Sunday, January 27, 2008

California Dreamin'

I'm visiting family here in Southern California. Behind my parents' house is a huge hill with a trail that leads up to the top. This time of year the hills are green from all the rain, and the white rock formations makes you think of Ireland (or, in my case, pictures of Ireland). We've climbed up the hill nearly every day we've been here. The boys do fine on the climb as long as they can take turns leading and stop now and then to eat pretzel snacks. When one of the boys decides he should be the leader and the other doesn't cooperate, things get a little ugly, causing various if/then threats to ensue, as in If you don't slow down and let your brother take the lead, you can stay home and watch the Disney channel while the rest of us go to Disneyland...

Which brings us to Disneyland.

The last time I went to Disneyland, we purchased a book of tickets that ranged from A to E. The A tickets were the kiddie rides like the teacups or the putt-putt trains, while the E tickets let you ride the Matterhorn and Pirates of the Carribean. I remember burning B or C tickets on the Small World ride and not being able to get that song out of my head the rest of the week. Now, the entry fee lets you go on any ride you want.

We went on a Friday after the local news aired ominous reports of foul weather. A forecast of rain in Southern California stirs up the locals in the same way that a blizzard forecast riles Midwesterners. We bought a couple of umbrellas for the forthcoming tsunami and decided to roll the dice. The potentially hazardous rainfall kept the locals away from the amusements parks, which meant short lines. It only drizzled briefly a couple of times. Sweet!

Before I went to Disneyland, I thought all of my enjoyment would come from watching the boys have fun. Not true. Disneyland is, um, magical. It's fantastic. Even though the park is more than 50 years old, there is no sign of wear and tear. Everything is clean, well-maintained, and organized. When you're standing in line for one of the bigger rides, the line itself is part of the experience. For example, before the Star Tours ride, the boys were mesmerized by Artoo and C3PO replicas doing repairs on other droids. Before the Indiana Jones ride, we weaved through a long adventure maze. On the down side, some rides exit to a souvenir shop, which forces parents to convince their kids that they don't need any more Buzz Lightyear toys.

Max's favorite ride was Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters because he got to shoot a gun at targets, and he was able to maim the dreaded Zorg. He also liked the Dumbo ride because he could use a lever to make our elephant go up and down. His least favorite ride was the little roller coaster, which forced him to close his eyes and hold on to me the whole time.

Luke's favorite ride was Autopia because he got to drive the car along the track and because he finished in first place ahead of the other cars on our same track. Granted, it would have been impossible to pass us, but a win is a win. Luke's least favorite ride -- by far -- was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. It was his first ride of the day and it shook him up so bad that we wanted to go home. Fortunately, he hung in there, realized that Disneyland isn't the horror show he imagined, and built up his courage enough to brave the Pirates of the Carribean and Star Tours. Well done, young man!

Wendy's favorite ride was Indiana Jones Adventure. Her only bad experience occurred when she was supposed to watch Luke and Max while I went to the bathroom, and Luke ended up running after me without his mother knowing. I was surprised when he grabbed my hand while I was well on my way and thought, "Hmm, change of plans." After a minute or so of reflection, I thought, "Hmm, unknown change of plans" and headed back to the rendezvous area, despite my bursting bowels. And it was a good thing, because Wendy was a twirling ball of stress monkeytude.

My favorite ride -- by far -- was Space Mountain. It made me feel like a kid again. My least favorite ride was Star Tours. It made me nauseaus.

Disneyland is wonderful. Tomorrow, Legoland, and then back to Seattle.