As of writing, it’s been 70 days since my last trip to Disneyland. I typically go once or twice a month. I was there for the President’s Day long weekend. I should have gone at the end of February for Single Rider’s Day, but when the day came, I wasn’t feeling it. I wanted more couch time, which is what I refer to my introvert recharging time at home with nothing but movies, crochet, and cats (little did I know, although I am relishing the copious amounts I’m receiving). A week or two later a friend wanted to go for their birthday, but it was on an otherwise busy weekend, so I made alternate plans with him instead. Besides, March was wide open. I’d get in one last trip or two.

The birthday event ended up getting cancelled, but some friends went to hang out anyways. I got serious FOMO watching their Insta. But it was okay. I was planning to go the following weekend. Rumors were starting to circle about things closing due to the Coronavirus, but at first Disneyland was exempt from some of those initial regs. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea, but I did wanna get one last trip in. I’d also been thinking it might finally be time to wake up early and try to get in the queue for Rise of the Resistance. So that was the plan. Go for Rise, and stay just as long as it took to get on there. The only other things I needed to do were buy a birthday present for a family friend and check out the Food and Wine Fest. By the time we got to Thursday of that week, things were starting to shut down. Word came in later that day that starting Saturday, Disney would be closed. Well shit.

I was bummed about not getting in that last trip (esp since I’m apparently the only one who hasn’t gone on Rise yet) but I was fine. I haven’t really missed the place. Maybe it’s cause I don’t miss the $100+ a month payment, plus how much I spend while there. Or at least I hadn’t missed it until I watched Cars the other day.

I mentioned in a previous post that the wrong movie can put me in the wrong mood. I’d made a few wrong choices in a row, so I had to bring in the big guns: Disney. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw Cars, so that made it a good choice for the day. Mood lifted, but with a bittersweetness to it.

This is a movie that never should have worked. The characters are all Cars? How exactly does that work? We’re supposed to form an emotional bond with a motor and wheels? Leave it to Pixar. The cars are absolutely adorable characters, due in no small part to their fantastic voice cast (Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, and a vast array of others). What should be a simple story (a racecar gets stuck in a small town and has to learn some humility before returning in time for the big race) is packed with more heart than can fit on all of Route 66.

The animation is also beautiful. Gorgeous desert views with cute automotive gags. That’s where the bittersweet started to come in. Carsland takes up a big footprint at Disney California Adventure. It’s made to really feel like you’re in the movie. But it had been so long since I’d seen the movie, that Radiator Springs is now associated with the park more than the film. Watching the movie now, it felt like I was at Disneyland. All the shops were in the right place, with the right details. I felt like I was walking those streets more than I have with any other movie. And that made me really miss the Mouse in a way I hadn’t yet (in a way that I really haven’t missed too much yet).

There’s another layer to the bittersweet for me. One car, Doc Hudson, is voiced by Paul Newman. I associate Newman with Cool Hand Luke, which I associate with my Daddy (he never said as much, but I’m pretty sure it was his favorite movie) so therefore I associate Newman with my Daddy. Especially since Doc takes on a mentor role with Lightning McQueen, it brought back a lot of the Dad feels. But as with all Pixar emotions, it’s an uplifting kind of nostalgic feel. I wasn’t dragged down by it, but able to acknowledge that yes things might not be great, but there’s pockets of light and hope. That’s the magic of Disney.