Thursday, February 23, 2012

Disneyland - "Hello Everyone..."

"Hello everyone! Welcome aboard the Disneyland Railroad," boomed the familiar baritone voice.
The smell of hot steam and burning brakes wafted past as we pulled out of the station.
I never worked the trains during my stints at the Park, but knew a good deal of folks who had held this position.
The world in front of us clicked steadily by as we rolled through the outskirts of Adventureland.
This shady part of the train's grand circle tour was breezy and cool.
Children seated in the front row of the passenger car peered out over the railing, their eyes tracking the scenery.
The wooden bench felt incredibly smooth.
The rythmic motion instantly instilled a calm humour.
Closing my eyes, I listened to the sounds around me.
I thought how this attraction is another one of the "time portals" the Park has in its arsenal.
Riding the train today feels almost exactly the same as my first trip as a child.
Or as an energy-filled teenager.
A twenty-something college student.
A newlywed.
An uncle.
A dad.
A semi-beat up middle-ager with chronic Disneyland-itis.
Some of the scenery along the way has changed, but the long train, the colorful canopies, the smells, the swaying of the cars---pretty much identical.
Honestly, if there were ever a time portal, I think a steam train would be the vehicle through which it would be entered.
Perhaps that is why a steam train has been the choice of authors of books from "The Polar Express" to "Harry Potter" as a means of transporting characters to distant, magical and fictional places.
Even the "Twilight Zone" employed this device in one of Rod Serling's (and my own) favorite episodes, "A Stop At Willoughby." Check it out for yourself if you've never had the pleasure of seeing the episode: and also a snippet for flavor is below:

Wouldn't it be something to step on the train today and step off at the Frontierland Station in say 1979 or 1983, or any other date since July 17, 1955 for that matter?
Today's wacky world got you down?
Head on over to the Main Street station.

If you need me, I'll be over in Adventureland in 1986.
I'm thinking, summer-ish.
See you there!

P.S., You will also find a "Willoughby" reference as you exit the "Tower of Terror" over at that "other" Park over in Disneyland's old parking lot.