'I'm going to Disneyland'

With the presidential election, and its threat of hanging chads, recounts and boondoggles, safely behind us, I, like most Durangoans, am looking forward to a little R&R before the full brunt of holiday mania takes hold.

And what better way to relax and enjoy oneself than to take a family road trip to that greatest of all American destinations. That Technicolor mecca of fanciful fairies, beautiful princesses and talking animals. That Magical Kingdom where midgets in clown suits and flying men in green tights don’t merit a second look.

That’s right. I’m going to Disneyland.

No, seriously.

(*Sorry if you were expecting an Obamatorial or perhaps a stirring soliloquy on the symbolism of our country’s fresh start and the newly fallen snow. Or how, after all this, I actually sort of like John McCain. As of press time, I was still pinching myself. Plus, I’ve been drinking mimosas all day. Besides, where do you think Barry, Michelle and the girls are headed now that the campaign's over anyway? Duh.)

Anyway, back to shameless kiddy commercialism. Just let me say, it wasn’t my idea. Seems the kinfolk had been plotting long before I became aware of the pilgrimage. Apparently, actual raft rides on real rivers or harnessing the natural force of gravity down real snow-covered mountains using one’s own physical abilities was no longer considered “fun” or “exciting” It seems high-speed trips through the whoopty-dos of Animas City just no longer held the same thrill. No, we need to drive half-way across the country to a place where you pay for machines, contraptions and creepily friendly strangers to do such work for you.

OK, so when it comes to fairy tales and fantasy, I’m a bit of a cynic. But the damage alone that Cinderella and her impossibly dainty feet have done to those of us with more “athletic builds” is insurmountable. And sometimes I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the wicked witch, maybe she was just misunderstood. I mean, we all have our days when we want to kill someone.

But there is a part of me that cries (OK, maybe just on the inside) during the fire scene in “Bambi” and likes to see good triumph over evil (even if it isn’t her fault but due to raging PMS.)

So, when I caught wind of the plans, I naturally wanted in. Mostly because I’m pretty sure Disneyland is a requirement in the parental handbook (it’s the chapter right after “Things Your Mother Said That You Swore You’d Never Say.”) Besides, somewhere in the footnotes, there’s a warning about overexposure to “It’s a Small World After All.” Evidently, it can be quite detrimental to parents flying solo. There’s nothing pretty about a grown man wearing mouse ears, curled in the fetal position screaming “Make it Stop!”

And then there’s this national economy thing. Sure, we may have bailed out the Wall Street and banking types, but just think of those fledgling character actors waiting for their big break or career carnies just trying to put food on the Fat Lady’s table.

Plus, I can’t say I’ve ever been to Disneyland. I once went to Disney World on a school trip in fourth grade, but that was practically the dark ages of mechanized entertainment. Video hadn’t been invented, and dayglo and hairspray was about as exciting as special effects got. Remember when putting your arms in the air on the roller coaster was considered extreme? There was none of this upside-down, inside-out, centrifugal, G-force, virtual reality, rip your skin off and pop your eyeballs out of their sockets thrill-seeking stuff back then. I mean, it’s the next best thing to an acid trip without actually devoting the next 16 hours of your life to bizarre hallucinations and conversations with inanimate objects – or at least from what I’ve heard.

Sure, I’ve heard that the SoCal Disney is the “ghetto-ized” version. I suppose that means the tea cups have been tagged with graffiti and Donald and Goofy are winos. But come one – it’s Disney for Peter Pan’s sake. Prince Charming’s pantaloons are about as risqué as it gets. Plus, I like the thought of the Cali version being a little more rough and tumble than its sanitized, black-sock, fanny-pack wearing Florida counterpart. It just makes it all that much more adventurous. What fun is an amusement park anyway without a few frayed wires and safety latches held together with twist ties?

And if it gets a little too raucous, I can always pull the vertigo card. See, me and lots of spinning and whirling and coastering don’t get along. Just ask the poor soul who a few years back who happened upon the house of mirrors where I was rendered unable to digest my corndog and mini doughnuts after a go around on the Matterhorn. Believe you-me, puking in strobe-light infinity is no day at the amusement park, either.

Fortunately, for me, I will have a partner in crime. See, clocking in at just over 36 inches tall, my 3-year-old daughter will be restricted from the bigger rides. This will hopefully relegate me to a leisurely day on the tamer likes of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the Flying Monkey Swings (which still give me the shivers to this day).

Anyhow, this is fine by me, because, as I stated earlier, this trip is not about me. It’s about my kids and celebrating their birthright, which just so happens to be a trip to see a giant talking mouse, who despite his overgrown size has a strangely high-pitched voice, sort of like Michael Jackson. But not as scary.

And who knows? Maybe by the time we return from that gilded state of prefab fun, our own “Magic Mountain” will be covered in a coat of white. Soon enough, the kids will forget all about the world of make believe, and the only high-speed rides they’ll take will be on a chairlift. Because, when it comes down to it, there’s no denying that we live in the best playground of all. Even a Dumbo knows that.

– Missy Votel