Anaheim - Wednesday, August 28, 1996

Today was a day of exhaustion. As I am really down here for the Science Fiction Convention, I registered immediately after getting up (rather late, 10 o'clock) and picked up a discounted ticket for Disneyland.

I should explain that there is something about Disneyland and Disneyworld. I have always wanted to visit. I don't know exactly why. I suppose some of it is because of the rides I have heard of, but, perhaps it is because of seeing much of the Disney films and an interest in seeing his vision represented in reality. Who has not heard of Space Mountain, Main Street USA, Splash Mountain, Snow White's Castle, etc.? I would hazard a guess that those of my generation and the previous would all be familiar with these places. The parking lot is big, as one of the gates, is about 100 feet from the hotel, I decided not to drive but rather walk. The parking lot is big.

I was immediately impressed with the size and cleanliness of the whole park. Sure, it is showing it's age around the edges but the vision is still there.

The first thing I did when I entered the park was to take the train ride around the park to get my bearings and see what everything looked like. The train stops at four different locations at each compass point around the park. It is a replica of a steam locomotive (on a small scale) and was quite enjoyable, there are a few little vignettes that I travelled through that were quite fun.

After returning to the gate, I visited the “Wait Disney Story” which was very interesting, with replicas of his offices in Burbank. Quite a glimpse at the man, with interesting pieces (including manuscripts and figurines, never knew that he collected miniatures). I was possibly most impressed at the piano in his “formal office” (the other office re- created was his “work office”) as this is the very same piano which music from his famous early works was played, Fantasia, Strovinsky played on it, the music for Mary Poppins, etc. Quite a bit of history there. An interesting bit of trivia was that there is a note on his desk that says “Epcot - Go Ahead”, interesting to know that he approved the Epcot Center project before he passed away. I should think that Epcot was created about 20 years after his death.

After that was the audio-animatronic exhibit devoted to Abraham Lincoln, it was very tastefully done and very touching. Another interesting man, I should think that both Disney and Lincoln had much in common, both with a vision. One for a nation, and so with the other. One for the well-being of his people, the other for the enjoyment of his fellow man.

Following this, I took an old bus up Main Street USA to Snow White's castle. Unfortunately, I had a bit of an upset with some kids sitting in the front of the second story. They were spitting out of the bus at people and I felt I needed to say something, things were a bit tense when they refused to stop. I told them to stop, they gave me some excuse about spitting out seeds or some such thing but continued to aim at people. I think they knew they had been found out and stopped after a second warning, could also have been that the bus stopped at it's destination. These boys were in their early teens, I think I may have already mentioned, I do not really get along with that age group, I can't understand their frame of mind because I feel that I never experienced it myself. I was uncomfortable but felt that something needed to be said, it bothered me for a short period afterwards but I believe I did the right thing and I refused to let it ruin my stay.

Next up was the Star Tours ride created by George Lucas, it was very good, a simulator ride (that is, you sit in a car that moves with a projection screen in front of you) and the first of the lineups (this one about 45 minutes which turned out to be typical). I will note a bit more about the lineups, they were very interesting, at Universal City they always had televisions in the lineups to keep the crowd entertained while waiting, in Disneyland there were unique exhibits related to the ride, for example, on Star Tours there was a room were C-3PO and R2-D2 (the two robots from Star Wars) were fixing a Star-Speeder and were bantering about back and forth, they were full size animatronics and had continuous dialog, for the 20 or so minutes I was in the room the dialog did not repeat itself. The premise was of a spaceport preparing to visit another planet and there were frequent PA announcements of comings and goings. Very entertaining. The ride was enjoyable though I always find simulators to give me a bit of a headache. It is odd because I don't get a headache on the real thing (for example roller coasters) perhaps I need to relax, or, better yet, eat something that day before riding (grin).

Space Mountain, the roller coaster in the dark was quite good, it was the second ride I went on. The ride was very fast and quite short but very exciting. Not exactly a big roller coaster but enough to give you a thrill.

