I've been frequently Knott's and SeaWorld lately as they have the best deals around and I simply cannot afford Disneyland, but now that this amazing Free Birthday deal came into play, I'm definitely making a trip. I've been waiting for it since I heard about it and a week from Saturday I'll be going to Disneyland for the first time since August 2006! Back then CM Matt and Greg Emmer were still a heavy influence in the park and I noticed a lot of change. PotC had just switched over to Jack Sparrow but I hadn't seen the "new" movies yet. The sub lagoon was being heavily worked on and Buzz Lightyear was brand new to me. And on a personal note, it was my first summer vacation since entering college that fall. It was more than enough reason to celebrate back then.
But now I'll be turning 30 in 2 weeks and my college days will be coming to an end in just over 1 year from now. I always thought 30 would feel so adult-like but honestly I still feel like I did when I was 14. But regardless of that, I am so honored to be spending my 30th birthday inside the park I've been going to since I was pushed in a stroller. Many people have come and gone throughout the years, but their memory still lives on in the MANY different corners of that park that I have experienced. There isn't a place on this planet I'd rather spend my milestone birthday than Disneyland.
Now that my trip is so close at hand, all the Disney politics and nonsense seem to fade away. I know that Jay Rasulo has homogenized the Disneyland experience into "Disney Park #01" and Captain Ed is nothing more than a figurehead (and a disinterested one at that), but it just doesn't matter to me that much when I think about the trip. I am just as excited about going as I was when I was 10, and there is practically NOTHING that I get excited about now as I did when I was that age. I can't wait to finally be inside the subs once again for the first time since 1994, especially after thinking for so long that I'd never see them again! And to see the Tomorrowland Terrace for the first time since 1998, and the first time back to its *original* style since 1994. I haven't seen the new monorails either, the last one I saw was the "submarine" one a couple years ago as I went down Harbor Blvd. I'm not too keen on seeing my beloved Tom Sawyer's Island as a pirate hold-out, not to mention it's a small world's plush doll display, but I'll give them a chance too.
My past tradition was to ride Pirates of the Carribbean first thing, period, as a token of respect to Walt since it was the last ride that he had fully supervised. But seeing as how it's no longer his ride anymore, I switched over to the Disneyland Railroad in 2006 since it was such a personal passion for him. It's a good way to get acclimated to the park too. Normally I just lag into a theme park an hour after it opens then ride whatever I feel like. At Disneyland though, I get there before the park opens, always acknowledge the light above the Firehouse, then make sure I ride something very closely attached to Walt Disney out of respect. I couldn't care less at other parks, but at Disneyland I always make sure to acknowledge its creator and all the men and women who made it possible.
At no point in my entire life have I ever gone more than 4 years without a trip to Disneyland. I've come close, but I am happy to say that 1994 to 1998 and 2002 to 2006 have been the longest gaps between visits for me. I am a college student in San Diego county so a $100 day of entertainment is just not feasible. I would like to thank whichever marketing genius came up with this birthday deal because it's the ONLY reason I'm going on April 25. I'll have absolutely no time to spare in school by then, being the end of the semester, but I simply do not care. I've sacrificed more things than I've ever sacrificed in my life over these past 4 years (in order to get a pristine GPA), but a free shot at Disneyland is NOT going to be one of them.
It's interesting too because I would've thought a Disneyland trip would distract me from my studies, but it's energized me in a way that I haven't felt since I began. For those that haven't had the torture of attending college, the energy level goes way down towards the end of the semester, just as the level of reports, presentations and exams goes up. It's a horrible experience that no one should have to endure (let alone 8 times), but trips like Disneyland bring back the energy and actually help you do better. The other thing is that years ago I thought becoming educated would dampen the excitement I felt about Disneyland. I foolishly and naively figured being "smarter" would set me "above" such things... but first of all, college does not make anyone smarter. It makes you a more dedicated and harder worker and more knowledgable with a stronger perception for things, but it does nothing for intelligence. And secondly, having an education has actually *improves* the excitement you feel about Disneyland because you have a much broader sense of things and an appreciation for smaller things. It makes you treasure experiences like Disneyland because it shows you just how valuable it is. I simply can't remember the last time I have become *this* excited about going to Disneyland.
I cannot even begin to explain how BUMMED out I am that Fantasmic! is not playing on April 25! I've been to some amazing shows in Vegas before, but Fantasmic! has all that stuff put to shame. I mean, what can compare to seeing a riverboat with all your favorite characters pass right by you or Mickey Mouse controlling pyrotechnics and water effects. It makes the price of Disneyland admission worth it just for Fantasmic! alone.
Anyway, I'd also like to thank Steve DeGaetano for his "Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad", it's given me such a new perspective of the trains and I will appreciate the ride so much more now than ever.