December 1, 2012
The looping line at the Jungle Cruise is almost Euclidean in its use of space. Hundreds of us shuffle across that cramped boathouse entrance — standing, shuffling, standing.
We snake upstairs and down, then back across one another, like capillaries in an old woman's leg. That we ever reach anyplace is something of a geometric miracle.
Disneyland is full of miracles this holiday season, hyper-lighted and even more festive than usual.
To me, D-Land never quite fulfills its promise as the Happiest Place on Earth. That designation belongs to a mountain camp site, or a saloon with the perfect jukebox, even a soccer field full of kids.
But as any parent knows, a child's joy is your joy. Hence, Disneyland at Christmas — Southern California's Bedford Falls.
We are in the fourth hour of our visit, a trip that not only reaffirms your faith in family fun but also threatens to detach a retina or two. When did family entertainment become such a herky-jerky scream fest? Then again, when wasn't it? I've been a father for a while now, with the bite marks and torn tendons to prove it.
Yep, the fourth hour. Disneyland. At this point, I've been coughed on in 14 different languages, the latest (I think) Swedish, which sounds — in the lower reaches of their blond, bronchial tubes — like jars of pickles pounding the hood of your car.
OK, let's talk about these Fastpasses.
Shouldn't life be mostly a linear experience? Fastpasses turn a day at Disneyland, once the simplest of adventures, into a sort of scavenger hunt of shortcuts. It favors those who work the system, who treat life like a board game.
You know the type. Folks like this get a fleet deal on their Volvo when you paid full freight. At the front desk, they always wrangle the upgrade.
Fastpasses, in case you haven't had the pleasure, allow you to return to a busy ride at a later time, at which point you skip ahead of the pack and avoid the long waits.
Simple enough, right?
Then there's our experience. At Space Mountain, the waits were 80 minutes at 2 p.m. We decided to snag some Fastpasses and come back. Our designated return time: 11 p.m., nine hours later.
Nonetheless, these passes have become the funny money of Disneyland, a sort of underground currency. Let me just say I don't trust any economic system in which I don't automatically triumph.
Remember, a child's joy is your joy.
We are here because the little guy got some extra time off around Thanksgiving, and we needed to get out of the house, when — while helping stuff the turkey — I made some inappropriate remark. Here's the statement I gave police:
My wife has me holding the raw bird on its nookus while she ramrods stuffing into the cavity. For Posh, cooking is warfare. Hence, she is using a Renaissance jousting tool, maybe 19 feet long. And a welding torch.
While stuffing the turkey, she notes that this particular bird has a surprisingly small stomach cavity, at which point I say: "Must've been an actress."
I don't mean anything by it — against the bird, or against actresses, they're all God's creatures. I only meant that actresses are known for not eating much.
Yet that remark seemed to generate a butterball of tension. What I like most about marriage is how it brings out the best in people.
"Mom needs some room," I tell the little guy.
So we pick up his buddy Keaton and head to Disneyland, a place dripping in happiness. On the way down, the two boys fall asleep, drooling on the leather seats in 2- and 3-foot swells (could've surfed it).
Repeat after me: Their joy is your joy.
Nonetheless, we have a spectacular time at D-Land, 10 hours of Euclidean lines and occasionally overpriced cuisine.
"I know some good restaurants here," the little guy says, and leads us to pizza of the highest rank.
The damage? By the time we're done, we've spent well over $300, including the $45 pizza dinner.
That's not admission, that's rent.
So, we live here now, residing in a corner of the Indiana Jones attraction that is closed for repairs.
Not very conventional — no schools, no pubs, constant parades. But it's really starting to feel like home.
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