Monday, June 30, 2014

There and Back Again: A Tale of an Excursion to, around, and beyond Disneyland

[Part Zero]

With all the items, topics, and things rattling in the bonepiece I call a skull there is something I need to do to get this shebang rolling. That would be expressing my gratitude with getting to meet people I have only kn0wn via online contact over the years, and my deep thanks to a certain few who this trip could not have happened without.

But first; a prologue by way of a backstory…

As twenty-thirteen was drawing to a close and I was calculating my prorated work bonus that I would be receiving this past March I hit upon something. I realized that my bonus for working a full-year that would be posted to my accounts come March 2015 would allow me the chance to make a journey; a pilgrimage to the homeland, if you will.

What “homeland” is this of which I speak? The place born of Walt Disney’s imagination that was, as told, inspired by spending time with his daughters in a local park: Disneyland.

All the years, decades, I have spent wandering around and experiencing the attractions at Walt Disney World in Florida. Not once have I had the chance to explore the original. Next year would be that would change based on my projections.

In to the story now comes my friend, Kevin. Our friendship started as one of those unique, almost fast-friends, kind of things. We had known of each other thanks to an online service called Livejournal. We officially met in person Spring 2005 amongst a bushel of bears eating at a sushi/teppanyaki restaurant with Chuck Norris less than 40 feet away…all in Dallas, Texas. Not quite two years later as our friendship thickened like thieves, Kevin begins talking about wanting to learn and explore the Disney parks in Florida. I share that I’d be happy to act as tour guide for him. So far, as of this writing, he and I have shared fourteen excursions to WDW now over the years.

Kevin eagerly listened as I shared stories from my early trips to WDW, discussing extinct attractions, and changes that have come to the Florida parks over time. He has taken that information, heaped upon tonnes of his own research and discovery, and formed his own memories and personal legacy there. His enthusiasm has helped to rekindle my own reminding me why I have come to call this place my second-home. The Magic Kingdom there and I grew up together with EPCOT Center as our younger sibling. Disney Hollywood Studios (nee Disney-MGM Studios) is our fun cousin. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is that relative I have had hardly any contact with, but am still trying to learn about.

Then a couple of years ago Kevin stretched his wings and left the metaphoric nest. He took the plunge and made the trip to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. While he traveled there and back alone, once there he met friends old and new – some we both share in common – and began forming a connection to the west coast parks that I did not have. As mentor of sorts in his learning things Disney Parks, I was happy to see him expanding his experience. Personally, I admit, being a little jealous that I could not be there to share those same first steps.

So…we rush back now to the present, minus a few months. Giddy about my permanent employment and my projected plans for 2015 I share the information with Kevin. This past February he jets to Georgia to hang with me and take in a Drive By Truckers concert in Athens. After collecting him from the Atlanta Airport and have him bundled in to my car he gets this secret smile and hands me a blue manila folder.

“Surprise!” he exclaims with a twinkle to his eye.

I open the packet…and I am at a loss for words. This person…this friend…had just handed me confirmations for a Disneyland trip that I am to be part of THIS YEAR. Not 2015 as my plans had begun aiming towards. Kevin had taken it upon himself to up my timetable a year.

He can see the emotions playing on my face; the quiver of my lips and watery sheen in my eyes. I try my best to be the enigmatic one – the quiet one that people tell you to watch out for. Even with becoming as close as friends and Kevin and I have he still has problems “reading” me. I, on the other hand, can easily pick up on his body-language and “tells”. This time…this moment…I cannot hide what it is that is in my brain.

The better part of me wants to refuse this gift. It is too much: plane tickets, hotel, park pass. All he wants me to worry about is food, souvenirs, and having a fun time. In my bleary-eyed haze I want to smack him for doing this; and I tell him so in my cracking voice.

He then shares with me about how he’s been planning and plotting this thanks to an over-abundance of work and compensation from said work. He wanted to do this for me…to be the one to be there with me as I took my first steps in Disneyland as I was there for him in his early days of learning about Disney World. I get this...I understand his feeling, his want, to be able to do for friends when he has the means to do so. I have that in me as well. It’s just…difficult…to consider that I would be the recipient of something like this.

We’ve moved full-circle now. The mentor becomes the mentee.

And while I still think he went way too far in handling these arrangements and should not have done this, I am forever flattered and touched by his actions and generosity.

 (l-r: Kevin & Joe)

Thank you, KQuig. I wish I knew how I could ever have earned this…


PS: More to come about me and my thoughts, opinions, dinglehoppers, and whatnots about Disneyland.



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Teddy-bearish Atlanta resident from Florida. Enjoys Doctor Who, steampunk aesthetics, Dragon*Con, Disney theme parks, Universal Orlando theme parks, cheesy pizza and lots of other things...