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A Southern California Girl's Lifelong Love Affair With Disneyland

As a Southern California girl, I have cultivated a lifelong love affair with Disneyland that will continue for years to come. As of 2021, we can no longer venture into the park, but we always have our memories. The first time I went to Disneyland was in 1986, back before there was even a California Adventure, or some of the popular rides such as Splash Mountain. My first visit to Disneyland was very memorable as because I was able to take pictures of the Main Street Electrical Parade, and observe the ridiculous eighty fashions that were in their heyday. Personally I never had an overly eighties hairdo myself, always wore mine long and straight, but looking at pictures you can see many people with those types of bangs and perms. Recently I have noticed young people adopting these styles, which just goes to show that everything that is old is new again. This hub will be a look back on many of my trips to Disneyland over the years, which will truly be a walk down memory lane.

The Infamous Squeaking Donald Duck Hat

The infamous squeaking Donald Duck hat (1986).

The infamous squeaking Donald Duck hat (1986).

One of the first things we did upon arriving at Disneyland was to purchase fun character hats. The clerks at the Mad Hatter Shop used their sewing machines to stitch our names on the back of the hats, which made these very special. I chose a Mickey Mouse hat and my younger sister picked out a Donald Duck hat with a squeaking beak. This hat would become the bane of her existence for the next three days because many people of all ages came up and starting squeaking the beak. If I had been her I would have just left it at the hotel, but she loved the hat, and I think part of her liked the attention too.

The Main Street Electrical Parade

A picture of the Main Street Electrical Parade in 1986.

A picture of the Main Street Electrical Parade in 1986.

There were many wonderful attractions to see at Disneyland, but one of my favorites on my first trip to Disneyland in 1986 was the Main Street Electrical Parade. I thought they had discontinued the parade, but my mom told me it is now featured at California Adventure. Back in eighties the parade used to first travel down Main Street in Disneyland and then circle out into other parts of the park. At the end of a long day my mom thought it would be a good idea for us to sit down and grab a front "curbside seat" for viewing the Main Street Electrical Parade. I had brought my first camera to Disneyland, and it was a very big deal that I was able to use my disposable flash cubes on taking pictures of this event. Today with digital cameras and instaneous images it is hard to remember what a momentous occasion this was, but looking at the photographs brings back many good memories.

Another picture from the Main Street Electrical Parade in 1986.

Another picture from the Main Street Electrical Parade in 1986.

When I had turned seven my grandpa had bought me my first camera for my birthday, and he insisted that I mail the film to San Francisco to be developed. We eventually stopped doing that because it cost more to post it there then it did to develop the prints locally. I can only assume grandpa thought the pictures had to be developed there, but I am not sure why.

This was a very basic camera that took disc film, which means you did not have to spool the film like on the 35mm type of cameras. Interestingly I never was happy about having to spool my film, and years later my grandpa actually broke my 35mm camera when I asked him to help me load it. After that I bought an Advantex, which I loved until I bought my first digital camera. The disc film camera was perfect for a child though because all you had to do was open it up and pop in a new disc.

The images I took with this camera were not bad considering I was only seven years old. Some of the pictures adults thought were funny at the time actually make interesting compositions looking back. I love the shots I took of the Main Street Electrical Parade, and I remember our discusion about how the performers must have beenseeing a thousand little dots from all the flashes going off.

Cinderella's carriage in the Main Street Electrical Parade (1986).

Cinderella's carriage in the Main Street Electrical Parade (1986).

The amusing thing about going to Disneyland is I actually saw more parades there then I saw in my own town. Of course we really did not go out of our way to attend parades, which might be one of the reasons the Electrical Parade continues to have a place in my heart. One of my favorite floats was Cinderella's carriage, but I also loved the caterpillar too! Do not be afraid to give your kids their own cameras when they go to Disneyland, or any other amusement park, because you may be surprised by the caliber of the pictures they generate. As a seven year old I noticed I cut off the top of some of the floats, but overall I did a pretty good job at picture taking. My mom did not have a lot of money to buy us tons of souvenirs like some of the kids were carrying through the park, so my hat and the pictures I took are the mementos I have from this trip. I am glad years later I have photographs because toys and stuff animals do not always stick around, but pictures can always be remembered.

