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Ruminations: Your First Disneyland Visit?

Ruminations: Your First Disneyland Visit?

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The town of Rainbow Ridge, June 1966

Do you remember your imagination?
That Neverland was a destination
Your magical adventure isn't over yet
Just hold on tight and don't forget
Every wish, every dream you ever had
Just close your eyes
And it will all come rushing back
Fly away
All you need is to believe and remember when
You never know where your dreams might take you
So keep them safe and sound don't let reality break you
Feel your sweetest memories come and carry you away
Just get lost in yesterday
Every wish, every dream you ever had
Just close your eyes
And it will all come rushing back
Fly away
All you need is to believe and remember when
Surrender to the innocence
You thought you left behind
And reach the child that lives inside
Every wish, every dream you ever had
Just close your eyes
And it will all come rushing back
Fly away
All you need is to believe and remember when
Fly away
All you need is to believe and remember when
Remember when

"Remember When," the official theme song of Disneyland's 50th anniversary, written by Richard Marx

So can you remember?

That first visit to Disneyland? I'm sure you can!

And that's just what I'm hoping that some of you will do with all of us over the next few weeks. Drop me an e-mail with that story, and who knows? You might win one of those really special prizes I've mentioned before. (Barbarabee and Capntarpals? I still haven't heard from both of you! And this is a prize you really do want.)

So to start the ball rolling, I'll set the WABAC Machine for the summer of 1966, and take you off to share my first Disneyland visit. It was a typical summer. School let out in mid-June and we all set off for sunny Southern California in the family car (a lovely underpowered Volkswagen bus) down US Highway 101. Traveling this far was a real adventure in those days. You know, before the Interstate Five was completed. Once you left suburbia well behind in the south end of San Jose it was (or at least it seemed like) an all agriculture affair most of the way to Los Angeles.

The Colton kids ready for that long journey in the VW Bus

Our first day at Disneyland began with that most dangerous of journeys, a trip down the Southern California freeways from the wilds of Pasadena to Anaheim. The big thrilling moment was that first glimpse of the Matterhorn. As it came into view, it really began to sink in. We were going to Disneyland! After seeing it on television  (even in glorious black and white), this was the moment when illusion became reality and vice versa. Okay, so those are mighty big words for an eight year-old. But looking back now, that was the moment.

Once the bus came to a stop in the parking lot, I'm sure it was all that my parents and older cousins could do to keep us all in check until we made it to the Ticket Booths. That Magic Kingdom Club card helped a great deal with such a big group. Counting 'em up, there were two Adults, two Juniors and six Child ticket books to be purchased that day. Quite the little caravan on the move through the Disneyland Main Gates.

An Adult A coupon! A ride on the Fire Truck sounds about right...

The Disneyland Fire Engine in Town Square

As I recall, it was one of those moments that you couldn't script better. Standing there taking in the Main Street Station, high atop the berm, a train of the Santa Fe & Disneyland came chugging to a stop making all the proper noises, right down to the locomotive bell being so carefully rung by the fireman. Walking through one of the two tunnels under the railroad tracks, it really was Main Street U.S.A. - complete with everything we had seen on television. The horse-drawn streetcar, the fire engine, mouse shaped balloons for sale, all the buildings in their proper places.

And if memory serves, I think we all boarded that fire engine that first day for a ride down Main Street. A great way to see it all and save some of that walking for later...

The rest of the day (and that trip) is here in my memories in bits and pieces, not all together clear, some thirty-nine years later. The magic of it all may seem a bit simpler today (or even more obvious), but it is still there; still special. Perhaps that is why a visit now with someone for their first time at the Park is something that I really do enjoy. It takes me back to see it all over again, for the first time.

Earlier this year, I visited the Park on a weekend in March. It just so happened that this same weekend, the Enchanted Tiki Room returned after a long refurbishment. The Tiki Garden, with all of it's gods and goddesses, looked and sounded great. Taking a seat inside for the show, I felt like I was that eight year-old boy again, back in the summer of 1966. The magic hadn't gone anywhere.

Your author, all of seven years old, disembarking from
the Submarine Voyage at the dock in Tomorrowland

So? Let's hear your memories of that first Disneyland visit! Over the next few weeks, I'll share the best of them with you here, and for the top three (in my opinion), I will have some of those really special prizes. So special, that I can't tell you here what they are. (I'm not trying to be coy or pretend here folks. The prizes really are something wonderful. I just can't tell you or I couldn't have them to share.) So think back... Put the memories in words and share them with us. And if you have a photo or two that helps tell your story, feel free to send them along, too! Here's that link to send me an e-mail, one more time...

About the photo's to go along with my tale of that first visit... Those were taken (mostly by my mother, Laurie) using a classic Brownie Hawkeye with Kodak's black and white negative film. A steady hand was a must for this camera, which I still have somewhere. Chalk up some of the blurred photos to the overactive subjects as well as the enthusiasm of the photographer.

And I really am scanning in these (finally) along with the rest of a group of old family photos (including more Disneyland pictures). I'll be sharing more of them, later in the year for comparison. The entire Colton clan (18 in all) heads off to Anaheim in October.

Next up? Oh, Roger has a few stories still to share. Look for more on the Disneyland Railroad soon, and perhaps more recipes from around the Park. And those Disneyland memories of your first visit, too...

One of the other hats that Roger wears here at Jim Hill Media is as our Message Board Moderator. Recently, our Message Boards (part of the EZBoard family) have had their share of troubles. On a corporate level, someone broke into their servers and managed to wreak havoc of tremendous proportions. The folks at EZBoard are working to set things back to as close to normal as they can, but it is a slow and likely incomplete process.

Oddly enough, we've been giving thought the switching to a different message board product - one that would be based on one of our own dedicated servers. So, as they say, timing is everything. Don't look for changes overnight, but we do have plans to make your Discussion Boards more user friendly and more accessible for everyone who comes to visit our little corner of the Internet. So, thanks for your patience and stay tuned for further developments.

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