Monday, February 3, 2014


I came into some money late last year.  It probably wasn’t a lot of money by the standards of those comics creators and executives who make that much in a month, but, for me, it was a sizable chunk of cash. From the start, I knew most of this windfall would go toward paying bills.  I also decided part would go toward one long-desired extravagance.

I would go to Los Angeles in off-season.

“Off-season,” for me is pretty much any time that isn’t either the week before or the week after Comic-Con International in San Diego. My Los Angeles friends usually spend the week before the convention trying to complete work so they can enjoy the event.  Then, during the week after, they’re besieged by out-of-town friends who come to visit them in L.A.  I always wanted to go to Los Angeles away from that craziness. Off-season.

Even with my modest windfall, this is a trip I could not have made without Bob Ingersoll.  My best friend not only knows Los Angeles well, he enjoys driving in Los Angeles, the merest notion of which terrifies me.  In addition, he knows how to book flights and hotels like a human Travelocity.  Bob’s the wingman who other wingmen wish they could be.

Bob travels a lot.  He generously cashed in a bunch of travel and hotel points to get us ridiculously cheap first-class airfares and, for the Los Angeles portion of our trip, a hotel that cost us next to nothing.  Throughout the trip, his expertise guaranteed I’d have a wonderful time on this trip.

We departed Cleveland on the morning of Thursday, January 9.  Our  first-class tickets meant we didn’t have to pay the airline ransom for our luggage.

We waited for our boarding time in the United Club, another perk of traveling with Bob. All manner of free food and stuff was available to us.  I’m going to miss that on future flights.

First-class air travel is pretty sweet.  There’s sufficient room to be comfortable without reclining one’s seat into the personal space of the passenger behind you.  Naturally, I was seated between the one asshole in the section who reclined his seat.  Coincidentally, I bumped his seat with some force whenever I got up.  I sure hope I didn’t make him uncomfortable.

Other than that, first-class was a dream.  The airline served us a good breakfast.  We had free TV and watched the previous night’s episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  The free movie was We’re The Millers, which was pretty funny in places and heart-warming in others.  When I get back to writing movie reviews, I’ll have more to say about it.

After landing in Los Angeles, we grabbed the shuttle to E-Z Rent-a-Car to pick up our rental.  It was uneventful until we were ready to leave the lot.  That’s when a woman drove into the lot and hit a just-returned rental car.  It wasn’t much of a hit, but she and the lot attendant proceeded to block all other entrance to and exit from the lot.  Which was annoying as Hell. Even cool-as-a-cucumber Bob got steamed, loudly demanding these idiots clear the driveway for us and others.

Our destination this day was Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel. We stopped along the way for a quick lunch at In-N-Out Burger.  I hadn’t eaten at one of these in years.  The burger and fries were good, but no better than several places in Medina and Los Angeles. I bet Five Guys and a Burger would only need two guys to beat them.

Disneyland was not in my original travel plans, but Bob Ingersoll is an amusement park champion.  He convinced me there would be much fun to be had and he was absolutely correct.

We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel in the Adventure Land building. It was a clean and comfortable room, though the really tiny toilet room within the bathroom made me feel claustrophobic. Frightened and picky senior citizen that I am, I used the much bigger facility in the lower lobby of the building on several occasions.  Not even I bought my claim that, as an early riser, I did this so I wouldn’t disturb the slumbering Bob.  Style note: that bathroom had way cool “Adventure Land” wallpaper.

Once we unpacked, Bob and I headed over to Downtown Disney, which was between our hotel and Disneyland itself.  We bought our passes for the next two days and checked out the various restaurants and shops in the area.  Dinner was at the Earl of Sandwich restaurant. I had the kid-sized turkey sandwich and chicken noodle soup.  Both  were quite good.  Travel note: I’ve gotten in the habit of ordering off the kids menu on frequent occasion.  I find most adult entrees are way more food than I want, than I can eat and than is good for me.  I plan to stick around for a few more decades and overeating won’t get me there.

