I've never been to Disneyland. In fact, I've never even been able to make up my mind if I wanted to go.
I remember when Walt opened the place. It caused quite a stir among my fellow 7-year-olds in Toledo, Ohio.
Toledo didn't offer much beyond the annual county fair--mostly an exhibit of overweight farm animals. To a small child in Ohio, Disneyland looked like Gomorrah, V-J Day and Paris in the '20s rolled into one.
There was a great outbreak of mewling and puling at parents to take us there. But in my heart I dreaded it. I was scared of grown-ups walking around in giant mouse heads. Grown-ups were, I felt, stability incarnate, and I didn't like it one bit when they got wacky. Since infancy I'd harbored a terror of nuns, clowns and other strange adults (and still do--especially the one I see in the mirror every morning).
By 1960 I'd overcome this secret shame and really did want to go to Disneyland. The rides and all were still appealing, but the real attraction was California, that Disneyterre Magnum in which Disneyland itself was located. Beaches, hot rods, girls in two-piece bathing suits--California had not only Futureland, it had the actual future. Even at 12 I knew Ohio didn't.
Five years later I'd outgrown any thought of Disney. I wanted to go to Greenwich Village, listen to beatnik poetry recitals, smoke cigarettes and play bongo drums. Disneyland was kid's stuff.
Five years after that, when I'd actually been to Greenwich Village and had listened to all the beatnik poetry recitals one man can stand, I once more desperately wanted to visit the wonderful world of color. I intended to take LSD or some other noxious drug and "flip out on Amerika" (as we then spelled it). It's a good thing I didn't get to Disneyland. I was looking (and acting) like a loon in those days. Cleverly animated policemen would have grabbed me, no doubt, and thrown me into mouse prison.
When I'd come to my senses again, in 1975, Disneyland was an anathema, bourgeoise taste at its worst. Boring people standing in boring lines to see plaster and polyethylene imitations of the stupid world they lived in anyway-- quelle drag.
But, by 1980, I was getting sentimental. The very mention of Disneyland made my eyes mist with nostalgia for innocent pleasures of an innocent time. Disneyland seemed sweet and quaint to me. And one day, when I was driving from a peevish business meeting in Orange County to a dreadful appointment at a Los Angeles movie studio, I almost stopped at the Magic Kingdom.
But I was late, and I didn't, and now I probably never will. As middle age approaches, one realizes how few things set us apart from our fellows. I have no honors or distinctions to speak of. I'm not rich, famous or powerful. But I am the only person I've ever met who absolutely doesn't have any opinion one way or the other about Disneyland.