When I was in grade school, my parents strictly limited my TV viewing. This was not too big a deprivation since there was little to view on those old black and white sets. But after school when Mickey Mouse Club came on the air, I was glued to the screen. I dreamed of being a Mouseketeer and when Walt Disney unveiled his new Magic Kingdom on the MM show, I couldn't wait to go. Well, my family was not a traveling family and I was well into adulthood when we visited Disneyland for the first time. Since then the park in Anaheim has suffered being in the shadow of the much bigger and much newer Disneyworld in Florida. We'd read that much had changed and headed back to Anaheim today to do some research.
The original park was surrounded by ample parking lots and the complex as a whole was surrounded by the city of Anaheim and had nowhere to expand. So, the parking lots were turned into a unique theme park called California that is paired with the original Magic Kingdom. High rise parking is some distance away, but ubiquitous trams shuttle guests back and forth quickly and efficiently. Some of the attractions from the California park are also available at Disneyworld, but that doesn't mean that we didn't enjoy seeing them again. Soaring, a ride that makes you feel like you are hang gliding over the most picturesque parts of the state, was especially fun. Perhaps because we are so close to Hollywood, the production show of Aladdin was especially impressive. Aladdin and his magic carpet soared above our heads and his genie disappeared and reappeared on stage as if by magic. I guess that was supposed to be the deal. The eateries also featured California fare. The smells from the sour dough bakery lured us in for lunch. Nearby a factory turned out tortillas and a vineyard complete with tasting room was in the vicinity.
Many rides in the old park have been updated and changed. The original Pirates of the Caribbean ride, now has Johnny Depp in his pirate gear prominently displayed. And other rides like the bob sled down the Matterhorn were new to us and quite exciting. Sleeping Beauty's Magic Castle, the primary symbol of Disney parks, was amazingly small and surrounded by blue scaffolding. And the good old jungle cruise that took us deep into darkest Africa to view the animals was as corny and charming as ever. It was great to see that the disciples of Disney have managed to keep this park a fine attraction for over fifty years.