This weekend my girlfriend and I stayed at the Grand Californian, at Disneyland. Actually it’s closer to California Adventure but who’s counting? Usually I tend to think that all hotel rooms are the same (except in movies. It’s amazing what Hollywood thinks the average joe can afford.) but this is not true. The size was pretty much the same but the attention to detail was amazing. Flat screen TV with RCA hookups, DVD player, rotating shower head and everyone was extremely polite and kind, making the day that much more enjoyable.
But we’re not here to talk about the hotel room, we’re here to talk about why I love Disneyland. Well let’s start off with the basics. I’m Japanese. Japanese people love Disneyland. Tokyo Disneyland is smaller than Anaheim’s Disneyland, but it always seems to have more people. And I have a theory that it’s ingrained into our DNA. So at some microscopic levels, even though I was pretty much raised in California, I must love Disney. Even though I know about most of the scandals, coverups and the mistreatment of their employees, deep down I must love Disneyland. That and I’m a kid at heart.
The next reason is more grounded in reality. On Saturday I headed over to the gift shop in the Grand Californian to pick up some water. Now, I knew ahead of time that I was going to be hosed. $2.75 for a bottled water, can you believe it? So regardless I shrugged and paid the lady. Upon payment I noticed she had a lanyard with pins on them. In Disneyland, they have something called “pin trading”. Basically, you can buy pins and some employees are required to carry lanyards with Disney pins on them. So if you see an employee with a pin that you like, they are required to trade that pin for any pin of your choosing. A cool concept, but something that I never got into… until Saturday…
On the lanyard the lady had a “Fozzie Bear” pin. I love the muppets. Something about them always puts a smile on my face. I love the way they flail their arms about. I love the absolute ridiculousness of them interacting with real people. I love small muppets. I love big muppets. The main reason I created Rai-kun. And I’ve seen most of the muppets pins that they have in Disneyland. Most of them are wearing “Mickey Ears” or have some blatant Disney iconagraphy. But this pin was different. There was only a subtle “hidden Mickey” on the dot of the “i” of “Fozzie”. It was awesome. So I told her, I was admiring her “Fozzie Bear” pin, but had no pins of my own to trade. Immediately she took off the pin, handed it to me and said, “Oh, here you go.” I was flabbergasted. I responded with, “Nonono that’s okay.” But she insisted. So I thanked her and left mesmerised with my new treasure. Sure I had to pay $2.75 for my water, but she had given me a pin that was at least worth $5.95, for free!
However it goes beyond this story. Apparently the pin I had received, was never available for purchase. It was a special “employee only” lanyard pin. Which meant the only way to get this in Disneyland was to find an employee and trade for it. I also noticed it was pin 3 out of 5. Instantly I was on the internet to see which pins I was missing out on. And they were all awesome! As it turns out there were more muppet pins than just the 5 in my set. Then it hit me. I was now a pin trader. In this small gesture that I had thought was good and pure, I was now realizing, this employee was a pusher. Sure the first taste was free, but now I had to pay. Not just monetarily, no. Now I was one of “those” people, always hovering about employees with their pin lanyards, searching for muppets and turning away, looking disgusted as I realize they’re only filled with “pooh”. Forever searching. Curse you Disney! You have my soul!!
And that’s why I love Disneyland.