This past September I attended a work conference held at the Disneyland Hotel Conference Center. During the stay, I visited a Disney park for the first time in my life. It was great.
It may be hard to believe, but, going into it, I was far more excited about the work aspect than the Disneyland part. You see, California is part of my sales territory, and this was going to be a great opportunity to connect with a lot of prospects and make some sweet sales ie mucho dinero for yours truly.
As for the Disneyland part: well, despite all the great stuff I’d heard about Disney parks, I assumed Disneyland was going to be just another theme park (of which I’m not a huge fan).
That was an incorrect assumption.
For those who’ve never been, the whole Disneyland Resort is pretty amazing.
What’s that? What do I mean by Disneyland “Resort”? That’s a great question – I’m glad you asked! The Disneyland Resort includes the Disneyland Hotel, Downtown Disney, and Disneyland Park (and the Disney California Adventure stuff of which I didn’t partake).
Anyway, like I said, Disneyland is wonderful, and I had a great time. If I had to boil it all down, I’d say there are four things that really make Disneyland a special place.
- The music – it took me about 11 hours to get from OKC to LA. It wasn’t supposed to take that long, but after a flight delay, subsequent missed connection, and subsequent subsequent missed shuttle, I was really dragging when I finally arrived at the Disneyland Hotel. I lugged my 1,000,000,000,000,000 lb luggage into the spacious lobby feeling exhausted. Then, I was hit with a sense of wonder. The place literally sparkled.
Everything I saw was clean, new-looking, and inviting. Then I heard the music and I was enchanted. It was charming, upbeat Disney music playing, and I don’t mean like pop-rock stuff like Let It Go; I mean classic, orchestral Disney hits. The songs were well-recorded, clearly-produced, and the arrangements were superb! I was highly pleased.The next day, as I walked to breakfast, I noticed that the same great music was playing outside as well as inside. It was like I was living in a literal Disney “land.” My musical sensibilities were certainly being dazzled.
After breakfast, we headed to the park. The whole way we were treated to different wonderful, charming, upbeat Disney music. Downtown Disney (a long section of the resort with shops and restaurants) had its own tunes, and then the big plaza approaching the park gates had its own melodies.
Of course, inside the park, there’s a ton of great audio to enjoy including songs from newly acquired Lucasfilm franchises like Indiana Jones and Star Wars. The ubiquitous audio system delivers clean, flawless sound such that you almost get lost in it; it almost feels like having a Disney soundtrack for your life.
To this point, I’ve only touched on the recorded music I heard, but there was another major musical experience I enjoyed: the (live) Disney Marching Band. I first heard them when I was walking close to the Castle and suddenly caught wind of a rockin’ drum corp-like arrangement of the aforementioned Let It Go. It was awesome. I hurried over to listen, and it was really phenomenal. Those people can really play. Forsooth, I think that might’ve been my favorite part of the park. I could’ve listened to them play all morning.
All in all, the music was great and easily my favorite part of the trip.
- The weather – I’m not sure how hot it gets in the summer, but Los Angeles in late September is about as flawless as can be. Every day was roughly 72-73 degrees Fahrenheit, and the nights were about the same, maybe slightly cooler. Being outside in that weather was amazing! I asked the locals if the weather is always like that, and they said it is for the most part. Of course, I’m guessing the summer and winter are hotter and colder, respectively, but they said the temperature is pretty well great year-round. “That’s why everyone wants to live here!” exclaimed one native.
- The food – I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but the food at the park was really, really good! In hindsight this seems like a ridiculous expectation, but going in I guess I was expecting something akin to carnival/ballpark food. Nope – the burger I had for lunch rivals anything from any high-scale burger joint, and the meatloaf was delicious. Yes, the theme park meatloaf not only exists but is scrumptious. Who would’ve expected that?
- The tidiness – going into the trip, this was the thing to which I was most looking forward: seeing the legendary flawlessness of a Disney park. In business school, I read a book called Inside the Magic Kingdom in which Tom Connellan shares insights relating to Disney’s success. One especially memorable element he relates is how park employees (Cast Members) not only pick up trash constantly but even do paint touch-ups so as to make the park look as perfect as the day it opened.I couldn’t wait to see this hyper “spic-and-span”-ness, and disappointed I was not.Everything everywhere is clean, fresh, and nice. Sure, there was one instance of horse feces on Main Street, but that was cleaned up ultra fast. Oh, and the glass enclosing the big park map inside the Lincoln room was a little smudged from grubby hands pressing on it. BUT – other than that, it was about as nice as could be. And it was nice; being in an environment as cared-for as that is almost soothing. By my troth, one might call it the happiest place in the world!
- BONUS – one more thing: if you read my review of Sleeping Beauty, you’ll know that I love the art from that movie. It’s truly astounding. Well, imagine my joy in finding the decor of the conference area to be straight from that film! The wallpaper was patterned with SB trees, and there are murals of background shots from the movie hung throughout the area. I wish I’d taken some photos to share here. Alas. Suffice it to say, it was very nice to see everyday.
Alright, that’s it – FIVE things I really liked about my visit to Disneyland. Of course, it wasn’t flawless – the crowds in the evening were nigh-insufferable, the Indiana Jones ride was down during our FastPass time, and the security checkpoint was annoying. Twice they stopped my dad trying to bring innocuous items into the park like a pipe bomb and his favorite machete. No, no, I kid, but they did make him take an ethernet cable back to the hotel room. I guess they thought he was going to hack the park with that ethernet cable. It was really obnoxious.
But, overall, it was a fantastic trip, and I would not mind going back again very soon. If you have the chance to visit a Disney park, I recommend it.
Grant Stevens is Le Chef of the Keep English Alive Society as well as the 500-time winner of the annual Grant Stevens Mind Palace Huge Award for best. He is also a member of the Use Ironic Correctly Coalition, and he enjoys being pedantic about words like “nation” and “democracy.”