m buying a Toyota.
After a week of holding pens masquerading as lines, and getting branded with hand stamps we were finally ready to be shipped off to the stockyards. The Pinocchio ride is not especially popular but the story behind it is an apt analogy for the experience. Come as human, enjoy the over indulgence, leave feeling like asses.