GILBERTINE & THE EXCHANGE (Volume One) — Chapter 6: “Third Letter ‘Home’ 19 July 1964” Disneyland, Part 1

Posted · Add Comment

Hi All –

As you all know by now (by virtue of having opened this), each of you has an individual letter from me, as well as this ‘communal behemoth.’ That’s right, I’m devoting this entire Sunday to you lot, from the end of lunch to the beginning of Wonderful World of Colour (minus time out for Sunday tea, of course).

I’m even enclosing a pile of pix of my trip to Disneyland. Now, don’t you feel special? No? Oh well, one does what one can.

They’ve just started a tv show here called ‘Shindig.’

Early days, so I’m keeping an open mind – not sure yet how to compare it to TOTP and ‘Ready Steady Go!’ but it’s the first ‘Prime Time’ rock tv show in the US, so fingers crossed. Time will tell, I daresay.

Got a stack of singles playing on my new record player as I write this; I’ll probably switch to KRLA, with full sound on my new electric radio when they’re finished. Both radio and record player come compliments of Fritz. Definitely feels good to hear music on real speakers again.

No air conditioning yet, but the people installing it may come late next week – may pick up a St. Christopher medal (all the surfer kids seem to have them) and polish it for good luck on an early installation.

The trip to Disneyland was fantastic.

We took a nearby (and air conditioned) motel room for all weekend, checking in Friday night. Dad and I were up until nearly midnight planning out our “ride strategy” (how to beat the crowd to take in the most rides and attractions) with almost military precision. He’d somehow purchased admission and ticket books through work (admission by itself isn’t that much, but you need a separate ticket for every attraction and that’s where things can become expensive).


In any event, he had all that, so all we had to do the next day was to have a good place in line when they opened the gates. We were up before dawn, with Dad and me having inhaled Mum’s bangers and mash (much to her irritation), driven there, parked and got in line by first light, and among the first in the gate when the park opened.

We stopped in Main Street long enough to make reservations for the Golden Horseshoe Revue in Frontierland, and dinner at Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland. but then made a beeline for Fantasyland and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. It was Dad’s idea, but he didn’t have to twist my arm very hard. I got a bit jittery when he bought some more ‘E’ tickets at the bobsled ticket booth, but he said we didn’t have enough of them in the book, and it was best to get the additional ones now, while the crowds were relatively thin. And, we did still got on the bobsleds with fairly little waiting time.


A pseudo-Alpine roller-coaster: what a wild way to begin the day.






I love dark rides – always have – so. from the Matterhorn, as tunes of King Arthur’s Carousal rang in my ears, we did all four, Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, Snow White and Alice in Wonderland, all in wildly dayglo cutouts, with blacklights everywhere, as seen from the point of view of the main character (whom you never actually see on the ride).

You do see Peter Pan’s shadow in the nursery at the very start of the ride, just before you go out the nursery window.


You ‘fly’ over London, then through a night sky until you’re flying over Neverland.get

You eventually ‘fly out’ one of the eyes of Skull Rock and see Neverland much closer to the ground, before Captain Hook and Mr. Smee take a pot shot at you, and you ‘descend’ right out the exit.


Again, I became nervous when Dad stopped to buy enough “C” tickets to get us through the dark rides, but it didn’t slow us down much in terms of boarding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. There you feel like you’re in a cartoon from the start, as the car goes wild through Toad Hall and ultimately into the Old Bailey.


Toad escapes, but doesn’t do a jot better in the outside world: he disregards the warnings of a copper, gets blown to bits and ends up (rather comically, actually) in hell.



A lot of the kids were scared, but I thought it was hysterically funny – somehow you knew Toad would finagle a way out.



Snow White’s Scary Adventures starts off innocently enough, in the Dwarves’ jewel mine, but even here, the not-so-dopey Dopey warns to ‘Beware of the Witch.’ But it’s too late! The way back to the Dwarves’ house is blocked, and you’re forced to go through the frightening forest of the witch.














You’re ultimately inside the witch’s lair, then stumbling on the witch herself.






Then you’re in the dark, before lightening flashes and the witch drops a huge boulder on you as the ride ends. That’s it – no prince, no magic kiss. Just as well, far as I’m concerned, but I’ll bet some folks were disappointed.



Some little kids cried during the Alice in Wonderland ride too – but that gets a bit more complicated. It’s not so much scary as weird – very weird – sometimes in ways that might scare a little kid, I guess.

You enter through a ‘rabbit hole’ kind of entrance, only to find yourself completely in the dark. As the lights come up, you find yourself in in a mirror upside down, then in this dimly lit place where everything’s upside down.


The white rabbit turns up, blowing on some kind of a horn, and you find yourself in another room where you’re right-side-up, but you seem to be shrinking next to everything else in the room. You exit that room to find yourself in the garden of live flowers.



They’re singing ‘All in a Golden Afternoon’ at ear-splitting volume, but otherwise it’s quite colourful and charming – and very true to the garden depicted in Disney’s cartoon version.


The Cheshire Cat is enormous when he appears, but seems quite friendly. But then things get dark again as you find your way through Tugley Wood.


Soon, you’re at the Mad Tea Party, but it isn’t ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’ (hard to tell which Alice is saying because the sound’s distorted), but downright threatening. Oversized cups and saucers fly by, nearly hitting you, before the Mad Hatter and March Hare (both about 12 feet tall) pop up and scold you for being ‘very rude.’


You crash through the doormouse’s teapot into an ending that seems to have wandered in from another cartoon.

The lights go dark a moment before a ‘fireworks’ display (done with coloured lights, but actually very convincing) goes off. Then you crash through these three weird looking doors with sound effects and a voice that sounds more like the screams, cries and yelps of Goofy when he’s in distress (especially when forces have hurled him into space or midair) – but somehow it works. Weird as it was, it was still charming in its own way, and a total hoot.


© 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014  G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.