A friend recently got Mr. M & me Disneyland tickets at a super-discounted rate. So super-discounted that I snapped them up and didn’t think twice about when we might possibly have a free day together in Southern California. As it so happened, Thanksgiving weekend provided the perfect excuse.
Day #11,174: As obnoxious as it sounds, I can’t remember how many times I’ve been to Disneyland. It’s almost an annual pilgrimage for school-age kids growing up in Southern California. Regardless of how many times Mr. M & I have been to the Magical Kingdom, it somehow still manages to stay… well, magical.
Mr. M & I were particularly excited to hit up the Matterhorn bobsleds ride, as (1) we’d allegedly been to the real Matterhorn a few months ago (allegedly, as we never actually got to see the top of the peak)…
…and (2) the bobsleds whip you through the mountain and right by two giant, roaring Abominable Snowmen. The Mr. & I adore Abominable Snowmen and came thisclose to buying these cards to send out for Christmas 2012:
Next we took a spin through Tomorrow Land. Mr. M remarked how distinctive the Tomorrow Land style has become; it was meant to highlight the technology of the future when it was built in 1966… in 2012, it’s fabulous, kitschy, and decidedly retro.
My favorite ‘land’ in Disneyland is New Orleans Square. It’s amazing how accurately Disney is able to capture the essence of New Orleans. It’s been a family tradition since I was young that we’d always stop at the French Market for mint juleps & apple fritters, and this trip was no different.
We sat a spell and took in a few minutes of jazz.
Of course, the best ride in the Land is the Haunted Mansion, which from November through January, is all dolled up for Christmas.
When the sun was at its zenith, we took our chances getting wet on Splash Mountain.
My personal favorite part of the ride comes after the splashy plummet, when you’re serenaded by can-can dancing chickens, a guitar-playing dog, and a fox in a three-piece suit.
Because my Disneyland deal happened to include Park-Hopper tickets, we were able to visit the California Adventure Theme Park that afternoon. An unbiased word to the wise: if you’re coming from out of town, do not waste your vacation $$ on California Adventure. Excuse my language, but it sucks balls.
So as not to crap on the whole Disney California Adventure operation, I must admit they hold claim to two very magical and fantastic rides: Soaring Over California, a motion-simulator ride placed in front of an IMAX screen (best part: the evergreen scent as you fly through the CA redwoods) and the brand new Radiator Springs Racers ride based on the Pixar movie “Cars.”
Actually, all of the new CarsLand was admittedly cool.
Still… there wasn’t near enough to keep our attention, and after a sourdough bread bowl in faux San Francisco, Mr. M & I decided to head back to Classic Disneyland. We headed for Fantasyland and the traditional children’s rides with the hope that most kids had turned cranky by that time and had been put on nap time-out.
Aside from Peter Pan, which is the best ride ever, my next favorite ride in Fantasyland is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, based on the characters from Kenneth Grahame’s book “The Wind in the Willows.”
You follow Toad as he takes a drunken joy ride through London (while I am not pro drunk-driving, the idea of a martini-guzzling toad causing chaos makes me laugh), lands himself in jail for being a drunken ass, and at the end of the ride is hit by a train (!) and ends up… wait for it… in Hell! I’m surprised & not-so-secretly pleased that there exists a Disney ride in which you tour through Hell… complete with a goateed Satan, dancing imps, and a green dragon that tries to burn you to a crisp before the ride abruptly ends. Moral of the story: Don’t drink and drive, kids. Perhaps especially if you’re a toad.
Next up was The Jungle Cruise, which simulates a boat ride down the Zambezi, Amazon, and Nile Rivers. We were amused to find that there was a new addition to the ride since our last visit: jumping, churning piranha, just like the one Mr. M caught in the actual Amazon!
While we were waiting in line at It’s A Small World, I got a text from one of my very dearest friends with a picture of her baby who’d just entered the world a few hours earlier.
Shar just so happens to be the very first of my close friends to become a mom. Shar & I have been friends since we were ten years old, lived across the street from each other all through high school, and I bawled tears of joy for an hour when I found out she was pregnant (I cried so much that I worried I was pregnant & on hormone overload). It’s A Small World seemed somehow appropriate for news of this magnitude.
Perhaps we were a few days out from Thanksgiving, but there’s no time limit on feeling appreciative, and I suddenly felt very, very thankful for all the wonderful things in my life: for old friends & new family, for Mr. M & our life together (it takes a special man to root for those ‘abominable holiday’ cards), for the spirit of giving and love that the holidays seem to engender…
It seemed like a most appropriate time to be in the Happiest Place on Earth.