Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Break from Reality


This past week was special!

         My wife and I had the joy of going to Disneyland with our grandkids where we spent three fun-filled days. It has been twenty-two years since we had last been to this magical place. At that time our daughters were nine and twelve.

         This trip to Southern California actually began a few years ago as a result of our then two-year-old granddaughter, Alyssa Grace, seeing a TV ad for Disney’s, “The Magic Kingdom,” declaring, “I wanna go there!” Her parents together with Isaura and me, promised to take her when she turned five. Patiently she has waited for her fifth birthday, which was just after Thanksgiving last month. True to our promise, we have been preparing this trip for months.

         Isaura and I drove down to Anaheim last Sunday after church, enjoying the uninterrupted time being together. Our two daughters and their families each drove down arriving at the Holiday Inn at Disneyland in the evening. The accommodations were quite nice, with comfortable beds and virtually sound-proof rooms.

         During the planning of this trip I was not convinced that we needed three days at Disneyland. I had been there a number of times in the mid-to-late 60s after my parents and I moved to Los Angeles from Massachusetts. That’s when you could buy a book of tickets for $17.00, if my memory serves me correctly. You remember those tickets, right? They were broken down into specific letter denominations depending on the ride or event, ranked from A to E. An E ticket was the best because you could use that on the Matterhorn bobsled ride. Yet with the addition of the California Adventure park, I was able to see the wisdom in staying for three days.

         Today it’s all different. You buy your ticket into the park and you can go to whatever attraction you desire. The lines are still long, but they seem to move folks through quicker these days. Visiting Disneyland in December is a good idea because the crowds are nothing like the summer months, and the decorations, parades and musical programs are focused on Christmas. The downside is the weather which at this time of year is always a gamble.

         Isaura and I could not get over the precision with which the whole Disneyland experience is handled. The park is amazingly clean, for starters. After each parade or street performance there is a small army of workers to pick up litter. I spoke with a number of employees during my three days and every time I asked a question, from, “Where’s the nearest bathroom?” to “What, where, and when is the Wonder of Color?” I was always greeted with a smile and an offer to be of help. Then add to that the very real statistic that there are on average 40,000 people who visit there in the course of one day! Disneyland employs 8,000 people which means there is a lot of training going on all the time. Whoever is in charge of this is doing a bang-up job!

         Because we had our eleven-month-old grandson Colson with us, I found myself tasked with finding a place to warm up his bottle of milk. I approached the first employee I saw and asked them where I might complete my assigned task. They told me to go to the Baby Care Center, even walking me to the location, insuring that I arrived at the correct spot. I entered amid a half-dozen moms with babies waiting to change diapers or tend to their little ones in some fashion. Several matronly attendants were there to assist, notifying the next mom of an open room for her and her baby. Holding the bottle I explained my need to warm the milk. I was directed into a small kitchen and advised to use the micro-wave, even instructing me as to how long I might want to set the timer. Thirty seconds later I was walking out with warm milk for my little buddy, Colson. As I passed one of the ladies working there, I asked, “How many babies do you get in here in a day?” Her answer, “On average, 1600.” I did some quick math. The park opens at 9:00 AM and closes at 9:00 PM except on weekends when it is open until 10:00 PM. Figuring a twelve-hour day, that would be roughly 130 babies an hour, or just over two babies coming in each minute. I smiled at her in admiration and then baby bottle in hand, made my way back to my family.

         I rode lots of the rides with Alyssa and Brookie, and of course, DeziRay, who at thirteen is ready to climb into most any of the more nerve-rattling rides with whichever one of the adults is willing to venture forth. The Matterhorn is a perennial favorite, but I do enjoy the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, too. There’re some serious G-forces at play as the train makes numerous sharp turns and banking movements. What a kick! It’s just long enough of a ride that my regurgitation factor does not have time to spring a surprise on me.

         Our last evening we positioned ourselves so we could both see and hear the Candlelight Procession and Ceremony which is an annual event retelling the story of “The First Christmas” through song and Scripture. It is performed twice each evening, both times after dark which enhances the effect. A choir of 3500 voices sings while walking down Main Street to the Town Square where they join with the orchestra. The narrator and Scripture reader this night was actor Kurt Russell. The sound of the musicians and the voices of the choir were magnificent. The whole of the Town Square was packed, and yet you could hear a pin drop during the hour-long program. Isaura said it would be worth coming each year just to experience again the beauty of this musical presentation of the birth of Jesus.

         Yes, we were all ready to come home after three days, but what a time we had! Before heading north to the Central Valley and home, we had a birthday lunch for Isaura at the Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney. Great place!

         Maybe we’ll do it again next year! It sure was nice to have a break from reality.

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