Today we're going a little different than our normal updates ... on this day of remembrance I want to share a story about being at the Happiest Place on Earth just days after one of the saddest days in American History.
Written by Gregg Condon
Monday, September 10, 2001, a day that began and ended just like any other day had for the previous few months. We had moved from the San Fernando Valley up to Palmdale, CA a few months earlier. My wife and I were still having hellish commutes, her to Calabasas (70 miles one way) and me to Woodland Hills (60 miles one way). She was working 5:30am-2:00pm and I was working 3:30pm-12:00am. It was just what we had to do as young parents. And as we swapped kids in Santa Clarita (just a few miles from SFMM actually) on that Monday afternoon we had no idea that just over 12 hours later our world (and that of our country) would change forever.
As I worked my job and made it home about 1:00am I could never quite fall right to sleep, and such was the case that night. I would usually wake up to say goodbye to my wife as she left way too early for work but for some reason that morning I don't remember doing that. Odd since I vividly remember every other thing about that day (as we all do I'm sure).
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 ... I was awoken by a phone call from my wife, something she never really did as you can imagine with a 5 and 3 year old we tried to get as much sleep as possible. I vaguely remember hearing "turn on TV", "something going on in NYC" and through a daze I turned on our 13" TV just in time to see something that looked like a plane crashing into a building that looked like the World Trade Center (the 2nd plane).
It's said in moments of extreme duress one can sober or wake up in an instant, and such was the case this morning. I quickly made my way to the bigger of our TV's (a whopping 27") and watched in amazement, still not quite sure what was going on.
As I relayed the info to my wife as to what I was seeing (this was still in the early days of streaming video on the internet) I still couldn't believe what I was describing.
We quickly made the choice not to send our daughter to school that day as I'm sure was the case for many others. As the day went on we all saw many horrific and tragic things, most of all my brother in-law who worked in Building 9 of the WTC who we feared the worst for but was one of the lucky ones. Of course any of us who know any 9/11 survivors know that's not always the case. But that's a story for a different day, and probably a different website.
As I tried working that night (again with no news except what you could get from the radio) it became abundantly clear that things would never be the same.
As the days went on, we all were glued to our TV (I don't just mean myself and my family ...we ALL were). The heroic firefighters and police, stories of the extreme and ultimate sacrifices that were made and the sheer numbing effect of the entire thing. We had decided to stay closer to both of our works for the rest of that work week because none of us had any idea what was going to happen next.
Sunday, September 16, 2001 ... so you may be asking yourself, what this has to do with Disneyland. We've all heard stories about theme parks closing on 9/11 from Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and of course Disneyland (that due to the time of the attacks never opened). The hotel and park staff doing everything they could to assist travelers who were now stuck, shielding the children of these families from the horrors that were going on while they were unsure why they couldn't go and spend a day at Disneyland.
For us, we were just AP's who after 5 days of TV watching felt we needed to do something normal. Fighting through the guilt of "should we actually be going to Disneyland" we made our way down to Disneyland. And what we found was an absolutely surreal experience.
Here we were, surrounded by people (not a LOT of people mind you) but many of them probably with the same thoughts we had. Just wanted to do something "normal". You could feel it in the air, there was nothing normal about being at Disneyland this day. While the Cast Members were putting on their Disney best, you couldn't shake the feeling of grief in the air. So while we got away from it all for a day, we never really got away from it.
But looking back, it was necessary and needed for everybody who spent any time at the parks in those days and weeks following 9/11.
Sunday, September 23, 2001 ... This was the day that then President George W Bush had ordered all flags to return to full staff, and this meant the flag at Disneyland as well. There was to be flag raising headed by then CEO Michael Eisner and the park would essentially shut down for a time so CM's could attend.
While the "normalcy" still hadn't returned to Disneyland, there was at this time a sense of pride, not only here, but I'm guessing everywhere. As we all gathered in town square for the flag raising there was an amazing rendition of the National Anthem, some words by Mr. Eisner and the flag raising.
Later that afternoon at the traditional flag retreat you probably couldn't find a dry eye in the house. Many of the CM's from the nearby City Hall and Emporium could be seen standing in their doorways taking in the moment and while today you may see people walking right by and not even recognizing the flag retreat, that was not the case on this day, or many days to come.
So while it's easy sometimes to be overly cynical of Disneyland (I'm guilty of it for sure) there was a time when Disneyland was there for me and my family as a place of comfort, safety and joy when there was no comfort, safety or joy in the world. And for that we will always be thankful.
Happy Friday, we hope you had a great short work week and have enjoyed all of the amazing updates this week.
Today we have the second part of Renée and Andrew's weekend at Disneyland. If you missed part one of their update be sure to check it out here.
Written by Renée Girard and Andrew Cunningham
(Click on any of the pictures below to see a larger version)
We are up bright and early to run the Disneyland 10k!
And we made it to Agrabah!
After running a 10k, might as well drop in one last time at DCA Tower.
Our last ride on classic DCA Tower. Fun ride but we're fine with Guardians coming in. After all, FL does it better:)
Going to check out Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters in Cars Land.
Luigi's is a cute ride, definitely a nice addition to Cars Land.
We might regret this, but we're going on the swinging gondolas on Mickey's Fun Wheel.
Immediately regretting this as we swing freely above DCA.
But you do get a nice view of the parks from Mickey's Fun Wheel.
California Screamin' has been down all morning. So far one train is cycling the track.
Radiator Springs Racers is also down again
No line at the beer truck and 2 major rides down? Guess what we're doing!
Disneyland has jalapeño cheese pretzels. Please bring them back to WDW!
