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MEMORIES OF WALT'S PLACE : Since Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, nearly 250 million people have passed through its gates. Each has memories and reactions to Walt Disney's dreamland come true. On the occasion of Disneyland's 30th anniversary, to be observed Wednesday, Calendar invited a few of those touched by Walt's magic to tell us how they fell under its spell: : OPTIMISM IN MANANA -LAND

July 14, 1985|PAUL RODRIGUEZ | The comedian also has something in common with Disneyland.

My first recollection of Disneyland was on a fifth grade field trip--a busful of young Chicanos eager to explore the Magic Kingdom.

For us, Manana -land was the most impressive and memorable. The very name and architecture of Tomorrowland made me feel optimistic about the future. Travel to the moon had not yet happened, but in 1969, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, I just knew he would because there was a rocket in Disneyland that went there regularly.

The People Mover somehow doesn't belong in Tomorrowland. If it is to be a model of futuristic transportation, it should move faster than the RTD buses.

The first thing you learn about Tomorrowland is that even in the future, you'll have to wait in long lines. Waiting in line is to learn to like, or to learn to tolerate, people. Always in line, you hear some idiot describe the ride you're about to get on for the first time. It's like somebody telling you the ending of a movie you've been waiting to see for a long time.

Mando Romero and I got lost on purpose, because having Mrs. Nelson as a tour guide was a bummer. We hurried to the Monorail. It was so modern, so "Star Trek," so clean. Apparently, in the future, people stopped practicing graffiti.

All of us kids were excited that, as the building turned, we were able to see the people ahead of us and in back of us. It gave me a real sense of past, present and future. Not only that, but all the appliances in the future ran by themselves. I guess the future is still a long way off. Even though I do have a microwave oven now, I still have to get up and turn it on. Not to mention the bother of putting something in it.

When will the future get here?

The demographics have changed a lot in the years since the fifth grade. While waiting in line for Space Mountain a year ago, I found myself surrounded by Japanese tourists. Someone should tell them it's only a ride. They don't have to bring their luggage.

I recently read in the newspaper that the land on which Disneyland sits is for sale. That has to be sacrilegious. Something akin to selling the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore. Let's face it, you can't get any more Americana than the Magic Kingdom. I call upon all Disneyland lovers. Let's save Mickey Mouse from becoming one of the homeless.

Nevertheless, I add my congratulations to Disneyland on its 30th birthday. 1955 was a great year; that's when Disneyland and Paul Rodriguez were born.

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