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AutoMatters & More: The old Disneyland that we love is back — and getting better

My Donald Duck Disneyland postcard from the 1950s.
My Donald Duck Disneyland postcard from the 1950s.
(Jan Wagner)

Like so many people around the world, I’ve loved Disney and Disneyland for as long as I can remember — and even before that.

I grew up in Alberta, Canada. When I was about five years old, my mother took me on a trip to visit one of her sisters, who lived in Los Angeles. Even though I do not remember visiting Disneyland on that trip, I must have done so because I still have a squeaker Donald Duck postcard from Disneyland. Donald Duck is still my favorite Disney character.

Recently on Amazon, I spotted a Donald Duck plush, complete with a straw hat and a colorful serape from Disney’s “The Three Caballeros.” I bought it and keep it where I can see it daily from my dining table. It brings a smile to my face, and it complements the “The Three Caballeros” figurine that I bought several years ago.

My keepsake Dave Smith pin
My keepsake Dave Smith pin
(Jan Wagner)

Eventually I moved to San Diego from Canada and, for many years, I had a Disneyland Annual Passport. Living in San Diego, I enjoyed stopping to visit Disneyland while on my way back from my occasional trips to Los Angeles.

That changed with COVID. Disneyland shut down. Annual Passport balances were refunded. Throughout that dark time, I maintained my connection to Disney and the Disney Parks (worldwide) through my membership in the Los Angeles-based Disneyland Fan Club Meetup Group. Whereas before we had met with each other in the SoCal Disney Parks, during COVID we met online to watch Disney Parks (and other) YouTube videos. We still do, every Saturday.

My keepsake Dave Smith pin
My keepsake Dave Smith pin
(Jan Wagner)

Despite the new annual pass restrictions, including the requirement to reserve in advance to go to the Parks (so much for my spontaneous visits for a few hours at a time), I bought the top tier Magic Key annual pass. So far I’ve never had any problem making a reservation.

Most recently, I went to there a couple of weeks ago when the D23 Fan Club hosted a presentation by the Disney Archives at an event for D23 Gold Members. The event, held at the Disneyland Opera House (the home of Mr. Lincoln), celebrated the life and contributions to Disney of Dave Smith, the very first Disney archivist. Earlier in the day, a window on Main Street USA was unveiled in his honor.

I actually met Dave a few years ago at the Disney Studios, during another D23 Fan Club event. Dave showed our group some treasures from the Disney Archives.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride
(Jan Wagner)

After the presentation, I spent the day at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure — and what a day it was! I rode all of the rides that I wanted to, beginning with my favorite ride in the Parks: “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.”

Another ride that I went on, in between walking around and taking in the sights at “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” was “Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.”

One of the new restrictions when visiting the Parks, even if you have an annual pass that lets you visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on the same day, is that you have to pick one Park to visit first and then wait until the afternoon to visit the other, so that is what I did.

At Disney California Adventure I checked out some of their Lunar New Year festivities, including a colorful parade.

Then I headed over to the Avengers Campus where I rode “WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure.” Next, I enjoyed an entertaining live action show featuring Doctor Strange, the Master of the Mystic Arts.

By this time I was tired and, since I am still not eating in public places due to the risk of catching COVID if I take my mask off, I was also hungry. I used the opportunity to buy a “New York’s Tastiest” “Chicken Shawarma Wrap with Coconut Yogurt-Tahina Sauce and Pickled Vegetables” from the Shawarma Palace, and I took it back to my RAV4 to eat it, before driving home to San Diego.

Lunar New Year float at Disney California Adventure
Lunar New Year float at Disney California Adventure
(Jan Wagner)

All in all, I had a great day. As I shared with several cast members that day, I can happily report to you that “The Happiest Place on Earth” is a happy place to be once again.

To see the most photos and the latest text, and to explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, visit AutoMatters & More at AutoMatters.net. On the Home Page, search by title or topic, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #727


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