Monday, July 18, 2016

61st Anniversary

Of Disneyland! I just ran across some photos of that 1955 event and was reminded of just what a momentous occasion that was; if you lived in Southern California. And we did. We had been listening to stories of its construction and of how great it was going to be. We had no idea that it would exceed our imagined reality. I was fourteen at the time and cynical as most teenagers; I didn't believe the hype. My wife was 11 and she was able to go to the park that year. She said it was an incredible feeling to see such a grand, fantastic, beautiful place. Bigger than life! I went in 1957 and my cynicism evaporated when I saw the Matterhorn. I went again in 1958 and then in 1962; Date Night at Disneyland with my girlfriend. I proposed that evening; not at the park but at the beach, closer to home. We went again in 1966 when the park used to be closed to the general public and groups could rent the park for a day. I went with my sheetrock hanging partner and his wife. His father, an L.A. County fireman supplied us with the tickets and we joined hundreds of firemen and their families enjoying a park where the rides were free and there were no lines. If you enjoyed a ride you would get off and get right back on it! Our first born was only 2 and left in the charge of a baby sitter that day. It wasn't till 1973 before we had a chance to return and that was very special as we took the whole family of 5. We stayed overnight at the new Disneyland Hotel just because it was a stop on the Disneyland Monorail. The train would roll right into the hotel at the second level of the lobby and we could go back to the room whenever our youngest needed a nap or? Our oldest was 9, the middle child was 6 and the youngest was 3.

We didn't see the park again until 1992. We had been away for 19 years?! Yet the park had only improved and not fallen into disrepair like so many 'amusement parks'.

With grandchildren we invented our own new family tradition where the grandparents would take the grandchild and parents to Disneyland when that grandchild reached the age of 8. We came up with that age through experience and some facts of the park. You had to be of a certain height to get on some of the rides. We didn't want them to be disappointed at the age of 6, so we came up with the age of 8 as the age where they were going to be tall enough and also more likely to remember their trip for some time.

It was 1992 and our first trip in the tradition and it  was with our 8 year old granddaughter. It was immediately memorable as she made her first ever airplane ride! Then we stayed at a nice hotel near the park and it had a shuttle back and forth to the park. We discovered that the monorail had been rerouted and would never go through the hotel lobby again. Sad. But, it was a great trip and I had a chance to impress my granddaughter even more by renting a Cadillac sedan for us. I didn't tell her that it only cost a few dollars more per day. We also spent a day at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Overall, a wonderful trip for all to remember. It  was also memorable as we were also celebrating her mothers (our daughter) graduation from the University of California, Chico campus with a bachelors degree in education. The first in our family with a degree and we were very proud of her. (this granddaughter also graduated from the same University with a pre-law degree)

Our second granddaughter turned 8 in 2002  and we gave her her first airplane ride as well. This time we stayed at the new Grand Californian  hotel as the 'back door' of the hotel was an entrance to the new California Adventure Park. It made for a quick exit to return to your room for whatever? you might need. Then a short walk with no waiting and you were back in the park. This was the time that my granddaughter asked me if I would go on the big rollercoaster with her? How did I say no? I hated rollercoasters! But this was my granddaughter...I had to say yes. I couldn't let her know I was scared to death. It turned out that I was afraid for no  reason at all. We immediately ran and got in line again! (I think I rode the coaster 8 times on that trip) The hotel was magnificent, especially the lobby, and the cost was not much more than a lot of the close by hotels. Our granddaughter was thrilled by the whole adventure; as were we. And we had 4 more grandchildren to go! (this granddaughter is currently a Junior at the University)

The next time we went, in 2007, we took a grandson and granddaughter as their birthdays were just 2 years apart. We had to wait till Kyle was tall enough to go on all the rides and that made Karlee 9 years old when we gave them their first airplane ride. Kyle caught the eye of the pilot as we were getting on and he was invited to come and sit with the pilots for a while. He was thrilled! Pictures were taken and then we took off. With Kyle back with in his seat of course. Once more we stayed at the Grand Californian and it was just as splendid as it was the first time. Plus we could quickly change our wet clothes with just a short walk. The water feature that has circular rafts? and lots of splashing was very close to the exit/entrance. Since we didn't mind getting wet now, we used that convenience more than once! Disneyland continued to thrill us even though I was now in my 60's. I was still in pretty good health at the time. Yes, Karlee and I rode the coaster. Kyle was not so ambitious. A wonderful trip and never to be forgotten! Now there were just two grandchildren left and they were twins; definitely 8 years old at the same time. In fact they were 9 in 2012. (Karlee is starting at Butte College, a local JC, in the fall)

Being 8 at the same time was a bonus but we had a new problem; Abigayle was the smaller of the two and by quite a bit. Would she be tall enough? Giving grandchildren their first air plane ride was becoming a habit as was staying at the Grand Californian. This time I was already in the lobby and was watching when the twins came through the front door. Their eyes opened so wide! They live in Susanville and go to Reno once in awhile. They had never seen anything like this! And the rest of the trip was much of the same. They loved it all and Abigayle was just tall enough for the rides; just tall enough! We did all of the rides including the rollercoasters. All of them. There were more experiences than I can write about. and it was sad for us, the grandparents, as this was more than likely our last trip to Disneyland and it all started in 1955 when pre-teen Laurae went to the park in its first year.

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