Riding the winds at Disneyland
November 29, 2014
When my friend Hilary and I went to Disneyland a few weeks ago, the first ride we went on was the Matterhorn.
I first went to Disneyland in 1970, practically kicking and screaming because I knew I was going to absolutely hate the place, but my L.A. host friends wanted to go so I was stuck.
To my astonishment, I had a grand time, and subsequently returned over the years with my daughters Skye and Hillery and later with the addition of my granddaughter Riley.
The Matterhorn was my favorite ride in the park, and the past two or three times I was there it was, to my disappointment, closed. I loved going straight up inside the interior of the mountain — there were two tracks and you could see the passengers in the neighboring cars, going up, up, up on the clattering chain that grabbed our mock sled.
Inside the Matterhorn we were engulfed in a great musty interior smell that I would recognize immediately but have never smelled anywhere else.
Maybe somebody cried "mold!" and refurbishing was started to eradicate it (hence the closings?), I don't know. I just know the Matterhorn I went on a couple of weeks ago was a completely different and inferior ride.
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We were hurled into a dark tunnel, zipped around up, down and sideways and then, at the top, broke into daylight and flew down the exterior of the mountain, splashing through water at the end. That part was the same, but that downward part was always the anti-climax compared to clanking up the interior.
Ah well, we have to keep improving things.
Then we were off to Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones and the Radiator Springs race cars, all teeth-rattling, bone-cracking, whip-lashing rides from which I, at my age and state of decrepitude, should have kept my distance but managed to survive unscathed.
We both eschewed the roller coaster in the new California Land that abuts Disneyland. Called California Screamin', it's one of those killer coasters where you have to be clamped into your seat to keep from flying out when the cars go completely upside down in circles. Ditto the monster Ferris wheel and the Tower of Terror.
Against my better judgment, I had gone on the Tower of Terror in Disney World in Florida, where you go up umpteen stories in a full-floor elevator and then the floor drops away. Once is enough for that baby.
While hurrying past California Screamin,' I spotted a cute little ride called Goofy's Sky School, which appeared to be a roller coaster on training wheels. The deception was made clear when my KAJX cap was ripped from my head on the first sharp turn and the only surprise was that I didn't follow it.
"I thought this was a kiddie ride!" the woman behind us screamed. I would have agreed, but I was far beyond speech.
One of our favorite rides was called Soarin' over California, where you fly down onto rivers and soar dangerously close up into mountains, all done by sleight of camera and the removal of your footrest. You knew all along that it was just a movie, but you sure felt like an eagle.
We never did get to the kiddie rides at Fantasyland (Peter Pan, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) because the place was jammed to the max. Next time, if there is a next time.
Su Lum is a longtime local who may have gotten it out of her system. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.