Forty years ago this summer my Aunt Frieda, Uncle Jack and cousins Margaret, Laura and Allan came out to visit my mom and me from Chattanooga, Tennessee. We were living in a two-bedroom apartment in a building on the corner of Hamilton Drive and Gregory Way in Beverly Hills, and being 5 years old I could not tell you how we housed everybody — but that’s not important.
What’s important is that the high point of their visit included my very first trip to Disneyland. Being that there was no internet and my social network was a couple neighborhood kids, plus I couldn’t do that whole reading thing with any consistency yet, I can only guess that I learned of the park’s newest attraction — The Haunted Mansion — via TV commercials, but however it branded itself on my brain it quickly became my entire reason for being on this planet as a human being.
On the big day I could barely contain myself, and we drove down to Anaheim in style with mom renting a 1969 black Impala convertible to tranport all seven of us.
I won’t beat around the bush with all the other rides we went on first and all the wonder and happiness I experienced, because honestly I don’t remember anything accept maybe a bit of Autopia and the submarine ride. Anything else fun that happened got cloaked because when we arrived at the awesome house to finally fulfill my dream of going on the ride I’d been dying to do there was a sign on the entrance: CLOSED. For what? I don’t know. Probably to work some kinks out as it had only been open a short while.
I can’t quantify the devastation I felt there at what’s purported to be the Happiest Place On Earth. I literally thought this had been my One Shot and I was never ever ever going to get another chance to go to Disneyland or ride The Haunted Mansion. Ever again.
When you’re 5 there’s no tomorrow, only Tomorrowland. AndÂ it would be three more years of tomorrows before I returned and finally got a chance to fulfill my long-denied amusement park destiny.
Fast forward to this morning and I’m up at this insane hour because Susan and I are going to do our second-annual Super Bowl-Day Disneyland run. Last year was my first time back in 22 years and I fell in love with the place all over again. The only bummer for me was the Jungle Cruise was closed for long-term refurbishment (It’s A Small World was also shuttered, but that was more Susan’s disappointment than mine). Wondering what might be down for this visit, Susan and I looked online but we couldn’t find any info. Then this morning after I Twittered prior to bedtime about today’s excursion my friend David Markland tweeted back about the status of The Haunted Mansion, and it wasn’t good.
Indeed, I found the right webpage and confirmed that on the 40th anniversary year of its arrival and the 40th anniversary year of me learning about disappointment because of it, The Haunted Mansion won’t be looking for its 1000th resident today. Kinda bummed, but it’s kinda appropriate.