Pros: An engaging escape from reality which bridges the generational gap.
Cons: A bit cost prohibitive. The lines are unbelievable on peak park dates.
A certain feeling always wells up from my stomach when I arrive at Disneyland. The giddy feeling of childhood would best describe the emotion. Free to have fun. Free to explore. Free to be who you are. This feeling has'nt changed in 31 years, nor do I expect it to change during the next 31. The only thing that enhances this giddiness is the fact that I can now share it with my two boys who are now getting their first helpings of Walt Disney's masterpiece. Sure, it costs an arm and a leg to enjoy the fantasy world that awaits, but as the phrase that MasterCard has coined goes: [The smiles and sheer exuberance exhibited by the kids] "is priceless"!
We arrived at the park at about 9:30 A.M. (1/2 hour after park opening) on a Wednesday. It's nice to go to Disneyland during the week as you can enjoy the parks myriad attractions without waiting in the snarls of lines that the weekend brings. The first decision we had to make was "which park"? Since Disneyland has gone the route of Disneyworld and Epcot Center by adding an adjacent theme park, Disney's California Adventure, one must decide on what type of fun they will be having on any given excursion. We chose the classic and the classic only as we had only one day to explore what would best be described as a child's dream. If you have two or three days to explore the resort, park hopper passes are available so that you may enter either park at your leisure.
After entering the gates to the Magic Kingdom a transformation takes place. The outside world melts away and leaves one with the feeling of utter contentment as Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and the like welcome you to their home. Main Street (the street you must walk down to enter the main part of the park) is immaculately kept and offers Disney themed gifts at some of its stores, and cotton candy and ice cream at others. Main Street transports you back to American small town life of the early 1900's where there is a true nickelodeon showing the Mouse's early work. You can even catch a glimpse of artists drawing stills from your favorite Disney movies through the windows of select buildings that line Main Street.
Emerging from the entranceway you catch your first glimpse of the castle, the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom. From this vantage point you see the old-fashioned fire trucks that provide children with rides around the circular road that surrounds the statue of your host Mickey Mouse and his creator Walt Disney. Here comes your second decision, but don't worry it's not a stressful one: Which way do we go? To the left you have Adventure Land, New Orleans Square, Frontier Land and Critter Country. To the right you have Tomorrow Land. Straight ahead takes you through the castle to Fantasy Land and Mickey's Toon Town. We hung a left because I always like to start my day at Disney Land with a nice relaxing ride on the ever-popular Pirates of the Caribbean!
Pirates is a tour de force of the imaginative designs that permeate the park. Sitting in a boat and cruising the high sees, viewing pirates doing any number of things that pirates do, immerses you in the magic of Disneyland. The animatronics are spectacular, and even more so when you realize that this ride has been around since the park opened. It's a great way to get your feet wet and let any remnants of the outside world melt away preparing your mind for the day of wonder that awaits.
Whoa, there are so many things to do, so many sights to see and so many memories to be made! Artists sketch caricatures and self-portraits of giggling children and beaming couples. Churros, lollipops and fresh fruits are sold by clean cut street vendors along with a multitude of other goodies, the best part being that they always close the sale with a sincere: "thank you, enjoy the rest of your day"! Cartoon characters roam the streets and there is always a "cast member" available to help you with your needs. Everything is brightly colored and intricately detailed. At Disneyland everyone is equal and there is no discrimination. It is an island utopia smack dab in the center of a metropolis.
There are things to do for the smallest of children to the oldest of adults. Some things that I consider can't miss are:
Space Mountain (Tomorrow Land)
A high-speed roller coaster ride through space!
Haunted Mansion (New Orleans Square)
Ride in the doom buggy if you dare. The spirits will even take up residence in your buggy if you let them!
Indiana Jones (Adventure Land)
Rip rolling adventure in the booby-trapped mines inspired by the Lucas/Spielberg collaboration.
Honey I Shrunk the Audience 3-D Adventure (Tomorrow Land)
3-D movies were never so good! You'll be startled and shrunk in this film starring Rick Moranis.
Splash Mountain (Critter Country)
Enjoy more Disney animatronics before taking the plunge on this classic ride.
Country Bear Playhouse (Critter Country)
Kids will love the show that these talented bears put on!
Star Tours (Adventure Land)
Like riding through space with a Tijuana cab driver as your pilot!
These are my favorites, but there are many, many attractions that come close to matching the sheer and utter enjoyment that these rides provide. What can I say? I love Disneyland! Let the kid in you come out of hiding and enjoy what this park has to offer.
Don?t forget to bring your wallet because the items for sale inside of Disneyland are not cheap. A meal for a family of 4 will set you back about 10-15 bucks a person. Too expensive? Don't worry. You are more than welcome to bring your own food to Disneyland!