Of Disneyland & Memory


*Not all images belong to me.  For what I borrowed, thank you.  For what I didn’t, I’m sorry.* 

Disneyland is a polarising place.  For those that love it, it’s a magical obsession.  For those that hate it, it’s an overpriced land of extravagance. 

I am of the former persuasion. 

Having just returned from a two day, three night trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea I will submit the things I learned from my trip to The Happiest Place on Earth. 

Did you really pay 20 dollars for that? 

0520wall20of20hatsOne of the most amazing things about Disneyland is that they sell the most ridiculously overpriced novelty items, items that cannot be used without some level of embarrassment on the days following a Disneyland trip, and people buy them up like crack.  I saw endless items that were obnoxious to the point of being an eyesore but countless people dropped nearly 40 dollars for them.  I cannot remember a time in my life  that I saw a person wearing their ‘special’ Disney purchase outside of the park.  So you spent all that money on something you would love intensely for one day?  It’s like people become drunk on the Disneyland experience and cannot fathom their life outside the park.  Buying a bright orange Tigger hat complete with tail is not only normal, but expected.  They must wake up the next day feeling like an alcoholic, take one look at that ridiculous purchase and think, as many of us have at one point or another, “I am never going to drink again as long as I LIVE!”

This attraction brought to you by Tampax, for when you are riding your own Splash Mountain.

japan20900I understand how business and promotion works.  I am not, contrary to how this post will end, 4 years old.  It was still sad to see that every ride now has a sponsor.  I don’t know that the LA or Florida Disneyland’s are like this, but the Japanese Disneyland had a sponsor for every ride.  It was VERY subtle and you really had to be looking to see it, but when you got to the main sign for any ride, there it was.  “Space Mountain” and under it: brought to you by Coca Cola.  It made me think of Fight Club.  “When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.”  

Disney at night is my personal heaven.

IMG_2710Disneyland during the day is always a bit congested and can feel really hectic.  When the sun sets and the lights come on it is a world of quiet tranquility.  This is an odd statement seeing as how there are roaring rollercoasters and shouting people just like during the daytime, but the night just seems more peaceful.  The night also brings on the light parade, the fireworks (in the current case it’s a projection mapping show too.)  The night time is when Disney becomes truly magical.

Disneyland engages all 5 senses like very few things can.

tumblr_m74w38a4x51ragq9ko1_500People who had one home they grew up in their whole life talk about how that place brings them back to being a child.  I had many homes, so I don’t know what that feels like.  I think it feels something like going to Disneyland for me.  Why?  Because Disney is amazing at engaging all five senses.  The magic kingdom layout is almost identical no matter which park you go to, thus the sights are familiar and comforting.  Then there is the lingering smell of caramel and the tastes of the  candies, the sounds of all the familiar jingles, even the feel of the railing, the faux wood they use in the lines for many rides, is the same.  I was half a world away from the place of my birth but, if only for a moment, I was back home.  Looking at the ride attendants in their familiar costumes and listening to all the songs and jingles I have heard so many times, I could have been back in California.  It was an amazing feeling.

Going with a 4 year old is like going with a schizophrenic

301054_429772953724432_2061724935_nTaking my daughter for her first trip to Disneyland was sensory overload for her.  She wanted to do everything, all at once, RIGHT NOW!  She wanted to buy everything in every store.  She wanted to touch everything.  She wanted to ride all the rides at once.  Except the ones that went into a dark place, those could go blow, until she got used to the idea, then she wanted to ride again.  NO, she was not going to GET OFF the ride.  She was going to ride it again, thank you. Daddy, tell that stupid person we aren’t getting off!  I was dealing with a person broken by joy.  But still…

Going with a 4 year old is pure magic

IMG_2748As insane as my daughter made the Disney trip I cannot image going without her now.  Her reaction to everything brought back the magic so many of us lose the older we get.  That is what Disney brings out in me, and it brought it out in my daughter as well.  The look on her face when she laid eyes on THE Mickey Mouse was akin to looking at the combination of a person who has just come face to face with God and a teenage girl who is kissed by her idol crush.  There was screaming, there was crying, there was twitching, and there was the idiotic smile only the truly joyous could possibly conjure.  Everything about Disneyland made her smile.  Watching the light parade with her brought me back to being 4.  All of it was amazing.  It’s a parade of lit up floats but to her it was 100% magic.  I could see it in her eyes.  My heart was full to burst with the joy she was radiating. 

I learned a lot this trip.  The joy and freedom my daughter felt being at Disneyland reminded me why I love it so much.  It is also the very reason why so many people buy the stupid Tigger hats.  Because Disneyland is a place where you are supposed to just be happy.  It’s a place where you are allowed to be 4 as well, even if you’re 90.  No one judges because we are all in it together.  It’s a huge playground and the age requirement is 4.  You can’t be older to ride that ride.  So we buy our stupid hats and we breathe in the sweet smell, hum all the silly jingles and wave like idiots at Mickey when he waves at us… or even when he can’t see us.  It is a place of unparalleled freedom and happiness.  As adults we resent the prices and the crowds, we curse the lines and get frustrated at how stupid some people are.  In the end, if you choose to focus on these things, you may well come to hate Disneyland.  For me, I will never be able to see anything but the joy and nostalgia it holds for me.  I picture myself as an old man, sitting with my grandchildren watching the light parade that I watched as a child and remembering that there will always be a place, if only for a day, I can be a kid again. 

