The first time I went to Disneyland was in 1966. I was five years old. My parents, who were in their 20s, drove our Volkswagen Beetle from Boulder, CO to Anaheim, CA in the middle of summer.
I remember four things from the trip:
1. A motorcycle cop pulling over my father for speeding. When my father produced his driver's license, the cop looked at it and did a double take. The cop said that his last name was Frauenfelder, too. And since they must be sixth cousins or something, he was duty-bound to let my father go.
2. My mother putting a wet towel on my face as we drove through the Arizona desert in the non-air conditioned Volkswagen.
3. Seeing live mermaids and feeling water drip on my face on the Submarine Voyage ride.
4. Seeing climbers in lederhosen climbing the artificial Matterhorn.
(Unfortunately, I don't remember anything else about the trip! I wonder if additional memories are locked in the recesses of my brain, retrievable through CIA developed truth serums or hypnosis.)
Out of those four memories, the most vivid was the one of the Matterhorn. To me, the Matterhorn looked as big as the Rocky Mountains. A few years ago, I googled Disneyland's Matterhorn to learn about its construction. The most interesting thing I learned was that there is an actual basketball court inside the artificial mountain near the summit. Some of the websites I've read about the Matterhorn say that Walt Disney added a basketball court to the Matterhorn to skirt around Anaheim's building codes, which prohibited structures from exceeding a specified height unless they were sports arenas. But according to Snopes.com, that great debunker of myths, the basketball court was put there solely as a way for the climbers to have fun during inclement weather.
Above is a Disney Imagineering video about the basketball court in the Matterhorn.
Lylah, who is five, can now begin training for “American Ninja Warrior” in earnest, thanks to the DIY ingenuity of her most excellent dad.
You know what America needs right now? A little perspective. For that, I recommend you head to your local IMAX theater and see Terrence Malick’s “Voyage of Time: The Imax Experience.” It’s a psychedelic meditation on the history of the cosmos that’s very kid-friendly, and a wonderful reminder of the big, big picture.
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