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Disneyland, The Original Magic Kingdom
Since the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California opened its’ doors in July, 1955 there have been many other Disney theme parks opened around the World. However, the original Magic Kingdom will always be the one indelibly etched in my memory.
My first visit to the “Happiest place on Earth” was in 1957 and I was five years old. Since then, I’ve mentally calculated I’ve been to the park 25 times! And to think some people haven’t experienced the fun and thrills there even once. It’s estimated around 600 million people have visited the Mickey Mouse theme park, cleverly nicknamed “The world’s largest people trap”.
Five Themed Areas
The times I went Disneyland, it consisted of five themed areas radiating out from Central Plaza. Each realm was constructed so visitors were unable to see or hear any of the others. The realms I remember were:
· Main Street USA, which was based on an early 20th century Midwest town of Walt Disney’s childhood.
· Adventureland, a realm featuring jungle themed adventures.
· Frontierland, a place which highlights aspects of our country's western frontier.
· Fantasyland, where fantasy characters become a reality.
· Tomorrowland, which showcases a futuristic view of technology to come.
Since Disneyland’s early days many other attractions have been added. A few I was fortunate enough to have seen.
Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln
Two of my favorites were the “Great moments with Mr. Lincoln” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” exhibits. The Lincoln display featured an animated robot-like figure of the president. It was so life like I forgot it wasn’t real and seemed to actually be in his presence while he delivered “The Gettysburg Address”.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride in New Orleans Square was also an adventure and provided a few smiles. Patrons are treated to a boat ride which passes through a battle between to pirate ships. Simulated cannon fire produces splashes of water that seem to be cannon balls hitting perilously close to your boat. There is also a pirate themed restaurant. Mark Twain’s River Boat ride, the Sailing Ship Columbia and Tom Sawyer’s Island are also located there.
Other things I enjoyed were the “Golden Horseshoe Revue” in Frontierland. It was a show palace straight out of the Old West which featured comics and dance hall saloon girls which put on a realistic 19th century show.
Also in Frontierland were the Pinewood Indians. They were a tribe of animatronic Native American Indians living along the riverbanks. I remember them well because during my first visit we took a canoe ride where everyone got to paddle. My younger brother was in front of me paddling and kept splashing water all over me. I was drenched by the end of that ride. Following that we went to see the fantastic fireworks display.
There are many things to see at Disneyland…too many to see in one day. I know because I’ve tried. I once took my wife, a Japanese, to see the park. We were rushed for time since she had to be at work that evening. I dragged her as quickly as possible from one attraction to another hitting as many “highlights” as we could. We missed many, but she at least saw the best…or my favorites anyway.
Oddly enough her favorite attraction was the Haunted Mansion. It was odd because she was scared to death of ghostly things. On a visit to Universal Studios she was terrified of the guy made up as Frankenstein. Maybe she liked the Haunted Mansion because the comical resident spooks are readily apparent to be illusions.
As a youngster I loved the Fantasyland characters such as Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. Their classic stories became realities there. It was originally modeled after a medieval European concept. But in 1983 it became a Bavarian village with newer attractions like the King Arthur Carrousel, the Sleeping Beauty Darkride walkthrough and other children’s rides.