Tiny Pineapple

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Disneyland 2003, Day Two: The Kindness of Strangers

We were making good time until we hit Las Vegas, where we got caught in the flood of California gamblers who were returning from their Fabulous Las Vegas Weekends™ and who, based on the aggressiveness of their driving, had lost a lot of money. So, halfway across the California desert, we needed a little break and allowed ourselves to be lured from the highway by the promise of “The World’s Tallest Thermometer!”

In my mind, I pictured a gigantic depression-era scientific instrument with 18 gallons of mercury rising and falling with the desert heat. Instead, we got this:

The World's Tallest Thermometer
The World’s Tallest Thermometer Baker, California

Pthhht! Then again, if we hadn’t been lured from the highway under false pretenses we never would have seen the dilapidated splendor that is Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel:

Arne's Royal Hawaiian Motel
Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel Baker, California

Shortly after getting back on the highway the traffic went from bad to worse when we were brought to an hour-and-a-half-long halt by a seven-car pileup on I-15 between Bartow and Victorville.

But, in spite of all of the obstacles, we still made it to the park before sundown. Barely.

Finally There
Finally There (And a little glassy-eyed…)

Fantasmic! didn’t start until 9:00 p.m. but at Disneyland people start saving places for the shows and parades hours in advance. Having spent the last seven hours sitting in the car we didn’t feel like sitting for a few more waiting for the show to start, so we went on a few rides first. Then, at about 7:45, we headed over to the show area to try and find some acceptable seats.

After looking around for a while, we settled on some stairs that were off stage right. They weren’t going to be ideal seats, but they didn’t look bad to me. But just after we sat down we were approached by Bob. (I call him Bob because he reminded me of a shorter version of Bill Murray in What About Bob?.)

“Would you guys like to sit closer to the show?” asked Bob.

<blink, blink> “Um, sure…” I replied.

“I just ask because you guys are in the worst possible spot for this particular show. You’re not going to be able to see anything from here.”

(So much for my seat-picking abilities….)

Bob continued, “We’ve got a blue tarp down in the front with plenty of room. You’re welcome to come sit with us if you’d like.”

I hesitated for a second trying to figure out why a total stranger would make such an offer, but I finally said, “What the heck…” and we followed Bob down to what were surely the best seats in the house.

Apparently, this is what Bob does. He comes to Fantasmic! four hours early, sets up a tarp, front and center, and then invites random people to come down and experience the show with him.

You could tell that Bob was a regular because all of the other regulars on the front row knew him by name. In fact, at one point, one of the Disneyland “Cast Members” came over and asked, “Hey, Bob, do you have room for two more?”

“Sure,” said Bob, the epitome of hospitality. “Send them down.”

So, there we sat: A Korean family of five, a Hispanic couple, me and my girls, and my brother-in-law, Sam, and his daughter, Isabel. Strangers on a blue tarp. All enjoying the show from the perfect vantage point. All thanks to Bob.

Disneyland 2003, Day One: The Maple Bar

Well, we’re about half way to Disneyland and we’ve stopped for the night in St. George, Utah, famed in song and story as the home of Cafe Rio, the best Mexican grill on the face of the earth. We had quite a pleasant drive down in “The Maple Bar,” the new name for our car this trip. The girls had a farewell brunch at IHOP with their Mom right before we left and the thick, sweet aroma of maple syrup was so strong it was fogging the windows.

Our Intrepid Travellers
Our Intrepid Travellers

The girls kept themselves busy in the back with their coloring books and the new Barbie of Swan Lake DVD. We also spent a great deal of time talking about what rides we do and don’t want to go on when we get to Disneyland tomorrow.

Emma, our quiet, cautious, careful daughter has an inexplicable fondness for horrendously scary rides. Since she was three, she has been longing for the day when she would be tall enough to go on the Indiana Jones Adventure. She missed the height requirement by one-eighth of an inch the last time we were there and she carries still the scar of that most bitter of disappointments.

To prepare her for the ride, which is really quite amazing, I’ve explained the basics of what she’ll experience, but I’ve refused to divulge exactly how the car avoids being crushed by the huge rolling stone at the end of the ride. She quizzes me almost daily:

“Does the car crash through the rock?”


“Does the rock bounce over the top of the car?”

“Nope, not really.”

“Come on, Dad! Tell me what happens!”

“Nope….can’t. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Emma’s not the kind who likes to “wait and see.”

Meanwhile, Zoë, our wild, fearless, and physically reckless daughter has a deep and abiding distaste for anything hairier than the Flying Dumbos. It takes quite a bit of coaxing just to get her on Mr. Toads Wild Ride, which, despite the name, isn’t even that wild a ride. As far as Zoë is concerned, she couldn’t care less how the car avoids the huge rolling stone at the end of the Indiana Jones Adventure because she has no intention of being anywhere near the vehicle when that moment arrives. She plans to be sitting safely outside, anticipating the exquisite thrill of “It’s a Small World.”

We’re planning to get to the park by late afternoon tomorrow. In all of our trips to Disneyland, we’ve somehow missed Fantasmic! (note the ever-compelling exclamation point) every time we’ve gone, so tomorrow is the big day. We’ll be in our places at 9:00pm when the “magic!” begins.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Becoming a Statistic

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

— Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81)
British Prime Minister

Having based the last decade of my life on the first and the second, I have officially become one of the third. I learned today that the divorce decree was finalized by the court on Tuesday, September 30.

Doubletree Club Hotel

Doubletree Club Hotel

“This Official Walt Disney World Good Neighbor hotel provides the best value in the Downtown Disney Resort Area. Located at the entrance to the Downtown Disney Resort Area and central to all of Orlando’s great attractions. This first-class hotel features a colorful tropical-magic theme and is ideal for the vacationing family or the business traveler.”

Source: Doubletree Club Hotel Web Site

My brother’s in-laws had the opportunity to stay at this hotel when they were visiting Florida a while back. This large pineapple sits atop the entrance of the hotel, contributing, I suppose, to both the “colorful” and “tropical-magic” aspects of the “colorful tropical-magic theme.”