When I am out of town (i.e., out of the Golden State) people will ask me, “So, where are you from?”
I start with, “Garden Grove.” Blank look.
“Orange County.” Puzzled look, as if it sounds vaguely familiar.
“Near Anaheim.” Face scrunch. Tip of their tongue …
“Near Disneyland?” Face lights up. “Oh, yeah. I know where that is!”
Like it or not, we all kind of live in the shadow of the Mouse. It put us on the map, paved the way for the Angels and Ducks, and the waves of tourism that followed. But these are bumpy days for Walt’s literal and financial descendants. Disney in general has become embroiled in culture wars from the right and economic pressures from the left.
Some conservatives are upset about the company’s gay-friendly attitude and some liberals are upset that Anaheim and Orlando aren’t getting enough of a benefit for their aging communities from the tax breaks and other concessions Disney has received over the years.
I look at it differently. Disneyland was not only my best college summer job (decent pay, great food), but it was a wonderful place to socialize. Most of us “casual/seasonal” employees were around the same age and interested in the same things, if you catch my drift.
It seemed like half the people I knew from high school worked somewhere in the park. I could walk down the D-land Main Street and point, saying “That’s where Cynthia worked, and that’s where Shannon works. And over there is Frank and there’s where that Other Guy Whose Name I Can Never Remember is.”
Not only that, the Monsanto ride was a really good third date.
D-land financed much of my college expenses and dates, and allowed me to purchase a 1964 Plymouth Valiant, which had only about 150,000 miles on it, but had the benefit of starting up every morning. Mostly.
There was a time when Anaheim/California and Orlando/Florida were turning backflips to get a Disneyland or Disneyworld. Now that the Mouse has brought billions of dollars worth of wealth to those areas, they’re singing a different tune
In fact, it reminds me of that classic Janet Jackson song from 1986: “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
Jim Tortolano began (and ended) his professional cooking experience flipping burgers in Fantasyland Fast Food #2.
I always tell people we live 4 miles from Disneyland. There was a time in my life when it was one mile: fireworks framed perfectly in the kitchen window. Ah yes.