I Grew Up at Disneyland!

My Real Memoir

Or rather, I grew up going there. To this day I can draw a more accurate map of Disneyland than I can my home town. Still, certain visits to the Magic Kingdom glow a little brighter in my memory than others.

The first time, I was five and experienced it in a way I never would again, in the same way I’ll never experience Santa Claus again—as something absolutely real, every spray-stuccoed inch of it.

Both for good: I believed Sleeping Beauty was actually asleep at that very moment in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and that our little Peter Pan ship had actually flown to Neverland.

And for bad: I believed the whale-mouthed entrance to the Storybook Canal Ride would deliver us straight into the belly of Monstro the whale! And so I refused to go, despite my parents’ assurances that we would quickly come out the other end. Be pooped out of a whale? No thanks, Mommandad!

Worst of all, when on the Snow White ride the Witch offered me a shiny Red Delicious and Dad cackled in his creepy old lady voice, “Want a poison apple?” I’d believed it was her speaking! I’d screamed throughout the remainder of the ride, and sob-hiccupped into my cotton candy on the King Arthur Carousel.

The next Disneyland visit that lights up my hippocampus was My First Real Date. True, I’d had an Official First Date earlier that year, but this one actually involved driving there with a girl—not me and my mom and girl, just me and a girl! True, it was the girl who drove. I only had a learner’s permit, but Kelle had her license and the use of a very cool car, a Rambler American with reclining seats! She’d driven me home after play rehearsals, and we’d sat in my driveway making good use of those seats, but now it was time for a Real Date!

Kelle and I were, “for all intensive purposes,” as my mom put it, girlfriend and boyfriend. No, I hadn’t given her a big, manly guy-ring to wrap in mohair. But it was her face that appeared next to the word “Girlfriend” in my Mitchionary. And after that evening, it was a picture of Disneyland that appeared next to the word “Romantic.”

Every ride acquired a new name that night: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was now Me and My Date on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The Jungle Boat Cruise was now The Look Everyone I’m at Disneyland With a Really Cute Girl! Cruise.

And, oh, modern Disney daters, if you only knew what it was like not to be barred and bundled into separate padded buckets on a super-fast Yeti-infested Matterhorn ride, but what I experienced that night: the slow-moving Matterhorn Bobsled With My Girlfriend Slid Back Into Me While We Gradually (Please Let it Last Forever!) Ascend the Chainlift and My Arms are Wrapped Around Her Delicious Girlness…ride.

Not until I went there with my wife did Disneyland once again appear next to the word “Romantic” in my Mitchionary. And not until we took our kids there did Disneyland appear next to the warning “Don’t say, ‘Want a poison apple?’” appear…

In my Dadcyclodpedia.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to I Grew Up at Disneyland!

  1. Pingback: California Dreamin’ | Mitch Teemley

  2. Victoria says:

    So much fun! And until you provided a name for it, I wouldn’t have known how to so deftly describe “sob-hiccupping”. Perfect! 😊

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Kathleen Ellerman says:

    Love this story. I watched the opening of Disneyland on our black and white tv and dreamed of going there. We finally did in 2007. We only had Coney Island here, but remember those same milestones there. My dad keeping me safe on the roller coaster, then my first boyfriend keeping me safe on the same ride and then keeping our 2 children safe at a smaller version of Coney.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. There must not have been any challenging hills on your drive to Disneyland. American motors cars were notorious for struggling up inclines. Your memories made me nostalgic-and I’ve never been to Disneyland or Disney World!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Pam Webb says:

    I’m glad we experienced Walt’s Disney vision. It was indeed a magical kingdom then.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Mitchionary. . . Dadcyclopedia . . . love your made-up words, Mitch! Our kids loved Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World. So disappointing when they replaced it with Winni-the-Pooh, but we can understand why. Time marches on, even for Disney.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. We traveled alllllllll the way from Missouri to California to see Disneyland. I was 12 or 13 so my brothers were 8 and 10, and my Uncle Harry and Aunt Tex (really that was her given name!) gave us the tour with my folks. What I remember? No gum on the ground, anywhere! I remember the rides like the Jungle boat ride and the elephant that shot water out of his nose. I also remembered the Pirates of the Caribbean and the 360 degree movie where when the plane turned, everyone standing by the railing almost fell down. So, 1/2 a century of memories.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Piano girl says:

