By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
As we walk down Main Street, Doug and Roger constantly stop to point out their favorite window inscriptions. Painted on the second-floor windows in Disney’s version of a turn-of-the-20th-century heartland downtown are old-fashioned signs for nonexistent businesses, most containing a Disney in-joke. The window above the photo-supply shop, for instance, reads “Plaza School of Art. Instructors: Herbert Ryman, John Hench, Peter Ellenshaw.” Ellenshaw was an important matte painter on many Disney films and produced the first conceptual drawing of Disneyland; Ryman helped design New Orleans Square and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle; and John Hench, one of Doug’s heroes, was Walt’s right-hand man designing the look of the park.
These old-timers and others created the Happiest Place on Earth, Doug tells me. They thought of everything that would allow people to come here “and be truly carefree, that is to say, free of ordinary cares, a brief vacation from the dull grind of everyday life.
“Roger is unusual in that he grew up with the park, and he cares enough to learn the history,” Doug says. This is a big issue for Doug, who grew up in Oregon and came to Disneyland only once in his childhood, in 1972, when he was 14. But just as his family got here, his father had a heart attack and they had to leave. He’s known the place firsthand only since the 1980s, but from reading, he knows Disneyland history better than any of his friends. He’s constantly running into people who grew up in Southern California and come to Disneyland a few times a year but don’t know a thing about the place.
“It drives you crazy that Roger came to the park so often,” I say.
Doug nods vigorously. “I just wish I could have had the experience of knowing the park then.”
He notices a young girl standing with her mother nearby, carrying a binder just like Roger’s; she’s staring at Roger’s pin-covered chest.
“Do you want to trade?” Doug asks. The little girl — about 7 years old, in a pink dress, with long blond hair — nods, shyly.
“Come over here,” Doug says. He pulls out his binder from his big bag. The girl, whose name is Jenny, awkwardly puts hers on a stone wall that’s not thick enough to hold it. “You can put it on the ground,” Doug reassures her. “It’s okay.”
Doug puts his book down next to hers, and she leans over it. It’s like a photo album, except the pages are a soft plastic mesh with neatly sorted pins attached. There are pages of Mickey pins, a page of Aladdin-themed pins, but mostly there are pins of Tinker Bell — or “Tinks” — most of which have the same basic design but vary slightly in color.
“I’ll trade you for this,” she says, pointing at one that celebrates Lumiere, the Beauty & the Beast–themed restaurant in Walt Disney World.
“That’s a pretty hard trade, as you know,” Doug says. “I’ll tell you: You have a good eye.”
Jenny has one page of pins of miniature movie posters. Doug points at one for Return to NeverLand, which changes colors as you shift it. “I would trade you Lumiere for that,” Doug says.
Jenny’s mother, meanwhile, is talking to Roger. A large woman with a big laugh, she explains that she and Jenny both just got into pin collecting, and that Jenny already has more than she does. The mother has a lanyard like Roger’s, but not as full. She does have seven small Pooh pins of different colors, which Roger offers to put in order of their release date. As he finishes, the mother sees Jenny holding her new Lumiere pin.
“Give it to me,” the mother calls out.
Jenny cradles the pin and turns away. “I love my pin.”
“Give it to Mommy.”
Doug, with a smile, says, “Maybe trade it with Mommy?”
“Who bought her all her damn pins?” the mother yells, with a snorting laugh.
“She has a lot of good pins,” Roger observes.
Jenny turns back to her mother. “Nyah nyah nyah nyah.”
“Give the pin to me or I’ll bite you,” her mother says, too seriously.
Jenny is now dancing in place and singing a little song: “I have Lumiere! I have Lumiere!”
This goes on a bit longer, but when they finally move on, Jenny still has the pin. “I like to encourage the kids,” says Doug.
We enter Tomorrowland. Doug and Roger stop, suddenly and simultaneously. They look at each other. “Planters?” Roger exclaims.
Surrounding a fountain is a circle of potted trees; they weren’t there yesterday. Doug and Roger both look for the nearest Disney cast member, who happens to be a security guard. “What kind of trees are these?” Doug asks eagerly.
“Peach,” the guard answers.
“Peach,” Doug says, excited.
A tall, skinny young man in a big, floppy hat walks up. “Guess what?” he says. “Friday: Lilo and Stitch.”
“In the park?” Doug responds.
“In the park,” the man says slowly and portentously. This week the new characters of Lilo and Stitch are going to join Mickey and friends; that is, human beings wearing Lilo and Stitch costumes will walk around the park signing autographs.
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