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June 13, 2003

by Bill Hogan


Greetings from Disneyland – "the happiest place on earth." If you've never been here, let me take a moment to tell you a little bit about "the happiest place on earth." First of all, it's – well – not "the happiest place on earth".

Right now, "the happiest place on earth" is my own bed back in Reno. The mattress is getting a little lumpy, the pillows aren't as fluffy as I'd like and there's dog hair all over the sheets but, in my mind, it seems like a little slice of heaven.


I know, this is supposed to be a sports column – I'm getting to that. But first, I need to get a few things off my chest. Like the so-called inference that the economy is killing the tourist industry. Other vacation sites may be hurting – I don't know – but I'm here to say Disneyland is busting with "kids of all ages."

When the wait time is over an hour to get on a ride that lasts two minutes, I'd say that Walt Disney himself has to be happy. But as the parent of a five-year-old who hasn't quite mastered the art of holding it in, a wait time almost as long to get into the bathroom can quickly become irritating.

OK, you want sports? How does stroller derby grab you? Never underestimate the athletic ability required to navigate a stroller through a large crowd of people, most of whom have no idea that this contraption is larger and much less maneuverable than the average pair of feet.

Just pushing a stroller for hours on end taxes muscles that I haven't used in years – if ever. But it is a pleasant diversion whenever "the competition" starts. I'd see an opening, some other stroller-pusher would eye the same clear path, and the race is on. Sure, I'd have to take out an occasional ankle, roll over a few toes, snag a purse or Lego shopping bag on the way by, but when I hit the open hole first – victory was mine.

"The happiest place on earth" just may be the most expensive place on earth. I will (probably) never complain about stadium concession prices again. After all, you're at the ballpark for a couple of hours; at Disneyland, they gotcha for days.

I paid three dollars for a bottle of water – my son dropped it on the ground. Six bucks for a funnel cake – my son dropped it on the ground. $5.95 for a hot dog – my son didn't get within six feet of that hot dog. I'm dumb, not dumber.

The best selling item in Disneyland: not Mickey Mouse ears, not Buzz Lightyear dolls, it's Grumpy tee shirts. Dopey is a close second. Just about every poor schlep with more than zero kids was wearing a Grumpy tee shirt.

And Grumpy tee shirt sales skyrocketed on Monday when the Anaheim Mighty Ducks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup to the Devils. I never saw more people crying into their seven dollar beer. Downtown Disney was in mourning; and it wasn't because the Winnie the Pooh ride broke down – again.

The ESPN Zone was packed with Ducks fans. Half of them were crying because the Ducks lost, the other half because they shelled out seven dollars for a Mickey balloon that popped half an hour later.

I'm not a Mighty Ducks fan, but I was rooting for them Monday night. Well, it wasn't so much that I was rooting for the Ducks as it was that I was rooting for all the Ducks fans in the bar paying six-pack prices for 12-ounces of lukewarm tap swill.

The television ratings for the Stanley Cup were dismal – a Canadian sport dominated by Europeans, what a shock. But on Monday night in Anaheim it seemed like everyone was glued to a television set. And when the game was over – when the Ducks lost, nobody tried to set Piglet on fire or roll the monorail – equally as shocking.

I'm going home tomorrow and I'm gonna buy a 12-pack of Coor's Light for under ten bucks. I'll get a hot dog with fries without having to whip out my credit card and take my son for a walk in his stroller without having to say "excuse me" a thousand times.

But now that I think about it, now that it's time to pack the bags, I wish we were staying another day. Heck, I have an ATM card.



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