    Makes me want to go to Disneyland! I’ve loved our couple of visits there over the years. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Piano girl says:

    Much better than Florida, btw. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lol! It sounds like fun! I’m one of the 6 aged Americans who’s never been to a Disney, and one of fewer cradle Catholics who’s never been to Rome (which is another way of saying, “We in the Nawth look/ed VERY forward to our summer beaches, boardwalks, carnivals & drive-in movies, and to the Fall fairs with their wonderfully chilly nights”)!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. So good! Thanks! We had an American Rambler as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. K.L. Hale says:

    The Mitchionary and Dadionary (? Lol) are filled with wonderful memories. You have such a beautiful way of weaving your words, memories, and the fantastical events that make you Mitch! How blessed are we? It’s like I’ve been to Disneyland! I’ve never been there~but I have been to DisneyWorld (a former love memory and special moments with my sons)!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Oh, this is GREAT Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I fun post! I enjoyed it.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Discover and Explore says:

    You are an untamable romantic just like myself. You take us down glorious memory lane via Disney, and its all beautiful! Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Discover and Explore says:

    Also, I visited Disneyworld in 1976, and Disneyland in 1978. Disneyworld is massive, and overwhelming! Just saying

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Caroll says:

    Love this post! I grew up 30 minutes from Disneyland and it was magic every time we went. (We had a Rambler too! Turquoise and white.) I vividly remember my 4 year old niece screaming through all of Peter Pan because she thought she really was flying. The pirates didn’t help. Then she rode the teacups and promptly threw up. Good times! Oh and my personal fondest date memory was my cute male classmate in my senior year sitting next to me on Pirates of the Carribbean leaning over and kissing me as we rode UP the waterfall.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Ana Daksina says:

    Did you say it? Two to one you did…

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Jeff Cann says:

    I’m marginally more familiar with Disney World because I live on the east coast so that’s where people go (but not me). I think it’s cool that back in the day it could be a date. Now, at least at the ‘World’ , ritps seem to require several days and thousands of dollars. Ah, progress.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Oh Mitch…smiling from ear to ear as I read this extract from your Memoir. That’s a book I’d definitely buy, I love your stories so much. I love your new terms, too “Mitchenary” and “Dadcyclopedia”. I called things my Dad would claim were 100% truth “Dad facts” and when Google came out, the Dad facts decreased quickly. Funny how that happens, huh? I loved hearing about Disneyland from a little boy perspective and from a guy on his first date. The new names for rides part made me giggle. Just so wholesome, I love it.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Tim Harlow says:

    Awesome memories, Mitch. You reminded me of my childhood fears of the Wizard of Oz. That witch and those flying monkeys scared to death. I think I was a teenager before I could watch that show. Thanks for the fun post.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. jilldennison says:

    Such great memories!!! My first trip to Disneyland was when I was about 9 years old and I was enchanted … a bit overwhelmed, but also enchanted!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. masercot says:

    I have to agree… as a child, of all the rides at DisneyWorld, the most terrifying was Snow White.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. We are just introducing our 3-year-old granddaughter to Snow White. She is enthralled and we are beyond impressed with the incredible animation. It is lightyears ahead of its time.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Ann Coleman says:

    How fun! (Despite the encounter with the apple-offering witch.) I grew up dreaming of going to Disneyland, but since I live in St. Louis, I had to make do with our local amusement park, “The Highlands.” The day it burned down was one of the saddest days in my young life…..

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Susie says:

    I have a friend who was one of the children running across the castle
    Bridge when Disneyland opened . I was an adult when she told me and I look for her every time I see Any videos of the event . First Disney trip I was 10 . My aunt wadded $5 up In a napkin and tossed it as we ate and it was a tragedy . My grandfather bought me a Tinkerbell necklace that I wish I still had ! It WAS A magical place . Went many times as an adult and then, as we lived in Chessy France we watched EuroDisney being built and went many times to that . My kids found 200 francs on Autopia so we are lunch ! Yea !!!
    Fun times

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Your memories make for great reading, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Pingback: Boys Just Wanna Have Fun | Mitch Teemley

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