Those who know me know I love big cities. There’s something about the lure of them: the skyscrapers, the high population, the traffic, the professional sports venues, the culture scene. Los Angeles is one of those cities for me. It has everything for me. The skyscrapers in Downtown LA and even the ones in Glendale, Anaheim, Long Beach, and Pasadena. The traffic…whether it’s on I-5, the 101, or Pacific Coast Highway. Even the soft traffic going up and down Topanga Canyon Boulevard from the Valley into Santa Monica is awesome. LA has Dodger Stadium and the Staples Center and many other venues that I watch sports. The culture scene is one of the best in the United States and maybe only Sydney, Tokyo, and Paris are better from an international perspective. But there’s one thing in the LA area that’ll always be a close memory to me. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Disney debut.
How I first came across this moment? It was in April 2012. After attending Facility Fusion in Chicago, I jetted out to Los Angeles to visit with some of my family for a week. They showed me the royal treatment and I certainly felt at home on the Left Coast, especially after all that I had gone through several months earlier. On the weekend before I was head back east to DC, we went to Disneyland. For me, it would be my debut at any Disney park as I had long stayed away from Disney World because of #19 on my bucket list and I never really felt the urge to go to Tokyo Disney or Hong Kong Disneyland during my residency in Asia. Walking through the gates at Disneyland in Anaheim, I felt like a kid again…significantly younger than the 27-year-old version of myself. Walking into Main Street, USA was a treat. I remember just stopping and being in awe. I got a chance to take the Disneyland Monorail and I think I just about lost it seeing the park from up high as we rode to the other side. I got a chance to take in Indiana Jones Adventure in Adventureland, the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Carribean rides in New Orleans Square, and the Mark Twain Riverboat in Frontierland. The biggest treat for me was in Mickey’s Toontown. That’s where I got a chance to meet Goofy. It was a great day.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, it was like realizing a lost portion of my childhood. My parents weren’t able to take me or my siblings to Disney when I was younger so the experience was grand for me. Meeting Goofy: that was like one of the great moments of my life. There I was, a 27-year-old grown ass man, running up and hugging the famed Disney character like I was just a 7-year-old kid. It probably freaked out the teenager who was wearing the costume. The entire day we spent in the park was magical.
What it means to me now? Looking back on it, I still find myself in awe of the moment. It makes the moment I’ll one day spend with my own kid at Disney World so much more important to me.