Thursday, February 6, 2014
SATURDAY IN THE PARK WITH MARV
Bob Ingersoll, my best friend and a mutant with travel skills far beyond those of mortal man, were in Disneyland and Los Angeles from January 9th through the 18th. I’ve taken three days to cover the first two-and-a-half days of this trip. As Godzilla is my witness, I’ll conclude the Disneyland portion of this adventure today. This still leaves seven more days of this wondrous trip to cover, but I will cross that bloggy bridge when I come to it.
Seeing Jenny - You did read yesterday’s blog, right? - revitalized my energy. I made a stop at our Adventure Tower hotel room, then headed back to Disneyland.
I jumped on the Disneyland Railroad because I knew it would get me wherever I needed to go. This is a relaxing way to get a grasp of the vastness that is Disneyland. I got off at Mickey’s Toontown - which, as I later realized to my disappointment, I never actually spent any time in - and caught up with Bob in Fantasyland. We ate lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace and then went back to Fantasyland so I could go on the “It’s a Small World” ride. Yes, I wanted to go on the “It’s a Small World” ride.
I have made mockery of the “It’s a Small World” ride on occasion. I have rolled my eyes at its tedium. I have expressed my desire to write a Punisher story where he and his enemies blow each robotic, singing figure into small pieces. I’ve opined that any Disneyland employee condemned to work on this ride is likely to explode into insane rage at any given moment. I am a churl.
The “It’s a Small World” ride promotes global friendship and even understanding. It’s a sweet attraction that does not deserve the cruel jibes I have made at its expense. But that wasn’t the reason I wanted to go on it that day.
Every Christmas season, Disneyland gives the ride a makeover. It turns it into an international Christmas celebration with several songs in many languages. I had never seen the ride decked out in its holiday finery before, so, sheepishly, I made poor Bob ride it a second time because nothing’s sadder than an old man riding that ride alone. It was worth the groveling.
I enjoyed this Christmas version of the “It’s a Small World” ride. lot. In fact, I think Disneyland should also give it a makeover for cool holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
Bob and I met up with comics legend Marv Wolfman a little later and ended up on the Disneyland Railroad, which was great for catching up on what’s been going on in all of our lives. It’s probably been well over a decade since I’ve spent so much time with Marv, a dear friend of over four decades, and it’s something I want to do more often. We talked about all sorts of comic-book and work stuff, but that’s between Marv and me. This ain’t no tell-all.
The three of us went on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride and helped saved the galaxy. Bob had the highest score because he’s a wild man. I beat Marv by about 20,000 points.
At Marv’s suggestion, we headed back to California Adventure where the Hollywood Land Hyperion Theater was showing Disney’s Aladdin, a live musical spectacular that condensed the movie to an hour or so. This was the highlight of the weekend.
The Hyperion is this grand old theater, tall enough for Aladdin’s flying carper to soar above the audience carrying the cast’s stunt doubles. The actors playing Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, Jafar and other characters were all excellent, but the standout performances were those for the flying carpet and the genie.
The flying carpet never says a word during the show, but the lovely young actress playing the magical rug was amazing. She got laughs, she was spunky, she was wonderful.
The genie? He was a bundle of entertainment energy. He made with the jokes, many of them contemporary ad libs, and kept the audience laughing. He was physically and verbally hilarious. I laughed so hard I actually shed a tear or two.
I would’ve bought a ticket just to see the Aladdin spectacular and, yet, it was only one of a hundred or so attractions at Disneyland. I might have paid just over two hundred bucks for my two-day pass, but I definitely got my money’s worth.
Strolling along Buena Vista Street, we were entertained by Five & Dime. To quote the entertainment guide:
These swinging “hepcats” jazz up 1920s & ‘30s tunes from the back of their makeshift jalopy and welcome anyone who’ll dance and sing along.
When the band stopped at Carthay Circle, they were joined by Goofy. A crowd quickly gathered and, for somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-hour, the street was jumping. These Disney performers were joined by folks from the crowd, some of which were probably Disney cast members as well. It was - and I can’t use this word enough to describe my Disney experiences - delightful. I may have to change my dwarf name from Grumpy to Happy.
Marv, Bob and I headed back to our hotel through Downtown Disney. We had drinks and a fine dinner at Steakhouse 55. That was pretty much the last Disney thing we did. Marv left and we went up to our room. On Sunday morning, we would check out of the room and drive to Los Angeles.
In writing about my time at Disneyland, I have left out all sorts of details, impressions, observations and probably a ride or two. Imagine how long this trip report would have run if I had taken the copious notes I’d originally intended to take.
My overwhelming impression of Disneyland and all it encompasses was that it was a place every bit as special as it has long claimed to be. Everywhere I went I saw creativity, imagination, attention to detail and efficiency. Every cast member, which is what the park calls all its employees, was friendly and happy. Whatever else one might think of the huge entity that is Disney, I believe this park - and Walt Disney World in Florida - represent a great deal of what is great about our country.
Trips like this will always be few and far between for me. I’m a man of modest means and, by nature, a stay-at-home kind of fellow. But I’d sure like to return to Disneyland sooner rather than later. It’s the third best reason - after all of my California friends and Comic-Con International - that I can think of for traveling to the West Coast.
Just to change things up a bit, I’ll be writing about other stuff for the next three days. My Los Angeles trip report will resume on Monday with name-dropping guest appearances by the likes of Harlan Ellison, Mark Evanier, Stan Lee, Len Wein and many others. Think of these bloggy things to come as an answer to the frequently-asked question, “Why is Tony so darn happy all the time?”
© 2014 Tony Isabella