Sunday, July 05, 2009

Disney day!

Have you ever been so tired you couldn’t sleep?

That’s what last night was to me. I’m sore all over, I’m wheezing and coughing, with a runny nose and congestion. I toss and turn, and even turn on the TV for a few hours. From 4 to 5 a.m. I watch the “Omega Glory” episode of the original Star Trek. My family never stirs.

I get maybe one or two hours of sleep total, and even that isn’t very restful sleep. It’s not the ideal way to transition to three days of exploring Disneyland.

Nevertheless, I’m pretty excited for today. The past several days of “vacation” were more about obligations. Voluntary and exciting ones, yes, but still obligations – places I had to be at certain times, rehearsals, contests, shows...

Well, that much is done. It’s now time for the fun, where my family is the focus and we can choose to do as little or as much as we want.

To add to the fun of it, we’re also going to Disneyland! Becky and the boys, though multiple-visit veterans of Walt Disney World in Florida, have never been here.

I have, just once. Back in 1982, when I was fresh out of high school, my Colorado church youth choir came out to California on a choir tour – we had a very nice benefactor who supplied a retired Grayhound bus and paid for all the gas that we used, so we had some great choir tours. We sang at a church in this area one night, and then spent a day at Disneyland.

There are some interesting parallels with this trip 27 years later. For one thing, I spent the night with a host couple that lived in an apartment, and I watched the Disneyland fireworks from their balcony the night before we went to the park.

But even more interesting is the parallels in the timing of this. The date I went to Disneyland in 1982? July 5. Yes, I’m returning to Disneyland twenty-seven years to the day since I last went.

I may have only been 17 years old at the time, but that visit is etched in my brain. For one thing, it’s where I first really grasped “Disney magic.”

My experiences with amusement parks growing up had been with Denver’s classic Lakeside Amusement Park and the wonderful Elitch Gardens (the original 38th Street location, not the soulless Six Flags monstrosity downtown that uses the same name). Those two parks had some wonderful, thrilling rides; Elitch’s Mister Twister coaster was a grand, scary old wooden coaster that twisted in and out of another coaster.

So when I first got to Disneyland as a teen, I thought, Disneyland has a great reputation, so their rides must be extra scary! Instead, I found myself bored. Yes, at Disneyland, I was disappointed. At least for the first half of the day.

But sometime around noon, something clicked – the folks at Disney weren’t even trying to scare me. They were just trying to make me smile! After that, I found myself enjoying the park and having the time of my life.

Today I get to go back – and now I know more than I did then. I know more of the history of the Disney company, and know that Disneyland is the one park in which Walt Disney walked. I know more about the attractions and their history. Via the community of friends at Stupid Guest Tricks, I know many people who work there.

Two more things. First, there’s another park here now that wasn’t around in 1982, California Adventure. And second, this visit I get to share with my family. This is going to be great.

I just hope I feel well enough to enjoy it.

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