Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Took My Kids To Anaheim ... And Skipped Disneyland!

And lived to tell the tale.

My kids knew about Mickey Mouse before they were two. It was my fault: I wore a Mickey Mouse watch and had to tell them who that strange-looking creature was on my wrist. Soon after, though, Disney marketing kicked in, and thanks to advertisements in the newspaper, around town, and exposure to Disney videos, the kids knew about way more than Mickey.

They don't, however, know about Disneyland yet. So you might wonder what prompted my husband and I to cart them down to Anaheim on the long weekend during spring break.

It wasn't the Mouse.


If you live in Southern California and you are looking for a place to take small kids for the day, Adventure City is for you. It was certainly for us. In fact, it hit the spot.

What, you ask, is Adventure City? It's an old, mom-and-pop style amusement park fifteen minutes from Disneyland, in neighboring Garden Grove. It's chock full of rides designed for toddlers and kids up to about age nine. It's tiny -- if you sit at a table near the carousel in the center, you can pretty much see from one end of it to the other. Yet is has more than enough to keep your wee ones fully amused for hours and hours.

What it doesn't have is a "theme." Or just about anything commercial or trademarked, for that matter, with the exception of a few Thomas the Tank Engine train tables located under umbrellas in a shady area, and all the trains and equipment a tiny boy could want.

It also offers admission for a relatively tiny price, at least compared to Disneyland. It costs $13.95 No that's not a typo. All rides are included save a rock-climbing wall for older kids. And kids under a year are free. Food cost is reasonable too, if limited to the usual amusement park fare: hot dogs, burgers, pizza, frozen lemonade. And if you get your hand stamped, you can come back later on the same day.

Thing 1 couldn't wait to hop on the carousel for multiple rides. Thing 2 ran ecstatically from airplane ride to balloon ride to fire truck/ambulance ride. We all went on the train ride, which whisked us past the birthday party area, the petting zoo, the mini roller coaster, etc. We watched the corny magic show. The kids went on the hand-cranked, kid-powered trains -- again and again and again. They had a blast. (BTW those aren't my kids in the photos above ... but you can get the idea of what fun they had from whoever these obviously giddy kids are.)

Yet nobody got overtired or overstimulated ... or over-Disneyed.

Let's face it, at age 3, my kids are not really in need of a day at the Big Mouse. The people walking around in gigantic character costumes will terrify them. And the gigantic (overweight) tourists in Bermuda shorts and mouse ears will terrify me.

I know it's inevitable that we will succumb to the Mouse one day. My kids are not immune to advertising. One day they are gonna ask to be taken. I can't blame them. I did the same. And I lived all the way in New York. The Disney Marketing machine may not have been quite as sophisticated way back in the late 1960s/early 1970s, when Late Blooming Mom was a wee one, but it did the job. My parents succumbed.

When we do, inevitably, bring Thing 1 and Thing 2 to the Big House of Mouse, no doubt we will have fun ... well, mostly, except for the lines, the heat, the ridiculous prices, and the fits my overtired, overstimulated kids will inevitably throw. But all that is for another day.

Until then, hooray for Adventure City.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Hurray for the non-generic non-chain non-franchise experiences that haven't been duplicated all around the world by large conglomerates!

I'm sure the Things will have many years of craving the familiar before they realize how much more interesting the unique places are... and I hope when they finally do realize there's value to such small places that there are still a few left!