Disney’s magic flash

To my left was a sea of parents with their children in tow. To my right, I watched a beefy father with an Affliction shirt lazily holding his daughter’s fingertips while he stared intently into his iPhone. Directly in front of me, a little boy perched on his mother’s chest screamed steadily into my ear canal—his tears and boogers pooled into a little reservoir upon his chin. I looked into his contorted red face and thought, “What are all these goddamn kids doing here?”

Of course, we were at Disneyland, so that was an idiotic question. But in my defense: many of my Facebook friends have been posting Disney photos in the past year, and I thought there would be more child-free couples at the Happiest Place on Earth. But on the Thursday before Labor Day at the Anaheim theme park, it was pretty much just parents and their kids, all in different stages of joy.

I remember when I was a kid at Disneyland: Twenty-eight years ago with my older sister, mom and step-dad. I was brimming with that feeling of being so excited that I almost couldn’t handle myself, wanting to do everything at once, which was almost enough to make my brain explode into little chunks all over Main Street. I remember my sister, who kept poking her disgusting finger into my ribs—and me, wanting to punch her in the mouth. But I didn’t, which I attribute now to the magical power of Disney.

Of course, the place still holds a strange sway over me, which I felt right as my wife and I started walking quickly past all those old-lady boutiques, trying to get to the good rides. As we power-walked up to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, I couldn’t stop thinking about the list I saw online the night before (it turns out the Internet is full of fun Disney facts), with gems like: The Jungle Cruise (which is still like being stuck on an overcrowded party boat with the most annoying host on the planet) was once skippered by Richard Nixon’s press secretary Ron Ziegler.

Or, how about this one? On Splash Mountain, many women take their tops off right on the drop as the cameras take souvenir pictures. Disneyland employees usually destroy the pictures, but several of the topless photos have successfully made it through the gates and are now posted on a site called “Flash Mountain.”

And, yes, if you were wondering: sprawled out on our hotel bed, naked with my laptop open to Disneyland’s home page made me feel like a certified pedophile.

Anyway, during our trip, I enjoyed every ride, even It’s a Small World with its unique ability to be an all-inclusive, yet somehow an incredibly racially offensive, display of multiculturalism.

After a week in Los Angeles, I have nothing bad to say about Disneyland—from the sweet old men sweeping up candy wrappers in New Orleans Square to the smoking hot Japanese exchange students watching Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams. It can’t be argued: the place is bursting at the seams with magical vibes.