The caterpillar in the Main Street Electrical Parade (1986).

The caterpillar in the Main Street Electrical Parade (1986).

Back When There Was A Bear Country

In 1986 I remember how there was a Bear Country and we ate lunch at the Country Bear Jamboree, which was a cute performance where people could order food. We learned during our visit that there are cheaper places to eat in the park, but often walking a couple of blocks outside of the park is the best deal for the budget conscious traveler. It is kind of gross to recollect, but many of us kids ended up kissing the bear with the puckered mouth pictured below. However, none of us fell ill with the 1986 version of the Swine Flu, which just goes to show people are more hardy than the news lines would have us believe. That does not mean I would kiss a Disney character today, and I would probably be really upset if I saw my niece doing that.

Picture with the bears in Bear Country (1986).

Picture with the bears in Bear Country (1986).

Picture of a bear in Bear Country (1986).

Picture of a bear in Bear Country (1986).

Snow White's Wishing Well

As a kid one of my favorite things to do was to visit Snow White's Wishing well and throw in the pennies my mom gave me.  Later on during a school field trip to Disneyland my friend Jacy and I decided to sit on top of the wishing well and take each other's portraits.  One family was so excited about looking down the wishing well that they could not wait until I got off of it.

Picture of me sitting on top of Snow White's Wishing Well (1994).

Picture of me sitting on top of Snow White's Wishing Well (1994).

Out And About In The Park

Picture of my friend Jacy with one of the bear characters (1994).

Picture of my friend Jacy with one of the bear characters (1994).

As you can tell from this photo essay I enjoy taking pictures at Disneyland, so I thought I would share some of my favorites. I thought the picture of my friend Jacy above was especially good because it is hard to get one of the characters to pose with you, especially if you are not a kid. My friend loves Disneyland and enjoys posing with the characters, and even once talked about playing one of the characters. Disneyland is a good place to work if you are looking for a part time job and live in the Anaheim area.

Picture of Sleeping Beauty's Castle (1994).

Picture of Sleeping Beauty's Castle (1994).

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Picture of a nighttime Disney parade (2002).

Picture of a nighttime Disney parade (2002).

Picture of me near the boats at Disneyland (2002).

Picture of me near the boats at Disneyland (2002).

I have many favorite rides and attractions at Disneyland, but since I have sciatica I usually do not ride Space Mountain or Splash Mountain anymore. My back is getting better over the years, so who knows, maybe I will ride these again the next time around. The one feature I have liked over the last few years is how Southern California residents can get discounts on annual passes, which is something I want to do again soon. If you are a SoCal person like me the annual pass is a good deal if you visit the park more than a few times a year, especially since it allows you to travel freely between California Adventure and Disneyland. There are so many good memories of trips to Disneyland with family and friends over the years, and I know I will have many more in the years to come.


SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on July 04, 2011:

Glad to hear others still love Disneyland Jason!

JasonCulley from Cheyenne, WY on July 03, 2011:

I am new to HubPages and came across this while writing a Disney related Hub . . . great story!

SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on June 18, 2009:

I hope you have fun the next time you visit Disneyworld RGraf!

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on June 18, 2009:

Oh, the memories! I have never been to DisneyLand, but I have been many many times to DisneyWorld. I cannot wait to take my kids there!

SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on June 10, 2009:

Hi Princessa,

Personally I would not recommend taking really young kids to the park because it is hard to get around. My mom never had us in a stroller and we all learned to walk at a young age, but I remember going to Disneyland in 86 was the first time I had my feet hit with a stroller many times. It was also the first time I realized so many people used strollers because that was not something we really did.

