We’re taking the two chilluns to The Happiest Place On Earth (TM) tomorrow.  Ages 7 and 5, height over 50″ and over 40″, respectively.  Neither makes the Autopia height requirement, and Hannah’s too short for Indiana Jones, but they both apparently qualify for Space Mountain *and* Thunder Mountain Railroad.

I’m not thinking it too likely that either will be featured, however.  Still, kids can surprise you.  Odds are that Tom Sawyer’s Island will play large, though, as will Pirates.  I’m finally going to see the retrofitting that was executed to make the ride more like the movie it inspired, I’ll perhaps be inspired to write a post about self-referential retconning later.

In spite of the fact that we live in SoCal, this will be the first visit, because by all that’s holy Disneyland is mofreakin’ expensive.  Thankfully, we have an “in”, and admission will be comped… so the day will probably only cost a godly amount of money instead of an ungodly amount.  I’m sure the mouse-ear hat with the embroidered name is going to come home with us.

There’s an absurdity to visiting Disneyland, but somehow in spite of Disney being Disney, there’s a simplistic idiotic cheer to the place that’s particularly American in that “everything that the Boomers experienced growing up is a tradition” way.

I already have the teacup music stuck in my head.  Now you do, too, if you know what it sounds like.  And you probably hate me for it.  I admit, I did that on purpose.

So… what was Your Amusement Park growing up?


Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.


  1. Growing up in Michigan, our amusement park was Cedar Point and, if we didn’t want to do that, King’s Island.

    We moved in the late 80’s so, at that point, Cedar Point’s newest ride was Demon Drop and King’s Island was still featuring “The Beast” prominently in its advertising.

    Looking at their various webpages, I see that there have been many advancements in rollercoaster tech since The Cure released Disintegration…

    • King’s Island and The Beast!!! I was in my early twenties does that still count as growing up? In my younger days Frontier City in Oklahoma City

      • Oh and grandparents lived in Sarasota so paid for us to go to Disney World and Epcot otherwise our family could not have afforded it even back then

  2. Hershey Park, or Knoebbels. I recommend Knoebbels, they still have the free ring on their merry go round.

  3. I grew in in SoCal, and back then Disneyland was pretty lame – Space Mountain, the first of their “Hey, this is kind of exciting!” rides wasn’t installed until I was in junior high. I remember whenever anyone came to town, they always wanted to go to either the Mouse or to Universal Studios Tours – each of which I found quite dull.

    However, my amusement park WAS exciting. I grew up in Valencia, home of Magic Mountain. All the high school kids used to work there, and one of the job perks was that aside from getting in free you got some number of free tickets each month, which were invariably passed down to us younger siblings.

    Before they were purchased by Six Flags, Magic Mountain was the most exciting place to go on rides. Safety standards were poor, and maybe once every year or two there would be a story about someone who died on a ride – unacceptable as an adult, but the makings of real tests of courage for groups of young boys looking to prove themselves.

    • Ooh, whenever we drove up to Magic Mountain I always felt a rush of envy at the people who lived in the neighborhood. So you were one of ’em, eh? I hope you remember your privileged background in future discussions.

      • Please do! I will let my just-like-family, nonwhite blog-writing servants know to expect increased scrutiny.

    • OK small fricken world – I grew up in Saugus and yes I worked at Magic Mountain. I loved giving away what was left of my annual ticket allotment to some randomly picked people waiting in line to pay. People were always quite suspicious, as those were my Goth/Punk days. It rarely appeared that they believed it until they were through the gate. Their excitement was always worth it. Having worked in rides, I would say that now I wonder why people so easily take for granted that even with training, ride operators are still teenagers with limited logic skills, and in hindsight some of my antics and those I worked with were definitely questionable when it comes to safety.

      • I also grew up in Saugus-Mint Canyon actually- haven’t even heard that name spoken since I was 12 and it became Canyon Country.

        The park of my childhood dreams was Disneyland- Magic Mountain seemed even to my child’s eyes to be a lame imitation; there wasn’t the themed magic, it seemed more like a carnival trying to put on airs. I suppose an adolescent had a different view- their kicks are all about danger and action, not the gentle world of magic.

        • The world keeps getting smaller. I’ve heard the name Mint Canyon, but only from old-timers (a word I use advisedly, since that includes my wife, who isn’t that old). I doubt many of the tens of thousands who’ve flocked to Awesometown in the last 20 years are familiar with it.

      • *snort* a friend of mine nearly got knifed at Kennywood, working on rides.

    • Hey, my wife grew up in Saugus (definitely not Valencia–I assume you went to Hart High?). You can just see the top of the tower from her parent’s front door. She, her siblings, and most of her friends worked at MM in high school and college. I’ve gotten in many times for free due to her siblings and friends passes–alas, we’re all old now and no longer have friends who work there.

      We did take the kids there last summer, and the park has got some absolutely killer coasters now. A bit rough on my body these days, but I would have geeked out over them as a kid.

      • Wait a minute… I thought you were the guys that shared Eugene roots with me…. but now it’s Saugus too? Small world indeed!

        And yes, I went to Hart through my sophomore year, before my parents move up to the PNW.

          • I’m originally from the Hoosier state, but my wife’s from Saugus (I lived there with her for a couple years), and Eugene was for grad school.

            So I wonder in what little ways our lives have intersected in those two relatively small communities? And do you also get disoriented in the SCV these days?

          • In more ways than one. For one thing, there was nothing but land between Newhall/Valencia and Saugus back in the day… and hundreds of miles of nothing past that.

