Sunday, March 23, 2014

Guest Author Sunday

Guest Author Sunday

Welcome Robert Eckman-This week's Honorary "Gal"
Disney Gals is pleased to welcome Robert "Hit It Bob" Eckman as this week's Guest Author. Recently retired from a life of managing a college university bookstore, this highly gifted and talented professional keyboard player came into the Disney way later in life but now has taken the plunge into the deep end of the pool with both feet and no floaties. So how does someone go from a Disney newbie to a full fledged, card carrying annual pass holder? Read his story of how Disney has changed his life!
My Disneyland

I live in a household of Disney fanatics. I don’t consider myself a Disney fanatic although some of my friends might beg to differ. They might cite that Disneyland Annual Passport I carry with me at all times in my wallet. They might say “What’s up with all the Disneyland vacation photos on my phone?” They might question why I go to every Disney animated movie as soon as it comes out. They might consider my extensive store of Disney trivia which I don’t think is particularly spectacular when compared to a genuine Disney fanatics’ knowledge. I still don’t think of myself as a Disney fanatic although I do like just about all things Disney. A lot.

I first visited Disneyland in January of 1974. I was 20 at the time and on a college winter break adventure to sunny California far from my childhood home in wintry, snowy Philadelphia. I remember virtually nothing of my one day at Disneyland although I remember a lot of that adventure pretty well. I guess along with all the other stuff that happened: the nonstop drive from Philly to San Francisco with three other college students, the shock at discovering the Northern California rainy, cold winter season, the stay with a friends family in the north bay, the backpacking journey through Point Reyes National Seashore the flight down to a bizarrely warm, sunny southern California, and then the complete failure of the plan to hitchhike home and having to call the parents for bus money while stranded in Barstow didn’t leave much room in my aging memory for that one sunny day in Disneyland.

My next visit happened in the late 80’s. I had moved to the Santa Rosa area of northern California in the mid 70’s and was sent to a work related, week long, educational seminar at the Claremont Colleges in the LA area. On our free night we were bussed over to Disneyland. This trip I remember pretty well. My new friends kept telling me to wipe that huge, goofy grin off my face which I apparently wore that whole evening.

Over the last ten years I’ve been to Disneyland more times than I can count. I’ve been on most every ride, walked most every path, stayed at the various Disney hotels and other hotels in the immediate area and I still get that big, goofy grin every time I go through the gates. It seem to me Disneyland was initially created by those boys who built those crazy, incredibly detailed model railroads in their basements. At their peak those miniature railways are more than just trains and tracks. They’re immersive little worlds and that’s what Disneyland is on a much larger scale. I enjoy the amazing attention to detail. There are a world’s worth of little things to see if you look beyond the surface. I also am attracted to the absurd sense of humor that the imagineers have engineered into the most unlikely of places. Consider just how truly weird and hilarious the graveyard scene in the Haunted Mansion really is. Or how about how bizarre and to me distinctly scary and unchildlike  Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride ends up? Look up at the captions on the second story windows of Main Street USA for some more strange Disney nuttiness or run around those tight little caverns on Tom Sawyers Island while chasing a much faster and nimbler eight year old and stop to catch your breath and look closely at just where you are. For a little additional bizarreness try walking into Toontown for the first time as a middle aged semi adult and drink in the whole surreal scene. I love this stuff.
I can now say I've Been to Walt Disney World Too
At this point I don’t much feel the need to go on any rides although I always will hit Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. Over In California Adventure I won’t miss Soarin’ or Tower of Terror. Fantasmic never gets old, especially enjoying it in the reserved seating area, and I never fail to tear up when the music swells up to the Someday My Prince Will Come theme or the triumphant riverboat comes around the bend with a gloriously black and white Steamboat Willie era Mickey at the helm. But just walking around those narrow little streets in New Orleans Square or cruising on the Disneyland Railroad or the monorail and paying some attention to what’s going by is plenty of fun to me.

So am I a Disney fanatic after all? I still don’t think so but I do like just about all things Disney. A lot.

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