Disneyland has it down. It's probably one of the most efficient operations on the planet and is a testament to humankind's ability to visualize a concept and turn it into an entertainment empire. From crowd and line control, to architectural absurdity, Disneyland COMMITS to its conceptions 1000%.
It is this commitment to fantasy and role play that brings its fans back over and over again (some get married there), and makes uptight intellectuals seethe with bitter fury at the commercialization of our childhood imaginations.
Seethe away. I won't join in the angry protest. I think Walt Disney, however flawed, was a genius and probably worshipped at the altar of imaginative capabilities, fantasies and outright craziness (within reason). As someone who visited the Magical Kingdom on several occasions as a very young child (we lived in North Hollywood for two years and took every family friend to the park whenever they visited, hence I went to Disneyland multiple times before age six), it has shaped me in unknowable, possibly unhealthy ways. And it is subconsciously a weird kind of home to me, one that's expanded over the years to epic proportions (requiring a multi-day pass to attempt and see it all).
Whether it's a romanticized version of the Golden Age of Piracy featuring drunken sea-faring criminals harmlessly shooting at your face as you smile and mentally sing along to "A Pirate's Life for Me," or an Autopia ride that exactly mimics the 605 freeway experience of driving to Anaheim to visit Disneyland (while avoiding I-5 and its clogged artery ways), Disneyland is all kinds of wrong. It's so wrong, it's right--just like an unbalanced idea about what's real and unreal all around us. In other words, it's creative.
It combines the completely artificial with beautiful, interesting landscapes, impossible architecture and professionally performed live music (most of it from the past). Everywhere you walk (or ride, or glide), there's something to amaze, wow and pleasure your senses. Even if you think it sucks, you can't help being impressed by the over-powering worldliness of it. I wish it had stayed in Anaheim, rather than reaching its tentacles around the world (did you know there's a Disneyland Hong Kong?). It would be so much better if it only existed on one place on Earth, making it that much more rare and weird.
But, it's part of the American way to build and expand, so look out for a Disneyland near you. Especially because the company doesn't care about animation anymore (just the distribution of it).
What's it like to go back to Disneyland as an adult? Well, I hope you like humanity because you'll see a lot of it there, much of it rather blank behind the eyes. As with any large crowd, there's going to be some dopiness, along with very obnoxious, large t-shirts and very tiny, frayed short-shorts. Over-sized baseball hats do not help.
You'll also see thousands of extremely cute kids. Happy, miserable, and zombie-tired. It's childhood on parade everywhere you turn. There are a variety of mouse-eared hats on display as well, which seem to make sense within the confines of the park, but are destined to a dusty life in a forgotten corner of a bookshelf for the next several years until finally going to the Goodwill.
The rides aren't the usual "thrill" per se, but there's lots to be freaked out about if you're under the age of seven. Enjoy!
And don't expect an abundance of political correctness, especially in Adventureland, which is not an apt depiction of the known world. Disneyland, rather than tear down the original Jungle Cruise ride, complete with head hunters and threatening natives, just makes it into a big joke, as in, this is LAME, but entertaining nonetheless. They're pretty much right about that.
Despite my terrible blunder in judgment, taking my seven-year-old on the Indiana Jones careening terror snake/spider/dark tunnel ride (and the subsequent nervous breakdown that followed), the trip was a success. I tried to gauge Jackson's impression of the park after our first exhausting day and he didn't really have all the words available. But eventually, as we made our way to Taco Bell for the first of many unsatisfying meals, he casually noted with a far-off look, "Disneyland is full of wonders, isn't it?"
That's a fine summary.