My young grandsons are on their way from the frozen Midwest to Disney World in Orlando, a trip they make with their parents – my son and his wife – almost every year. It’s an occurrence that inevitably takes me back several decades to memories of family trips to the original — Disneyland in California.
When Walt Disney first imagined an amusement park, he envisioned something radically different from what had come before. Amusement parks had been around a long time in the US and other parts of the world, but Walt wanted his to be bigger and better, and to have some other unique features.
He wanted it to be colorful and bright, spotlessly clean, and filled with attractions that were new and different, and although the 1955 opening was plagued by problems, he succeeded. Once the snags were solved and some of the unfinished attractions were completed, the park became a roaring success and helped build Disney into a huge worldwide company.
By the time we made our first trip to the park, it had been in operation for well over a decade and some competitors had started to appear, but none really measured up to Disneyland. The kids were too young to appreciate it on our first trip, and I’d guess that they mostly remember our second time, a few years later. They might even remember the long drive, and getting along so well in the back seat (see picture).
Most everybody knows all about the attractions at Disneyland (and Disney World) so I’m not going to list them here, but there were some that seem to stick in my memory more than others. Most of them we loved, but there was at least one that I remember with mixed feelings.
It was originally part of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and was one of several attractions from that event that were later moved to Disneyland. It became an institution, and one of the most beloved destinations for small children, but made most adults groan. It was a winding, almost dizzying ride through chamber after chamber of little doll-like figures meant to represent the children of the world.
Athough I did enjoy the cool air-conditioning, the song that played over and over soon drove me bananas — and has continued to haunt me since. Most folks will know what I’m talking about, but if you don’t then I want to give you fair warning. I’m including a clip of it, but beware — if you listen, then you might never be able to forget it again. (Think of it as being sort of like one of those scary movies.)