My 7-year-old daughter, my wife and I have just returned home to Vancouver after a week at Disneyland and the California Adventure park in Anaheim. After reading the "Walt's Kingdom" editorial in the L.A. Times April 30 on the flight back, I felt compelled to respond with a letter of thanks to everyone involved with continuing the magic that has always resided there since Disney opened the gates. I don't think the Disneyland trustees have to worry about the future of this great park. Even if you were to remove all the rides, you'd still have a beautifully landscaped park with its old-style architecture and waterfront restaurants. Just being there enjoying the fantastic shows and the environment was enough to make us feel that we had traveled the world.
Without Disneyland I highly doubt we would have made a similar effort to fly down to see other theme parks like Knott's Berry Farm or Six Flags Magic Mountain. They may have the more extreme rides, but they don't have the Disney touch, which captured my imagination when I visited as a boy and has now worked its magic on my daughter, who hasn't stopped smiling since we've returned.
I read your editorial about Disneyland's 50th anniversary this summer. I was there as a high school junior the summer it opened in 1955. I was class photographer and had a German 35-millimeter Agfa camera that my parents were holding. When my brother and I got off the Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney himself was standing at the ride exit talking to my parents and admiring my camera. I immediately recognized him from his hosting of "The Wonderful World of Disney" TV series. I will always remember his down-to-earth manner and interest in our family's day at the park.