Tag Archive for Disneyland

On Assignment: Disneyland!

I’ve been writing for Alaska Beyond, the inflight magazine of Alaska Airlines, for many years. But unlike some airline magazines, Alaska Beyond, which is published by a company that is separate from the airline, rarely sends writers anywhere. I never got sent on an out-of-town assignment.

Breakfast at Disneyland

Until last week.

I couldn’t believe it when the magazine asked me if I would like to go to Disneyland. What a question. Of course! I love Disneyland!

It was fun writing to friends to report, “I’m in Disneyland. Working.”

In fact, I worked so hard during my three days in Disneyland that I gained five pounds. (I dropped them as soon as I returned to my own Spartan lifestyle, that is, no more appetizers before practically every meal, no more desserts after practically every meal, and no more appetizers between every meal.) Very nice people from Disney’s public relations department took me and a small group of journalists through Disneyland and its sister park, Disney California Adventure, as well as the Downtown Disney restaurant and

Millennium Falcon, Docked

shopping district, to check out all that was new or fairly new.


The last time I visited Disneyland was in 2015, and in just four years there have been a lot of changes and additions. The one addition generating the most buzz is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened May 31. I was perhaps the wrong person to report on this new Disneyland attraction; I’m not really up to date on Star Wars movies, books or video games. Some of the character and place names on the Planet Batuu were lost on me.

Still, I could appreciate the effort put into conceiving and then making this desert-like area inhabited by alien creatures of all sorts. Even the creation of the marketplace required that designers do hands-on research in the ancient souks of Marrakesh, Morocco. They managed to capture the exotic feel of centuries-old shopping bazaars I have visited in Turkey and Iran.

The Marketplace

The various droids–some round, some angular–looked and sounded familiar to me. I even got to make my own pint-sized droid and take it home with me after a visit to the Droid Depot. Another workshop allows visitors to make their own lightsabers.

I got another dose of Star Wars when I tried out The VOID, a new addition to Downtown Disney that offers virtual reality encounters with Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers. With


an oculus rift headset in place, and a blaster in hand, I surely did the rebel forces proud. Afterwards, one of my teammates said, “You were so brave!” What can I say? The Force was with me.

A new restaurant that looked very familiar to me was Portland’s own Salt & Straw, which has spread its fantastic gourmet ice cream beyond Oregon’s borders. There was also a fun restaurant called Splitsville that has 20 bowling lanes. I bought an irresistible Mickey/Minnie purse at the World of Disney

Me (on left) with Disney PR peeps

and got inspired to dust off my sewing machine after browsing at the cute Disney Dress Shop.

The Disney Dress Shop

One evening, when our group watched the World of Color— the light, sound and water show next to Pixar Pier in California Adventure–I confess to feeling a bit emotional. Flashed before us, amid the 1200 gushing fountains and the swirling colors, were scenes from the long history of Disney films, accompanied by music from some of my favorites.

It occurred to me that every American alive today, except for those who have lived as hermits, is fondly familiar with much of that music and many of the movie scenes. We all have that in common. It’s like the soundtrack of our nation. On that night, sitting under a full moon and watching the show illuminate the faces of all the viewers, I felt a real bond with Disney lovers from coast to coast.

I doff my hat (Minnie Mouse ears hat, to be exact) to Alaska Beyond for giving me the opportunity to not only enjoy a wonderful experience, but to write about it. Look for my article in the October 2019 issue.