Haunted Mansion is closed but reopening in a few days with their holiday layover.
Rivers of America is also closed, but still offers a lovely view.
You can see a bit of the Star Wars land construction just behind the walls in Critter Country.
Haven't seen too many of the Disneyland "gangs" this weekend. We were curious as to why Walt is in quotes on theirs.
Having a pre-marathon dinner at DCA's Wine Country Trattoria.
Delicious meal of pasta, with a side of wine, to get some carbs in before tomorrow's Disneyland Half
One last stop at Cars Land and Radiator Springs before heading out for the night.
Ever see a line at the Starbucks at Downtown Disney at 5am? Gotta get some fuel for the Disneyland Half!
The elite runners in the Disneyland Half are on their way!
Just another morning run with thousands of other sweaty crazy people.
Corrals backed up all the way to the parking structure.
Here we go! See you in 13.1 miles!
Cars Land was up first
Running through the Paradise Pier area of DCA, with the World of Color fountains on.
The Three Caballeros were among the characters along the route in DCA
Tower of Terror in the background of Flik's Fun Fair, a view that will soon be changing.
Here's what you've all been waiting for... The back side of Tower!
The course changes had us go through Disneyland for a shorter distance but back to DCA after
Storm Troopers were the only Star Wars characters out and about in Tomorrowland.
Going through Fantasyland and of course the highlight of running through Sleeping Beauty castle
Love that the Disney PhotoPass folks are doing the course photography here too
Characters from Robin Hood on the bus on Main Street
Got to catch up with the news boys on their trolley on Buena Vista Street at DCA.
One more run past Tower before exiting the parks and on to the streets of Anaheim.
All of the cast members and volunteers throughout the race course were awesome!
Before finishing back at Disneyland, the next best thing is running at Angel Stadium!
Finished! More Disneyland Half updates to come, but shower and breakfast come first.
Please make a separate line at bag check for runners after the race. This is painful.
After finishing the Disneyland Half & Disneyland 10K , a perfect way to celebrate is lots of food at Goofy's Kitchen
Our afternoon of relaxation includes beer at Grand Californian's Hearthstone Lounge.
Love this hidden Mickey, that you can find in the lobby of Disney's Grand Californian hotel.
And our Disneyland Half weekend has come to an end. See ya next year!
We know our updates from Disneyland are few and far between, but this week we're totally making up for it with two amazing updates from the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (today and Friday) and an unbelievable update from the Walt Disney Family Museum on Thursday. We hope you enjoy Disney week (with a bit of Universal Studios Hollywood sprinkled in on Wednesday). =)
Written by Renée Girard and Andrew Cunningham
(Click on any of the pictures below to see a larger version)
We are spending the weekend at Disneyland for the runDisney half marathon!
I guess we won't be riding "classic" Tower one last time.
It's a gorgeous day here at Disneyland!
Having breakfast at Rancho del Zocalo, while watching Big Thunder Mountain trains roll by.
It's the wildest ride in the wilderness!
Not a whole lot going on behind the walls for Star Wars land yet.
The band aboard King Arthur Carousel
While Fantasyland is already busy, Roger Rabbit will be packed later but has no wait now.
Love the fun Disneyland 60 photo ops still in the parks.
Disneyland crowds are picking up. Time to stop by Disney's California Adventure!
You can meet Nick and Judy from Zootopia at DCA. At WDW, they only appear in the parade.
Are these the lights from Stranger Things?
The sign lied, Tower is open!
Radiator Springs Racers is currently down at Cars Land in DCA.
There are a ton of popcorn flavors available in Cars Land!
We'll have to check out the new version of this attraction, Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters.
Hold on like ya mean it! Ready to take off on one of my favorite coasters, California Screamin'!
Here's a tree, in memory of the Maliboomer.
I love this view!
I love this view too!
I love this view most of all.
The Cove Bar at DCA is always a popular spot. Lines start early!
Gonna check out Soarin' Around the World later to see the west coast version.
Racers is back open! 45 minutes standby and 5 minutes singles!
Old school fast pass for Hyperspace Mountain tonight.
We booked the Paint the Night on the go dining package tonight, since it ends in a few days.
The food for the Paint the Night on the go package is really good, and discounts are also accepted.
Time to make a stop at the Disneyland Hotel to pick up our runDisney goodies for the weekend.
Ready to run the Disneyland 10k and half marathon!
If pre-gaming is your thing, you can get a rum runner specialty drink before your race.
The people at Raw Threads always have the best shirts, and they're super comfy too!
Disney always does a terrific job at designing the medals and the Disneyland Half weekend is no exception
Super jealous of those running the inaugural Disneyland Paris half marathon and castle to chateau challenge!
Going for a ride on Hyperspace Mountain! Can't wait!
Jammin' on the Backlot is the nighttime entertainment in Hollywood at DCA. We wouldn't mind if ElecTRONica came back
Saw our first and final viewing of Paint the Night parade tonight
The technology in Paint the Night is amazing!
Several of the Disney princesses make an appearance in Paint the Night. And Olaf.
The Toy Story friends on Slinky in Paint the Night.
The final float in Paint the Night with sorcerer Mickey is exceptional. I hope this parade returns one day!
Caught the Disneyland Forever fireworks after the parade, which we viewed at It's a Small World rather than Main St.
The projections and fireworks from Disney films looked great on the building.
The Lion King segment was one of my favorites.
It wouldn't be a Disney show without "Let It Go" from Frozen.
A fantastic finale for Disneyland Forever, another show that we're sad to see go. Goodnight, we'll be back tomorrow!