Thursday, July 17, 2008

Walt Disney Is A Genius!

After hearing that today was the 53rd anniversary of Disneyland I got to thinking about my family's trip to the happiest place on Earth in 1977.

I was only six but I remember so much about this trip. I remember eating Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes for breakfast and watching the fireworks over the park from our hotel balcony. I remember room service lemonade and driving the cars in Autopia. I remember Dad being almost giddy with excitement and having so much fun; maybe even more so than us kids. It was hot and I wanted to go back to the room and change out of my green polyester pants with the appliqued frog on the front of the lower leg. Dad had other plans and we had to go on the Jungle Boat Ride (which I found very realistic as a child) before I could change into shorts and get comfortable.

I remember my first plane ride ever on the now-defunct Western Airlines and the stuffed aristocratic yellow bird leaning back on a pillow named "Wes" that my brother got on that trip. I still recall the plastic Pluto toy that we bought as a souvenir for our poodle Jacques and the small stuffed turtle (instead of a Disney character) that I wanted for my souvenir. Still have the turtle. I remember being terrified on Space Mountain and refusing to go on the Matterhorn with everyone else after that experience. While Angie, Matt and Dad rode on the Matterhorn, Mom and I ate my first onion rings and watched Snow White and some of her dwarfs walk by. We were enthralled by the Electric Light Parade and were thrilled to meet the costumed characters.

I remember the animatronic Mr. Lincoln and the Country Bear Jamboree. The Haunted Mansion and the Pirates of the Caribbean, which I recalled had a HUGE, exhilarating drop towards the end of the ride. When I went back as an adult I found this not to be the case at all. I remember the submarine ride and the small leak in our submarine that I found unnerving.

My favorite memory and one that lives on in our family lore is of my mother. She, like everyone, was in awe of the park. Everything was perfect. The animatronic people and animals were so lifelike. Every detail had been attended to. This attention to detail amazed and impressed my mother to no end. One day we were standing on a foot bridge overlooking a small pond with lots of other people around us and she was expounding on the beauty of the birds swimming in the pond. "Look at how lifelike they are," she said. "How can anyone make them so real? I just can't believe this place. Walt Disney is a GENIUS!" On and on she went, raving about the genius of Disney . . . and then the birds flew away. Even at the tender age of six I knew my mother had just said something ridiculous and hysterical and we all dissolved in pools of laughter. We still kid her about this to this day. I had my own much less public "Walt's a genius" moment of my own years later involving what I thought were fake flowers. My friend Vicki likes to remind me of this on occasion. The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree I guess.

It was a wonderful trip and I loved my trips back as an adult for my sister's secret Pirates of the Caribbean wedding and the trip with my friends Vicki and Bill a few years later. It truly is a magical place and might indeed really be The Happiest Place on Earth.

1 comment:

kath said...

Oh my gosh, you are just about the cutest 6-year-old ever, Anne. We lived in southern CA when I was 4-6 years old, so our paths may have crossed one afternoon at the Happiest Place on Earth. I too was terribly impressed with the HUGE plunge at the end of the Pirates ride. (Okay, scared.) I loved, loved, loved the It's a Small World ride. I haven't been back since I wore plaid pants, but maybe I should plan a visit sometime soon. : )