After that I went on some of the older rides in that area, TomorrowLand, AutoTopia, Submarine Ride, and the Materhorn. These are all enchanting in their simplicity and all were enjoyable.

Now, you may think I am corny but the one ride that I thought was one of the most special was the A Small World ride. There was something about that, you are riding around in a boat (no splashing here) and you go through a series of rooms where there are a number of animatronic figures singing the words to the famous song, in various languages (each room features a different culture, for the most part). I found that the pure nature of the message and the simplicity, the child-like simplicity got to me, I found myself on the verge of tears, here, I felt, was the spirit of Disney. “It's so much that we care that it's time we're aware, it's a small world after all”, Bosnia, Israel, Iraq, all names that hit the news on a daily basis, it seems that we all need to realize that it is indeed a small world. I should know, in my business I am making the world a smaller place by linking computers together making it possible to talk using the computer to other people anywhere in the world in real time. The sight of hundreds of child puppets singing and playing just got to me. Silly? I don't know. I think I am just a sentimentalist.

Next up was Toon Town (Roger Rabbit) which was entertaining mostly to see the kids having such a good time, this was one of the most interactive places in Disneyland and the kids had a great time. I went on a Roger Rabbit Taxi Cab ride which was very fun, the waiting line had some neat exhibits also (grin).

After that area I attended a Pocahontus review (acting), I don't really know why other than it was there and I was curious to hear how Disney had interpreted the story (and how it turned out). I was not disappointed, it seemed to be very respectful of the Indian culture and tastefully done. The grim postscript, untold at the review, of how the Indians were treated during settlement leapt to mind after the show.

After that, I travelled, and took rides through Frontierland, including the ride on a Galley Ship around Huck's Island. Unfortunately, I wanted to go on the Huck Finn (authentic Mississippi Riverboat) but it was being restored. The ship was interesting and very relaxing.

I really enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean, there was no lineup to speak of but the animatronics - were first rate and the show was very good.

Splash Mountain was a long lineup but also enjoyable. I also went on the Indiana Jones ride which had a really good lineup display and the ride was very well done with first rate special effects and action sequences. I must admit though, the ride itself verged a bit too much on fantasy for me (60 feet snakes, etc.). I kind of liked the Indiana Jones movies because they had an air of realism to them. After this, it was beginning to get dark and there was a show I wanted to see at Huck's Island but I had enough time to go on the Jungle Boat Tour which was another original Disney ride. I enjoyed it very well with the wise-cracking guide (every line meant two different things). I will mention that this was a common trait with all of the Disneyland employees, all were very pleasant and enjoyable to talk too. They all want to help out and keep you happy. Unbelievable in a park of it's size and age. All were young and eager to please.

I grabbed a catfish sandwich (very good, mild, if you must ask – also, I had never had one before so I figured I would give it a go) and found a spot to enjoy Fantasm (or something like that). It was an outstanding display of water works, lasers, fireworks, music, Mickey (and associates), etc. It sort of embodied the essence of what Disney, I think, was trying to do with Fantasia, a movie never appreciated in it's time but now hailed as a masterpiece.

After which, as I was leaving for Main Street to catch the Electric Parade, the fireworks over Snow White's castle were set off, so had to stop and watch.

Made my way to Main Street, spent a LOT of money, finally breaking down and buying a Mickey Mouse watch (gold, well, not solid of course!). It should make for interesting conversation at work. I have needed a watch anyway.

The Electric Parade was very good and had catchy music playing, the floats were well lit and imaginative. I especially liked the character playing a well-lit steam organ.

So, that was my day, now I am at my hotel, after writing a couple of post cards, a slave to this silly computer. I still have to prepare, that is, decide what to see at the Convention tomorrow. The first day is always slow so it should not be too bad. Now, to dig up that literature…

⇒ Continue to Anaheim - Thursday, August 29, 1996