By Jack Edwards
Our family had a brilliant idea. We would spend New Year’s Eve at Disneyland watching fireworks explode over the castle. Only, one little problem. Eighty-four thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-six people, people we didn’t even know, and certainly never invited, had the same brilliant idea.
That’s the cut-off. 85,000. This is proof that Disney runs Anaheim like the Mob runs Vegas. Just kidding! The bones in my legs are perfectly fine in their current, unbroken condition! (I’m referring to Disney. Not even the Mob is heartless enough to charge you $5.00 for a small soda.)
In order for 85,000 people to simultaneously experience the Wonder and the Joy that is the “Magic Kingdom,” each of the theme park characters is contractually required to carry at least one guest on his or her back to conserve foot space. (Snow White is required to carry seven.)
There are only two possible explanations for Anaheim’s Fire Marshal signing off on Disney herding 85,000 victims into this human corral. Either old Walt had some dirt on the fire marshal, or the fire marshal is currently driving around in sparkling new Lamborghini with a bumper sticker that reads: “I brake for Mickey!”
The tragic result of this story, which will soon become ironically, and sadly, apparent, is that our family didn’t even need to suffer this tragedy.
Let me explain. When our family checks into a hotel, we ask for the best view available. Unfortunately, the best view available in our price range is a view of the hotel’s dumpster. Imagine our shock then of getting a room with a panoramic view of the Disneyland castle. We briefly discussed staying in our room to watch the fireworks, but decided that wouldn’t capture the full New Year’s celebration experience. As we soon learned… No, indeed, it would not.
We were warned that Disneyland usually cuts off entry around midday on New Year’s Eve when it reaches capacity. (Did I mention capacity was 85,000?) A Disney representative told us that if we left the park there was no guarantee of being allowed to reenter. This meant we had to head in early in the day, and remain in the park until midnight. If you’re beginning to get the sense that our whole plan was a bad idea, you would be sadly and absolutely correct.
Once in the park, warning signs were everywhere. We were 14 hours from midnight, and people were spreading blankets and staking out territory like it was the Middle East. Those of you familiar with Disney parks know that they have what they call a FASTPASS system with their more popular rides. You can go up to them and get a ticket to return at a later time (usually two or three hours when it’s busy) and then bypass the regular line. We struggled to Space Mountain for a FASTPASS at about 11:40 a.m. Our FASTPASS told us to return for the ride at 10:45 p.m. We were like those buffoons in the horror movie who stumble across a dead body stuffed into a dog house, but instead of fleeing for our lives, we simply shrug our shoulders and go, “Humm, that’s odd. The landlord told us this vacation rental didn’t allow dogs.”
The good news was, the temperature was nearly freezing.
Finally, midnight arrived. You know those pimentos that they shove into an olive? Yeah. We were 85,000 pimentos shoved into a gigantic Disney olive. In the end, the best view I could get was watching the fireworks through the thick branches of a tree on Disneyland’s Main Street. I stood there freezing, longing to be in my warm hotel room gazing out at my customary of the hotel dumpster.