Preview: Opening Chapter of "The E-Ticket Life"

  • 6-19-2015

We here at The Disneyland Gazette have recieved the honor of being the finale to Kyle Burbank's E-Ticket Week, promoting his new book “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels” with excerpts and original stories from and inspired by the book.

Below is the opening chapter of "The E-Ticket Life"...

"Disneyland Calling"

Like many people my age, I grew up loving Disney. Born in 1986, I came of age solidly in the “Disney Decade” of the 1990s. Before that, the first film I ever saw in theaters was a rerelease of The Jungle Book… or so my parents tell me. Speaking of my parents, I remember my mother frequently sporting a Disneyland: 35 Years of Magic sweatshirt and my father handing down to me a Disneyland license plate that he had gotten in 1989 featuring the boss himself: Mickey Mouse.

We had traveled to Walt Disney World several times when I lived in New Jersey and then, after moving to Arizona, we frequented Disneyland instead. When I was in high school, my dad purchased a timeshare in Newport Coast, which made Disneyland trips a near-annual event. Yet, it wasn’t until I was an adult that my adoration for the parks really blossomed.

In 2006, I was working at a movie theater in Scottsdale that was neighbored by a gigantic, high-end shopping center. It was around the holidays and so many of my breaks were spent wandering the mall and waiting to be inspired by gift ideas. On this particular day, I ventured into the Disney Store hoping to find a gift for my then-girlfriend. Near the checkout counter was a rack of plastic cards. As I came in for a closer look, I realized they were actually multi-day and Annual Passport vouchers for Disneyland.

Surprisingly, the idea of an annual pass to Disneyland had never really occurred to me. I had just presumed such things would only be available to those in Southern California. After talking it over with my girlfriend (and spoiling the surprise in the process), I decided that at around $360 — less than a dollar per day, a salesman might add — the Premium was the way to go. In a classic move of gifting presents to others that were really intended for myself, I purchased two of the vouchers under the guise that we would be taking several trips together during the next twelve months.

We did end up making a couple of Disneyland runs that year, but I made much more use of my pass then she did. One afternoon, I looked at my latest work schedule and noticed that I had two consecutive days off coming up in the next week. That’s when the notion that I could conceivably drive to Disneyland and back over the course of these two days hit me.

Now any sane person would probably drive to Disneyland one day, get a hotel for the night, and drive back the next day. But, if there’s one thing you’ll learn about me over the course of this book, it’s that I can be a bit of a... George Costanza, if you will. Instead, I — in my infinite wisdom — set out to leave Arizona at 2 a.m. in order to arrive for an 8 a.m. rope drop in Disneyland Park. From there, I would stay in the parks until rush hour died down around 7 or 8 p.m. before making my way back to Phoenix.

Disclaimer: Staying up for 24 hours, including 12 hours of driving and 12 hours in a theme park, is a terrible idea. You should never do it! Thank you.

The drive there was exhilarating. As I got farther and farther out of town, I would continually question aloud if I was really doing this. Each time I’d assure myself that yes, I really was. I had loaded up hours and hours of Disney-related podcasts on my iPod for the excursion west, all which served to get me even more pumped up for my visit. In fact, it was those very podcasts that got me so excited to return to the parks in the first place.

As the sun came up I had already crossed into California, having made only one stop in Blythe for gas along the way. Shortly before the park was set to open, I pulled into the Mickey and Friends parking structure. Stepping out of the car, I was quickly reminded how long it had been since my legs had been properly stretched.

After a full day of experiencing the parks in a whole new way (read: alone), it was time for me to drive home. I’ll say it again: This is a terrible idea. You should never try it! Thank you.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, I had not quite waited out rush hour traffic entirely. As the minutes ticked by, I was moving inches instead of miles. I then began to believe that the 91 Freeway might have, in fact, been built by the devil — an inclination I feel was confirmed years later when I lived in the Inland Empire.

Once I successfully made it out of Orange County and, later, California itself, the road got darker and emptier. I can only attribute my continued existence on this planet to the lack of traffic on the 10 East that Tuesday night and the rumble strips they install on the side of the highway for just such an occasion. After waking up in a different lane, I figured it would be best to pull over for a few minutes. Eventually, I would find myself pulling over every few exits, stepping out of the car, and trying to beat myself awake. Needless to say, I made it home… but barely.

This next part is so stupid that it requires a third disclaimer: Never do this! Even after this event, I took at least three other similar trips with similar results — which, I’ve been told, is the actual definition of insanity — before I eventually learned to find $40-$50 motel rooms in Anaheim. These changes to my itineraries lead to far fewer near-death experiences.

As dumb as these trips were for me to take, they changed the way I looked at Disneyland. No longer was it a place I could only visit once a year with family, but was a place I could enjoy on my own terms. Pressure I usually felt to hit up all the E-tickets and catch every entertainment offering each day was gone, and I was free to treat the parks as just that — parks. The more I got to explore, the more detail I saw and the more detail I saw, the more my appreciation for what Disney had done soared. I grew up always loving Disney and now I started to understand why.

You can pre-order, as well as read four more previews of "The E-Ticket Life" at this link:

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