            It’s also funny to go back to the street where I grew up, which I always though of as being on the crest of a big hill. It is, I now realize, at the apex of a slight upward slope.

            I am not sure if we would have intersected much in Eugene… I am assuming that you are much younger than I, and if you were there for grad and me for under-grad I would have been long gone (’88) by the time you came along.

          • Tod,

            Yeah, I arrived in Eugene in ’94. Did you take any political science classes? If so, what profs?

            As for the SCV, I first knew it in 1990, just as the boom was starting and when there was still all that empty land you mention. My wife complains that all her visual cues for driving around have been disrupted.

            And since you went to Hart, may I presume you’re a snobbish preppie? (I don’t really know, all I know is my wife’s a Saugus grad with a chip on her lovely shoulder.)

          • It’s funny to hear Hart described that way. I always thought of it as the opposite.

            And I did take a bit of Poli-Sci. Most of the classes were over at my college, RD Clark – which was a separate college within the U.

            Tell Johanna I’m very curious to know what rides she operated! (Or if you’re actually reading this, Johanna, I ask this of you directly!)

          • Tod – Really no chip I actually hung out with quite a few Hart grads – With our mathematical guess you were at Hart 81-82? If so you are only a year ahead of me and very likely know some of my friends.

            I worked Jammer (which during our visit this summer was told that it was closing this year) Colossus, Bunny World (sad but true), Metro when I felt like being really lazy and wanted to hang out with my best friend, and various other rides for a few days at a time.

          • Tod,

            My grad adviser, John Orbell, taught in Clark frequently. Did you happen to take a class with him? I think he taught political analysis or contemporary political theory, something like that. The guy with the New Zealand accent.

          • Johanna –

            No, class of 83 actually – so that would make us same year, yes? I may indeed know some folks that you do! I remember the jammer, and of course the colossus. I’m trying to remember… was metro where we went to dance?

            James – No, that name is not at all familiar… but the faculty rotated quite a bit. Francis Cogan is the only one there that was still there when I went back some 10 years later.

          • Actually I was ’85 – And yes Metro was both the hideously slow train that went around the park and the dance club (almost forgot that even though I spent a good deal of my evenings there). What a odd coincidence that there are three LoOG folks from the same town at the same time here.

    • I was at Disney Land in September. Pirates was closed for extensive renovations; I don’t know if it will be up and running yet; you’ve got the trip planned so there isn’t much you can do about it anyway.

      Growing up in SoCal, the parks of record were Disney Land, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Magic Mountain; Magic Mountain was by far the closest to get to. I recall enjoying the Magic Pagoda quite a lot, which was the first thing that those bastadges from Six Flags ripped out when they bought the place.

      I also worked at Magic Mountain as did many teenagers from the area (no I was not so fortunate as to live in Valencia). But the free tickets for my friends, and the free use of the park after work, was a great deal, as was the extra money and the chance to work side-by-side with my high school girlfriend. We made the food for the ride operators with extra goodness, and they would use whatever tricks they had at their disposal to make the rides for us extra fun, like running Colossus backwards.

      • Pirates was closed for extensive renovations

        50/50 odds that they’re putting in a Penelope Cruz animatronic character.

        • Nope, not much is changed from when I was a kid, actually. Jack Sparrow shows up here and there, but they did his robot in the same style so it actually fits.

          On the other hand, the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse is now the Tarzan treehouse and they left most of the Swiss Family Robinson stuff there and that just looks silly.

          More to follow after I crater and rest. Long, long day. The kids made it about 5 miles of the 45 mile drive before they both tanked out.

          • Well, one thing that I remember when I was a kid was the pirates chasing the women in a circle at one point.

            When I went back in the 90’s, I remember the women having platters of food and, of course, the pirates were chasing the women because they wanted the food on the platters.

            The last time I went, they gave the women something like frying pans and the women were chasing the pirates. And, yes, Johnny Depp was there. Sigh.

      • Which employee cafeteria did you work at? My brother worked in Oasis from ’79-83,

        • Wow! I worked Oasis too! ’85-86. Then I got a job at Albertson’s, which paid better and was closer to home.

          • Hughes Market for the same reason – both the Saugus and Valencia stores and I also worked at Music Plus – which is now a bank.

  4. I’ve never been to Disneyland. I’ve been to Walt Disney World three or four times in my life and one time I got in for free because some staffer on her vacation liked my face. All parks, free monorail, $4 sodas. I don’t see how Disneyland could be better than Walt Disney World.

    I went to Wildwood, NJ on a frequent basis. It was really cool. Exceedingly to the point of being unmanageable beaches. Great rides, great haunted house and the coolest roller coaster this side of Great Adventure without needing a coke can.

    Now I’m older, fatter and live at the Jersey Shore. Summertime I spend lots of time in Seaside Heights with my child bride and her nieces and nephews. The beach is nice but the water gets way too rough for my tastes in addition to the microscopic creatures floating around at certain times of the year. Fortunately we have air conditioning which makes staying home with my best friend, the computer, very nice.

    • Disneyworld is less happy now that they fired the flashers… (got ’em on camera).

  5. Last time I was at Disneyland, our girls were 5, 7, and 10, it was the first time I had ever been on Tom Sawyers Island and the girls loved it. They loved the Peter Pan ride, Mr. Toads, of course Pirates (hope it is open), and Autopia and the Jungle Boat. Definitely get a Fast Pass for at least a few rides.

Comments are closed.