So there were Mickey Mouse and some other Disney characters, standing there in their underwear ...
No, I would never kid about Mickey Mouse not wearing pants. It's an image that will haunt me for the rest of my days.
I discovered that catching the mouse with his pants down is not OK with Disney. This was the clear message from the angry PR person who waved her hands and pushed me out like an NFL lineman hitting a blocking sled.
It was my first official act covering last week's big reopening of Disney's California Adventure and I was looking for the room where the media picked up press packets. Being a seasoned professional, I asked for directions from the nearest waiter who didn't speak English.
Hey, it's not like I asked a plant. That was a long time ago.
Life's a learning experience, and I learned a lot doing the Disney thing with my family for three days last weekend. For example, while it may be a small world after all, it's a terribly long song.
I also learned that now that my 4-year-old has passed the 40-inch tall threshold, she's an absolute Disneyland animal. She went on every big ride she could, growling like a tiger (I think she actually bit one of the workers). I learned that deciding not to bring your own stroller will gain Disney another $45 of your money over three days because, while your kid may be old enough to scream her way
I also learned there are human beings willing to spend nine hours -- longer than it took us to drive to Los Angeles -- to ride the brand-new Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure, according to a Disney employee. That's no joke. These are the same people who camped out overnight to get inside the refurbished park on its first day. It was a great ride, but I'm almost 45 and don't have enough time left on Earth to wait that long for anything.
I learned that I'm capable of yelling at my wife in public. It was for the first time ever, but what do you expect when someone stops to take a leisurely survey just as the park is opening at 8 a.m. and I'm grabbing the stroller to begin my headlong rush to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" before the line starts?
By the way, I'm sorry. Please talk to me again.
Shiny happy people
I learned -- again -- that Disney employees are supernaturally helpful and happy. They're sort of like Kenneth-the-page on "30 Rock." I don't know what they feed them, but it can't be legal.
I learned weird things just happen. Random line of the trip, from my wife to my daughter Olivia: "Keep your teeth off (her 9-year-old sister) Lorelei." One hour into the trip, and we were already dealing with cannibalism.
I also learned, after staying two nights, each in different hotels, that when you're eating continental breakfast biscuits, gravy matters. You may think this is a silly reason to swear absolute loyalty to the Ramada -- which I did when we checked out by kissing the clerk's ring -- as you're draining your kids' college funds for meals, you should expect gravy with your biscuits.
And last I learned that, now that two of my kids are 10 and I haven't been a music writer since 2007, they now know more about current pop music than I do. And they proved it ... loudly, both up and down Interstate 5. At one point, I was praying for an asteroid strike.
Hey, maybe that will be the new ride at California Adventure next time we go.