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my turn

OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS AND VIEWS : Disneyland Is Too Mickey Mouse for Family Guide

October 07, 1994|FRANK LEE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Frank Lee is a freshman at University High School in Irvine

"To different minds the same world is a hell, and a heaven."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

*

Every day this summer, thousands of tourists flooded into Disneyland as the gates opened. All too often, my relatives from Taiwan and I were among them.

My Taiwanese relatives have always thought that Disneyland was California's main attraction. When they go, they stare at everything, afraid that once they get home they will forget even a single popcorn stand. They savor every experience--including the taste of their hot dogs.

What it means for me is that I know every ride, every restaurant, every tree. I have almost memorized the menus at the Lunching Pad. Disneyland bores me, and I would rather walk the street in a woman's dress than go again.

My relatives especially love the rides, and our first stop is always the Pirates of the Caribbean. The special effects with houses burning, cannons roaring, pirates singing and women-chasing pirates amuse and entertain them. I, on the other hand, think that the whole place has horrible props. A friend once used a fake claw toy to grab a pearl necklace; the pearls were cracked and felt as light as tiny Ping-Pong balls. And even my little brother knows that the "fire" is only light shinning on a special fabric and blown with a fan.

Another sure stop is the infamous Space Mountain. After my relatives take their 30-second trip through the pitch-black "mountain," they talk for 30 minutes about what a great ride it was. They say things like, "Those falls sure were fun," and "I didn't hold the bar for the whole ride." But compared to Magic Mountain's Viper and Free Fall, Space Mountain feels like a ride on a flat-tired bicycle.

As if the rides weren't torture enough, I then have to take my aunts and cousins to the Lunching Pad for a bite to eat. Even a freshman knows that $2.89 for a Jupiter Dog--nothing more than a quarter-pound hot dog on a stale bun--is a rip-off. Even though the Space Station--an ordinary hamburger--costs a fortune, it's still worse than junior high school cafeteria food. The lettuce is dry and brown, and the pickles are so flexible that after I roll them into little balls, they still return to their original shape. My relatives, of course, love it.

Planning to digest our food in a long line, we head toward Splash Mountain.

Once in line, we wait and wait. After an hour, we have finally reached the stand that sells apples and bottled water. After another arduous wait, we have the privilege of taking a seat in a plastic log. My 9-year-old cousin adores the animated robots designed to look like small animals. I love them, too. I love the thought of pouring water on them to short-circuit them.

After traveling through the disenchanting forest, we finally reach the high point. The fall ends before I realize that it has started. I never even get wet, which, judging from the name, is the intention of the ride.

Late in the afternoon comes the inevitable shopping. Nothing against my cousins, but I hate to shop with them. They are always buying T-shirts, towels and postcards. Worse yet, they are mostly girls. They crowd around the shelves that display the stuffed animals and say, "Look at that Mickey Mouse. He's so cute!" When the ordeal is over, I carry their bags. Since I am allergic to the fibers in the stuffed animals, I spend the next few hours sneezing.

Just as my nose is recovering, my cousins ask to see the Main Street Electrical Parade. In the dark of night, everything looks beautiful to them. When the butterfly or the caterpillar wiggles by, my cousins shriek and laugh. I, not wanting to be blinded by the lights, close my eyes. The dancers with light bulb necklaces shimmy by, and my cousins grab me and chatter about how exotic they look. I tell them that the only thing that will interest me is if someone gets electrocuted.

When my relatives have finally sucked the Disneyland experience dry, we head toward the parking lot.

Once there, my aunt asks, "Where did we park our car?" My smallest cousin says, "I think we parked in Sleepy. Or was it Donald? Maybe Goofy." So we sit on a bench until most of the people leave. Then we roam the rows, trudging on and on until finally we see the Honda. To me, it is a beautiful sight.

It is my escape vehicle from the happiest place on earth.

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