To be perfectly honest, I’ve never quite understood what the big deal is with princesses. Sure they tend to be improbably beautiful and often come with plenty of magical friends, but they also tend to come with baggage in the form of pesky unwanted villain issues. When that happens you generally need to dig up some sort of handsome prince in shining armor (or at least some commoner with a mysterious past which turns out to include a previously undiagnosed case of latent princehood) to get things back in order, which is usually messy business that involves pushing villains off a cliff in dramatic fashion. Daring rescues by improbably handsome princes inevitably lead to romances with improbably handsome princes, and by the time we start messing with romances and living happily ever after (or until the inevitable sequel,) none of the rest of us stand a chance. Oh, and did I mention the fact that they also seem to end up talking to animals a lot?
To make a long story short, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have to worry about any princesses falling madly in love with me anytime soon. This is probably a good thing, because I’m pretty sure I’d mess up the daring rescue part in disastrous-yet-oddly-hilarious fashion and inadvertently doom just about everyone in the process, after which she’d run off with the guy who swooped in and got the whole mess sorted out. So if by all indications I seem to be destined for a mostly princess-free existence, then why do I seem to keep ending up at Disneyland and/or Disney World? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure myself. For the reasons discussed above princesses are out, and I think if I went anywhere near any of the fairies they’d probably ship me off to Disney jail. Of course, there’s still plenty of other stuff to see there.
When I go this weekend, it will actually be my third trip to Disneyland. The first time was one day with my Mom, brothers and sisters back in 1987, and most of my memories of that particular trip tend to be a bit hazy (Being 9 years old at the time probably doesn’t help much.) Mostly I remember my sister being freaked out by the Haunted Mansion, thinking Star Tours (the newest ride in the park at the time, which will be closing down a few months from now to be modernized with a new show) was the coolest thing ever, and being freaked out myself on the Rocket Jets in Tomorrowland. It took a second visit in January of 2006 (a few months before I started this Blog) to really become familiar with the place, and to realize that the vast majority of my recollections from the previous visit were a bit faulty. Then again, 19 years had passed between the two visits, in which time a whole new park sprang up in what used to be the parking lot, as well as the Downtown Disney area and two more Disney-owned hotels, so I had at least some sort of excuse for not remembering much, since a lot of what’s there now wasn’t there back then. Even in the four years since my last visit there’s been a lot of new stuff added to the parks (and by the time the major renovation of California Adventure is completed in 2012, there will be even more.)
Although on one hand Disneyland is always evolving and changing, to a large extent, I find it to be as much a museum as it is a theme park. Walt Disney intentionally designed the park to never be “finished” (it is rumored that this is symbolized by one of the spires on Sleeping Beauty Castle being left unfinished,) yet numerous remnants of the park’s past remain. In the four years since I last visited, the long-dormant Submarine Voyage ride has come back to life, California Adventure has gained the Toy Story Midway Mania ride which was all the rage over at Hollywood Studios last time I was there (with plenty more to come as the new World of Color show opens next month and the new Cars Land takes shape over the next couple of years.) Yet in spite of all the changes and additions, my two favorite rides at Disney remain a pair of the classics: The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. If not for the perpetually horrendous lines it draws, Peter Pan’s Flight might make the list as well, but it seems that you have to get there roughly three minutes after the park opens to ride it without at least a 30-minute wait.
Sure, some people may say that they’ve been there and done that, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be interesting… Now I just need to figure out what the heck I was thinking booking myself onto a flight leaving at 6:30 in the morning…