So, first-a few housekeeping items. I cannot figure out why comments seem to have been shut off. I’m working on it and will continue to do so. If you’d like to comment–and are feeling the angst to rebel against something stupid I’ve said, drop me a line by hitting the contact button up top there.
Also-Bernadette, a former student of mine, contacted me and I wrote back–but to no avail. B-dette, if you’re out there let me know you got my reply as to your career choices. Glad to offer whatever “guidance” I can.
OK. Done with that.
Back last night from Disneyland with just the three of us. Sue, Peanut and I left on Saturday afternoon and braved horrid traffic-it took us two and a half hours to get to our hotel which is directly across the street from the park. Once we arrived, we checked into the Sheraton Anaheim, one of our favorite haunts, and we brought in our light luggage. We were there only one night and wanted to make the most of it, so we freshened up, as they say and headed out to the lobby.
My first clue that things were not as I wanted was the increasing number of adolescents as I got closer to the lobby. Teenagers. Everywhere. And not just teenagers, but seemingly Middle School ones and mostly girls. They walked in flocks, like ignorant and bemused birds, preening themselves and each other, cackling about nothing at all.
Dante wrote that there were nine levels of hell. I believe he was edited. There are actually 10–and the 10th involves cheerleaders. I know whereof I speak, I teach high school. Oh, get over yourself–I know it’s really not all that bad. But seriously, I teach all week long and the whole point of weekend getaways is to…well…get away. And my hotel was mobbed with cheerleaders. Middle and High school ones. It was depressing.
I’ll say this, though–they were quiet after about 9:30 PM. I was sporting a cold, a kind of relapse of the one I’d had a couple of weeks previously, and I went to sleep early. No noise. Grand.
But Downtown Disney was mobbed, too. Again-cheerleaders. And their families. Little wanna be cheerleaders at 5 or 6 years old and brothers of cheerleaders with annoying shirts that sported the names of their sisters’ schools and said things like, “cheer support, ’11.” It was ugly.
And parts of Downtown didn’t appeal, either. Peanut wanted dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, one of the worst places in the world to go if you want good food. But, as Anthony Bourdain says, atmosphere counts for a lot, and the Cafe has it in spades. The wait for Rainforest was 2 and a half hours. But, I was assured, if I only would join their Rainforest Cafe club, they could seat me in just over an hour. I couldn’t believe it-I was being shaken down by a barely post-adolescent standing behind a large plastic elephant head. “No thanks, pal. I’ll take my chances.”
Peanut suggested ESPN-zone and so in we went, played a few games and sat to a positively atrocious and over-priced dinner. I had a “chicken wrap” which consisted of deep fried-and pre-packaged-chicken tenders that were as dry as the Sahara in summertime. There were vegetables of various hues, but with less flavor and moisture than the chicken and a frisbee-textured tortilla. Ugh.
The kid ate chicken tenders smothered in ranch. Ranch fixes most things, happily, and combined with fries–she was content. Sue at a steak salad which she said was “passable.” By this time, we were all pretty peckish-so it could have been cardboard and we’d have eaten it. In fact, it was cardboard and we did eat it.
All that for nearly 7o bucks. Ugh. Again. Well, we did have the ever delightful spinach-artichoke dip as an appetizer.
Back to the hotel, the girls went in the spa while I stared at the idiot box and took meds and lay down.
Disneyland was grand. It always is. We love the place. But it was packed for a Sunday. By noon, lines were exceeding long and we were having trouble getting on what we wanted. Many things were shut down including Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, Winnie the Pooh (I do so love that ride) and a few others including the Pirates Lair, what used to be Tom Sawyer’s Island.
California Adventure, by the afternoon, was even more crowded. The line for Soarin’ Over California, a truly great ride, was over an hour long. The line for Toy Story Mania was an hour and a half long and walking through the park’s Byzantine labyrinth of construction walls (they’re renovating the park and adding better attractions), was like navigating the 405 at rush hour.
The highlight of the day? I’ll bet you’re thinking I’ll say it was watching my daughter’s face light up on some attraction or on the sight of her favorite character. And there were those moments and they are precious. But that wasn’t the highlight.
Hands down, best event of the day was the corn dogs on Main Street. If you haven’t been to the little red truck that sells corn dogs, hand dipped into luscious and crispy batter, you’re missing out. Awesome. And for Disneyland, reasonably priced (note: Nothing is reasonably priced in Disneyland and if you got a corndog for 6 bucks outside the park, you’d claim usury laws were broken. But inside Disneyland, it feels like if you were raped, they gave you a kiss first and gently fondled you while they did it).
The hard part of the day was that our passports, which we have owned and renewed now for the past 7 years, expired today and we are not renewing. There are a number of reasons for this, of course, and some of it is indeed financial. But realy, it’s that we’ve run our course. As much as we love the place, Peanut has begun to take it for granted and the fact is, we’re rather uninspired these days. The crowds, the cost, the strange overweight people in t-shirts two sizes too small, making them look like tightly fitted hippopotamuses, all of it has gotten past the point where we’re willing to shell out dollars.
Oh, we’ll be back. We’re Disney nuts–and we love it there. But, for now, it’s time to leave the park to the younger and fatter crowds and give them room.
They need it.