02028-20220124 Disneyland & Disney California Adventure — D23 honors archivist Dave Smith w AUDIO & Main St USA window+RotR+Avengers

The old Disneyland that we love is back — and getting better

Includes photography of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance & Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Like so many people around the world, I’ve loved Disney and Disneyland since I was a child.

I grew up in Alberta, Canada. When I was about five years old, my mother took me on a trip to visit one of her sisters, who lived in Los Angeles. Even though I do not remember visiting Disneyland on that trip, I must have done so because I still have a squeaker Donald Duck postcard from Disneyland. Donald Duck remains my favorite Disney character.

Recently on Amazon.com I spotted a Donald Duck plush, complete with a straw hat and a colorful serape from Disney’s “The Three Caballeros.” I bought it and keep it where I can see it daily from my dining table.

It brings a smile to my face and it complements the “The Three Caballeros” figurine that I bought several years ago.

Eventually I moved to San Diego from Canada and, for many years, I had a Disneyland Annual Passport. Living in San Diego, I enjoyed stopping to visit Disneyland while on my way back from my occasional trips to Los Angeles.

That changed with COVID. Disneyland shut down. Annual Passport balances were refunded. Throughout that dark time, I maintained my connection to Disney and to the Disney Parks (worldwide) through my membership in the Los Angeles-based Disneyland Fan Club Meetup Group. Whereas before we had met with each other in the SoCal Disney Parks, during COVID we met online to watch Disney Parks (and other) YouTube videos. We still do, every Saturday.

Despite the new Disneyland annual pass restrictions, including the requirement to reserve in advance to go to the parks (so much for my spontaneous visits for a few hours at a time), I bought the top tier Magic Key annual pass. So far, I’ve never had any problem making a reservation for when I wanted to go.

Most recently, I went there a couple of weeks ago to attend a presentation by the Disney Archives, at an event for Disney’s D23 Fan Club’s Gold Members. Held at the Disneyland Opera House (the home of Mr. Lincoln), the presentation celebrated the life and contributions to Disney of Disney Legend Dave Smith, the very first Disney archivist.

Earlier in the day, a window on Main Street USA was unveiled in his honor.

I actually met Dave a few years ago at the Disney Studios, during another D23 Fan Club event. Dave showed our group some treasures from the Disney Archives.

After the presentation, I spent the day at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure — and what a day it was! I rode all of the rides that I wanted to, beginning with my favorite ride in the parks: “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.”

One of the new restrictions when visiting the parks, even if you have an annual pass that lets you visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on the same day, is that you have to pick one park to visit first and then wait until 1:00 PM to visit the other, so that is what I did.

At Disney California Adventure I checked out some of their Lunar New Year festivities, including a colorful parade.

Then I headed over to the Avengers Campus where I rode “WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure.”

Next, I enjoyed an entertaining live-action show featuring Doctor Strange, the Master of the Mystic Arts.

By this time I was tired and, since I am still not eating close to people in public places — due to the risk of catching COVID if I take my mask off, I was also hungry. I used the opportunity to buy a “New York’s Tastiest” “Chicken Shawarma Wrap with Coconut Yogurt-Tahina Sauce and Pickled Vegetables” from the Shawarma Palace, and then I took it back to my RAV4 to eat it, before driving home to San Diego.

All in all, I had a great day. As I shared with several Disney Cast Members that day, I can happily report to you that “The Happiest Place on Earth” is a happy place to be once again.

To explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, with the most photos and the latest text, visit “AutoMatters & More” at https://automatters.net. Search by title or topic in the Search Bar in the middle of the Home Page, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes and browse.

Jan Wagner


  1. David Sperry on February 17, 2022 at 11:48 pm

    I had no idea you were such a fan of DisneyLand and collector of Disney memorabilia. I went to DisneyLand many years ago and have vague memories, but living on the East coast, my family and I have visited DisneyWorld frequently. Through the years, those “other” cartoon characters, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd have been my favorites.

    • Jan Wagner on February 18, 2022 at 1:32 am

      Hi David,
      Yes, for me Disneyland provides a great escape from the stresses of daily life, much like autocrossing used to do until I retired from that. Engaging in both pursuits have enabled me to forget about pretty much everything except enjoying the recreational task at hand.

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