Tuesday, February 2, 2010

californian adventure: pilgrim vs. the happiest place on earth




i did it! i survived disneyland, just me and the three year old son: mano-a-mano, us vs. the mouse. and you know what? it was a blast!

before leaving for the USA i read up on disneyland. i couldn't get my head around it. i knew it was big. people were telling me to spend multiple days there. i read a guide book that suggested dressing your family in a uniform, preparing trail mix and water flasks, building up foot callouses over a 6 week walking regiment. what?! this is meant to be "the happiest place on earth" and they were making it sound like a nightmare vacation even for the grizwalds. so i did what i do anytime i get overwhelmed, i threw caution to the wind and just showed up.

main street square

i've never been into the disney thing, i'm not against any of it, but i got spoiled early on, being taken to animation festivals with the kind of quirky stuff that fired my imagination. the little mermaid left me unsatisfied when she didn't end up in some fritz the cat-like escapades. however, something happened when i walked through the disneyland gates. firstly i welled up a bit and got kinda teary at how incredible it was that i was at disneyland. i thought of little cynical child pilgrim, repeatedly renting a VHS tape about disneyland just to see the bit about the haunted mansion but just assuming i'd never get to go anywhere like that. its overwhelming, and i think it would be hard not to get into the spirit of the place.

pretty pretzels in fantasyland

what i loved was the absolute commitment to everything. each 'land' is entirely unto itself and its hard to believe that the fun and cheesy 'futurism' of tomorrowland is just a short walk from the fairytale prettiness of fantasyland. i love that everything down to the rubbish bins and food carts are in theme with land they're in. everything was so clean and well maintained, i even felt like pristine condition extended to visitors' manners!


fab red vinyl wall in one of the refreshment shops

one of many vintage attraction posters, underneath main street station

we had loads of fun and spent two full days there, and i got to go back for one evening on my own. what did we do? well, given i was with a three year old, it was mostly very tame rides:



scene from the jungle cruise

mad tea party (the tea cups)


lanterns and leaves around the mad hatter's tea party


in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room!

and our joint favorites, its a small world and the enchanted tiki room

it's a small world, exterior

its a small world was amazing. the first impression is breathtaking: when you 'round the corner to be met with the great white and gold facade, with spires and minarettes, and the ticking clock tower, its a bit like wandering into a full sized toy town.

it's a small world, by night

...and at night, its even more spectacular! you can see in the pictures that there are christmas wreaths and swags of baubles up. the ride was a christmas version, with the standard 'its a small world song' mixed with jingle bells and deck the halls.

inside it's a small world

when i returned on my own for the evening i rode on:


the fireworks display was really charming, and was a tribute to disneyland's iconic rides and characters. i was so glad i could go back to see it, and really pleased i didn't have to miss out on the 'scarier' rides i couldn't take the kid on. and just in case you were wondering if all species enjoy disneyland...


... some turkeys are big fans of disneyland too!



ps: 100th post! thanks to everyone for all your comments and patronage. here's to 100x100 more!

4 comments:

strawberry lemonade girl said...

I love this....as an ardent fan of disneyland I'm sooo happy your impression was just like mine. It really is magical — totally different from the Disney Machine (the movies, the toys etc etc). Unlike other parks, you really get the feeling they care (ok, fine...I'm sure there is a monstrous corp machine churning behind it all, but as a visitor its transparent....they keep the darn place so clean and it IS a happy place!).

YAY for Mary Blair Small World!

apparentlyjessy said...

I am so glad you are home safe and sound, and it looks like you had a fabulous holiday!
I am jealous of your Disneyland adventures, I dream of going on the teacup ride and exploring the mad hatter's tea party one day!

kazz said...

The photos are fab, it truly is a fantasy-land, you're very lucky to be able to go to such a dreamy place and to take your son and witness his eyes light up with joy would of been priceless. I have Disney Land on my very long 'to do' list. Thanks for sharing.

Pilgrim Lee said...

alex - very true. i nearly forgot the behemoth DISNEY "brand" while in the park. thats got to be the ultimate triumph, eh?

jessy - aww sorry you're jealous! it was so much fun you should do all you can to get there one day :)

kazz - i am lucky, aren't i? the boy was pretty overwhelmed, but he loved it, and it was so special sharing it with him

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