Revisiting a memory

Revisiting a memory

If one has been to the original Disneyland resort at Anaheim in Los Angeles, California, nothing comes remotely close to the magic that envelops a young, carefree mind. Visiting Disneyland 14 years later and 7,000 miles away from the original fantasyland, which had helped me put on a cloak of fantasy to touch and feel some of the most mesmerising characters, who were once only subject to television, comic strips and word of mouth, was something I had not imagined possible since stepping out the gates at Anaheim.

The element of surprise continued through the five-hour flight from the Bangalore International Airport to the vastly advanced Hong Kong Airport at Lantau. The journey that would have otherwise been long and worth brooding over, was spent reminiscing the day when Mickey Mouse and Goofy walked up to me and hugged me as I wept because I was not allowed to go on one of the scariest rides California had to offer at that point in time. In retrospect, I am glad my folks did not fall for Mickey and Goofy’s jovial attempts. I would’ve come out a mess had I been allowed to ride the Splash Mountain. 

Reliving childhood

Even as those memories lingered and put a smile on my face, it was time to check into the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. The one thing that I could not help but stare at during the well-organised bus trip, from the entrance of the 68-acre plot to the hotel, was the abundance of Mickey — to a point where you were hallucinating Mickey silhouettes in clouds. Lamp posts, side rails, trees, shrubs... you name them and they had either Mickey or one of over 300 other Disney characters incorporated into them.

The hotel in itself was a sight to behold. Unabashedly painted in a clever mix of beige and bright blue, the hotel stood out. But of course, the windows were shaped to the likeness of Mickey’s head. 

The view from the hotel was something straight out of Oscar Wilde’s more imaginative work, but that captivated me little on the day. I was more interested in reliving a memory.

When we moved from the hotel to Disneyland, the sights were eerily familiar. It, in fact, bore an uncanny resemblance to my first memory of Disneyland. From manicured walkways to the Main Street, it all fit like pieces of a puzzle that had been left unattended for 14 years.

While the adults ran about trying to make sense of the tickets and such, children gleefully posed alongside everything before even entering the actual park. Once in, children wanted little to do with their overaged ‘accompaniments’. They had after all been given the near-Rs 3,000 one-day pass, while their parents had paid nearly Rs 4,000 for it, entitling them to every ride in sight. From entering Sleeping Beauty’s Castle to Mickey’s 3D PhilarMagic, it’s all entertaining. Then there is the It’s A Small World, the Mad Hatter Tea Cups and the surreal Cinderella Carousel. And that is just the first phase.

Riding high

There is the Toy Story Land, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, the Grizzly Gulch and of course, the Mystic Point. All along the well-cared for routes, there are souvenir stores that can cater to everyone present; they are particularly well stocked, but a little pricey.

 In each of the theme-driven locations, there are one or two rides and attractions that stand out, while the rest fritter away within a moment’s notice. The Hong Kong park lags behind on the gut-wrenching rides it has to offer, despite sort of making up for it with the Grizzly Gulch and Space Mountain — two of the best rides they have.

The late-evening character show is certainly enchanting and so is the Festival of Lion King (a brilliantly choreographed play depicting the life and times of Simba). Even still there is something that is evidently missing in the midst of everything so enthralling. The night-time firework show with the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle as the backdrop is stunning, to say the least, and it slakes one’s thirst for a moment. Walking away from the magical realm that is the Hong Kong park, for some reason I could not stop thinking about Anaheim.

Even if they did not live up to my expectations entirely, the creators of Hong Kong’s Disneyland have successfully managed time travel... at least in my case.

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