Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why We Travel to California for Disney

Over the years we've been asked why we travel to California for Disney when there is one a lot closer to home. Here are a few snippets into my logic.

Everything is walking distance. Everything. We can go to Disneyland and not hop in a car, bus, tram, or monorail for days. Our hotel was a 12 minute walk from Main Gate, which felt a lot farther than when we stayed in the hotel that was only an eight minute walk. Across from Disneyland is a Panera (yay!) and a Mimi's Cafe, on busy days it took less time to walk the seven minutes to those places for lunch than to stand in line at a restaurant in Disneyland or California Adventure.

Reactions like this one from the Mad Hatter are genuine and common, or rather they were common when we went a couple of times a year and Ashley played with the characters (especially during the magic of the 50th anniversary). Mr. Hatter took one look at Don and I and realized (though we think it has been six years since we saw HIM) that this was the little girl who played games during her visits. He asked her very specific questions that further proved he knew exactly who we were. On trips when she was little characters would introduce her and say "this is Ashley, she is here for the week and we are going to play and have fun," and we did. Rules have changed over the years, and many characters have "graduated," but these encounters make the flight totally worthwhile. These visits often led to strolls in Disneyland as they went in for a break. The strolls were so common the first time watched a video of characters walking by themselves I was shocked. I thought they always walked and talked with little kids.

This leads to friendships. We have made friends over the years at Disneyland, including Masumi and Hiroko from Japan. 

Brianna -- an artist we used to watch sketch when she was in college. Now she is a professional artist, and mentor to Ashley.

Kimberly and John -- we met Kimberly when she worked in the parks as a "Dreamer" (during the Year of a Million Dreams) and had Ashley sign her autograph book as the character she was dressing as that day. She did this with other kids, but Ashley was the only one who has a two-page spread and multiple autographs.

Disneyland's fireworks as seen
from California Adventure
Really, really love just how close the two theme parks are. I mentioned at the top we don't go in a car, bus, tram, etc. during our stay. In order to bounce between Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure (DCA) we cross the esplanade and enter through the turnstiles. We don't even have to go through security again. Admittedly sometimes the lines are long, or you have a hold up, so the experience can take a few minutes. Nothing like WDW, though. ;)

Local icons, such as the Clapping Man of Disneyland, exist. Maynard (a cast member) would be another one. According to his granddaughter, Peter Tu has been visiting Disneyland nearly every day for the past 16 years. He doesn't seem to speak much English (I asked him his favorite ride, and he replied with a musical instrument, conversation didn't continue after that). His smile is infections. He has a not-so secret handshake he does with everyone he meets. He is often seen smiling and clapping as he wanders through Disneyland. It seems he pops in first thing in the morning for a couple of hours, then goes home. He must live pretty close. We met him in Toontown. The people near us were in awe of finally meeting Peter Tu, as we had never heard of him before, I still got swept up in their excitement. We posed for a picture with him, and shared it on his Facebook page (Clapping Man at Disneyland).

Cast members who stay for decades, such as Chef Oscar who has been at Disneyland 59 years (the park has been open 61 years as of next week).

I thought of another reason tonight -- OVERLAYS! The two biggest overlays are Haunted Mansion (Jack and Sally take over for Halloween and Christmas) and It's A Small World (Jingle cruise at Christmastime). On our most recent trip Space Mountain had a Star Wars theme going. While we really liked it, we still preferred the Rockin' Space Mountain in 2007 as part of the Year of a Million Dreams. We missed the Halloween overlay. A google search shows overlays happen in WDW (notably with the Rock and Roller Coaster), but I've only encountered them in California.

A friend pointed out another reason that should have been obvious -- it is the only one where Walt walked. Walt was influential in everything up to the Haunted Mansion. There is a fountain next to the Haunted Mansion some have called Transitions Place. Someone pointed out it is obvious Walt wasn't involved with the creation of Haunted Mansion because the story telling is not cohesive. It starts with the Doom Buggy and macabre scenes, even the ballroom scene is spooky. Then it quickly switches to Grim Grimming Ghosts singing barbershop quartet and people picnicking on graves -- very silly (and my favorite part). Walt did not have a chance to visit the other theme parks after they were built.

I know many of my friends are die hard WDW fans, and my post won't sway them to fly cross country. Other friends are even anti-Disney (I love you anyway). For those who have been curious, though, this gives a little bit of insight into why I love the original Disney-theme park so much.

For some additional reading check out this blog.

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