You know I love Disney. That’s why I was so excited to interview this week’s Sunny Star, Scott Cutrow, about his passion for not just Disney, but Disneyland specifically. Scott knows just about every fun fact about the park and he visits on a regular basis. While some may think Disneyland is childish, too expensive, and too crowded, Scott always sees the Sunny Side instead and finds the happiness to be had at the park. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say and learn a few fun things about the most famous theme park of all time. And whether you like to admit it or not, I’ll bet that Disneyland has made you happy at one point or another—I’m glad that Scott not only admits it, but that he appreciates it!
1. You have a love for Disneyland! Why does the theme park make you so happy?
I wish I could just answer “everything,” because it’s hard to think about any part of the Disney experience that doesn’t make me happy. I think all theme parks aim to have the same effect on their audience as a movie does, as both aim to tell you a story and make you feel a part of it. But as opposed to a two dimensional movie, theme parks physically transport you to a three dimensional world that you can move through and interact with, and I think Disney does this best. It’s not just the rides or the shows at the park that tell this story either, it’s also the ambiance created by the quaint architecture on
Main Street or the horse-shoe tracks in the pavement in Frontierland that reflect this attention to detail in their three dimensional story-telling. And the way that this full immersion within the park is accomplished, as well as the effect it has on my perceived role in the story, is what makes me so happy to be there.
2. Can you tell us something that most people don’t know about Disneyland?
Disneyland has been around for over 50 years, so there are tons of little tidbits and “secrets” associated with it. I think every visitor to the park has their own little favorite piece of Disneyland history that reminds them why the park is so special to them. Club 33, Walt’s Apartment, the Matterhorn Basketball Court, Hidden Mickeys and the Golden Spike under the castle are just a few of these features that add mystery and make visitors experiences more enjoyable. However, I think my personal favorite tidbit about the park are the several homages to former attractions from the park found within the attractions that were built to replace them. Next time you’re at Disneyland look out for Max, Buff and Melvin from “The Country Bear Jamboree” in the “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, the old sea-monster and mermaids from the original “Submarine Voyage” in the “Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage” and the mighty microscope from “Adventures Through Inner Space” in “Star Tours.”
3. What has been your happiest experience at Disneyland?
The happiest I’ve ever been at Disneyland dates back to when, in the fifth grade, I rode Splash Mountain for the first time. Not only was I so nervous in line that I am surprised I didn’t wet my pants, but I had the added pressure of my brother, who is two years younger than me, being there and, having already been on the ride, telling me I should just calm down… and no one likes to be told that by their younger sibling. However I got up the courage to ride it and got off with a huge feeling of accomplishment that made the rest of my day there one of the best.
4. What would you tell the “Disney Downers” out there who think Disneyland is overrated?
While there are people out there for whom theme parks simply aren’t there thing, I think that the majority of Disneyland haters go into the park and don’t allow themselves to be fully immersed in the stories being told in the park. “Space Mountain” would be just a mediocre roller coaster if placed outdoors and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” would be incredibly less fun without the tons of thematic elements in its show building. Unless you allow yourself to be immersed in the story and believe you are flying through space or are about to be run over by a boulder, it’s easy to be dissatisfied at the park. I think sometimes people are used to being at a place like Six Flags, where the ride is the thrill. Disneyland goes the step further by adding a story, and by allowing yourself to be a part of that story, you can get a lot more out of your experience.
5. Why do you think Disneyland is called “the happiest place on Earth?”