Walking through those gates is where the true Disney magic begins for me. Maybe it is because I have walked through those gates so many times over the years, at all ages, with all kinds of companions, at all times of year and that the energy of all those people with anticipation right on the tips of their hearts is palpable and shared--that makes this moment so special. Come to think of it, it's kind of like sex. There is that moment, at the gate, where the anticipation is almost as exciting as the culmination. Only Disneyland is cleaner, safer, and never a disappointment.
You can't see much from the entrance, except the train and the giant floral Mickey head on the lawn in front of Main Street Station. (Or is that the back?) But because you can't see much at all, except families clustered under Mickey's chin taking pictures with what have to be the slowest cameras in the world, there is time to gather a sense of the promises held...just around the bend. Or in this case, the "Pardon Our Pixie Dust" bedazzled construction barriers just around the bend.
Main Street is getting a new set of treads. In the classic Disney way, they have disguised the ugly mess of a construction site behind lovely barriers. And there are no sounds of jackhammers or sweaty hard hats making smooching sounds at the hot babes. They work at night. Disneyland is, after all, a 24 hour operation in some regards. Those wads of gum don't scrape off themselves.
I read that the pavement on Main Street is darkened in order to make it get hotter in the sun. Hot pavement keeps people walking, into the stores, or toward the castle. We keep moving because standing still is unpleasant. And at night, when the weather cools down, isn't the warm pavement a luxurious treat? It makes you want to linger longer as you exit down Main Street. The Main Street shops close an hour after the park closes! They say 80% of your health care costs are incurred in your last 8 days of life. I think it's safe to say your last 80 bucks find their way into Mickey's white gloves in your last 8 minutes on Main Street.
Main Street wasn't the only barricaded attraction. I'd like to say I'm sorry the Matterhorn Bobsleds were under repair, but to be honest, the last few times I've taken a ride down the icy slopes of Matterhorn Mountain I was thinking, "It's time this old gal got some lube." It used to be the smoothest, fastest ride in the park, but lately it's gotten rough and a tad bumpy--like the rest of us 55 year olds. I just hope, with this new makeover, the Yeti hasn't gone in for lip plumping. That trend HAS to end, and soon. I'm hoping the Ocotmom will do our nation some good and serve as the anti-lip-plump poster child and end this madness. Or maybe all those women at the Beach Club were simultaneously attacked by killer bees. How sad for them if that's the case.
Speaking of looking good, It's a Small World has been refurbished and looks great! And it is ever so slightly different. The boats are brand new and a huge improvement in design, although the colorful molded plastic hollow core design has a distinctive Little Tikes look and feel about it. The only other minor change is the Small World song now repeats five gajillion times instead of five bazillion, but you hardly notice the difference.
Innoventions. What can I say? It is fire-roasted corn salad served in grandma's "antique" Melamine bowl with balsamic vinegar and fat-free synthetic "salad oil." What does that mean? The Melamine bowl is the old Carousel of Progress in the back corner of Tomorrowland. It's not really antique, but you remember it from your childhood. It was at every family meal at Grandma's. Or in this case, Grandpa Walt's place. The "corn" is classic Disney corniness, with stupid puns and coined words like Innovention--Innovation and Invention. This attraction is hosted by Tom Morrow ~groan~ the robotic mutation of Billie Crystal, Robin Williams and Whoopie Goldberg, and he's as annoying as any ONE of them alone. He is the official greeter of the fake home of a fake family celebrating their fake son's fake soccer victory--zowie, they're going to the playoffs! But these fake folks have the coolest shit on the planet! And it's real. Which is how the corn came to be "fire-roasted" and the vinegar balsamic. The synthetic fat free salad oil represents the rich, luxurious, clean-livin' features of this home of--not tomorrow--but today, since all these tech toys are here now. You have to see it at least once. I've seen it twice and could have spent another hour roaming around on the second floor, but there are no bathrooms in the building, and arugula waits for no man. It used to be a great big beautiful tomorrow, but that day is today, in Tomorrowland.
Oh my goodness, look at the time. It's five o'clock! The tequila hour. A short Monorail ride away is Downtown Disney. Home of Tequila Joe's...I mean, Tortilla Joe's. Which is, in turn, home of The Wall of Tequila. A quick date with Sr. Patron and a boring lecture from Carlos the bartender who knows waaaay too much about tequila and tried to pry me out of the arms of my patron and throw me into the arms of some guy named Partido, sent me running for the Grand Californian. And who should be there, but Sr. Patron and Sr. Partido standing side by side. I invited each of them to sit with me, and we shared a plate of sliders and took a call from daughter Katie.
With the park about to close in one hour, I excused myself from the bar and spent the last hour in Frontierland, home of Big Thunder Mountain Railway. Note to my readers: when riding alone, sit either to the left, or to the right, but not in the middle using your thighs to keep you from sliding back and forth. What appear to be bruises today, might be an indication of underlying tissue death. You could end up a crabby prescription drug addict like House.
I remember riding Big Thunder in Disney World many times in a row, and the fireworks were visible from the train. This time was almost like that. Fantasmic was creating musical havoc and light behind me as we screamed, thundered and baaaaa'd our way through the mine shaft. (Ya see, there's this mountain goat up on a rock...oh never mind.)
I walked back to my hotel after buying a birthday (cup)cake on Main Street and counted my birthday wishes. All 55 of them.
Next, Part III