I wrote this column in 1994, after a family trip to Disneyland. My daughter was nine and my son was five. 17 years later, we’re returning to the Magic Kingdom, or as I like to call it: The Land of the Greedy Cartoon Mouse. Wish me luck.

© 1994 Mark W. Mayfield

Back in the “Good Old Days,” most American parents could pay for a trip to Disneyland without draining their bank accounts. (According to historians, the “Good Old Days” officially ended in 1976, when my generation graduated from high school and realized that we would soon have to get jobs and actually EARN our own money if we wanted to buy more bell-bottoms, Earth Shoes, 8-track tapes and incense.) But during the last several years, the world’s premier theme park has gradually raised its prices to offset the skyrocketing cost of capturing and hiring the few clean-cut, well-mannered employees who still exist in North America. Consequently, a family trip to Disneyland now requires careful financial planning:

Financial adviser: So, Mr. Jones, tell me about your financial goals.

Client: My primary goal is to design a comprehensive savings strategy that will eventually yield the monetary assets I need to send my children to prestigious universities. I also wanna buy a really cool SUV, a shiny red speed boat and a humongous big-screen TV.

Financial adviser: With proper financial planning, those goals are easily attainable. Is there anything else?

Client: Well, there is one other thing. I’ve always wanted to take my family to Disneyland.

Financial adviser: DISNEYLAND!? You gotta be kidding! (Angrily closing his genuine eelskin briefcase) Listen, you moron, I’m a financial adviser, not a miracle worker!

So what’s a fun-seeking, cost-conscious parent supposed to do? Do what my wife and I did: Simply convince your children that plenty of lucrative, fulfilling careers are available for people without college educations and head for Southern California, sometimes called “The Land of the Greedy Cartoon Mouse.”

Immediately after arriving at the Happiest Place on Earth, we unhappily discovered that long lines and large crowds would prevent us from enjoying more than one or two attractions during our visit. We also discovered the importance of protecting our vulnerable body parts while approaching popular attractions, which were surrounded by other predatory packs of fun-seeking, cost-conscious tourists who used any means, including violence, to get a good spot in line.

Our first stop was Toontown, a strange and wonderful place full of colorful, wavy, surrealistic buildings that look like they were designed by Salvador Dali and Timothy Leary. It’s an attraction that appeals to children, who enjoy its wacky silliness, and parents, who vaguely recall experiencing similar shapes and colors during a Grateful Dead concert in the mid 1970s.

By the time we fought our way through Toontown, nervously protecting our exposed body parts, we had only enough time for one more attraction. We chose the legendary Matterhorn. This classic roller coaster was designed by Hubert Horn, an eccentric genius who constantly worried that park visitors would scoff at his idea of a snow-covered alp in the middle of sunny, warm Southern California. His impatient assistant, who was sick of Hubert’s constant whining and fretting, finally grabbed his boss by the neck and screamed, “Who cares what people think about your stupid ride?! It really doesn’t MATTER, HORN!” The rest is history.

Although the Matterhorn is quite old, it’s extremely safe. Unlike most traveling-carnival rides that are sloppily assembled by tattooed, substance-abusing ex-cons, the Matterhorn was carefully constructed by well-behaved, God-fearing ride builders of the 1950’s. They were big, strong, sweaty, red-blooded American men with bulging biceps and short, neatly combed hair. They were honorable men who would go home after a hard day’s work and proudly tell their families about another day on “The Horn.” (Note for wimpy fathers: If roller-coasters scare you, avoid this attraction. After all, nothing is more pathetic than a grown man who’s screaming, crying and holding tightly to his wife before the ride even begins.)

Of course, there are many other wonderful attractions to experience in The Magic Kingdom, but we’ll have to wait until our next visit, after we hock my great grandmother’s wedding ring.

Mark Mayfield (mark.mayfield@comcast.net) was extremely disappointed when he learned that the snow on the Matterhorn is fake.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Eb (ebenezer) on March 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    w00t! It is the very Amazing Markimus himself! I had grown fearful lest perhaps I should hear some day soon that he was as my old partner Marley, as dead as a door-nail. (Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.) It has been so long since the Amazing Markimus has exhibited to us an new display of his wordsmithy expertise that I had fully expected never to hear from him again, but I hope that this marks (ha!) a return to his postings.


    • Thanks, Eb! You’ve always been my favorite Dickens character, but now you also have a coveted spot on my all-time top-ten list of favorite fictional misers. Congratulations!


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