I went to Disneyland for the first time when I was about four. My parents dutifully took me on the rides that little kids are allowed on (It’s a Small World and Dumbo and the teacups, probably)…and of course, made sure I got to “meet” the head mouse.
But: at the time, my aunt worked at Disneyland. As a character actor.
You see where this is going?
I got to go to a semi-private park of the park (I have no idea where, who knows if it’s even there anymore) and hang out with Mickey ALL BY MYSELF. Of course, I had no idea that it was actually my aunt inside that costume — I was just ecstatic that Mickey Mouse knew my name!!
He gave me the coloring book you can see above and we hung out for a bit. Talked politics and stuff, you know.
I mean, colored. I LOVED coloring books when I was little. My mom probably still has this book stored away somewhere.
I have a really clear memory of Mickey trying to get my attention at one point, but I was too busy coloring. He probably trying to get me to look up for this photo:
I obviously didn’t cooperate.
My parents kept Mickey’s true identity a secret for quite some time. Even as I got a little older and learned that my aunt “used to work at Disneyland” no one ever told me what exactly she did there. For awhile, I totally thought Mickey and I were “special friends” — on one birthday, I got a card from Mickey and Minnie that was personally signed by over a dozen Disney characters (meaning, all the actors). (Mom probably has that card saved too — at least, I hope she does.)
When I did finally find out, I was at least old enough not to feel crushed or disappointed, like a kid who learns there’s no Santa when he’s only five. If anything, I thought it was even cooler that my aunt used to have that job and was able to get all that organized for me.
Really, I only have the faintest memories of this day. It’s one of those things where I’ve seen the photos and heard other people tell me about it, so that’s what I “remember.” Still. Coolest first Disneyland experience ever? I think so.