Master planner that he is, Bob decided we should hit Disneyland’s California Adventure on Friday and the main park on Saturday.  It was a good plan.  Because we were staying at the hotel, we got into the park an hour before its usual opening time.  Because we were at the park on a Friday, we had virtually no wait for any ride or any restaurant.  The main park was a bit more crowded on Saturday, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared. Travel note: There’s a lot to be said for going to Disneyland in January and mid-week.  While you miss the special fireworks and parades of the weekend, you have a lot less wait time and a lot more elbow room.

Weather note: Los Angeles in January is still January.  It starts to get chilly when the sun goes down and the sun goes down pretty early.  It warms up once the sun comes up, but be prepared to wear a jacket in the early morning and late evening.

Our first destination was Cars Land and the Radiator Spring Racers ride.  “Take a road trip to Radiator Springs then race another car across beautiful Ornament Valley.”  Though I haven’t seen Cars - I need to correct that omission - I was delighted by this attraction. The detail and imagination that went into this ride is amazing and inspiring.  Which brings us to my pro-Disney rant.

Yes, you can cite times when the Disney corporation or individuals have acted badly.  Using the kind of legalese I learned from TV and not Ingersoll, I’ll stipulate to that without delay.  However - and this is a big however - I admire what has been accomplish at both Disneyland and Disney World.

I’ve already mentioned the attention to detail in the attractions at the park.  The craft that goes into these rides and the settings around them is the equal of the imagination that birthed them.  I can’t even begin to tabulate how much work went into them, but it’s  obvious those who labored on them were determined to achieve the best results humanly possible.  That is exactly the kind of drive and dedication and pride I try to put into everything I do and that I want to see from others.

Every Disney employee we interacted with seemed happy to be there and to make sure park patrons were enjoying themselves.  If any of them were unhappy with their jobs, they never showed it.  Since I never got the sense that any of them were “faking it,” I choose to believe they were genuine in their interactions with us.  Frankly, if I liked people more, I want to work there.

You don’t have to ignore the bad in the history of Disneyland and corporations in general to appreciate all that’s good about these parks.  My two-day, park-hopping Disneyland pass cost me $210.  I think it was money well spent.

Bob and I had breakfast at Flo’s V8 Café in Cars Land.  It wasn’t inexpensive, but it wasn’t unreasonable either.  It was good, well-prepared food.  If there were one of these in Medina, it would be neck-in-neck with Denny’s and Bob Evans for my favorite breakfast spot.

What with all the fun I was having, I neglected to take any notes as to the order Bob and I did things in California Adventure.  But I was smart enough to grab and save a map to refresh my memory when I wrote about the experiences.  I’m always thinking of my bloggy readers that way.

Come back for tomorrow’s bloggy and I’ll tell you about the rest of our California Adventure, our Disneyland exploits, hanging out with Marv Wolfman and why it doesn’t suck in the least to be me and Bob. See you then.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Order was Radiator Springs Racers, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, Toy Story Midway Mania, California Screamin', Little Mermaid Ariel's Undersea Adventure, breakfast, Goofy's Sky School, Silly Symphony Swings (both closed before breakfast so we went back there after breakfast), Soarin' Over California, Red Car Trolly, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Monsters Inc Mike and Sulley to the Rescue, Muppet Vision 3D. We didn't ride Luigi's Flying Tires (closed for maintenance), Grizzly River Run (too cold), or Mickey's Fun Wheel (even I don't like Ferris Wheels all that much), Golden Zephyr (no water balloons) or any of the attractions in the A BUG'S LAND kiddie ride area. We also didn't go into the Animation Building, the Blue Sky Cellar (closed no new attractions to promote), Boudin Bakery Tour (seriously, a movie about how to bake sour dough bread in a theme park, what were they thinking?) or any of the live action shows. (At least not on Friday. Saturday was a different story.)