I think everyone has a different type of park they prefer, and Disney just strikes a cord with me. Also, I think the love of Disneyland is a very SoCal thing because the first park was created here, and it is somewhat of a tradition for us who grew up in the area. I think Disney cartoons and characters are cute, not that I watch these every day or anything, but that is part of the appeal to me.

Some people liked the more daring parks like Six Flags with the roller coasters, but that is not really my thing.

Wendy Iturrizaga from France on June 10, 2009:

How nice to share your memories from all those years. I've been twice there but I cannot say it made a big impression on me, mind you my first time there was as a parent so I guess the experience is completely different I think that as a girl I would have love it, but as a mom it was hard going around the park with a one year old baby.

SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on June 10, 2009:

I am glad you enjoyed this hub babedoll. My view is people get out of life what they put into it, and if they want to focus on depressing things that is what they will find.

babedoll50 from Alberta on June 10, 2009:

What a great hub to publish in today's world. We are seeing and hearing so much gloom and doom that its nice to see your genuinely happy smile. Thanks for this breath of fresh air.

SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on June 05, 2009:

Hi Ashley,

I agree with you that people often do not think about Disneyland as much as Disney World, but I think in the recent years the former has done a good job of encouraging SoCal residents to visit the park. It is cheaper to stay in California and go to a local park, and I believe in this economy most people are picking up on that.

Ashley Joy on June 05, 2009:

I have been to Disneyland several times myself with my kids. Personally I think it does not get the credit it deserves since Disney World gets all the hype.

SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on June 04, 2009:


It sounds fun to take a train trip and stay over at Disneyland. We stayed over a few times just because we wanted to be able to be there until the park closed. Sounds like you had a great time with your granddaughters.

Hi Lyla,

Maybe one day you can go to Disneyland, and I am sure you will enjoy it. The Main Street Electrical Parade can be viewed in the video above, if you have not seen it yet.

Patty Inglish,

Glad you enjoyed the photos.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 04, 2009:

Fantastic group of photos! Thanks for sharing memories and good times. I've never been to Disney parks.

lyla from India on June 04, 2009:

WOW!Sweetiepie..awesome!I love disney characters,they are so cute.The parade looks awesome.You look cute as well!:)Thanks for sharing.I've never been to such parks so I just loved reading and I did greatly enjoy the pics.Thanks!

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on June 04, 2009:

Nice reminder, SP of how much fun Disney Land really is. I took my grandkids there a year ago. We took the train from San Diego, where my sister lives. It was a great train ride. We played cards and ate junk food the whole way. We stayed in one of the disney hotels for 3 nights and had an awesome time.

SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on June 03, 2009:

Hi Cherish,

I would love Disneyworld if I ever do go to Florida. I still have that flyer to get in free on my birthday, so I hope to use it this year. I printed out one for my sister, but we were not able to go on that day.

Cherish77 on June 03, 2009:

Great Hub SP. I too loooove Disneyland. I have also been to Walt Disney world, which I also love You might like Epcot center, if you ever get a chance to go. We plan on going to Disneyland next month for my birthday. I get in free for my b-day and so does Spencer since he is under 3.

SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on June 03, 2009:

Hi Nancy,

I have not been to Disneyland in a couple of years, but I have definitely not grown out of it.  I hope to go again soon actually, and if you do go this summer I have heard the Electrical Parade is now in California Adventure.  I just loved the music and the performers in the parade, and watching the video on YouTube brought back many of the good memories.

Nancy's Niche on June 03, 2009:

What a happy hub I loved it and I love Disney...We were there a few years agon and had a wonderful time...We got to see the electric light parade and all the fire works....We all want to go back again! Does one ever out grow Disney Land?

SweetiePie (author) from Southern California, USA on June 03, 2009:

Hi Pete,

I guess I like the cutesy factor to be honest, but I did not mind Warner Bros characters. I have loved to take pictures since I was young, so thanks for observing that :).

Pete Maida on June 03, 2009:

I never liked Disney characters. They always seemed too cutesy. I liked Warner Bros and Daffy Duck was my favorite. However, you've taken good pictures your entire life.

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