The happiest place in the world: my visit to Disneyland and Universal Studios

Tomorrowland entrance

"The happiest place in the world" is the byline for Disneyland. It is obvious that by making such a claim, the implication that the rest of the places in the world are somehow not as happy is made. This is perhaps factually true: most people in the world I'd claim are not happy, i.e., completely content with themselves. But I don't believe for a moment Disneyland provides a solution for these people. Sure, the people visiting Disneyland are happy, and they have a great time, but Disneyland is about escapism; it's about forgetting one's problems and worries for a brief while. And while escapism is good and all, it does not make one happy for more than a short period of time; what it does is make one forget the problems they have. In other words, it's an ephemeral sort of happiness.

I believe happiness comes from within you and I equate happiness with contentment. And contentment is doing what you want when you want to.

If you can ignore the crass commercialism, something I've already talked about in my essay Art, Greed, and Entertainment: My Visit to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, as can be expected, was a lot of fun. However, it is nowhere as cool as Walt Disney World in Florida. The rides are pretty much the same, though my perception was that the rides in Disney World were sometimes bigger/longer. The one exception for this is the Indiana Jones Adventure ride for which I don't believe there is a equivalent in Walt Disney World. In general, I enjoyed the rides about Alice in Wonderland compared to rides like Space Mountain.

Like the last time I was at a Disney park, the best part for me was interacting with the characters:

Flik and I The Genie, Jasmine, and I Chip and Dale and I Arielle and I Pooh and I Belle and
I Eeyore and I Donald and I Tigger and I

We also went to Universal Studios which are a lot better with cool attractions involving Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Backdraft, Beetlejuice, The Blues Brothers, E.T., Waterworld, a wild west stunt show, and a great backstage tour showing how they do the special effects (such as simulated floods) for movies like King Kong, Earthquake, Dante's Peak, and Jaws.

We went to place called Marvel Mania within the park. Being a big fan of comic books, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and even got a chance to interact with one of my favourite characters (it's sad how low Marvel has gone with the character in recent years, however).

The drive itself was fun: the scenery going through central valley is pretty in its own right. We had great music: Rainbow, Queensryche, Dire Straits, Primus, Butthole Surfers, and more!

I recommend visiting these parks in the off-season. We went to Universal Studios on a Monday and there was not a single line that was longer than five minutes!

Pseudointellectual ramblings || Ram Samudrala || || February 6-9, 1999