Disneyland’s “Forced Perspective”

It took a long time to finally get the green light, post surgeries and seizures, to go back to my favorite place on Earth (then a long time after that to find the time to go)…and as I’ve pointed out numerous times before, I am a geek, so yes, my favorite place does happen to be Disneyland…I’m about to start another cycle of Chemo soon, so Amy and I decided to take advantage of her day off and get a little “Disneyland-y” yesterday.

I’ve always loved Disneyland and because I grew up in the NW (and pretty far away from Mickey’s home), any time I had the chance to go to D-Land, I would figure out strategies to maximize the amount of fun possible that I could pack into my time there (whether it was just a day or several days, etc). Since moving to SoCal not only do I live very close to “the happiest place on earth”, but I’ve had a season pass pretty much every year I’ve lived here. Being able to visit so much has completely changed my experience of the place. In fact I’ve been able to go so often that I’ve actually taken the time to deconstruct my reasons for loving it so much.

Here’s what I discovered:

1.) The type of entertainment, creativity, and escape that Disneyland has to offer brings families and relationships together in a unique and essential ways. Ways that few other places in this world can do.

2.) It is an imagination fuel station (imagination keeps our world spinning and our existence and future bright and hopeful).

3.) It’s even more fun as an adult (that was Walt Disney’s vision…”that it would be a place that is just as fun for adults as it is for kids”) and it always helps people to get connected to that childlike wonder that’s inside all of us (which I believe is one of the wisest things anyone can do).

4.) Finally, even with it’s “fantasy-like” aesthetic it truly represents the reality of humanity’s existence and what sets us apart (our desire for connection, hope, compassion, love, discovery, curiosity, vulnerability, telling/hearing stories, and most importantly, creativity) and is always a good reminder of that truth (a truth that often gets blocked by the negative sides to our existence).

The other thing that a season pass has allowed me to do is to take my time and soak everything in while I’m there (instead of trying to make sure I ride every cool ride etc). In fact there are a lot of cool secrets about the park that a lot of people don’t know about that I’ve become privy to. Of course a lot of people know about the basketball court in the Matterhorn and some even know about the hidden “Mickeys” through out the park, but one that I recently discovered that I actually found to be very fascinating and quite relevant to this “New Normal” that Amy and I are in right now, is that the park uses a lot of optical illusions to create certain intended experiences for guests on a subliminal (or unconscious) level. A big one is the way that they manipulate architecture to make things look bigger, shorter, closer, or farther away than they really are. Ironically this process is called “Forced Perspective” and I can’t think of a better description for these past nine months, meaning that we had been going through life thinking that things are one way and then we find out that I have a potentially deadly illness and our perspective and priorities completely shift (and I’ll be honest that the shift of perspective wasn’t really a proactive choice on our part…so you could call it…say…a “forced” perspective).

Anyway, an example of how “forced perspective” works in the park is when you walk through Main Street towards the Sleeping Beauty Castle, the way our minds interpret the experience is that the buildings on our right and left are really tall and that the castle is very far away…much taller than they actually are (the buildings) and much further away than it actually is (the castle)…and the reason for that is as you walk down Main Street, the windows, signs, and accessories of the second stories on each building are actually shorter than their first stories which makes the buildings appear taller. Also, the buildings angle slightly inward which creates the illusion of the castle being further away. This, of course, helps the park have the intended “magical feeling” they want you to feel as you enter. The reverse happens when you walk through Main Street towards Disneyland’s exit which doesn’t look that far away, so you tend to want to walk slower and visit the shops. The Matterhorn mountain does the same thing with the ways the trees are lined on the mountain. The lower on the mountain you look, the bigger the trees are, the higher on the mountain you look, the smaller the trees are, which of course is why the mountain looks like Everest when you’re inside the park.

DISNerds!!!

The idea of “forced perspective” when dealing with an illness creates the opposite effect. You realize that before the illness you were always looking at an illusion, where as when you face the illness, you’re finally looking at reality. But like I said earlier about true reality, it may look “fantastical” to some (or most), but to those of us who have been given a “forced perspective” and have chosen to embrace that perspective, you realize that “the happiest place on earth” is wherever you are at the moment (no matter the circumstances)…and all I can say is that I’m very grateful that many of my moments yesterday were spent at a magical place with the woman of my dreams ; )

Much Love,

Alex

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