June 10, 2014
When we were in Santa Barbara last, Tom and Laurel had planned to take the girls to Disneyland, so we couldn't see them the last day, which is fine. We had two nice visits with them before they left.
Laurel just posted 60+ photos of their day at the park and it got me thinking about my checkered past with Disneyland. I will illustrate this entry liberally with Laurel's photos, whether they apply to what I'm writing about or not just because they are so darn cute
The collection of photos starts with this one, which makes me realize that Brianna really is Grandpa's granddaughter. Never have we gone anywhere that doesn't start out with a long, serious inspection of the map to get bearings. It's why he's never lost and I frequently am.
The first time I visited the park was in about the second year after it opened. I was a high school sophomore and had won a one-way trip to LA on a cruise ship. We were there just one day and my mother, sister and I went to Disneyland. You used lettered tickets in those days and, compared to what is there today, the rides were quite limited. (I don't recognize some of the rides I saw in Laurel's pictures, but Tom seems to be enjoying one of the new rides! UPDATE: Laurel tells me this is "California Country" the second park on the Disneyland grounds and that these are jellyfish.)
When our kids were little, especially when we started having so many of them, we realized that Jeri was getting short shrift in the attention department, so we decided to take her to Disneyland (and later to take each of the kids, in turn) for her 4th birthday. It would give her a whole weekend of one-on-one time with us and except for the long lines for some of the rides, it was really such fun for all of us. After lots of complaining about lines to get on rides (and being afraid of dark rides), when we finally got into It's a Small World, Jeri looked around and brightened and said "hey...I like this!"
Of course, as it was for Bri and Lacie, meeting Mickey was a biggie for Jeri.
(Amazing how Jeri is gently pushing 50 these days and Mickey looks as good as ever...maybe even had a bit of work done in the interim.... though I do note a bit of a receding hairline now)
We did, in fact, take each of the kids if not on their 4th birthday at least within the year before their 5th birthday. And the first thing we always did was to buy them Mickey Mouse ears, with their names on the back, because that had been such a huge success with Jeri (everyone greeted her by name).
There was a gap in going to Disneyland for awhile, until Paul joined the Jazz choir, which performed at Disneyland each year, first Paul and then Tom and David. I always felt Disneyland had a real swindle there. Most of the entertainment in those days was by visiting school groups. They paid full price to get into the park, but could not appear until after their performance (in the case of the jazz choir, until after lunch), so they only got half a day in the park and for their performance each kid got a free hamburger. When you consider that the park must take in $1 million a day in exorbitant entrance fees, surely they could give their performers free entrance! But it's Disney, after all.
This was day #2...new princess costumes!
Then came the foreign student years and we almost always took the foreign student staying with us (if they were staying long enough) to Disneyland. Usually that was fun, but Marcello made it a nightmare. A spoiled rich kid who only wanted things his way. We drove down the coast to LA, the long way, so he could stop and photograh every. single. beach. we overlooked. They all looked the same to me, but we had to stop every. single. time. so he could take a picture. But I'm a photographer; I could understand that, if my "thing" were beaches and surfing and we were having a good time--Marcello, me, and about 3 or 4 others who came along, none of whom were into beaches and all of whom were eager to spend a day in Disneyland.
On the second day, when we finally got to the turnoff to the freeway to Disneyland, Marcello threw a bloody fit because he wanted to go to Huntington Beach. It was his dream to see Huntington Beach. After a loud discussion, I finally agreed to take him to see Huntington Beach--it would only delay us by an hour or so. When we got there, he insisted he had to go shopping for a surfboard. I told him he could go into ONE shop. He went into four while we sat in the car and waited for him. He then got into the car and said that we had to go to the next block because someone told him there was a better shop there, and I told him no. I said that we had all been very patient with him for two days and had let him do everything he wanted to do, but now everyone was eager to go to Disneyland, so we went to Disneyland.
He didn't speak to me the whole day (but let me buy him dinner and pay for his entrance to the park). I decided I was NOT going to spend money for another night at a motel too, so I let the kids stay in the park while I napped in the car and then when the park closed we started the 10 hour drive home. The last couple of hours were brutal and everyone in the car (except Marcello) helped me stay awake.
Years later, when he reconnected with me and sent me a "hi, how are you?" note, he added, as part of his memories of his time here "remember when you ruined my trip to So. California?" Needless to say, I did not respond.
In 1996, Lawsuit played a successful concert in the LA area and the next day, to celebrate, they went to The Happiest Place on Earth to spend the day. Fortunately their friends here knew that was their plan. Walt and I were in New York when David wrapped his sister's car around a lamp post, but a friend of Dave's was able to call Disneyland and by God, within half an hour Disneyland Security had rounded them all up (it helped that they were wearing Lawsuit t-shirts). Disneyland was forever tainted for me after that. The place where our kids learned their brother was dead.
The last time I visited the park was in 2000, when I went there with Peggy, which is only a sad memory in retrospect. At the time we had a lovely day and I even rode the Matterhorn, which I had not done before and will not do again (not a roller coaster person here!)
I would love to go back to Disneyland with the girls, but suspect that would be a trip that they would remember in years to come as "the time Grandma slowed us down because she couldn't keep up." So I'll be content to share the trips through photos. And who could not love this photo, which tells the whole story!