When our trip came to an end I was carrying my daughter to the train.  She was strung out from two days of the ultimate high and ready for sleep, but then she saw a huge picture of Mickey Mouse waving goodbye to everyone, saying, “Come Back Soon!”  The fuse was ignited one last time and, screaming Mickey’s name in my ear, my daughter let the magic erupt one final time.  I couldn’t help but smile like a big, dumb idiot.  She waved at Mickey with all her four year old might and shouted, “Mickey, bye bye!  Thank you, Mickey!  Let’s play again!”  Knowing then that her time at Disneyland was really over, she buried her face in my shoulder and cried. 

So did I.

Thank you, Mickey, for everything. 

Of Blogging and Followers: Blogging 101

This is part II of assignment 9 for Blogging 101. 

The assignment for today was to build a post off of a comment that we made yesterday.  In thinking about that it got me thinking about comments in general and some of the things I have learned in my month on WordPress.  So I made you a list.  Here we go:

1 – There are a lot of fishers out there.

People who follow your blog just to get a follow back.  They haven’t liked or commented on any of your work.  Chances are very high they didn’t read a word of what is on your blog.  All they want is the guilt follow.  I give these people the benefit of the doubt and read through their blog until I find something that inspires me to comment.  If you don’t take the time to reply to the comment, or even worse, don’t take the time to at least like the comment (however inane it might be) that tells me you don’t really care if I am reading your stuff or not.  You tell me why I am going to keep reading.  Are you Kurt Vonnegut?

2- Building real followers is like building a friendship.

Along those same lines, I have found that the people really worth following are the ones you know pay attention to the people following them.  Why?  Because you make real followers the same way you make real friends.  Just because I am following your blog doesn’t mean I am going to buy your book or care about what you are talking about.  I can delete emails really fast.  If you don’t engage your audience the chances are high that they are not going to care about what you are talking about, no matter how well you write.

3 – Authors who muse are annoying to me.

Being an author to some people means that everyone should care about what you are writing because you are good at it.  Writing is your skill.  That is why you are here.  Here is the problem: that is why we are all here.  Why should another writer care about your random rambling?  If there isn’t a point or a lesson to be learned from your musing than tell me why I should care?  Because you are good with words?  Guess what?  Most of the people on this site are good with words.  Find another way to stand out or stop rambling.  Make your words count.

4 – Everyday posters who post multiple times a day are often not worth following.

One of the objects of Blogging 101 is to post something everyday and I know that many of us are struggling to keep up with that, and good on you for it!  Here is what I have learned though, if you don’t put enough thought into what you are going to post then it isn’t worth it.  There are some theories out there that say that no words are wasted, but here is my counter argument: Your posts go into the email inboxes of your followers.  Do you want to bombard them with 10 emails a day of your random thoughts?  I call these people Facebook/Twitter bloggers.  They are treating their blog like it’s a social media website and thus a place to post any random thought that pops into their head.  If you have something meaningful to say, think it out, type it out, read it, then post.  Don’t just post to get views.  It’s not really helping your cause like you think it is.  I feel this is as good a way to lose followers as it is to get/keep them.

5 – Shameless pluggers should be paraded around for their whoring.

I have had a mess of people comment or message me because they want to promote/sell me their book.  Please refer to point 2.  Why do I care about you?  If all you are coming at me with is, “here is my book! Buy it!  It’s totally awesome!” I will delete you and never speak with you again.  This is like walking up to a random person in the bar and saying, “here’s my naked self!  Let’s do it!  I’m great!”  Can you at least buy me a drink first?  Tell me your name?  Ask me any stupid thing about me, then we can talk about you and all your shameless self promotion?  Go away already.

All this being said, I will share my thought process on this site and how it works best if your aim is to expand your readership:

  • The basic tenant should be: Do unto others.  If they like something of yours, go read their site and like something back (really read it though.  Don’t be lazy and like the first thing you find).  If they comment, comment back.  If they follow, follow back… with stipulations:
  • If someone follows your site, click on their name, go to their site and read something of theirs.  Comment or like it depending on how well it suits your taste.  If all you ever get is a follow and no other communication over the course of a few weeks, they didn’t really like your site, they just wanted another follower. 
  • Same thing goes with likes and comments.  Bloggers should care enough about their readers to pay attention to what they are writing too.  Too many people are just on this site to write things and have everyone love them and read their fabulous words.  If they don’t care about you, ask yourself what about their site attracted you in the first place and if you want to keep reading it even though they have no time to address you.  Unless this is Neil Gaiman we are talking about, they have time.
  • Along those lines, if someone takes the time to comment on your work, comment back.  I would even say to go a step further and go to their site and find something to comment on.
  • I have 30 WordPress followers at this point but I only consider about 5 of them real followers.  These are the blogs I will read anytime I get an email and comment on right away.  Why?  Because I know that when I post something they will do the same.
  • Why is this a good habit to form?  It depends on why you are blogging.  My aim is to build relationships with my readers so that, if or when the time comes, I will have a base of readers to work from if I do ever publish my work.  I can then send it to them knowing that I have fostered a real relationship with these people rather than just spamming random people I have never spoken to about this awesome thing I wrote… and PS, I’m naked!

I would love to hear from the rest of you now.  What has your experience with this site taught you?  What is your impression of blogging?  You know what happens now if you don’t comment… and if you do 😉 

Side Note:  Really taking the time to read through blogs is very rewarding.  I read through nearly two hundred last night and found 3 that I really liked.  I posted about them and ended up breaking my site view record by over double.  I also doubled my number of visitors and gained 4 new followers… just for suggesting other sites that were good. 

The logic is, if you find something truly good that means you probably have good taste.  If you have good taste than it’s probably a good idea to follow you as well. 

This is evidence that the homework Blogging 101 is giving us is absolutely worth it.  Follow it and it will lead you in the right direction.