Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"No Request is Too Extreme"

uch like a therapy session, writing weekly installments on a particular subject will also eventually reveal what lies at the very heart of your troubles. Amidst a lifetime of adoration, weekly visits to the Happiest Place On Earth and the editorial investigation-style scouring of Walt’s Magic Kingdom for this very blog, it seems I have been harboring a slow boiling, martyr-like resentment against the general public's perception of Disneyland. And, well, why wouldn’t I? Clearly, it’s not something that I will deny I was never aware of, but the extent of disappointment it has brought upon me has emerged repeatedly in these posts, like a bad penny, and that is where I am left a bit surprised. I’d like to be resilient and not allow the corporation that is now simply branded ‘Disney’ tear a hole in my heart every time they gut something from Disneyland that Mr. Disney and his people worked so hard on, or when the company forges candy-coated mockeries molded from heartfelt words Mr. Disney has said about the theme park he mortgaged his own home for. Fortunately or unfortunately (I haven’t figured that out yet) I am resilient in a different way. I persevere as a fan of Mr. Disney’s, revving with the full intention of reminding people what Disneyland was intended to be, despite the verbal blows I take for the sake of ‘progress’ and ‘relevancy’. Yet, I have always believed that when you love something so much that it hurts, it at least means you’re doing something right. With this new realization of my underlying harrowing, today I bring along with me a bit of validation for all of the hard work and difficult adjustments that the admirers of Mr. Disney and his Disneyland, (such as Eric, myself, and the lovely people we have met since we’ve founded this blog) have had to endure while trying to keep a smile on our faces in the meantime.

Recently, a co-worker of mine informed me that he was making his first trip to Disneyland. He would be bringing along his wife and two young boys that were visiting them from out of town (being from the east coast originally, they all had visited Walt Disney World before, but we all know that hardly counts when we’re talking Mr. Disney’s park). Inspired by a mini-guidebook Eric had made for one of his own co-workers and also by my own fervor to enhance the enjoyment of Walt’s TRUE Disneyland, I asked my co-worker if he’d like some pointers to spruce up their visit. He said he would love that and mentioned he liked knowing they were going to come from a true fan. I didn’t find this information out until an hour before my work shift ended on a Friday afternoon; their trip would be happening that following Saturday, so I knew I needed to sharpen my Disneyland wit and bust a serious Disneyland Tour Guide 911 in the limited time that I had.
Carefully thinking and typing up a storm (while wearing an imaginary black velvet Jokey helmet, of course), I instructed the new lucky Guests on how to use the FastPass system, what attractions to hit and when, how to avoid crowds and what to DEFINITELY not miss in order to fully experience Disneyland at its best. Relevant factoid for the adults here, relevant factoid for the kids there, centralized instructions, and voila! a day of pixie dust and chim-chim-churees. For a fanatic, it is rough to skim and omit over the creative, colorful canvas that is Disneyland, but I did the best job I could with the experience I have and found a result that I was pretty satisfied with. In one hour's time, I handed my work off, hoped for the best and vicariously enjoyed the park alongside them within my head on Saturday, wondering what they were able to do, what they missed, what they liked and what they didn’t and where I was able to help…

Monday rolled around and before I could even quiz my co-worker about his first visit to Disneyland, I was surprised with a small batch of brownies encased within a Ziploc bag that wore a Sharpie illustration of Mickey Mouse (enjoying something just as delicious as the brownie the bag contained!) and a little greeting card in an envelope that was decorated with the letters of my name proudly adorning a Mickey ears hat. What a site to be greeted with. The card was signed by all guests attending, each personally telling me what a nice time they had and how they “hardly waited in any lines!” because of my help. Heck if I didn’t feel like Jiminy Cricket wearing his gold medal for the first time! In that moment, I reflected on all the time I have invested in researching, learning, practicing,
writing and yes… suffering… for something that I believed in and I understood that this is what all my work is for. Sure, I feel strongly about things that happen within the politics of Disneyland, but it is the sake of art and the sake of the Guest where I find my true motivation, because I was taught the difference between the value of a dollar and the value of a moment in time. After I found the chance to question my co-worker about their visit, he thanked me again and also said that he and his wife loved the park so much, they were even talking about becoming Annual Passholders. As we’ve stated many times before on this blog, it’s easy to fall in love with Disneyland upon first introduction, so I take no credit there, though I still can’t help but wonder what kind of day they would have had without the guidance of someone who truly loves the park. As Mr. Disney has surely taught me, that little extra something goes quite a long way.

Many therapists charge their clients by the hour and on a sliding scale. I’m grateful for that because I can’t afford much more than the many hours I spend admiring and writing about Mr. Disney’s Disneyland. The bright side is that I’ve now discovered that when it pays back, it pays back ten-fold, and that’s one fainting couch I’m definitely willing to lay on – happily, with good conscience! - and for as long as it takes. 

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