At one time, my youngest, Cameron, and I had annual passes to Disneyland. We visited often on the weekends I spent with him.
Going to Disneyland with Cameron is like visiting with my own personal Disney Talking Encyclopedia. Everything you wanted to know (and things you didn’t want to know) constantly pour forth from his excited lips. And he never ceases to amaze me with the new bits of trivia he’s amassed since my previous visit to Orange County to see him…
I don’t mean to sound whiny here, but imagine navigating throngs of sweaty people on a Sunday afternoon; most people hurriedly trying to get to their next attraction while a family of ten stops in the middle of the street to argue about which way to go. Infants scream because they want to see Mickey or they are being pushed at Mickey and are scared out of their tiny little minds by the huge, smiling rodent. People bump and push each other around other slow-moving tourists while the back of your neck burns in the sun and diminutive beads of sweat trickle down your sides.
You’re doing your best to keep your cool (and stay cool by attempting to walk under every tree you can find!) and at your side is a young teen saying, “Dad! See that curb over there?! That was put in by a guy who laid the concrete from left-to-right in honor of a friend of his great uncle who knew a guy who owned a horse previously owned by a guy who let Jack Dempsey’s younger brother ride it while he sang his favorite Disney song. That guy was left-handed and he worked here when their work shirts had six buttons instead of five!”
I mean, how do you respond to that in all this heat and clamor, especially when it was preceded by dozens of other complex bits of knowledge?
One October we found ourselves there during the annual Gay Days celebration. The park was awash in a sea of matching red t-shirts that are worn to commemorate the annual event. Behind us in a very long line for The Haunted Mansion was one such couple. Cameron was in full-fact-expounding mode, illuminating and elucidating me with a continual torrent of little-known-facts that were building up within my head as might steam in a clogged tea kettle. He was saying something about the yearly holiday remodel of the ride into the theme of The Nightmare Before Christmas. One of the gentlemen behind us said, “Oh! I don’t mean to intrude, but I heard you say that the contract with Tim Burton runs out soon. Did you know that the blah blah and the blah blah will not be decorated next year?”
Cameron spun in place to face the man and said, “Yes! And the thingy by the doofus will not be included once the bloingy has the blabus removed!”
“Really!” exclaimed the man. “I hadn’t heard that!”
“Yeah!” Cam said. “And the ghost with the whatzit may be replaced by another!”
“Wowwwww,” the man exhaled. “Did you see how much more of the hall is covered by the long vine?”
“Yes! But I heard this is the last year that the…”
I turned an exasperated look to the man’s partner to find him mirroring my expression. Without a word being said, our countenance expressed both our fill of hearing about useless (to us) trivia and the relief that my son and his partner had found someone with whom they could share their knowledge and passion.
The two kept up their discourse for the entire 45-minutes we moved through the line. The partner and I never said a word, yet smiled occasionally at each other as we surreptitiously enjoyed their excitement.
Still, I will confess to you that, every once in a while, Cameron comes up with a bit of trivia that is truly fun.
For example, there is a little corner cafe at the end of Main Street, USA. As far as I know, it is an original structure from the opening of Disneyland in 1955. Cameron told me that the whole building used to be adorned with red and white lights, which chased their way around the building every night. I think that the lighting has now days been confined to the entryway.
According to his source, workers began screwing in light bulbs from opposite ends of the building; first a red one and then a white. When the two workers came together in the middle, just under the main entrance, they realized the lights did not “match.” In other words, there would have been either two white or two red bulbs together. Neither man wanted to work his way back from whence he came, switching each bulb for the other color, so they stood at an impasse.
Allegedly, Walt Disney comes along to find each man staring down the other. He listens to their dilemma and eventually tells the men, “Well, if we can’t go back, then put in a bulb that is half red and half white!”
Cameron is telling me this story as we approach the structure. At this point he stops, walks me under the entrance, points up, and there, indeed, to this day, is a bulb that is red on one side and white on the other!
Pretty cool! Thanks, Cam!