Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back on the block: vacation is over

Sorry for the week of silence, but the Free Will Family took a quick trip down south to visit my ancestral home (Anaheim) and pay a visit to Disneyland and other points of interest in the LA area. As usual, lessons were learned, memories were sweetened, and family bonding may have occurred:

1. No matter how good a deal you think you got for your Disney vacation, there's someone who did better. One woman began her story with the dreaded, "if you book through AAA..."

2. Everything seems bigger when you're a kid...except Disneyland, which is much much bigger than I remember. The crowds seemed bigger too. On the other hand, the lines were about the same.

3. I don't know when this happened, but they got rid of the old ticket system with the famed E-tickets and now just sell an all-day pass. I tried to explain the old system to the Free Will wife, but stopped after her eyes began to glaze over. Maybe the old way was more complicated than I remember.

4. True story: there's one ride where you and 20 others paddle around Adventureland in a canoe. The castmember captaining our adventure complained vocally about how our boat was not paddling all that well. Uh, cap'n, have you noticed that half the paddlers on the starboard side are under 4 years old?

5. There's a whole 'nother theme park called California Adventure next door (note to parents, don't bother resisting. If you are going to one park, you are going to the other). It's got some very well-conceived theme areas, including a huge beach boardwalk that you could spend the whole day exploring just on its own. The only disappointment was the heavily promoted Cars Land, which has just three rides, but a million opportunities to buy Cars merch.

6. Also, you can buy alcohol in California Adventure, if you look. Didn't see any in Disneyland proper.

7. Despite the crowds, the heat, and the sheer size of the park, it's incredible how cleanly and efficiently everything in Disneyland operates. You never see anything that shatters the illusion that you are in a space that must receive semi-tractors worth of food and supplies every hour. The tiniest speck of trash has a half-life of a nanosecond, but you never seem to see anyone carting around a sweeper.

8. I didn't see anyone get into a fight, vomit, or act like an a**. Gotta be the Disney magic, right?

9. At 10:30 PM, after we left California adventure, and headed into disneyland for the second round of the day, I turned to the Free Will Wife and said, "my parents would have NEVER done this." (I.e. kept a three year old at an amusement park past sundown). I hope the Free Will Daughter appreciated it.

10. It's hard not to be affected by Main Street USA, Disney's idealized small town main drag. Usually, that's what people mean when they talk about the good old days.

11. If I had to do it again, and I'm sure I will, I would get a two-day park hopper which lets you pace yourself better, and not feel like you're losing time standing in the line for splash mountain

12. It's a funny moment when you realize your cute little girl would much rather ride the sort of thrill rides that you avoided as a kid. This kid is going to be trouble.

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