My column on Disneyland runs in the Denver Post in the morning and there’s one point I didn’t have room to make: It’s possible to max out on magic.
After a couple of days within the clean confines of Disneyland and California Adventure, I started to yearn for something real. Only once during my stay, whipping around atop a roller coaster called the “California Screamer,” did I catch a glimpse of the “real world.” But that was an industrial part of Anaheim that made me more than content to plunge back into the world of magic Walt Disney created.
It’s important to make a distinction between the real world and the natural world. Even the greatest human mind can’t out create Mother Nature.
Walt himself was inspired by nature and spent much of his early years wandering in the woods near his boyhood home.
In fact he once wrote, “I don’t like formal gardens. I like wild nature. It’s just the wilderness instinct in me, I guess.”
This sentiment is reflected in California Adventure’s nature park, a place with actual real live trees, dirt and plants in it. I know the trees are real, because after a couple of days of being dazzled by the surreal I wrapped my arms around a Sequoia and buried my face in its bark.
After a few minutes climbing rope ladders amongst the branches and breathing in the smell of pine, I was ready to go back to Fantasyland.
Of course, as Lucius Annaeus Seneca said, “All art is but imitation of nature.”
In Walt’s case I think he was paying homage to it. His version of nature is of it at its most pristine, its most beautiful. Snow always sparkles pure white at Disneyland and the flowers’ blooms never fade. Plus he added in a few singing chipmunks and the like to really make it pop.
But something in us aches for the real thing. That’s why a family of live raccoons spotted from the Jungle Cruise got more applause than any animatronic creature we saw that day.
The need for nature overtook me on our fourth day at Disneyland. Rather than squeeze in a few more rides before our afternoon plane, we rented a car and took a detour to Newport Beach. There we splashed in the waves, got sand between our toes and found a crab scuttling along the rocks. My daughters thought that crab was one of the coolest things they saw during our whole trip–even if it wasn’t singing “Under the Sea” with Princess Ariel.