May 11, 2012

The ABCs of Why I Love Disneyland : A Is For Adventureland

Adventureland is a place where you can visit tropical locations, explore mysterious jungles or forbidden temples, enjoy a Dole Whip or a kabob and maybe even do a little shopping. It is a sentimental favorite of mine because of how mystified I was by it on my first visit. As a young girl living in Northern California during the early 80’s, we did not travel much. My mom had had her leg amputated when I was a toddler and this was before wheelchair accessibility was commonplace. If we did travel out of town, it was usually to visit family members or friends in nearby cities. I had little to no personal travel experience and I had never been anywhere that could have been in any way described as “exotic” or “tropical”. So, at the time of this first visit to Disneyland, Adventureland felt like the closest I could get to any of the natural wonders that I had seen so many times on National Geographic or read about in Ranger Rick magazine.

Ironically enough, the first boat I ever rode on was a Jungle Cruise boat as a third grader. My favorite animals had always been big cats and elephants so I was pleasantly surprised to find so many of them along our journey. As someone who highly values humor, I love the witty banter provided by the Jungle Cruise skippers. I love that while Walt had wanted this attraction to educate his guests that he was also later insistent that there be an element of humor involved in these voyages. I enjoy seeing how each skipper incorporates those standard gags and horrific puns into their own brand of humor. Despite having seen the backside of water countless times, it still makes me smile and no such voyage could be complete without Schweitzer Falls and a visit by the very persuasive Trader Sam.

Another must-see in Adventureland is Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. The very first time I saw the Tiki Room show was on my first visit and with my big sister. I had never seen anything like it and all the music was so catchy and welcoming. I remember looking around at all the other people watching the show and being surprised that so many of them seemed to know all the words to all the songs. I felt like I had walked in on something special but I wasn’t sure why. Well, I later learned that I was right. On a recent tour, I learned that Walt had used much of his own money to create the show and that is why it is the only attraction at Disneyland that also bares his name as Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. The Tiki Room was always a very special project for Walt personally and it was the very first show to use Audio Animatronics. Now I get to go there with my young son. My favorite part is still “the girls” and he really loves the drumming. We both love to sing along during the show as instructed and, although he is only five years old, he always gets so excited when we get to see the notorious Tiki Maynard, a Disneyland celebrity in his own right.

Finally, I love Adventureland because it is home of Adventureland’s wildest attraction, the always-popular Indiana Jones Adventure. While I was at first intimidated by this attraction, it has quickly become one of my favorites. Once deep inside the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, you begin your bumpy journey aboard a troop transport and somehow manage to barely avoid countless dangers, including the vengeful eyes of Mara, hissing snakes, darts and even one very large boulder. Set in India, the Indiana Jones Experience definitely carries on the exotic and fantastic legacy of Adventureland.

Even now after many visits to Disneyland, Adventureland still continues to speak to me. If our first stop isn't Pirates of the Caribbean then it is Adventureland. On the Jungle Cruise, I am reminded of the importance of both preserving nature and of humor. Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room gives me a sense of community, a sense that I am a part of a beloved tradition that is held by many. The Indiana Jones Experience speaks to my sense of adventure, my need to see new places, meet new people and try new things. Adventureland reminds me that there is a great big world out there and that I want to see it.

Here is a clip of Maynard as Tiki Maynard...

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