Saturday, June 20, 2009

So what did we do?

What did we do on our recent Disneyland vacation? Well, we
  • Escaped the Temple of the Forbidden Eye
  • Helped defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg
  • Dined on the bayous of Louisiana
  • Watched top chefs make chowder
  • Went on daring adventures with Pinocchio
  • Rode a bobsled down the Matterhorn
  • Explored Sleeping Beauty's castle
  • Ate wonderful Mediterranean food
  • Went on the happiest cruise that ever sailed
  • Took the grand circle tour, including stops at the Grand Canyon and a primeval world
  • Learned to draw Tigger
  • Took a steamboat down the rivers of America
  • Played midway games hosted by toys
  • Sampled dishes from a food and wine festival
  • Visited 999 happy haunts
  • Had a scary adventure with Snow White
  • Spun out in Toon Town
  • Watched Aladdin triumph in a musical
  • Soared over California
  • Took a wild ride with Mr. Toad
  • Shared bakery goods with birds in the morning
  • Cruised through mysterious jungles
  • Munched Louisiana cuisine on a terrace while a steamboat went by
  • Toured the moon of Endor and battled the Death Star
  • Found Nemo
  • Toured the house of tomorrow
  • Ate wonderful Mexican food
  • Rode to the top of Mickey's Fun Wheel
  • Heard birds sing words and flowers croon in the Tiki Room
  • Sailed with pirates in the Caribbean
  • Raced through Monstropolis on a rescue
  • Learned that it's tough to be a bug
  • Took a plethora of pictures
  • Got shrunk, then blown up
  • Had many adventures with Winnie the Pooh
  • Took a monorail to Tomorrow
  • Experienced advanced Muppet technology
  • Had a lovely meal in Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen (complete with live Jazz)
  • Rode a mine train through a southwestern mining mountain
  • Went to Wonderland
  • Experienced an exquisite four course meal with lovely paired wines
  • Visited the Blue Sky and saw the future
  • Stayed at a Pier in Paradise
  • Generally had a blast.
Now the only question is how to top it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Following up on entering Disney

I wrote in my previous post about the release I felt on first entering the Disney resort we stayed at last time. I wanted to follow up on that, because I've been reading Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show by John Hench. In a section where he talks about the importance of play (for both children and adults) and the necessary ritual to enter a spirit of play, I found the following:
Imagineers create a feeling of ritual at the park's entrance. Many guests have saved up for a long time and traveled great distances to come to their chosen park. The lushly planted berm identifies and separates the park from the outside world; the entranceway to the park is the gateway to playtime. The tunnel entrance to Disneyland is a door through a warm-gray stone wall, an archway that gives guests the feeling that they are entering a special place on the other side. It still amazes me that such simple features of landscape and architecture work so well to transport guests from their everyday lives to the specially sanctioned playtime that the park alone offers. As guests traverse the tunnel, they leave behind the everyday routine of working, maintaining shelter, obeying rules; they enter a space where they can play voluntarily, and where, we know they will have the opportunity to feel more alive.
Yes; this is very much akin to what I experienced. I entered a different world, and in it's own way, it was carefully demarcated from the ordinary world. I note also that the tunnel entrance to the park is captioned with a plaque that reads:
Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.
What marked the transition when I entered the hotel? I think it was clearly the moment I saw Goofy in the lobby. The whole presentation was a unified (and beautiful) whole, but Goofy is what alerted me, "You're at Disney now, and that means you can quit worrying and have fun."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Disney

I went on a trip to DisneyLand a few weeks ago with my other half. I spent a day or two before we left organizing and packing everything: reservations, confirmation numbers, itineraries, clothes and neccesities. What's needed and what's not? We drove from here to Pittsburgh (about two hours), parked in long-term, took a bus to the terminal, got through security, took two long plane trips with a several hour layover and arrived at LAX. Then we had to find ground transportation, which (eventually) got us to the hotel.

I booked a Disney resort hotel this time (Paradise Pier) because we got a great deal on it. (The whole trip was a great deal; there is a real upside to a bad economy if you can afford to take advantage of it.) We trudged into the lobby, which was bright and cheerful, with Goofy holding a surfboard in the midst of it, and a cheery gentleman at the front desk (at close to midnight).

And I just relaxed. All the stress I'd felt in getting everything set up and getting there was just... gone. Released. Everything was OK; I was in Disney's capable hands from this point onward. I was finally on vacation and (until I had to leave), I was free to be happy. And I smiled.

So there is something to be said for staying at a Disney resort.