Midwinter break

Literally everyone standing in line is on their phone. It said the wait time was 85 minutes but when we got halfway through they said it would be longer, that’s all they said. And when Charlotte checked the wait time on her phone it said 135 minutes. All this for a ride, though they say it’s the best.

When we got to the car rental they were almost closed and yet people kept pouring in off the courtesy vans and queuing in the lobby with their shit everywhere. Some tired-looking Arab with a white beard and skull cap got behind me and rolled his eyes at Charlotte who was voguing at her phone, pursing her lips. “The next generation,” he said. And then, “I have eight. Eight,” he repeated. “I pay for many phones.”

All they had left were pickup trucks so I said fine. When they pulled up with the truck the Arab shrugged and said, You get a truck? And I just hoisted the bags in the back and got in but Dawn said it smells like weed and marched into the dispatch and barked it smells like weed so they got another one. And the Arab said, No truck? And I said you get the one that smells like weed.

No masks, not once, all day at the park. It is like it never happened. Snot-nosed kids, Disney adults our kids call DAs, wearing dumb shit like mouse ears and dragon tails and Star Wars shirts from the 1980s. Bubbles everywhere, strollers. A display of men in Army green paint like plastic toy soldiers from the Pixar film Toy Story. Photo opps beside the characters from the film: R2-D2, Lightning McQueen (the red car from the film Cars, voice by Owen Wilson). This is America, sans masks. There is no pandemic, there is no end to anything, not even the world. Especially that. We will go for frozen yogurt and dump gummy worms on it and load it on the scale. There is no end, only the now, and it is perfect but never enough.

We have been at the park since 0700 we realize at 15:30. We have a reservation for Space Mountain at 21:55 and it makes me tired just thinking about that. It is not just the alcohol that fucked me last time, it is the vibe of this park, the stimulation. The sonic inputs are the worst. I’m moved to hate, to hurt someone. All these dramatic, false moments amplified on screen. All these falsehoods everywhere you look, these fake cartoon animals and their squeaky voices. The problem with America is right here and it’s really expensive but still everyone is trying to get in.

But I look down at my kids and they are transformed. To the kids they always were and always could be, to my fantasy of being reborn. I am here for the love of my kids. I am taken back to being a kid myself, to all the amusement parks my parents brought me to. I am tripping out on the layering of memories, the flashing of lights and the distant screams of children falling through skies. I am falling back myself, falling out. Dying, reborn, transcended. I am reliving the best times of my life through the eyes of my kids when life tasted so sweet, the fruit was still good. I am hobbling my way through my 50s after 14 fucking hours at this park and I am just warming up. The wait times are dropping and we are shooting through lines: in and out of plastic seats, onto the next one, sucking them down. I just ate two beignets I ordered on my phone and I could eat a third.

At the end of it we go to the museum to watch a short film on Frederick Douglass. Can you imagine? After all this we are sitting in a museum at the park commemorating Abraham Lincoln and his friend F. Douglass. People next to me are dozing off. Who does this?

And then we are following signs for the tram back to the parking lots. Hurrying to make the next one. Charlotte leaning her head on my shoulder, the cool night air. Falling asleep in the back of the truck saying mom and dad, thank you for Disneyland. A look of sheer contentment, or the look of a drug addict.

We are always hurrying it seems, falling through space. Falling in and out of our bodies right before we awake. Today we will look back with wonder at all we did. And check in for our flight tomorrow, it’s time to pre-order food. It is always this way, the very best. And it is never enough, to be the best.

Categories: travel, writing

Tags: , ,

26 replies

  1. Oy, that was exhausting just to read about. Can’t imagine being there. Actually I can, and just did. Six Flags being so close to us helps. That used to be a gas when I was a kid, but last time I went I forgot I wasn’t a kid anymore and almost blacked out on the Titan, definitely saw stars. Sheesh. But glad the young’ns had fun. Does sound a lot less Magical Kingdomy than it did when I went around 1980 or so. I’m thinking they probably took down the It’s A Small World ride and replaced it with It’s A Fast & Furious World, or some such.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah it’s not a small world after all, that’s boring. I went to Great Adventure as a kid, in New Jersey. Owned by Six Flags. There was an open safari you could drive through back then they let you drive around apes and wild animals and so on. No vinyl coverings allowed on vehicles because the baboons would get up there and scrape that shit off. Remarkable, growing up in the 1970s. It was a small world, after all.


  2. Wow a real rollercoaster of a piece, big dose of stimulation-simulation. Excellent job, Bill, achieved real intensity. I’d have slid down Space Mt and fallen into a vat of frozen yogurt and gummie worms for a little nap, you must’ve been totally wrung-out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Robert! Yes had fun at the park and recounting it too. So many odd mashups of impression there personally and culturally. A bit of the “fair on steroids,” and then some isn’t it? Now we are back out to consume more. “Shopping!” So Cal style!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well played, sir. You capture the roller coaster feel of the day, with its ups and downs, quick-slow changes and sharp turns.
    That Frederick Douglass doco was in restful black and white, yeah?
    Doing it for revivification.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Those queues are testing. But overall a successful day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My most vivid memory of Disneyworld (Land was too far away from us) is of those trams that carried us out to the parking lot at the end of the day. The comparative quiet, the darkness, and the light on the end of a pole, like a ship’s lantern, that each tram carried. I could see them moving across the vastness of the parking lot.
    It feels ungrateful that the first thing I recall isn’t the rides or the food or how much fun I had, now that you’ve caused me to reflect on what the theme park was like from an adult perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “We are always hurrying it seems, falling through space.” This. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There was never a desire in my house to go to Disney. We said ‘Disney or Arches National Park?’ and Arches always won.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Thank you for joining us on the Living Nightmare Tour…”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I must say, the selfie you sent me over the weekend… I can see this story on your face.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can’t imagine having to take out a bank loan to go to an amusement park (I’ve heard the tickets have become quite pricey) and then having to wait for two hours plus in line for one ride – no matter how good. Strangely enough, doing nothing can be exhausting.

    My one and only trip to Disneyland was in the early 80s. I think I liked the haunted mansion the best – is it still there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Haunted Mansion is still there Dave, and Vincent Price’s voice was priceless there in the lobby when we entered that ride. Was probably my favorite too actually. Relaxing and enjoyable compared to a lot of the rest! And the price is over the top. We are paying for some kind of odd, perfect America vibe and pristine childhood fantasy. Bizarre on multiple levels.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. My daughters and I are going to Disneyland for the first time this summer. I don’t think I’m a DA (don’t own ears) but no one does. We’ve been to the FL one many times, always hoping to recapture the first plunge down a ride a million years ago when our eldest was little and everything else was forgotten. Sweet bliss, a drug you can never get enough of. As always, stellar writing. I could feel it all as if there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Kristen, thanks! Great to hear from you. Glad you could relate to that “recapture the first plunge” vibe, that’s it for sure. I went to the FLA one myself twice growing up, being an east coaster too. I think the CA one is smaller as I’m sure you’re aware, prefer the rides in Disneyland vs the California Adventurepark though fun to check that one out too, “park hopper” style. Have a ball! Hope you’re well.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: