This year, on what would have been my dad’s 96th birthday, I bought a brand-new Toyota Prius. Around the same time, I was also planning to take my daughter Evelyn to Disneyland. It’s not like Evie and I hadn’t ever been to Disneyland before, but going in this new car that was connected to my father was poignant. He had also purchased a new car in the 1960s when I was around Evie’s age and took my family to Disneyland in it. (See My Dad’s Quest for Disneyland).
Evie: My dad told me that story during the ride to Disneyland. It’s a 75-mile long ride and a 75-mile long story.
Lawrence: The point is, when we finally arrived at Disneyland, I was pretty fussy about where I was going to park this new car.
Evie: Is fussy’ the word? Maybe. He went back and forth about five times until he was finally satisfied with his parking job. If he had redone his parking job one more time, I think I would have gotten seasick.
Lawrence: But, as you can confirm, nobody dinged those new car doors. So, was it worth it? It was worth it. Anyway, I should mention that this particular Disneyland trip originated with the fact that Evie won a free ticket by getting 10 perfect check-ups at the dentist. I, on the other hand, bought my ticket at a kiosk. Once we both had tickets in hand, we were off. We walked up to the famous turnstiles I had gone through as a child and waltzed right in.
Evie: He had a nostalgic moment at the turnstiles, I might add.
Lawrence: We had decided we wanted to ride the Indiana Jones ride on this trip, so we headed straight for it. Unfortunately, it was closed because of technical difficulties.
Evie: At that point, we were heartbroken. The ride was broken down. We returned four times and no luck.
Lawrence: But then something amazing happened: We were eating in Frontierland and one of the nice park employees asked me if we were celebrating anything. I told her it had been my birthday three days before. She returned with a pin that announced “It’s my birthday!” and put it on my shirt. For the rest of the day, total strangers kept wishing me a happy birthday. She also gave us passes to the Indiana Jones ride. These passes allowed us to skip the lines and go right on the (now-working) ride.
Evie: I was so happy we got on the ride! I hardly even opened my eyes during it. It felt like if you didn’t hold on tight you would fall right out of the car. At one point I did take a quick peek, and it looked cool.
Lawrence: Evie sure held onto me because of the way that jeep was buckin’ around. That ride is
10 times more realistic than, say, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Before it got dark, we rode the Red Monorail train to the Downtown Disney Station and walked to the old Disneyland Hotel. We went inside the lobby, and while Evie watched a Donald Duck on color TV, I looked around and tried to remember standing in that same spot in the mid-1960s when my cousins Danny and Tommy were staying there. My dad had asked the desk clerks to call their room repeatedly, but my cousins’ family was somewhere in the park, and, since those were the days before cell phones, they were totally out of reach. We never did meet up with my favorite cousins that time; the memory of having them so close but out of reach haunts me to this day.
Evie: The ride on the Red Monorail reminded me of when we took my dad to Disneyland for his 50th birthday. We rode past the Grand California Adventure Hotel which is where we took him. That was one of our best trips to Disneyland yet.
Lawrence: One thing about Disneyland is that every time you go, the visit is a little bit different, and yet there are always moments when you’re transported back to earlier visits. For example, Evie wanted to get a drink of water, so we found the three-level brass drinking fountain. It tasted exactly as it had in the 1960s. Then later, on a side street, Evie pointed out something I hadn’t noticed since I was a kid: the sign to the old Disneyland Bicycle Shop. She found it still hanging off of one of the ofï¬ce buildings that line Main Street, USA. I remember guys in bowler hats riding high-wheelers down Main Street with waxed handlebar mustaches. There are just certain things it takes a kid to notice, and then for the parent to associate with a memory. That’s the magic of going to Disneyland together.