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Disneyland Article
Date Line Disney 74
Steven Orsinelli
Hello friends, I'm back for another personal look at Disneyland from my distorted perspective, Dateline 1974. Yes the days of bell bottom jeans, bun hugger pants and tight 501's. Tight? (You mean you guys wore your pants tight back then?) Yes son "tight" not loose and down not to our knees like you guys do today. Wow, totally gross Dad. Without argument, I just chalk it up to the ever-present generation gap. Kind of like viewing the Carousel of Progress ride and how the music and fashions change through the years. Sometimes it's just better to not respond to the little fellow.

1974 seems just like yesterday to me. I graduated in 1977 so as a freshman growing up in Garden Grove California at this time everything still seemed new and interesting. One of my favorite things to do at this tender age was to round up my close friends on a Friday night or Saturday and head down to Disneyland with the express purpose to meet girls. Yes, you remember girls right? Sweet, Happy, Beautiful girls, and California girls to boot!

I can remember being in the driveway of my house on a Thursday afternoon after school, working on the old truck and hearing the Mark Twain Whistle blow. We only lived a couple of miles from the park back then and if the breeze was right, sounds from the park would whiff our way on certain days. The sounds would just make me smile knowing that my friends and I were about to ascend into the park on the weekend to hopefully meet, and hangout with some new girls and possibly even a new girlfriend.

Saturday morning came quickly, all us guys were getting our cloths ready, my favorite attire was either my tight white painters pants or my white 501 button fly jeans. I guess back then I thought white was good for me since I was always tan or should I say burnt to a crisp by the sun from surf trips to Huntington. The fellows would make their way to my house at about 11:00 am and we would load up into my Mothers old 65 Ford station wagon. Soon the air in the wagon was a sweet mixture of Brute, English Leather, Old Spice, Skin Bracer and the smell of oil burning out of the tailpipe of that old car.

As she let us off in the Disneyland Parking lot she would inform us of where she would be picking us up. Usually it was across the street at the Disneyland Hotel, under the Monorail station, at the coffee shop at 12:00 pm that evening. That was way before there was any downtown Disney, and the hotel was easy to drive in and out of. Heck you could even drive almost right up to where the ticket booths were located back then in the Disneyland park parking lot. That was before the expansion of the park and the threat of terrorism.

I had twenty-five dollars in change in my pocket, yes change, go head and laugh but my Dad was a bartender and that's what he would give me for such a trip. Those twenty-five dollars got me entry into the park with a "full" ticket book, snacks during the day, and enough for a cheap magic trick on the way out at the end of the night. Man those were the good ole days. If we ran out of (E) tickets we begged tourist for theirs as they left the park early. It was always amazing to me how many tickets we procured this way.

As we cleared the entry tunnel to Main Street on arrival, we would all take a deep breath in knowing the romance to be had on this glorious day. Soon we were in Tomorrowland following a set of girls. We always looked for the same number of the opposite sex as we were. So if there were four of us, we tried to meet four girls. Girls realized quickly that our motley crew was in tow, I think they had eyes in the back of their heads. I was the lead man. The icebreaker so to say, I would strike up a conversation once I got the nerve, and if I got them laughing, and not laughing at us, I knew we had a chance. Now if we were stuck in a line together it was even better because they had no escape path.

It seemed real simple back then, and not like today it was more innocent, sure we would hold hands and sneak a kiss or two, but that was the extent of it for us. All those feelings were new to us on those trips, as it was for the girls we met. The excitement of meeting and hanging out with a cool chick was "totally bitchen" (sorry for the slang, but it was the thing to say back in those days) So meeting a girl and being able to hang out with them all day in the happiest place on earth was just too cool for words.

I think maybe it was also neat (at times) because there were many excursions when we never saw the girls we met again. It was good because we never had to see the bad side of anyone. Meaning, we never saw them putting on make-up, yelling at their siblings, being mad, being mad at us, slamming doors, and going crazy over stupid stuff like our wife's do each day. (I know I will pay dearly at home for that last comment) oh well such is the life of a writer.

So anyhow they were very memorable experiences. We all had favorite kissing spots back then, I had two places, the Monsanto Ride (Shrinking through Inter Space) now Star Tours, the cars we rode in are now the "Doom Buggy's" at the Haunted Mansion, and best of all Tom Sawyers Island, no further remarks needed.

I was at the park last weekend and saw a young couple atop the caves where the pipe telescopes are. They were holding each other and looking down on the Mark Twain where I was seated. I looked at them and waved remembering my times there as a young man, they just ignored me as they should have. They probably saw in me, in the way I looked at old people back then, an old guy being weird eating stale popcorn and feeding it to the ducks.

Good times and great memories, Hopefully they rekindle a fond memory or two of things you experienced at Disneyland. I think that what makes it so endearing to many of us because it's like no other in place that truly was and is magical for a variety of reasons. Either way, it makes me feel good to write about them and hopefully someone out there enjoys reading them. I usually write these works of grandeur after school while listing to Disney sound tracks of the rides in the park and film scores.

I think most of my students and family think I am a bit obsessive about Disney, and truthfully I can see it, and agree to it. All I can say is I love it all, the films, the historical content of the park, Main Street, Frontierland and all the lands. They all have something to offer. I like how it makes me feel. It is the only location or place, man made, that has complete professionalism and creativity to engage us into the world of fantasy and make our dreams and or films come alive before our very eyes. Also as important, it is all accomplished in a very safe environment for us and our children. Just the little things add to the whole experience, from the delicate ornate lights in New Orleans Square to the composed music for the rides and atmosphere it really is amazing.

One of my students was there in the park last month during the holidays, it was the day they shut down the entry gates due to overcrowding. He said it was so packed you could not move down the street. This was one of the reasons I had not renewed my pass. Well as of last weekend I changed my mind, after almost 8 months of not having it I really started to disintegrate.

I think they will always experience high volumes of crowds because of these things mentioned and more. I don't think it ever really will change, even with folks losing their jobs, high gas prices, and home repossessions seems people are still being able to afford to go to the park and renew their passes, I heard this was a record year for pass renewal. Hey it is our escapism, and for alot of us a place where we can live in the past. I don't know how many people I have met over the years that tell me they just love to sit somewhere and watch the people that walk by. Or sit with a cup of coffee or an ice cream and soak up the sounds of the turn of the century, the stores, sidewalks, the barbershop quartet, and the clacking of the horse's pulling the trolley down Main street.

Maybe for all the accolades Walt received in his lifetime his true wisdom was that he had his pulse on what made us happy as Americans, simple things that are no longer a way of life. All I know is that if you Susan H. or Kathy P. ever read this article and remember the crazy guy who met you at Disneyland with the white painters pants, it was me, and I never forgot you.

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